The next time you find yourself in the middle of an
awkward moment with your partner, consider pausing, taking a deep breath, and really leaning into it. Because, even though awkward moments can be uncomfortable, they can actually be a good thing, too. And depending on how you handle them, they might even make your relationship stronger.
"Awkward moments make you stronger because they help you learn about each other and your relationship,"
Laura F. Dabney, MD, a Virginia-based psychiatrist and relationship therapist, tells Bustle. "One tip to reap benefits from awkward moments is to talk about them. Do not brush those moments aside or try to minimize the awkwardness. If you do not talk about what made the moment awkward, you do not learn from it!"
This might include talking about an ex, meeting each other's friends, giving gifts — all situations that can be a bit strange. By weathering them together, however, it'll show that you and your partner
have each other's backs. And if you're willing to talk about the awkwardness, or even why it was so awkward, you may be able to reach a deeper level of understanding. With that in mind, here are some moments experts say can actually make you closer as a couple, however awkward they may feel. 1 Talking About An Ex Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock
"One awkward moment in a relationship that can actually make your relationships stronger is when you
discuss past relationships or even fight about past relationships," Dabney says. So if you find yourselves in a heated convo about an ex, consider how it might be leading you in a positive direction.
"The reason why this situation can make you stronger and teach you something is because it will help you both discuss and communicate what went wrong," Dabney says. "If you discuss
what went wrong in their past relationships or yours, you can talk about how you can keep them from happening in the current relationship. You will be stronger as a couple because you will hear what your partner may be scared of or what they expect from you."
And you can take that information to heart and make sure that you do better as a couple, going forward.
2 Eating Messy Foods
While it may sound silly, many people hesitate to
eat messy foods in front of their partner, particularly in the early days of dating. But nothing says "I'm comfortable in front of you" quite like navigating a slice of pizza into your mouth, or slurping a spoonful of French onion soup. So if you haven't already, these are some things you may want to start doing, if/when the desire calls.
"Most people shy away from this because they don't want to appear rude if they make a mess while eating," Michelle Henderson, LMHC, a relationship expert and owner of
Next Chapter Counseling, tells Bustle. "But actually, this is a great opportunity to laugh with one another and accept that nobody is perfect — especially when eating, something that you'll be doing lots of in front of your partner over the course of your relationship." 3 Talking About Your Sex Life
There are all sorts of moments during sex that can leave
you both feeling embarrassed. And yet, nothing can undo the awkwardness quite like owning the moment, talking about it, and even laughing it off.
It can also help to keep in mind that, many times, "awkward moments during sex can bring you closer,"
Dr. Casandra 'Coach Cass' Henriquez, a certified relationship coach and matchmaker, tells Bustle. "Being able to be silly and awkward strengthens your relationship because of the secret moments you two share." And it can be nice to not take yourselves too seriously.
While it can take some time to
get to this place as a couple, it's definitely a goal worth working towards. 4 Letting Them Witness Your Family Dynamics
If you have
difficult people in your family, you might be tempted to pretend it isn't so, or hide that fact from your partner. And yet, by letting them see the bad stuff — including disagreements, or uncomfortable holiday parties — they might be able to understand you on a whole new level. And vice versa.
"When this is shared with your partner and your partner sees firsthand the dynamic and understands where you are coming from, it has the potential to bring you closer,"
Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and author of , tells Bustle. "If your partner is supportive and nurturing towards you, you will feel like The Art of the Date you have a real teammate and it will strengthen your bond. It gives you a sense that you can take on anything with them by your side and brings you closer." 5 Helping Each Other When You're Sick g-stockstudio/Shutterstock
"Everyone gets sick and it’s not always pleasant," Jonathan Bennett, a relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "However, when you reach the point where you can spend time with your ill partner and take care of [them], it’s indicative that your relationship bond is strong."
And this is something you can do more of, as your relationship goes on. You can be there and offer boxes of tissues, for example, or offer a ride to a doctor's appointment — all things that might not be "fun," but definitely show how much you care.
6 Hanging Out With Their Friends
Meeting each other's friends can lead to some awkward vibes at first. And yet, you may realize you feel closer once you get past the initial weirdness, create mutual friends, and become accepted into these friend groups.
You can also learn a lot about each other by meeting friends, Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of
The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. You'll get to see how your partner acts around different people while learning more about their history. And that can lead to a deeper sense of understanding. 7 Exchanging Gifts Beautiful young couple is celebrating at home. Pretty girl is giving her boyfriend a gift box Shutterstock
During the first few birthdays and holidays, you might experience an awkward moment or two as you exchange gifts. After all, "knowing
what to get someone early in a relationship can cause serious anxiety," Bennett says. "However, by thoughtfully choosing a gift and graciously accepting one from your partner, it’s creating a stronger bond." 8 Stepping Into A Disorganized Apartment
Go ahead and allow each other to witness what life can look like behind the scenes, including those moments when you don't have a chance to clean up. By seeing a messier or more disorganized side — and loving each other anyway — you'll be showing that you're willing to take the good with the bad, Susan Trombetti,
matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaker, tells Bustle. 9 Witnessing Bodily Functions
"Passing gas or any bodily functions [...] can be really awkward," Trombetti says. "Everyone is real though and you make it through after laughing about it." So if you happen to
pass gas or burp or hiccup, or suddenly need to run to the bathroom, consider how that very moment could be making you stronger as a couple. Because nothing screams love quite like continuing a conversation while the other pees, or laughing off a super loud burp.
By experiencing these moments as a couple, you might even find that you feel more comfortable, and start to understand each other on a deeper level. And that can do wonders in terms of strengthening your bond.