As Meditopians, we went on a journey on February 14, 2021. As a relationship therapist, Tuba Aydin accompanied us, bringing some helpful articles with her. These articles touched on how to feel secure in a relationship and the resources we have available to us that give us a better understanding of the relationship space. These resources can also help to identify communication barriers in the relationship, allowing you to share your feelings more comfortably. We will be posting these articles once a week for five weeks, starting with, “Feeling Secure in Our Relationships”. With this article, you can begin your journey toward learning more about your romantic relationships!
Feeling secure in our relationship with our partner has a big impact on our ability to lead a healthy life. A relationship in which we feel happy and secure nurtures our physical, emotional, and mental well-being, becoming one of our most fundamental resources. We can use this resource not only to reinforce what goes well in our lives, but also to get some support in difficult times. When we are with someone who is happy about our existence, who wants to share the different moments of life with us, who cares about the traumas we’ve had, the feelings can become reciprocal. We care for them too and would like to support them in difficult times as well.
A healthy romantic relationship does not interrupt our flow of life but rather makes us feel more secure and aligned with ourselves. This safety allows us to perform better in other areas of our lives as well. Our relationship can nurture us, strengthen our work, parenting, and social relationships.
However, sometimes the healthy relationship we’ve established can waver and become unsustainable. Our environment may change or the passage of time may lead to obstacles in our communication. Cases of misunderstanding can turn into vicious cycles of miscommunication that push us out of seeing our relationship as a safe and secure space. In such a situation, all the nurturing qualities of a healthy relationship may become reversed and we can feel restless, anxious, or troubled.
Experiencing a season of distance or discomfort in our relationships isn’t at all uncommon. Relationships aren’t formulas, there’s no equation we can put together to reach perfection and expecting to be able to do so would be unfair to both ourselves and our partner. We can begin to repair our relationships and prevent such rifts in our communication from growing by focusing on sharing our connection in the present.
One of the ways to preserve what is safe and nurturing in our relationships is to practice sharing and expressing our needs intentionally. Sometimes we can get so stuck in the minute of the day, the daily responsibilities, tasks, and future plans, that we can lose sight of what brings us joy, what lights us up about our connection in the present.
We need to feel loved, understood, and cared for in our relationships. That way, we know we are safe and secure. Identifying and expressing our needs beyond our shared responsibilities or the events of our workday can be a powerful way to maintain that connection. We can ask each other questions like: how are you feeling today? What makes you feel close to me? What needs do you have that aren’t currently being met? In doing so, we can observe one another and keep our interest awake and alive with fresh perspective and renewed curiosity.
Knowing that we can seek support from our partner is actually another way we can continue sharing. The ability to share difficult experiences, knowing that we can rely on our partner to buoy us up through stress, anxiety, or fatigue, can be powerful. Being able to be there for one another strengthens our trust in our relationship and draws us closer together. This does not mean that within our partner resides the solution to our troubles, but rather suggests that they’ll be there as a confidant, someone who sees and hears us with curiosity and interest, offering their help in their own way.
Just as it is so important to feel supported, it is also important to be able to ask for support. Some of us may not hesitate to ask for help from our partner. And for others of us, we may feel that asking for help makes us burdensome or that our request won’t be met and we’re less likely to reach out for that support in our relationship. When we find ourselves in these situations where we’ve got the impulse to overcome everything alone, we can end up pushing our partner away, excluding them from our inner lives.
When we reflect on our own reservations about needing and asking for help, we can explore ways to resolve any obstacles that may come up. By doing this inner work, we can protect our energy and maintain open, sincere, and trustworthy communication.
Allowing for the possibility of disturbances and/or conflicts in our relationship is another way to maintain our well-being. We will disagree, we will argue, and we may hurt each other’s feelings in relationships. This is not an unfamiliar pattern for those who are close to one another. We may feel misunderstood, angry, or resentful and that’s okay from time to time. Of course, there are lines not to be crossed and patterns of abusive behavior we want to look out for and avoid. But healthy conflict does not mean the end of a relationship. In fact, the way we navigate conflict together as a couple can help us understand what we do well and where we might need to grow or change.
We need to be able to express when we are feeling some resentment, if we need some space or time, our fears, concerns, or anger without acting destructively. This goes back to being able to share our needs. Sometimes our needs are born of conflict and that’s okay. It is okay to ask for what we need in order to move through difficult moments together and prevent further miscommunication from taking root.
In times of stress, our capacity to embrace our emotions and to calm ourselves plays an important role in navigating conflict. Therefore, we can positively contribute to both our individual well-being as well as the health of our relationship by trying to improve our own emotional regulation processes.
A romantic relationship exists outside of the two people who share it. That is, just like the individuals within the couple, the relationship itself has strengths, vulnerabilities, and patterns or habits that have been shaped over time. The health of our relationship affects us just as we have an impact on it through our actions and behaviors. Maintaining a healthy relationship depends on many things such as our environment, the subsystems we are in contact with, and many other factors in our lives. What needs to continue, change, or stop for your relationship to feel safe and happy? For you to say, “I am safe and happy where I am”? If we are willing to continue our relationship and it is not doing us harm, we can always explore the possibilities of our own growth both individually and together, full of potential.