It isn’t always easy to talk about uncomfortable or challenging feelings in a new relationship, however doing so can make a big difference in how we relate. Having the courage to self-disclose creates an opportunity for our partner to get to know us better while giving them permission to talk in kind. We tend to overlook sharing our difficulties when with a new partner, though in the process we miss out on the chance to bond. Allowing ourselves to show who we really are from the beginning takes the relationship to a new level and creates space for a real connection. Here are some ways to make the most of having an honest conversation.

Practice, practice, practice. Learning how to talk with your partner in a different way when difficulties arise takes time and effort. Try to practice talking about the positive aspects of the relationship and communicate when things are calm. Acknowledge the things about your partner that you appreciate and let them know. This way when it comes to the hard stuff, you will already know your communication style.

Make time. Be willing to spend the time talking with your partner, even if you have to schedule it into your day. Arrange a time when there are no other distractions, somewhere that you both feel comfortable. Although it is a tough situation, it is important to be prepared for a lengthy conversation. It is fultile to open up a deep discussion and expect it to be finished in time for you to move on to other activities. Remaining in the moment and appreciating the effort from yourself and your partner will reward you with mutual respect.

Responsible communication. This is when you share your feelings from the place of ownership. Rather than saying “you make me feel angry” try saying “I feel angry”. This way there is no blame or shame passed onto the other person. The reality is that the other person hasn’t actually made you feel anything and we discover this when we realise that another person could probably mimic the same behaviour and it wouldn’t bother us very much. Knowing that your reactions stem internally changes the way you are perceived and the way you communicate.

Own your part. Be aware of which behaviours have contributed to a conflict or difficult situation. If you tend to place all the blame on your partner when angry, remember that usually both parties share responsibility. Check out if the same patterns are resolved with more ease when they occur with other people. If you have reached a stalemate situation, admitting where you have fanned the flames will immediately diffuse the tension. This also allows you both to relax and speak from an open place.

Even when the conversation is about contentious topics, remain aware of the things you love about your partner. Introducing the conversation by acknowledging something that you like about them makes it easier to approach them about your feelings. Even if you are fighting, stay connected to the part of yourself that loves the other person.