You and your significant other have an unshakeable bond. When people see you two out and about together they can’t help but think #goals. But little do they know, it takes a lot of work for your relationship to get to and stay at this level of bliss. You don’t get to #RelationshipGoals without a few bumps or massive potholes along the way. Of course, you love each other, but this love has had its fair share of ups and downs. Through it all, only one thing has helped. When no amount of ‘I’m sorry’ gifts and X-rated making-up would help, this one thing helped you get through those rough patches. Believe it or not, that one thing was communication.
Here’s how to approach a difficult conversation with your loved one.
1. Keep Calm
Ever wished you could roll back time and stop yourself from doing or saying something awful? Whatever you do, try to do your best to keep your cool. “If you intend to have someone in your life for a long time, be more gentle when you talk to them. It really makes a difference how you speak with them,” said recent FSU graduate Andrea Melly. We’ve all had moments where we’ve lost our temper and said the worst possible thing to a loved one: Things we didn’t really mean or we wish we could take back. Keeping calm and collected could make or break this difficult situation. Your loved one will probably also feel on edge, braced for an argument. Don’t throw gasoline on this already fiery subject by starting out angrily. Stay level-headed.
2. Don’t Accuse
You know what raises someone’s guard immediately? Getting accusations thrown at them before they even know about a problem. When you want to a have a difficult conversation with your honey bunny make sure you explain the situation before you do anything. “In a relationship, you want to take them aside and in a non-hostile way to tell them what’s going on,” said North Florida Community College junior Thurston Hutchinson. You may have to break it to them that they’ve done something that you don’t like, but you may get a better response if you stay away from starting on an accusatory stance—even if their behavior drives you up the wall.
You may not want to make a big deal of the situation, but if you feel really nervous about the upcoming conversation, you probably can’t help those stubborn worries. Why not just take some time to think about what you need to say? It can’t hurt. Thinking up or even writing down a rough set of ideas you want to get across to your sweetheart can help you get your thoughts in order and maybe even calm your nerves a bit. Once you’ve thought out what you want to say, it may even make the situation feel a bit more manageable.
4. Stay Straightforward
Just spit it out. You’ve gotten your lover’s full attention, and they’ve probably started getting anxious waiting for you to drop a rage bomb on them. Don’t drag it out. “It’s important that if you have something to say, just say it. You can try to make it funny so it’s not so bad, but don’t hold it in,” said Florida A&M University freshman Shedric Bryan. Say what needs to be said and go on from there. Try not go off on tangents, either. Keep your thoughts concise.
5. Move to a Private Setting
Okay, how many times have we seen couples hauling their business out into the open, airing their dirty laundry in public or even dragging their other half through the mud on social media? Don’t become that couple. “I try to pull them away or to the side and let them know what they’re doing that’s bothering me,” said Tallahassee Community College freshman Brandon Steen. When you bring up the thing that has you upset, do it thoughtfully. Go somewhere you can both speak freely, away from prying eyes and eavesdropping ears.
6. Know Your Endpoint
Keep the light at the end of the tunnel in your sights. We’ve all started out a conversation about something we wanted and left feeling like we did a lot of talking, but didn’t actually get what we needed. Did you even really know exactly what you wanted before going in? Think about the problem you have with your sweetie and make sure you know what you want before you have the conversation. This will help you stay on track when talking to them because we all know how difficult it feels to stay on track when emotions run high and they give those puppy dog eyes you just can’t seem to resist.
You, you, you, you… Relationships involve two people—or three or four if you prefer it that way. In monogamy specifically you only make up half of your relationship, so make sure to hear that other, equally important, half out. You’ve thought a lot about how you feel and why you need to address this difficult subject. Once you’ve stated your concerns and said how you feel, however, give them the chance to tell you how they feel and how they view the situation. You may hate the seat getting left up, but maybe they just can’t shoot straight and thought they were doing you both a favor by not creating a slip-and-slide on the porcelain throne.
8. Ask for Advice
We normally like to keep the problems in our relationships as secret as possible—and that can prove essential for most couples’ stability. But would it hurt too much to ask someone you trust to stay discreet for advice on how to approach your loved one with this situation? If you go to a family member or really good friend of your little sugar bear and politely ask them about how your boyfriend or girlfriend might take your situation, you may end up getting really good insight on how to approach the subject on your mind.
Relationships involve a lot of a give-and-take. You give them the details of your hopes and dreams; they give you their Netflix password—make your relationship an equal partnership. Once you both have everything laid out on the table, get ready to meet them in the middle. You may have some things that you simply cannot let up on, but if you want them to stop wearing their holey old “lucky” T-shirt from when their team won the super bowl on dinner dates, you might want to listen when they ask you to stop leaving you hair stuck to the shower wall.
10. Stick to Facts
Please, please, stay logical. “Once you acknowledge that a situation might exist in the relationship, get down the facts first,” said Tallahassee Community College junior Jose Rodriguez. Let’s say you suspect your cuddle muffin of something, but you don’t know anything for sure. Your only “proof” comes in the form of a dream you had of them bumping into Kim Kardashian on the street and a sudden change in the winds. This conversation probably won’t go over so well. Before you come to them with this conversation, make sure that you’ve got something concrete to start from. Following intuition can take you to some weird conclusions.