How to Have Tough Conversations in Dating and Relationships

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If you avoid having tough conversations when you’re dating or in a relationship, this video is for you!

Do you avoid having tough conversations in dating and relationships? It can be challenging to discuss awkward or vulnerable issues like sex, money, substance use, or even annoying habits. But if you don’t talk about the issues, they not only won’t magically disappear. They usually get worse. And then it becomes even more challenging to talk about the hard stuff. You might want to exit the relationship, but don’t have the words to let him know why. Or you might leave a relationship that could have been saved with successful communication. If this has ever happened to you, you’re going to want to listen to this video.

How to Have Tough Conversations in Dating and Relationships

Most of us have never been taught or modeled HOW to have a difficult conversation, and that’s why it’s so scary. Well, that changes today. Because if you’re going to have a difficult conversation, you need to prepare and have a clear method. Preparation helps you feel confident and empowered. And, if you’ve prepared well, the conversation will be less stressful, and you’ll be far less afraid to speak up the next time.

Three C’s Before The Conversation

1. Get Centered

It’s important to stay emotionally centered before and during the conversation, so you don’t become reactive or defensive—no matter how heated the conversation becomes. Center yourself by breathing deeply. Continue to notice when you become off-center so you can breathe, and return again to center. This is where your power lies. By remaining calm, you’ll also help your partner stay calm. 

2. Get Clear

Before having a tough conversation, you need to get clear on what the issues are. That involves three things:

  1. Getting rid of judgment.
  2. Gaining clarity on what you’re feeling.
  3. Knowing what need of yours wasn’t met.

3. Check in

Make sure it’s a good time to talk by asking him if he’s available to have a conversation about something important.

It helps to start the conversation with a simple script. Here’s one of my favorites:

“I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ___________. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective, too.”

Write an opening for your conversation before you begin.

The C.A.R.P. Method: 4 Steps to a Successful Conversation

Now, you’re ready to have the conversation. Use these four steps to increase your confidence and success at speaking up about the important stuff.

Step #1: Curiosity

Start with an open mind. Be curious. You’ve already figured out what’s going on for you. State what’s true for you without judgment, and express how you feel and what need wasn’t met.

Now, it’s time to gather information and discover what’s true for him. Pretend you don’t know anything about him and his point of view, like you’re speaking with an alien from another planet. Find out what it’s like on that planet and what the values and perspectives are there.

If he really was from another planet, you’d be observing his body language and listening for unspoken messages. That’s how you’ll learn what he really wants, and what he’s not saying.

Let him talk until he’s done. Don’t interrupt. If you hear something hurtful, stay open, and try not to take it personally. Learn as much as you can in this phase of the conversation. You’ll get your turn, but don’t rush the conversation.

Step #2: Acknowledgement

Let him know you’ve heard and understood what he said. You want to understand him so well, you can make his argument for him. Then do just that. Explain what you think is going on for him. Guess at his intention and honor his position. He won’t be open to a fair discussion unless he gets that you see where he stands. 

Acknowledgment does NOT mean agreement. If you say, “this sounds really important to you,” it doesn’t mean you’re agreeing. You’re simply acknowledging how he feels. When people feel validated and heard, they are much more open to hearing your side, which is coming up soon!

Step #3: Response

When you sense he’s finished speaking, it’s your turn. At this point, you can clarify your position without minimizing his. For example: “From what you’ve shared with me, I can see how you came to the conclusion that I’m an overly sensitive person. I am very sensitive. I see it as one of my super powers. My sensitivity helps me be empathic and understand you and others better. I can also see how it affects you sometimes, where you feel overwhelmed by my feelings. Can we discuss how I might address this in the future so my intention is clear?”

Step #4: Problem-Solving

Now, you’re ready to begin brainstorming to find solutions that work for both of you. As you problem-solve together, continue to stay curious, asking him for his input. Whatever he says, find something positive, and build on it. If the conversation begins to become antagonistic in any way, go back to curiosity. Asking for his point of view usually creates safety and encourages him to engage.

If you’ve been centering yourself, keeping an open mind, listening to understand, and engaging with inquiry and clarity of intention and purpose, building mutual solutions will be so much easier.

Practice, practice, practice those tough conversations!

If you want to have authentic and honest relationships, you absolutely need to have difficult conversations. The best part is they get easier with practice. 

So practice, practice, practice…on everyone and anyone. You’ll soon become a pro at expressing your needs without feeling needy or scared. 

If you need support in having a difficult conversation, learn more about my speak up sessions. Give me a half-hour, and you’ll walk away with a script for your tough conversation.

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