So many of us long for deeper more meaningful connection in relationships.
We want someone to truly understand us. We want to be seen.
We want to be loved as our truest self- imperfect and still loveable.
We want authentic connection, and yet trusting others and being vulnerable is one of the scariest things we can imagine.
I work with couples and individual clients every day to build bridges of trust and connection. I LOVE watching couples recommit to their connection in loving ways. It’s what I live for.
Over the last eight years serving couples I've learned these truths about authenticity in relationships:
1. Openness and vulnerability are essential to authenticity.
Only honest, transparent communication will lead us into authentic community. And transparency is the kind of courageous vulnerability a lot of us would rather avoid in relationships.
Vulnerability means saying the hard things out loud. Like saying, "I really like you" or "that comment really hurt me". It takes real courage to say the hard stuff out loud- so many of us avoid doing it altogether.
Openness means staying curious even when assumptions or resentment tries to creep in. It means listening- really listening- even when it's hard to stay in tune with our partner.
Openness creates an environment where vulnerability is possible. And vulnerability is where real connection happens.
Staying open can be really challenging in relationships- and yet, it is vital to long-term success for couples. Schedule a free consultation to see if I can help you overcome barriers to authenticity.
2. Empathetic communication doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
Most of us were never taught how to do vulnerability or openness really well. Most relationship mentoring we get is somewhat negative and the messages we get about relationships from the media only further our misunderstanding of what really works.
It just doesn't come naturally to a lot of people.
Receiving our partners vulnerability in a warm and empathetic way can take some work. Sometimes we’re not sure how to show we care. Other times we’re afraid to risk connection because of past hurts.
Whatever the reason, empathetic communication can take practice. Showing empathy means connecting with the feeling the other person is having. Check out this video on empathy to learn more.
I work with couples in session to create empathetic communication channels to reinforce authentic connections. It's easy to learn empathetic communication skills with a little support.
3. Being authentic means holding each other and ourselves accountable.
Have I lost you yet? I know what I'm suggesting can sound really scary to a lot of people- but it's the truth. You can't have the kind of authentic meaningful connection most of us crave without accountability.
But if the word accountability in relationships makes you cringe it's probably because it's not something you've practiced well in past relationships. Maybe someone was a martyr, or played the victim, or found ways to blame everyone else around them.
There are lots of ways to perpetuate stress by avoiding accountability. But they'll only make things worse.
And truthfully, almost no one likes to look at mistakes or know we hurt people who are close to us. But being able to make mistakes is critical to long-term relationship success.
In order to increase accountability in your relationship start by looking at your own actions instead of focusing only on your partner in areas of tension. How are you contributing to the problem? What could you do differently?