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Creating a safe space in your relationship means more than just physical safety. It’s about creating an environment that nurtures emotional safety, connection and intimacy. A safe space allows you to share yourself authentically without fear of judgment or criticism, which is crucial for a healthy relationship.
In this article, we’ll uncover 7 essential tips for creating a safe space in your relationship that allows emotional intimacy to grow.
Discover why good communication is essential for intimacy with our guide!
1. Set and respect boundaries
Healthy boundaries in a relationship are crucial in creating a safe space. You can look at boundaries in relationships as an invisible fence that protects your physical and emotional safety. 1
Having healthy boundaries in place creates a safe environment for both partners to be their true selves and make meaningful connections. Therefore, it’s important to discuss your boundaries with each other.
Communicate what feels safe and comfortable for each of you, and make sure your partner respects the boundaries that have been set. That way, any issue or situation can be discussed openly without feeling fear or discomfort.
2. Practice consent
Practicing consent is linked to setting and respecting boundaries in relationships. Consent is important for both partners to be able to trust each other. It’s about knowing that your partner will always respect your wishes and that they won’t just do something without asking you first.
It also encourages communication between both of you so that decisions can be discussed and made together or with a mutual agreement. All this helps create a safe space where both partners feel comfortable, respected, and empowered.
In terms of sexual consent, it’s important to make sure that both of you are on the same page before engaging in any sexual activities. 2 For example, when you want to introduce new things in the bedroom, communicate it and make sure that your partner is comfortable with it before proceeding. This way, you can make sure both of you are enjoying the experience.
Find out more about consent in relationships and how to practice it with our guide!
3. Communicate openly and honestly
Open and honest communication is crucial in resolving conflicts, building trust, and maintaining intimacy in relationships. 3 It is also crucial in creating a safe space for both partners to share their needs and feelings without fear.
Research has shown that couples who use constructive communication strategies during arguments are more likely to have greater relationship well-being. 4 Good communication involves being open to listening and understanding your partner’s views, even if they differ from yours. It also means using respectful language when expressing your thoughts or concerns. This allows both of you to express yourselves openly and honestly in the relationship.
Open communication also plays a vital role in fostering emotional safety and intimacy in a relationship. Discover why emotional intimacy is important and how to build it!
4. Be mindful of your body language
In the 1970s, psychologist Albert Mehrabian introduced a communication concept often referred to as the “7/38/55” rule. This rule suggests that when we convey a message, only a small fraction, approximately 7%, relies on the actual words we use. A larger portion, roughly 38%, depends on how we deliver those words, including our tone of voice. The largest share, about 55%, stems from our non-verbal cues and body language.
In essence, effective communication isn’t solely about the words you choose but also how you speak and present yourself physically. From facial expressions and posture to eye contact, these can all indicate how a person feels and influence the nature of the conversation. 5 6
By being mindful of your body language, you can create a safe space in your relationship where both partners feel seen and heard. Find out more about how to use body language effectively with our guide!"
5. Be each other’s cheerleader
It doesn’t matter how old you are; everybody needs a cheerleader in their life. People thrive most when they have people in their lives who care about their needs and welfare. 7 Whether it’s celebrating successes or offering support in hard times, having a cheerleader is essential for fostering emotional safety and intimacy.
Therefore, you should strive to be each other’s cheerleaders within your relationship. Celebrate the wins together and build each other up during difficult times. Show your partner that they are valued, appreciated, and loved regardless of what’s going on in life.
6. Show appreciation and gratitude
Showing appreciation and gratitude goes a long way in making your partner feel loved and secure. A study has shown that expressing gratitude to your partner can significantly enhance the quality of your relationship in the long run. 8
This can be done by expressing how grateful and lucky you are to have them in your life or going out of your way to do something special for them. This makes your partner feel secure in the relationship and encourages them to open up more, thus creating a safe space for both of you.
Remember, appreciation is not only about saying “thank you” to acts of kindness. It’s also about appreciating just the presence of your partner and recognizing how much they mean to you.
7. Trust each other
When both partners have a strong sense of trust in each other, their romantic relationship is more likely to be successful and happy. 9 Trust creates a safe space where both partners can be vulnerable and open without fear or judgment.
When you trust your partner, you feel confident that they won’t intentionally hurt or betray you. It allows you to let your guard down, be your authentic self, and share your deepest thoughts and feelings with your partner. This emotional security enhances the connection between partners.
Also, when you trust your partner, you can rely on them to behave in a consistent and dependable manner. This predictability reduces anxiety and uncertainty within the relationship.
In summary, trust is the foundation upon which a safe and nurturing relationship is built. It fosters emotional safety, open communication, and a sense of predictability, all of which contribute to a healthy and lasting partnership.
Communication plays a big role in creating a safe space in a relationship. So it’s important to make sure that both partners are comfortable with expressing themselves openly and honestly. With our relationship guide for couples, you can learn more about how to improve your relationship by improving communication.
- Love: The Psychology of Attraction: A Practical Guide to Successful Dating and a Happy Relationship
- Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Navigating Life and Love in the Modern Age
- The Power of Four Bases for Relationships: Can You Hit a Home Run in a Relationship?
- Communication and Relationship: A Guide to Deeper Connection, Trust and Intimacy to Improve Communication and Strengthen Your Bond as a Couple
- Couple's Bucket List: 101 Fun, Engaging Dating Ideas
Cloud, H. & Townsend, J. (2000). Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships (1st ed.). Zondervan. ↩︎
Shulman, S., Tuval-Mashiach, R., Levran, E., & Anbar, S. (2005). Conflict resolution patterns and longevity of adolescent romantic couples: A 2‐year follow‐up study. Journal of Adolescence, 29(4), 575–588. doi.org ↩︎
Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 228–245. https ↩︎
Ekman, P., Dalgleish, T., & Power, M. (1999). Handbook of cognition and emotion. Chihester, UK: Wiley. ↩︎
Ho, S., Foulsham, T., & Kingstone, A. (2015). Speaking and listening with the eyes: Gaze signaling during dyadic interactions. PloS one, 10(8), e0136905. ↩︎
Collins, N. L., & Ford, M. (2010). Responding to the needs of others: The caregiving behavioral system in intimate relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27(2), 235–244. doi.org ↩︎
Kim, J., Weisberg, Y. J., Simpson, J. A., Oriña, M. M., Farrell, A. K., & Johnson, W. D. (2015). Ruining it for Both of Us: The Disruptive Role of Low-Trust Partners on Conflict Resolution in Romantic Relationships. Social Cognition, 33(5), 520–542. doi.org ↩︎