Safety in relationships: what it is and how to create it

Disclaimer: all my posts are designed for people in non-violent relationships. Please do not read my posts and try to apply them to your situation if you are in a relationship where domestic violence is a threat or a reality.  

A safe relationship is one where people can bring their whole selves without fear of judgement, shame, anger, punishment or conflict.

All parts of us are welcome in a safe relationship. The happy, outgoing parts. The scared, stressed and confused parts. The silly, hyperactive, jealous and insecure parts. The lost, lonely and languishing parts. 

In a safe relationship we are free to express ourselves and know that the other person will do their best to ‘see’ us in our experience. We don’t have to walk on eggshells, change our feelings, modify who we truly are or think deeply about what to say in case we trigger someone. 

A safe relationship consists of at least one person who can hold themselves in intense situations. I say at least one person because children are not capable of, and shouldn’t be expected to, hold themselves in intense situations. So in parent-child dynamics, it is always the responsibility of the adult to be the relational leader. Being a relational leader means being able to self-regulate, listen deeply and stand for the relationship. 

Perhaps the most crucial element in creating safety in a relationship is the ability to listen. 

Hearing is not listening. 

Responding is not listening. 

Sharing your own experience is not listening. 

Fixing is not listening. 

Giving advice is not listening.

Presence is listening. 

Being able to receive what someone is saying without becoming reactive is listening.

Reflecting back what someone is saying is listening. 

Asking clarifying questions is listening.

Validating is listening. 

So how can we create more safety in our relationships? How can we become a more safe person for those we love and care about?

We work on ourselves.

We read books about relationships and communication.

Listen to podcasts. Hire a coach or therapist.

Learn about boundaries and what is and isn’t ours in relationships.

Learn how to regulate our own nervous systems so we have a greater capacity to be present, strong and loving when things get tough.

Practise having hard conversations.

Find friends and a community who are interested in creating healthy, happy, deep and fulfilling relationships too. 

It’s important to note that humans are messy and relating is not always easy. We’ve all been conditioned to seek pleasure and avoid pain. This includes the pleasure of good times only and the pain of hard work. Nobody is perfect, every single one of us is flawed and capable of harming those around us.

The good news is that beautiful relationships require skills and skills are not a mystery. They can be learned by anyone who is willing.

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I'd love to meet you, hear your story and hear about what you want from life. I believe anything is possible with the right mindset, skills and support. As your coach, I'm here to teach what I know and watch you grow! 

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