When couples seek counselling, one of the biggest concerns they often share is the struggle to communicate with each other. Most of the time, they say that it would have been easier to fix their problems. Their relationship would have been happier if communication was better.
It’s true. Communication is essential and helpful, but one crucial layer is needed before effective communication can occur. That’s what this blog post is mainly about – emotional safety.
First, ask yourself:“Do I feel safe in my relationship?”
In school, we are likely taught about safe sex; however, we are not taught about emotionally safe sex, consent, and boundaries. Physical safety is paramount, but emotional safety is also needed in a healthy relationship.
Defined, safety is “freedom from harm or danger.” And that’s the core of emotional safety, as well. It’s knowing that you can express yourself without being blamed, shamed, rejected, dismissed, criticised, or invalidated by your partner. If you don’t feel safe, you could enter a fight, flight, or freeze response, which blocks you from experiencing pleasure.
Emotional safety occurs when your feelings are validated, and commitment is reinforced. There does not always have to be sexual contact because non-sexual physical touch is just as important. Sometimes, it’s what’s lacking in the relationship – a genuine touch that feels like you’re being rescued from all the stress you could be going through. It’s when you get to have open, honest communication without aggression or fighting.
So, how do you know you feel safe in your relationship?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you feel safe having a conversation without it escalating to an argument?
- Do you feel safe expressing yourself fully?
- Do you feel safe sharing dissatisfaction with your partner?
- Do you feel safe sharing sexual desires or fantasies?
- Do you feel safe sharing your insecurities?
If you answer yes to the questions above, then you have achieved emotional safety in your relationship.
But it’s tricky for many people. Creating that safe feeling within yourself is not easy. And this is where Rosie Reese can help. She shares five ways you can create safety so that you can express yourself sexually without the fear of getting shut down. She also presents a guided practice for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and creating safety for your yoni.
1. Start Communicating Your ‘NO.’
It sounds cliché, but communication is the key to any relationship. And part of this communication is saying no. “Yes” is the opposite of no, and we say it for a variety of reasons. It could be for validation and even to be relied upon. But if you keep saying yes far too often, you will find yourself depleted and overwhelmed.
That’s why it is crucial to say no, particularly when you don’t like something. For most people, though, it is easier said than done, especially saying no to the people we are in a relationship with. But it’s not good, and it is your right to say no when you want or whenever you feel the need to do so. Have the courage to say no when you think something is a ‘no’ or even a ‘maybe’.
Have you ever said ‘yes’ when you mean no? We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, it creates mistrust and trauma in the body. If you identify as a people-pleaser and you find it difficult to say no (even to a partner), you’ll find this exercise extra challenging for you. But bear in mind, it is vital to your wellbeing, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Learn to say no, unapologetically, to your partner, family, and friends. They might shut you down, withdraw, get defensive, or do the “exit language.” These reactions will only do more harm than good, so don’t let anyone give a negative response, including your partner.
2. Do the Three YES Test.
Before entering into a relationship or sexual experience, you can ask yourself if you receive a yes from your:
A fun one-night stand does not require you to get three yeses. One to two would often be enough. But if you crave a deeper and more meaningful relationship, you need all three yeses. If one is missing, then you should stick to saying no. Use this post as your guide to get through the complex discussions involving the dynamic of your relationship with another person.
3. Seek Consent Before Penetration
Consent isn’t just sexy; it’s mandatory. Request your partner or lover to ask for permission to enter rather than assuming they have access to yoni at all times. Your vagina is your property – not someone else’s. Simply ask them to say, “Can I please enter you?” before any form of penetration by your partner or yourself. You can also do the same with your menstrual cup, tampon, IUD, finger, or dildo.
4. Know and Express Your Boundaries
If you don’t feel comfortable telling someone that you’re not OK with something, then sex may be emotionally unsafe with that person. Having healthy boundaries around sex creates safety and stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system. It helps you to open up and be vulnerable!
Knowing your boundaries can take a while. Self-reflection is usually a difficult process for most people, and you may be among them. To start, you can write down all your boundaries in the bedroom. Then, fine-tune your “yes’s” and “no’s.” Your goal is to get crystal clear on what makes you horny and what turns you off. These are your brakes and accelerators.
As you go on writing these things down, you will find yourself knowing when and with whom you started becoming voiceless? Quite frequently, it’s with a former lover, and the relationship caused you to avoid expressing your boundaries. You will also learn the whys.
Often, the reasoning behind staying quiet or continuously saying yes is your fright of the unknown. You’re worried that the other person will get hurt. In other cases, it could be that you’re scared for yourself. Did you feel that you were in danger, so you chose to keep quiet?
5. Stimulate Relaxed Arousal
Do you roll your eyes, walk away, fold your arms and sit at a distance? Perhaps you tend to sigh loudly or have a tense facial expression. These are all signs that you lack emotional safety.
They say that 55% of communication is non-verbal, which shows that body language and touch matter! Creating a sense of relaxed arousal is critical for creating safety to open to pleasure. Practices such as the following are powerful:
- Eye contact
- Gentle touching
- Sitting closely
- Holding hands
- Soothing stroking
Non-sexual intimacy involving touch, communication, and even gentle facial expressions can help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Answer these three questions to get to know yourself and your sexuality better:
- Has there been a time when you did not feel safe sexually?
- What do you need now to feel safe to self-pleasure?
- What boundaries do you need to assert to feel safe during partner sex?