Why Expressing Feelings With Your Partner Is Worth the Emotional Risk

Middle aged couple sitting on bed talking and smiling

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It's much easier to share your thoughts, the intellectual information that is in your brain, than your feelings. Both women and men can have a difficult time expressing feelings, although male partners seem to have an even harder time with heart-to-heart communication. 

Sharing the depth of your feelings that are in your heart takes emotional risk and courage, as it can make you feel exposed and vulnerable.

However, expressing your feelings is also the very thing that will create closeness and connection in your relationship. By sharing what is in your heart with your partner, you can achieve deeper intimacy.

How to Express Your Feelings With Your Partner

Try these tips to help you feel more comfortable and prepared to express feelings with your partner.

Accept Your Feelings

Accept that feelings are neither right nor wrong. Instead, it is the behavior that results because of the feeling that is morally judged.

For example, just because you are angry, you do not have the right to behave violently. Managing negative feelings means accepting them without allowing them to overrun us.

Describe Your Feelings

Describe the feeling by saying it or writing it down. Think about how to help your partner have empathy, or how to help them understand what it's like to walk in your shoes.

If you're having a difficult time finding the right words, remember that most feelings can be summed up in a single word, including:

  • Angry
  • Attacked
  • Embarrassed
  • Happy
  • Hurt
  • Sad
  • Scared

Practice

If you are not someone who is used to expressing feelings, this may feel awkward at first. Practicing it in small steps will make it easier.

For example, start by saying out loud, "I feel angry," or "I feel sad."

Understand Feelings vs. Thoughts vs. Mood

It's important not to confuse feelings with your mood or thoughts. Feelings come and go and change quickly, while a "mood" is a sustained period of an emotional state.

Feelings convey our emotions (and are said to come "from the heart") while thoughts occur in our brains and convey what we are thinking as well as our beliefs. Feelings can also be physical sensations.

Another way to help you distinguish your thoughts from your feeling is to use the "I think vs. I feel" rule. If you can substitute the words "I think" for "I feel" in a sentence, then you have expressed a thought and not a feeling.

For example, "I feel hurt" is correct because you would not say "I think hurt," right? Whereas a statement like "I feel that he is a jerk" is incorrect. You "think" he is a jerk. 

Avoid Judgment

Try to not judge your own or your partner's feelings. If you want your partner to continue to share on a deep level, it is important not to get irritated or defensive about the feeling expressed to you.

Likewise, rejecting a feeling is rejecting the person feeling it. Do not say things like "Don't worry, be happy" or "You shouldn't feel that way." Doing so invalidates how the other person feels.

Verbalize

Verbalize feelings with your partner directly. Your partner can't read your mind. While they may pick up on your vibe, they have no way to know what's going on in your head unless you tell them.

When verbalizing your feelings, it's also important to share your deeper underlying feeling, not just surface feelings. You might be expressing anger but underneath feel hurt or embarrassed. This is much more crucial to express to your partner directly to develop closeness and intimacy.

Share Daily

You do not have to have deep, serious conversations about your relationship daily, but you do have to share your feelings (not just your thoughts) about what is going on with you day-to-day.

Saying that you were "late for a meeting" gives the basic information only. But saying you "feel embarrassed about being late for a meeting" helps you connect to the person you are speaking with.

While you should share feelings daily, it's important to avoid making daily decisions based on those feelings. When you are making decisions, feelings will be a part of the process, but you must also think logically and rationally.

A Word From Verywell

To be successful at sharing your feelings, you need to be open, honest, willing to make time for each other, and receptive to these talks. This needs to be a reciprocal process. You both must share on an intimate level with each other; it can't just be one of you.

If you're having trouble expressing your feelings, consider couples counseling (either together or alone) to better understand what is preventing you from taking an emotional risk and having heart-to-hearts regularly with your partner.

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3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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