It is essential for couples and would-be couples to establish safe ground for the relationship to thrive and this is done through building trust, affirming each other, investing enough time for each other for the relationship to blossom, and keeping agreements.

It is important that communication be unambiguous (read as: no mind games). When we try to employ tactics to test the other instead of being up front and engaging in discussion, this might eventually backfire on us when our partner gets exhausted with trying to figure us out.

Inasmuch as we need assurance in order to move forward and escalate our involvement with the other, we must understand that the other may need the same assurance too–this is assuming that the feelings are mutual.

As adults, all carry our inherent vulnerabilities and emotional injuries into the interaction and we would naturally be extremely hesitant to expose our vulnerabilities andante be honest about what we need or want for whatever reason. It is only by knowing that one is in an emotional sanctuary that we would even think about letting our guards down and opening up.

The first step in moving towards this direction is endeavouring to be transparent with each other about our hopes and requirements for the potential or current relationship, more importantly the needs which we feel have not been met by the partner. It is not to say that we should take every vaunted feeling in this conversation as gospel truth since these are, at best, our personal truths and at worst, biased opinions.

We must keep an open mind–enough for the partner to respond and share their truths and perspectives without feeling defensive and without becoming accusatory or antagonistic.

Safe ground is not a sterile passive place where it becomes by default ‘safe’ because nothing is happening and both people are so polite to each other and adverse to conflict that nothing gets brought out to the open and discussed. Furthermore, the emotional safe ground is not considered safe by virtue of an absence of emotions but rather characterised by a welcoming attitude to possibly messy emotions. It is where both people can bring up their most awkward sentiments and not feel contempt or judgement from the other; but instead, be able to find affection and acceptance.

Establishing this emotional space is no mean feat… It requires true gumption from both parties and the ability to take the risk of being authentic and even vulnerable. It also requires consistent input and upkeep from both parties to keep the space safe for each other. It is only upon establishing and maintainibg an emotional safe ground that the relationship would have a respectable chance at thriving and remaining healthy–definite not for the faint of heart. People who like to play it safe need not apply.

(c) Niconica 2012

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