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ERP 111: Is It Okay To Want Validation From Your Partner? [Transcript]

ERP 111: Is It Okay To Want Validation From Your Partner?

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Welcome to The Empowered Relationship Podcast, helping you turn relationship challenges into opportunities and setting you up for relationship success. Your host, Dr. Jessica Higgins, is a licensed psychologist and relationship coach who shares valuable tips, tools and resources for you to dramatically improve your relationship.

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Hi, thank you for joining today’s podcast episode. Today’s episode is 111 – Is It Okay To Want Validation From Your Partner?

I am continuing the conversation from the topic of last week’s podcast episode (episode 110 – How To Manage Two Majorly Conflicting Needs In Relationship). I am going to be recapping that conversation and some of the major components, so that it creates a foundation for today’s episode, and I’m going to be answering the question “Is It Okay To Want Validation From Your Partner?” I believe we get some mixed messages and it relates to the conflicting needs that I talked about in episode 110.

Along with answering the question, I am gonna give you four keys to seeking validation and intimacy with your partner: how to set this up for success, how to navigate what can be an incredibly tender, tricky and messy (messy, messy!) when we’re not aware of these keys.

Before we get started, I want to just say how much I appreciate spending this time with you and your listenership, as well as your commitment to growing yourself and growing your relationship… Again, knowing that part of what we’re doing here on this show is to be able to expand the capacity for intimacy, as well as tolerate some of the upset more skillfully, so we can gain awareness and insight, and ultimately, again, create more fulfilling, happy, lasting love.

If you’re new to this show, I just wanna let you know part of what happens on these conversations is I answer listeners’ questions… So if you’re having a wondering, if you’re feeling stuck or you have a topic that you would like me to create a podcast episode on, you can e-mail me. My e-mail is jessica@drjessicahiggins.com.

If you’d like to receive live laser coaching with me and be able to create an episode from your laser coaching, feel free to find out more information about that by going to my website, which is DrJessicahiggins.com click on Podcast and you can find more details there. I also interview other experts in the field on relevant, important topics for you to be thinking about in your relationship.

Again, today’s topic – is it okay to want validation from your partner? And again, as I’ve mentioned, this is a follow-up or continuation of the conversation that I started in episode 110, so if you missed that, I encourage you to listen to it, as it will help give some context to some major components that seem really conflicting. The topic of 110, the previous episode, How To Manage Two Majorly Conflicting Needs In Relationship, I talked about how often we get caught in the belief that being in relationship requires us to give over of ourselves, to give up our individuality, our personal needs, preferences, desires, passions, in an attempt to seek relationship harmony, the sense of oneness.

With this approach, if we are continually prioritizing the harmony of the relationship, we may be avoiding bringing ourselves fully, because we don’t wanna rock the boat, we don’t wanna upset our partner, we’re afraid of getting rejected, and there’s lots of things that can make that feel tricky. But essentially, we will in the long term end up losing ourselves… Again, for prioritizing that sense of same, oneness of the partnership.

Again, I encourage you to check out the episode of How To Manage Two Conflicting Needs In Relationship. In today’s episode I’m gonna reference David Schnarch again. One of his breakthrough best-selling books was Passionate Marriage. I think it’s a classic, as he’s talking about the importance of differentiation, and that is how to hold on to yourself, essentially… And I’ll quote him in saying “Differentiation is the process by which we become more uniquely ourselves by maintaining ourselves in relationship with those we love.”

Essentially, it’s being able to continue to grow ourselves individually while maintaining connection and intimacy in relationship with the people that we love and matter most to us. On the converse, when couples get stuck in that sense of really prioritizing relationship, harmony and oneness, and omit or hide or withhold what’s true for them, he talks about a term he has called “emotionally fused couples.” This is where couples are trying to seek that oneness, when essentially you have two unique individuals that are sharing a relationship together, so it’s a real fallacy to think that we can fully achieve a sense of oneness.

With emotionally fused couples, David Schnarch says:

“They are controlled by their connection. They have lost their ability to direct themselves and so get swept up in how people around them are feeling. There’s room for only one opinion, one position, differentiation is the ability to stay in connection without being consumed by the other person. Our urge for togetherness and our capacity to care always drive us to seek connection, but true interdependence requires emotionally distinct people.”

Just to also recap, Dr. David Schnarch talks about how when we are emotionally fused we lose the tension, the erotic passion, and it shows up often in physical, sexual intimacy. I can talk a lot more about that, but I don’t wanna get off topic.

Okay, so continuing to recap here – I also talked about the importance of holding priority for both of these needs… The seemingly conflicting need of autonomy (that’s the individuality) as well as the intimacy, the togetherness, and how this is a little perplexing often, because we do not have a model of how to prioritize both, how to grow ourselves – our dreams, our desires and our passions – while growing in relationship, increasing, expanding intimacy and connection.

We often don’t know how to do both. They seem incompatible. I’m gonna give you some examples a little bit later. I think often we intellectually understand this. We understand that both needs are important – the need for autonomy and the need for intimacy – and in practice we struggle balancing them, as I was just saying.

What’s interesting is in this struggle we tend to think something’s wrong. The pain that we feel and the struggle indicates something’s wrong with us, something’s wrong with our partner or our relationship, when in fact the struggle is a part of the developmental process. It’s growing us, it’s maturing us, it’s helping us evolve.

In episode 110 I also talked about two different approaches, two different schools of thought in the field of couples’ work; there’s many books written and practicing professionals that have training in these two different schools of thought. One is largely represented by David Schnarch, which is about helping the individual become more differentiated, and this is through the process of more self-validation. “That is when you don’t expect your partner to validate or accept what you disclose, you validate yourself as you show your partner who you really are.” That’s a quote by Schnarch.

Again, it’s creating more connection through validating yourself and revealing more who you really are. We’re gonna talk about more of that today.

The second school of thought is helping couples create more secure emotional connection, so that the couple can feel more trust, more care, more safety in their relationship, in their partnership, and that this safety allows for more vulnerability, more authentic sharing, which in turn creates more connection.

The main difference between these approaches I think is the need for safety. This is highly emphasized by the second… The second focuses on creating safety between partners, to allow more vulnerable sharing, while the first focuses on self-soothing, self-validating, so that a partner can express more authentically and vulnerably, which in turn cultivates more passion and connection… So essentially, their goal is similar, but their approach is very different.

I wanna also note that I speculated through my dissertation research that it may be important to first create a solid foundation to then take more risks of self-expression and self-validating, so it’s possible that the second approach of the creating safety perhaps needs to come first, and then the differentiation focus will be more applicable… Because again, if you’ve listened to my previous podcast, if we don’t feel safe and we feel highly threatened and activated, we’re not even in our ability to respond skillfully; we’re in that very primal fight/flight/freeze response, which none of us can really be that skillful when we’re triggered.

Okay, so I referenced a big difference between them… They have similar components – their goal is very similar, and there’s also some keys and components that are similar. I wanna just focus on the desire to feel seen, understood and validated. Most of us, I believe, crave and long to feel accepted, loved and valued for who we truly are, yet we don’t always look the same — many of us are active and open about seeking connection and validation, where others seemingly are disinterested and are very self-validating… But deep inside we want to feel that connection, we want to feel accepted, we wanna feel really loved for what’s true and authentic.

The path around how we seek that validation can be fraught with difficulty. This is why I even posed the topic of this conversation, “Is it okay to want validation from your partner?”, because the path of seeking validation can feel like walking through a minefield. We say something and we do something and it just blows up… Things get escalated, there’s defensiveness and there’s reaction, and it can feel really confusing.

David Schnarch talks about there being a difference between intimacy and validation. I’ll quote him:

“We’re driven by something that makes us look like we crave intimacy, but in fact we’re after something else: we want someone else to make us feel acceptable and worthwhile….Once we realize that intimacy is not always soothing and often makes us feel insecure, it is clear why we back away from it.”

There’s so much in this that I could actually expand on… One thing I’ll note is when I talk about the development of intimacy and how in those early romance stages we are so enamored with one another that we are glamorizing, we’re emphasizing our strengths and we’re overlooking the weaknesses or the areas that we may need to grow in, and the areas of difference between the two people. One of the reasons why that first stage feels so incredibly amazing is not only because of all the neurochemicals that are going on, and the endorphins and the oxytocin and the dopamine, we’re getting juiced up by all of these neurochemicals, but it’s also we’re getting a lot of validation… “You’re amazing! I think you’re fantastic! I love this about you, I love that about you!” and it feels incredible. It’s one of the things that we are drawn to, and yet when we get into that second stage, that power struggle stage, we start to see our differences emerge, we start to see our partners weaknesses or areas of growth, and we feel challenged by this. We feel challenged by the differences around, again, what David Schnarch is talking about, around how to have a difference of opinion and still stay in connection. So part of moving beyond that power struggle stage is to recognize the importance of the differences in the value without assigning a good/bad, right or wrong. Both individuals can exist, and we start to see and respect each other’s seat at the table, despite the differences. That takes a whole process, and I created my Connected Couples program to help guide couples through this very thing.

If you’re interested in putting some of this into practice and developing these skills and being able to integrate them into your life, into your relationship, feel free to reach out to me. Again, my e-mail is jessica@drjessicahiggins.com

Okay, so is there a difference between seeking intimacy and seeking validation? I thought about this a little bit, because I think they’re so intertwined that when we feel that validation, we’re gonna feel a sense of intimacy. We all wanna feel seen, understood and feel accepted. As I began to think about it though, I was teasing this out a little bit more and trying to recognize the subtle differences, and it reminded me of — in my actual program (Connected Couples) I use the analogy of an iceberg… And again, I’ve talked about this on my podcast as well, that the iceberg is classically known that just the very tip is above the water line of the surface of the water, and that the majority of the iceberg is underneath the water’s surface line. What that can be representative of is how much we don’t show people typically… Our fears, our insecurities, our dreams, our passions, our desires, our sensitive buttons and bad memories and shame and all of these things are things that we don’t always reveal. Essentially, that’s below the water line, metaphorically.

Part of deepening in intimacy, essentially dropping that water line, is exposing yourself (in a safe way) to someone you care about and you love, and that’s more of that vulnerability. It made me think about a time – and I can reference and I’m sure you’ve had examples where you have felt deep sharing with someone else, whether or not it’s a friend or your loved one, your partner, where there’s a depth, there’s a heartfelt sharing and hence connection.

The first thing I thought of… It was 2014 and I was actually going to this training, and someone that I knew  — I don’t know her all that well, but there’s a trust between us and there’s a mutual regard and respect… And we were at this training and it’s after the day’s event, and we are out on the back patio; it’s dark, and I think I was drinking ice tea and she was drinking something else… It was just her and I talking, and we were talking about the day, catching up, and she was being really honest and she shared very tenderly about her dad’s passing. It was just in the last month or so. I was very attentive and I was listening, so I’m sure there were certain things that I was doing to create safety, to allow her to really go there with me… And she shared how beautiful, despite the loss and despite the grief, but in him dying and transitioning — it was at home she talked about the sunlight coming in through the windows, she talked about her siblings being there, she talked about them doing the things that they’ve loved all throughout their family together, whether or not it was reading, poetry or singing, and just the love and the warmth and the embrace of showing up and holding space for him, and how he was coherent… And he was able to share with them in a very special way. I guess this was a whole weekend, so I can’t encapsulate it here for you, but it was a sacred, sacred sharing. She was just offering it to me, as a revealing, a dropping the water line of “Here’s what’s been real for me. If we’re sharing and catching up, this has been a big part of my life in the last month or two.”

So I’m sharing this with you as an example that she wasn’t seeking approval from me. She wasn’t interested in my opinion of whether or not I thought it was good or not… It was more about was I able to receive her? Even when she was talking I could feel my eyes welling up with tears of just feeling her, being empathetic in myself, sharing with her vicariously in the experience.

So it was her being vulnerable with me essentially, but it wasn’t about her seeking approval or her okayness, it was more about her revealing vulnerability. That’s something that can be a distinguishing factor around “Are you seeking intimacy or are you seeking validation?” Validation can often have the flavor of wanting to feel okay, wanting approval, wanting reassurance of, like I said, that okayness. Intimacy is more about being willing to reveal and opening.

Is it okay to want validation from your partner? I think this depends. If you’re gonna force me to answer this, I’m gonna say yes, but often times in psychology and life personal growth concepts and coaching it varies, it depends. I have some things for you to consider here…

I think it’s extremely fair that we’re gonna have moments of not knowing our worthiness and our acceptability. If you don’t know that you’re worthy and that you’re acceptable, it can be incredibly healing to have your partner remind you of your goodness, to reassure you, to hold space, to believe in you when you’ve lost belief in yourself… And are you continuously relying on validation to source your self-esteem? Or are you willing to do your inner work and grow yourself – even with the help of your partner, but are you taking some responsibility and ownership of growing yourself if you feel insecure about something, or if you feel inadequate in some area…? Are you willing to look at that and work with that?

Many couples get stuck… Again, I was talking in episode 110 about this idea of fusion fantasy, this oneness, and seeking sameness and seeking harmony as the ultimate priority, and many couples get stuck in not wanting to rock the boat, not bringing their authentic fear, their authentic worry or their authentic preferences to the table because it feels like it’s gonna create conflict.

I have an example of this. Last week I was working with a couple; they’ve been together for many years (17, 18 years) and they have been in this pattern. I’ve been trying to help them create safety and help them experience what it’s like to drop the water line and reveal and fuel a sense of connection and sharing, an intimacy that allows it to be okay to very much express their individuality within a sense of intimacy and connection. Some couples… It’s difficult. It’s almost as if I’m giving them experiences, but I’m also trying to teach them about the possibility, and it’s a risk, it’s unknown; it’s scary, because it’s something they have not really entertained very much, so it’s almost as if I am laying out and teaching them about the possibility and coaching and supporting them to do the practice, but it’s incredibly risky still.

What happened in this particular session is the wife of this couple was expressing a really deep fear, and it was in response to something her husband had said, and he had felt as though he had just used a misword, he had spoken incorrectly. I think honestly from my vantage point it looked as though he was speaking comfortably and freely, and maybe it wasn’t the best choice of words, but I think it was pretty accurate what he was feeling, and I was helping him to be able to express what that word meant for him. But where this got super tricky was he said what he said, and his wife reacted, and it went to a very deep place and brought up fear in her that she had been holding, and has been true for her for a while, but she’d been, again, not bringing it to the table. Not hiding it necessarily, but certainly not bringing it up.

So he had the experience of “I’m in the doghouse, I’m not okay. What I do is not good enough”, and he shut down. She got scared because she was like “Okay, it’s not okay for me to feel what I’m feeling. He’s shut down, and there’s a lot of disconnect.” I’m watching this happen, and it feels like a crumbling. They’re both feeling really crappy, they’re both feeling terrible, disconnected, they’re not feeling validated or safe, but they don’t have a framework for how to hold and tolerate some of this discomfort. This is sometimes what it looks like in the process.

When we get into a partnership and we create safety, we wanna be able to have a dynamic that supports the individual expression even if it feels uncomfortable and rocks the boat, because that’s — we can’t go through relationship without our needs getting met, right? If we don’t express what’s important to us and what hurts and what feels good, it’s hard to really have the relationship be authentic to you, to represent you, to matter to you, because you’re not really showing up.

This particular couple has a lot in common, so they’ve got that to their benefit and they flow really nicely in many ways, but the areas where they differ, they have essentially swept it under the rug, and it’s incredibly uncomfortable to look at, because it creates this pattern that they don’t know how to get through, and I’ve been working with them, and it’s still deeply ingrained.

I share this with you as an example of how quickly we can feel that sense of disconnect, and how when we don’t have a template of how to tolerate some of this discomfort, how to create the safety and do some of this work of creating intimacy, there can be a lot of distrust for what I’m calling rocking the boat, having a difference of opinion or having strong emotion and being able to have a safe space to hold that with one another.

In a moment I’m gonna give you four keys of how to seek validation in intimacy. Before we do that, I just wanna respond to the question of this podcast, “Is it okay to want validation from your partner?” To do that, I’m actually going to give you some questions that invite you to look at aspects within yourself. It’s really more about how you go about seeking validation than the desire to feel validated, or to feel seen and accepted and loved. Again, I think that’s just a very real, benevolent, good thing to want to feel seen, loved and validated, but how we go about it can be the difference maker, and here’s some questions for you to consider.

Again, I am gonna give you the four keys, and these questions actually connect with the four keys, so perhaps you can maybe guess what I’m referring to when I’m asking these questions.

Okay, the first question around “Is it okay to want validation from your partner?” – are you wanting your partner to be responsible for your experience? When you approach them, are you looking for them to be responsible for your emotional upset? If you answer yes to this question (you DO want your partner to be responsible), something you might say to your partner (as an example) would be “You didn’t agree with me. I feel small, I feel inadequate, and it’s your fault that I feel insecure. Can you see how you make me feel this way?” So the ownership is on the other person.

Or if you know you’re wanting to feel validated, are you even clear that that’s your intention? Most of the time we don’t even know what we’re wanting. We approach our partner, we know we’re not happy, but we’re not even clear what we’re really looking for.

One example what it would look like to seek validation with a sense of awareness that that’s what you’re doing – you could talk to your partner in a version of saying something like “I’m feeling a lot of self-doubt today. Can you help me? Would you be willing to point out some strengths that I might be overlooking about myself or this situation?” So there’s a real clarity in that languaging around like “I’m struggling. I’m having a lot of self-doubt, and I’m feeling really low. If you’re able to help me, are you? And if so, can you remind me, can you point out what I might be overlooking or neglecting to see? Can you help me see clearly?” So that’s one area.

Another area of questions – are you willing to look at your own pain, your own discomfort in the interest of having greater understanding of what your issue is about? This can happen by asking yourself “What gets brought up in me in this situation?” Again, this may help you see what’s going on underneath, what’s going on at the core. Because if you don’t look within, you’re likely to miss a great opportunity to learn something powerful about yourself, and you’ll probably project on your partner, and your partner will not have the opportunity to be really with you and connect with you with what’s most real. They’re gonna respond to your projection, and again, that’s a total smoke and mirror distraction; it has nothing to do with what’s really going on. People talk about and laugh… It’s not about the dishes! We could argue about the dishes, but that’s not what it’s about… But it does take the person that’s got the issue to look within and tolerate some of that discomfort, that pain, in the interest of gaining some powerful learning about yourself.

Then – this is the third bucket of questions, and this is all in the show notes… So if you’re like “Oh, I can’t keep track of this all!”, I have this all written out and you can find it on the show notes, which can be found on my website, which is DrJessicaHiggins.com. Click on Podcast and you can find all the episodes on that page. The most recent ones are at the top. Again, this is episode 111.

Last little bucket here… I’m saying “bucket” because there’s a few phrases, maybe one question or two questions, but it’s basically one topic that I’m addressing. Are you willing to let your partner really see you fully? Usually, we want our partner to look at what they’re doing wrong and how they misstepped, hurt or offended, rather than looking at why this is a tender spot for you and what insecurity gets brought up in you. That’s really relevant to what I just said, but what’s different here is “Are you willing to turn towards your partner?” Are you willing to expose and reveal, are you willing to be seen? Because you can have great insight and have powerful awareness around where you’re sensitive and you can keep it to yourself, right?

I’m imagining some of you were able to guess what these keys are. Those questions really addressed the four keys of seeking validation and intimacy in relationship. Actually, the questions addressed three of these keys.

The first one that’s not addressed in the questions that I just asked is about safety. This is where, again, the two approaches that I’ve been speaking about differ. David Schnarch talks a lot about being able to stand on your own two feet, so it’s essentially creating safety within yourself, having your own back, feeling your own value… Basically, saying to yourself “That makes sense. It’s okay that I feel that way” and really giving yourself that credence, not abandoning yourself, not rejecting yourself. It’s essentially the same thing that we want from our partner, but it’s being able to give it to yourself.

As I speculate it, I think this is easier when we have a safe foundation in partnership, or just even in any relationships. This is where attachment theory becomes particularly relevant… Because if we had parenting at a very early age that was consistent and safe and dependable, we begin to be able to rely and feel that sense of trust and feel cared about, and we can feel that sense of security in a relationship.

This gets complicated if we haven’t had the secure attachment style early on… And yes, you can earn a secure attachment; that’s largely through creating safety and secure emotional connection in adulthood. I do think there’s other ways, and I will be creating a podcast episode about that as well. It basically is just being able to reference something that is a safe haven, that gives you that sense of relaxing your nervous system, knowing you’re okay, and that can be — mostly what I’m talking about is people can feel this sense of refuge, this safe haven through spirituality or through another loved one (a family member, a trusted friend)… But again, that palpable feeling of our goodness, our worthiness, our okayness, our acceptableness, our belonging, our value… All of these things.

The first key, whether or not you’re practicing creating safety for yourself: “I’m okay, I’m good. What I’m feeling is true and right”, whether or not you’re journaling and looking at how you’re feeling and saying “Yes, this is real” and you’re not blaming it or shaming it or rejecting it, and you’re acknowledging it. Or if you’re doing the work to create safety with your partner, that it’s okay for us to do some of these other keys, but that we’re really there for each other. The safety is about “I care about you, I love you, I’m with you, I’m here for you, I’m interested, I’m attentive, I’m present.” That’s an important key for validation and intimacy.

The second big key is ownership. Now, the first question responded to this, or kind of targeted this… Are we taking responsibility for our issue? Are we putting it off on our partner? Because most of the time if we’re seeking validation without even owning anything, the response we’ll get back from our partner will be a number of things, but it could be something in the ballpark of they feel pressure, and they don’t even know why. They’re feeling something strong; you’re coming at them strong, and there’s an agenda. You need something from them, but they’re like “You’re having an issue. You’re turning to me, you’re trying to solve it through me, and I feel pressure, I feel responsible, I feel maybe even overwhelmed”, some people might feel angry, like “What’s your deal? Take ownership. Say what’s going on for you, don’t put it on me!” Or they’ll push back: “No, I didn’t! That’s not me. You’re characterizing me all wrong”, and they’ll wanna fight. “That’s not what’s happening. I didn’t do this” – whatever the assumption is there that the person’s projecting.

When we don’t take ownership, we’re all wrapped up in our partner and most of the time they’re not gonna respond favorably. This is true for either one of those approaches around holding on to yourself or creating safe space with your partner. Both of them require a sense of “I’m gonna look at what’s going on in me” and “Can I share that with my partner vulnerably? Can I express that to my partner?” It’s very similar. So the key of taking ownership, recognizing what’s going on in you and taking responsibility for it.

Number three – vulnerability. This has to do with, again, dropping that water line. This is where a guided professional coach, a psychologist, a counselor can be really helpful, because often times we don’t even know how to hold this space for ourselves, and sometimes our partner doesn’t know how to hold this space, to drop that water line, to get to a core understanding, a deeper understanding of “What’s really going on here?”

A lot of the times we have a judgment about vulnerability, and I think Brené Brown (if you’re familiar with her) has done a lot to create a new association around the power of vulnerability. Many of us think that vulnerability is the act of being weak or submissive. I think that’s even in the dictionary… It’s like weak and vulnerable, or weak and submissive. But when it comes to emotional intimacy and relationship, it’s very contrary.

There’s an article on the Fulfillment Daily, and Emma Seppälä wrote this… She said to vulnerability, about this idea that it isn’t about being weak or submissive… She says “To the contrary, it implies the courage to be yourself. It involves uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. And that is why it might seem scary.”

That emotional exposure – again, that’s dropping that water line and revealing what’s there. And I wanna reassure that if you take steps in the direction of looking at what’s real and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you’ll get stronger. You’ll begin to build muscles around how to tolerate the sensitivity, and you’ll gain skill around what helps you feel safe in being vulnerable, because some things are gonna be more important to other people — people are gonna need different things to feel safe.

Number four – this is the last key. I know I might be running through some of this, and it might feel like these are big concepts and it requires much more depth… Again, I have created a curriculum for people that wanna go deeper, so if you’re interested in that, reach out to me. Again, the e-mail is jessica@drjessicahiggins.com.  I am more than happy to help you get on path to practicing these principles in your relationship and integrating them, so it becomes part of your experience, and you’ll reap the rewards of this.

I’m not interested in you just getting insights. Yes, that’s helpful, but I’m more interested in you practicing and feeling the development in your relationship and in yourself.

Okay, last key – transparency. This is about the courage to show the vulnerability. It’s turning towards your partner. Rather than turning away and licking your wounds, turning towards and allowing yourself to be seen, allowing that sense of being available for connection. This is where vulnerability becomes most tender, because we are standing there — again, if you’ve heard me talk, it’s the sense of being emotionally naked, and not knowing how our partner is gonna respond… Although the beauty of this is it’s much more likely that they’re gonna see you and feel you, and this is where true connection lies.

If we’re playing it safe and we’re not fully showing up, we’re just showing the very tip of the iceberg, and there’s all this really important stuff that we’re not bringing to the table, it’s likely the relationship will be surface. It will not have as much depth… Because it can’t. We’re not bringing it forth, so how can somebody validate the deeper aspects of your being if we don’t show, if we don’t reveal? It’s almost like that wanting the benefit without doing the risk. We want the reward, but we don’t wanna actually maybe take the risk.

Many couples will do this game of “No, you go first.” “No, you go first.” They’re not actually saying it to one another, but that’s essentially the energy of it, because again, it feels so scary… So, so scary to put ourselves out there and not know what we’re gonna get in response.

The article that I referenced a moment ago by Emma Seppälä in the Fulfillment Daily writes:

“The truth is that when we allow ourselves to be completely open and vulnerable, we benefit, our relationships improve, and we may even become more attractive.” Then she’s quoting Brené Brown here: “We are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth,” says Brown. “We love authenticity. We know that life is messy and imperfect.” Emma writes: “Why do we love children so much? Why are we drawn to people who act themselves? Because we feel an intrinsic comfort in the presence of authenticity. Moreover, someone who is real and vulnerable gives us the space and permission to be the same.”

In recap, the four keys that I’m offering you today to seeking validation in intimacy within your relationship are:

1) safety

2) ownership

3) vulnerability

4) transparency.

I wanna invite you to perhaps consider what is one of these four keys that you would like to maybe work with this week and pay a little more attention to… Around creating safety if you feel like “That’s something that I could definitely improve on in myself/in my relationship.” Or the ownership – do you find yourself sugarcoating things? Do you find yourself maybe giving little white lies?

My friend and I were joking the other day, there’s this old acronym for “I’m fine!” and it’s not flattering. We’re not really revealing that much. Or could you benefit from dropping in and understanding and getting real, getting vulnerable, or perhaps even turning towards and allowing yourself to be seen and being more transparent, being more emotionally exposed?

If you have questions or would like support with any of this, please feel free to reach out to me. My e-mail is jessica@drjessicahiggins.com Until next time, I hope you take great care.

*   *   *

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