1. Be open and honest. Being honest means not lying to or misleading your girlfriend, which should be easy enough. But being open requires you to make yourself vulnerable on some level, which many people struggle with. If being open and honest doesn't come naturally to you, you'll need to work on it with your partner for the sake of your relationship.
Open, honest communication is the foundation of a strong relationship. If you cannot be open and honest with one another, you will inevitably encounter problems down the line.
Tell your girlfriend the full truth. Don't hold back or withhold your feelings, because she may be upset if she finds out about it.
If you're struggling with being open, let your partner know about the problem and try to explain the reasons why. If she knows you struggle with it, she can be extra supportive, and may learn to ask you prompting questions or request elaborations.
2. Reflect before you speak. Many people are in such a hurry to get all their thoughts/feelings out in the open that they fail to pause and reflect on what's being said. This is true of both speaking your mind in general, as well as speaking in response to something your girlfriend has said.
Think carefully about what it is you want to say before you speak.
Be aware of what you're feeling when you talk to your girlfriend.
Speak as clearly and directly as possible.
If you're responding to something your partner said, give her a second to make sure she's finished talking. Then take a brief second to process what she's said and think about how to best articulate your response.
3. Communicate respectfully. You should always strive to be as respectful as possible in every conversation you have with your girlfriend. Respect may be an obvious requirement for many people, but it's important to be aware of your words, your tone, the subtext of your conversation, and your body language to always convey mutual respect for one another.
Take responsibility for what you say and do during a conversation, even if it escalates to an argument.
You should both fully express your thoughts and feelings, but you need to do so respectfully.
Validate your partner's feelings. Try to understand why your girlfriend feels the way she does, and at the very least respect the fact that she feels that way.
Convey a respectful posture. Don't slouch, avoid eye contact, or do other tasks while listening to your girlfriend. Face her and give her your full attention.
Be respectful in any responses you give. Don't interrupt your girlfriend, and never say that she's wrong to feel a certain way.
If there's any kind of misunderstanding between you, don't get mad or upset. Instead, you should calmly ask questions and try to get your girlfriend to clarify what she means.
4. Focus on "I" statements. When emotions rise, especially during a fight or after you've been hurt somehow, it's easy to slip into declarative statements (such as "You are a liar and you hurt my feelings."). But psychologists agree that using "I" statements are far more effective and cause less tension. Using an "I" statement simply means framing your hurt feelings as a way that you feel, rather than as an accusation or an absolute about your partner. A good "I" statement should include the following components:
A statement of emotion ("I feel _____")
A fair and unemotional description of the behavior causing you to feel the way you feel ("I feel _____ when you ______")
An explanation of why the behavior or conditions at hand cause you to feel the way you do ("I feel ____ when you _____, because it _________")
5. Don't rush things. If you haven't been dating for a long time, or if you are new to sharing your feelings in general, it's best to take things slowly. You should still work on communicating with one another every day, but you and your partner should have a frank conversation about how comfortable you are with divulging your personal thoughts/feelings, and what kind of time frame you might need to get to that point.
Don't rush into deep, troubling, or difficult conversations. Let them come naturally when you're both ready to talk about such things.
Don't rush your partner, and don't let her rush you.
Go by what you are both comfortable with, and know that any effort at improving communication will help strengthen your relationship.
6. Use self-disclosure statements. Self-disclosure statements can be very useful in a relationship, especially if you're new to sharing your feelings or talking about deeply personal things. They're a way for you to reveal yourself incrementally but candidly to your partner, with the assumption that she will talk about herself as well. Try building off of the following self-disclosing cues to get started:
I am a person who _____.
One thing I wish people knew about me is _______.
When I try to express intimate feelings, _____________.
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