Emotional Safety: What Is It and How to Create It in Your Relationship?

Being in a loving and healthy relationship should make you feel safe and allow you to express who you are.

If you can’t show your authentic self or feel like you can’t be open or vulnerable with your partner, it is likely that your relationship is lacking emotional safety.

Without it, you won’t be able to let your guard down or create a meaningful bond with another person.

So, What Is Emotional Safety?

Emotional safety refers to the feeling of being internally secure and relaxed with someone. It means that you are able to reveal your authentic self and drop your guard down when you’re in the company of that person.

It also allows you to truly express yourself and openly share your thoughts, ideas, fears, and vulnerabilities.

Feeling emotionally safe is crucial for building a close, intimate, and healthy relationship. The reason is that when you feel relaxed in the presence of another person, you can be honest and understand them better.

Relationships succeed and thrive when they are based on emotional safety. Counseling or therapy can help struggling couples to create or maintain this kind of safety.

Take note: There is no emotional safety in an abusive relationship. If you’re experiencing abuse in any form (physical or emotional), don’t hesitate to seek help. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and if you’re in immediate danger, call 911.

What Are the Benefits of Emotional Safety in Relationships?

Emotional safety helps each partner feel valued and cared for. There is also no need to be defensive because there is little to guard yourself against. This will then allow connection and intimacy to grow and deepen.

Here are the other benefits of feeling safe in a relationship:

  • You can share what’s on your mind without being blamed, judged, or criticized.
  • There is a sense of freedom to express bold ideas and thoughts, as well as your fears, pain, and longings.
  • You feel heard, acknowledged, and understood.
  • You feel safe to share your weaknesses, dissatisfaction, fantasies, and sexual desires.
  • You can have open communication or disagreements without yelling, shaming, or name-calling.

How to Create Emotional Safety in Your Relationships?

Feeling safe in a relationship doesn’t happen overnight — it takes time, effort, and persistence from both parties.

Below are a few ways to help you start building emotional safety in relationships.

Practice active listening

Active listening means giving all your attention to the speaker and focusing on what is being said instead of just passively hearing the message.

It is an essential part of a healthy relationship as it shows that you value your partner’s needs, ideas, and perspectives.

Active listening also enables both of you to openly communicate and better understand each other.

Listening actively also means not allowing yourself to become distracted by what’s going on around you. The same is also true for mentally constructing counter-arguments while the other person talks.

Here are a few other ways to practice active listening:

  • Look at your partner directly and set aside distracting thoughts.
  • Don’t interrupt or assume while the other person talks.
  • Provide feedback or ask questions to clarify unclear points or ideas.
  • Be honest in your response.

Establish and respect boundaries

Setting boundaries early on can prevent you from becoming entangled in a toxic relationship. By establishing personal rules or limits, you allow your partner to know the things you are comfortable with and how you’d like to be treated.

This can also invite your partner to share their boundaries and allow both of you to feel safe and respected while maintaining a deep connection.

Just make sure to communicate your boundaries to each other and respect them. Don’t just drop hints or assume that your partner knows what you are and aren’t okay with. If the boundaries have been communicated and some things are not clear, ask questions.

Keep in mind that boundaries can change over time, as people’s desires and levels of comfort change.

Swap judgment for curiosity     

It is easy to judge or criticize when you don’t fully agree with what your partner said or did. The sad part is that this only encourages more hostility and turns conversations into full-blown arguments.

Approach things with curiosity and ask questions to find out the motivations for their actions and better understand what they are saying.

Don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions with limited information. Be compassionate and more understanding. It is okay to disagree and have conflicts, but you need to learn to handle or resolve them in a positive or peaceful way.

Mind your body language or non-verbal communication

Communication is more than just spoken words. Your body language, which includes your tone, posture, and facial expressions, is also crucial in creating a safe space. If you fold your arms, turn your back, or roll your eyes, your partner may not feel safe.

The same is also true for a lack of eye contact, talking too fast or giving short responses, and having a scrunched-up face.

Poor or negative body language can compromise your relationship by offending or alienating your partner.

It is advisable to start minding your non-verbal communication before having a conversation. Ask yourself, what is your body language saying right now?

Be consistent

Inconsistencies can make people feel confused and frustrated. It is also mentally exhausting to be around someone moody, impulsive, and volatile.

Having inconsistent behavior can sabotage emotional safety in relationships, as your partner doesn’t know what to expect of you. It is also harder to trust someone whose words and actions are not aligned.

Here’s how you can create emotional safety by being consistent:

  • Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
  • Keep your words or promises.
  • Don’t say one thing, then do another.
  • Be reliable, even in little things.
  • Don’t start something if you cannot keep it up.

Provide validation and empathy

Show empathy by validating your partner’s feelings and experiences. While their emotions or perspectives may be different from yours, this doesn’t mean that theirs aren’t correct or less important.

The best thing you can do is let them know that you acknowledge their feelings. Besides, it’s hard to talk or be honest when you’re met with anger or criticism.

Start by listening attentively to your partner when they open up. Let them know that what they are feeling is valid, even if you don’t fully understand it. Resist the temptation to question or ridicule their perspectives, especially if you don’t agree with them.

Put aside your views and let them know that you are here to support them.

Don’t hesitate to try therapy

If you and your partner need help in creating or rebuilding emotional safety, don’t hesitate to seek professional support. A relationship counselor or therapist can teach both of you communication strategies to be better communicators and listeners.

There is also the benefit of achieving a deeper understanding of each other and improving relationships.

Here are a few other things a therapist can help couples with:

  • Improving sex life or getting to the root of intimacy issues
  • Learning new ways to have better or constructive arguments
  • Rebuilding trust
  • Discovering ways to connect and rekindle the passion
  • Addressing issues that might be compromising the relationship

Wrapping Up

There is nothing wrong with having a partner who is physically attractive or has a great sense of humor. However, they should also make you feel free, safe, and secure.

Keep in mind that, when there is no emotional safety, both of you might struggle with creating a healthy and meaningful partnership.

You can consider therapy to create that kind of safety and nurture your relationship.

The best part is you can do this from anywhere you are, even without leaving your home. Online therapy is available through platforms like Calmerry and it enables you to get help with no need to commute to a therapist’s office.

You can use therapy to talk through and deal with your issues as a couple or individually.