How To Tell Him What You Need Without Nagging

Nathan Colquhoun/ Flickr
Nathan Colquhoun/ Flickr

It had been a long week, and my boyfriend and I really hadn’t spent much time together seeing as we were both working full-time and taking care of our other responsibilities at home. I missed the feeling of closeness to him that was lost in the rush.

More than anything I just wanted to spend time with him, to sit on the couch with him to relax and cuddle, but my boyfriend wanted to do his own thing. I knew he needed his downtime, but the fact that he didn’t want to hang out that night made me feel like what I wanted didn’t matter. What’s worse, I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling. I tend to avoid conflict, and I was afraid it would make him mad if I brought it up.

I’ve always had a hard time explaining how I feel to guys I’ve dated, so I often end up bottling it up until I want to scream. Part of that might be because I often heard from the women in my family—women who had been hurt by men—that it’s better not to share your feelings with a man, in order to avoid getting hurt.

But it also hurts when I can’t get my feelings out, like they’re stuck in my throat or something. It sometimes makes me resent the guy and think that he isn’t concerned enough about me (when it’s really just that he can’t read my mind).Even when I try to write out how I’m feeling—something that usually helps me clear my mind and explain what I want to say—it sometimes just comes out like I’m bitching when I’m really not intending to.

That’s one relationship skill I’d love to have: the ability to say what’s bothering me and not have it come out wrong.

So I decided to do some googling to see if I could find any tips. I found this and this article helpful, and made my own plan of action based on the advice I read.

  1. Find the right time. – Timing is everything. Make sure it’s not on a day that your partner is having a bad day or is really busy. Make time to talk, but be okay with it if that time is not right now. Sometimes, having that wait time actually helps you to cool down and get some perspective, anyway.
  2. Face your fear. Just do it. – It’s easy to agonize over finding the perfect thing to say, but sometimes this is just a way to procrastinate and avoid the issue. Don’t be afraid to say how you feel as long as it is with respect and not degrading to the other person.
  3. Be honest and stick to the facts. – Always be true to yourself and your partner. State the facts in a way that does not blame your partner. Instead of making accusations like, “you always” or “you never,” use “I” or “we” statements, like “I feel sad when we don’t get to spend time together.”
  4. Be specific about what you need. Instead of saying something vague like, “I need you to be more loving” let the other person know what you mean by that. In my case, I needed to let my boyfriend know that I feel loved and appreciated when he spends time with me one-on-one and is affectionate towards me. That helps him to know how to meet my needs better than simply demanding that he be “more loving.”

If I implement these steps I think that it will help me to communicate my feelings without starting a fight. He won’t feel threatened or defensive because I’ll talk to him about my feelings in a way that doesn’t blame him. I won’t resent him because he’ll know how I feel and what I need, and therefore be in a better spot to meet those needs. Instead of emotional distance, my boyfriend and I can enjoy the closeness that comes from communicating well.

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