Isn’t it crazy how sometimes, we can tell our life story to the stranger on the metro yet talking to those closes to us can be incredibly hard? Seemingly trivial topics can weigh heavy on our hearts and just don’t find their way across our lips.

Open, healthy communication is the key to a happy relationship and a crucial base to exploring bold pleasures together.

Here are seven ground rules for great conversations:

1Agree to Be Sincere

Sincerity in the sense that you will be honest with each other beyond ‘not telling lies’. This means sharing important details without being asked. Say, if your spouse asks if you texted with Rob when you texted with Marcus – then a simple “No” might be truthful but isn’t good enough.

2Say How You Feel

Even if you think it’s obvious how you feel, your partner might not see it that way. It is easy to interpret words and body language the wrong way. Being explicit and naming your feelings helps your partner to emphasize with you. Simple examples might be “This is very difficult for me.” Or “I am afraid you might get angry.”

3Ask, Don’t Tell.

Just like your partner can’t mindread what’s going on with you, don’t assume you can speak for your partner. “You never care how I feel.” might be how you interpret you partner’s actions, but could be far far from the truth. Maybe he just doesn’t understand, maybe he is scared, maybe inhibited – who knows? Right, your partner does. So just ask and you might be surprised what you learn.

4There Is a Time & a Place

Make sure you start tough conversations in a safe place and at a good time. Crucially, that is always face to face. The worst time is when you are not physically together, say via whatsapp or email. Bad times are when one of you is hungry, tired, mega stressed, drunk or otherwise intoxicated, at work …. You get the point. Bad places are in public, with friends, with your mom… Just make sure  you are both in the mental space to talk.

Remember, a good conversation has no victor. You can only win or loose together.

5Listen & Talk, Don’t Fight

This isn’t about being right. It’s not about winning. It’s about working something out together, as a couple. Take the time to truly understand what your partner means to say – which might be different from what you hear them say at first. Don’t try to be right, don’t try to win. Aim for understanding and being understood.

6If You Do Get Angry, Cool Down

Don’t continue the conversation angry. It will most likely not lead to anything good. Take a timeout and calm down. Try to understand what made you so angry and go back to point 2. Leave room for the possibility that what made you angry could have more to do with your perception than what your partner meant.

7Perception Is Reality

If your partner feels a certain way – accept that to be true. Whether you think it’s the truth is irrelevant. The way we see the world is a unique mix of reality, our past and our character. The challenge isn’t to tell the other what is right or wrong, but create your own path together.

You’d be surprised how few couples master these basic rules. It’s not easy – give each other room to stumble and help your partner stick to the most basic of all:

Care about each other’s well-being.

Sonja is a co-founder of boldpleasures. She's on a mission to free people to revel in their true sensuality by removing the stigma surrounding kink. Sonja writes about first steps, ditching the shame and how to combine kink and 'normal' family life. She's a mother of two and happily married.

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