Sharing Thoughts and Feelings AppropriatelyFirst, being relational requires sharing thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants appropriately. For many sex addicts, this is a huge hurdle. Perhaps they learned through various life experiences that their thoughts and feelings weren’t valuable, so they have learned to keep them to themselves, making it difficult for others to get to know them and form relationships with them. Others may have learned that in order for their thoughts and feelings to be heard, they had to be loud or rage, possibly causing people to avoid being in a relationship with them. One of the first steps to practicing healthy relational skills is learning how to share thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way. This includes speaking calmly, respectfully, and from the “I” position.
Letting Go of ResentmentThe second step in practicing these skills is letting go of outcome and resentments when we share. It can be easy to assume that once we share our thoughts and feelings, others will listen, understand, or even agree, but this is not always the case. Often the most difficult part of sharing our thoughts and feelings is doing so without an underlying agenda to manipulate or control.
It is important to remember that the point in sharing thoughts and feelings is to practice intimacy, being known. When we share, it is important to let go of how the information is received and know that we have done our part.
NegotiationWhat often comes next is negotiation. If we have been brave enough to share our thoughts and feelings we may find ourselves in a conversation with others that requires negotiation. Perhaps they disagree or have a different perspective. Sometimes the discussion can simply be left at that, and other times, within a relationship for example, there might need to be a negotiation where both people feel heard and respected in the ongoing relationship. This will likely require several rounds of the first two steps followed by the next step.
Setting BoundariesFollowing negotiation is the concept of setting boundaries in regards to what is and is not acceptable in the relationship moving forward. This really helps set the stage for building deeper connection with the other person after having successfully navigated through a difficult moment. Despite how hard this can be, it often helps develop trust and respect between individuals thus a framework for a healthy relationship.