The lack of emotional safety can cause us to retreat into our shells to protect us from a world were vulnerability is perceived as weakness. It is much easier for our voices to lie dormant than to speak of how we truly feel.
But how can we?
It’s hard to open up when you’ve been burned several times in the past. Even with current events, it can still feel like the past is on the verge of repeating itself, it feels safer to be alone than to be with people who make you feel judged or worse putting your trust in people with bad intentions.
Exposure to trauma and negative events can cause you to feel safer dealing with burdens on your own, to leave things unsaid.
This is how you ended up being in a room full of people, feeling lonely.
Sidenote – If you find yourself being uncomfortable to be yourself around certain people, it might not be because you have social anxiety, it could just be that you don’t feel safe around them.
How important is emotional safety in a relationship?
First things first, I want to highlight the very importance of security for women. It is the reason why most women want to be in a committed relationship. Without security, eventually attraction dies, so does trust and respect for that man.
Security is important to women because this is how we like to feel loved, and as someone who has felt invalidated in relationships, I can tell you first hand- it sucks and it has to be the loneliest feeling in the world. You may be able to relate to this as well if you grew up in a narcissistic family dynamic.
There is no love without trust
The thing about being invalidated is that you tend to blame yourself and try to fix things and get them to ‘open back up’, hence the problem with articles like ‘how to get him to open up’ or ‘how to win him back’.
It perpetuates the notion that women have to jump through circus rings on fire to make others happy, like somehow the reason he suddenly went cold or closed off after communicating must mean that there’s something wrong with us.
Emotional safety is essential for building trust in any relationship, besides romantic, whether it be at work or with your girlfriends.
Without safety, there is no trust, when there is no trust there is no love or connection.
Write down the things you wish people would have told you instead of being invalidating. How can you give yourself more of that validation?
What does it mean to be emotionally safe with someone?
Emotional safety is a feeling of being able to be your authentic self around someone without the fear of being judged, criticised or loved any less. You are able to let your guard down with this person and you trust that what you share won’t be used against you or held against you.
Emotional Safety Examples
Unsafe people have abusive character traits that have been linked to emotional abuse.
1. They are able to hold space for you and your emotions
Talking to them makes you feel heard, comfortable and not as though you are talking to a robot. Most importantly you feel validated, they will not take this personal and resort to other manipulation tactics such as gaslighting, deflecting, yelling, guilting, blame shifting, verbal abuse or excuses. They don’t question your feelings, instead they try to understand them to understand you better.
2. They are self aware and willing to grow
None of the ‘this is just how I am or blaming it on my childhood’ victim mentality. They are aware of their own triggers and areas they need to work on and they don’t make you have to be the one to pay for it. This level of depth requires the ability to be alone with one’s thoughts, intimacy with self and self awareness only comes with the territory.
3. They have the ability to express their needs and communicate their boundaries with you
They have healthy boundaries. You do not feel as though you have to unlock communication with them. This will be the easiest relationship you have ever been in. And yes! Relationships are not meant to feel like a game of push and pull. You do not feel like they are a project that you need to work on or fix.
4. They are not afraid to be intimate or vunerable with you (sex does not count obviously)
The word vunerable, doesn’t leave them running for the hills. They are able to go deep with you and you can hold a deeper connection beyond the surface. A lack of emotional safety at work could be discerned as friends who come together to hate on a common enemy or friends who try to build connection by gossiping about their other friend. In a relationship, it could look like sex being the only thing keeping your relationship hanging by a thread.
5. They can respect your boundaries and prioritise your needs
Your comfort is important to them. They love the fact that you trusted them enough to open up and will respect your boundaries without any push back, or passive aggression. They certainly will not make you pay for it in tears later.
6. They have empathy towards others
An emotionally safe person will put themselves in your shoes to understand where you are coming from. They will not brush things under the carpet or will try to tell you to move on. They most definitely will not accuse you of being crazy and sensitive. These aren’t the type of people to be rude or mean to others, they will apologise (with actual follow through) and show remorse when they have caused harm.
7. They are emotionally consistent
Their words match their actions. Unsafe people have a way of using flattery, lies and word salad but they can never back it up with actions.
You will find it is easy to trust them as their actions align with their words. Words are nice but you will know of someone’s true intentions by their actions towards you. There will be a sense of clarity and you don’t find yourself guessing where you stand, they make their intentions known and show you that you are important to them.
8. They are very accepting of your personality quirks, opinions and interests
Have you ever mentioned something vulnerable to someone and they said it was stupid and laughed at how dumb they think it is to your face and even worse, followed with more disparaging comments about your personality? They even proceed to make you change your mind to adopt their own way of thinking.
Safe people make you feel good about who you are even if they don’t agree, it is easy for them to accept your opinions, ideas and the people you choose as friends. They are supportive and accepting of who you are.
9.They show a genuine interest in your life
You ever been in a situation where someone was just talking at you and not with you?
It feels like you have to compete to just get a word in. They don’t bother to ask about your life and don’t seem very invested in it. The relationship feels more like a therapist-client relationship or the type of relationship that a mentor will have with a mentee.
Safe people will likely remember little details of your life and even bring it up in conversation the next time you meet.
10. They actually listen
If most of the conversations we have with others is non-verbal, it’s no wonder being around unsafe people makes you feel lonely. They don’t listen so do not count on them to listen to non-verbal cues.
Your friend asks – “By the way how are you? After just talking about herself 15 minutes straight”
You say – “I’m doing really good I just have this… (with hesitation in your voice)”… and then she cuts you off so she can start talking about herself again or she finds something in the conversation she can use to steer the attention back to her.
11. They treat people how they want to be treated
If you can’t take it don’t dish it out. Beware of people who have a lack of consideration for others. How they treat others, will be how they treat you too.
They are people who expect you to tolerate their abuse because you are of close proximity. You know someone is safe when they don’t abuse the people closest to them and they actually treat people who can’t do anything for them well. It doesn’t matter if they are of lower class, poorly dressed or look and speak different.
What has been your experience with loneliness and one-sided relationships? Is there any point that I missed?Let me know what you think in the comments!