New relationships offer opportunities as well as uncertainty. In the midst of a relatively new relationship, it can be intimidating to ascertain how the other person is feeling, even if everything appears to be progressing well. Marquette University's publication "What Does Research Tell Us About Healthy Relationships?" notes that healthy relationships are characterized by emotional regulation through mutual validation. This translates to being able to identify the appropriate time to share share your feelings about the relationship.
Identify cues that your partner is becoming increasingly, and more romantically, interested in you. Nonverbal cues are the primary mode of human communication, but they aren't as overt as verbal cues. Additionally, nonverbal cues tend to evolve as feelings deepen, notes a review of the research published in the "Texas Speech Communication Journal." Nonverbal cues that can let you know it might be time to share your feelings include increasing proximity, extended eye contact, open physical positions such as open arms and leaning forward. If you find that your partner is increasing the frequency and intensity of these kinds of cues, it's a good bet she is interested in pursuing more than what you already have established.
Follow your partner's lead in sharing feelings. This can be a very successful or very unsuccessful approach, because it is contingent on whether your partner is comfortable sharing his feelings first. If he happens to be more extroverted or simply a bit more verbally expressive, he may give you an open door to what he's feeling about you and about the relationship. When that door opens, it's the perfect opportunity to reciprocate by expressing what you are feeling. Don't embellish and don't base everything you say on what he has shared, which may sound more like obligation and less genuine.
Consult with close friends or family members about where your relationship seems to stand. Social supports are an invaluable sounding board for you when things aren't going well, but you may not have considered their inherent value when things are simply fine. Social supports, explains the Mayo Clinic, help reduce stress that can be caused by uncertainty. Unlike the more negatively perceived kinds of stress, this positive stress is associated with the rush of euphoria often experienced in the early stages of a relationship. Speak with your supports, asking their opinion and their perception about where they feel your relationship stands. Make the decision to disclose your feelings independently, but take the advice of your supports into account.
Test the waters by throwing out a gentle hint that reveals how you feel about the relationship. Relationships characteristically involve a measure of risk-taking, and this can translate into taking the risk to tell your partner how you feel. Think your actions through and don't impulsively rush into sharing. Instead, wait for a calm moment where you and your partner can speak in private. Let your partner know that you enjoy her company and add that you'd like to continue down this path, with perhaps more commitment, more time or something else that indicates a natural progression.
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- The University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center: Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start
- Association for Psychological Science: Eavesdropping on Happiness: Well-Being Is Related to Having Less Small Talk and More Substantive Conversations
- Mayo Clinic: Social Support: Tap This Tool to Beat Stress
- Marquette University: What Does Research Tell Us About Healthy Relationships?
- Stanford University: Nonverbal Communication
- Texas Speech Communication Journal: The Difference in Nonverbal Behaviors and How It Changes in Different Stages of a Relationship
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.