April 10, 2024

Emotional Safety 101: Create A Nurturing Space For Each Other.

"Fostering interest and genuine curiosity is key to creating deep understanidng and emotional safety for others."

David Panahi

When did you last feel safe and secure in a relationship? Like feeling that you are accepted fully despite all the flaws and imperfections. You might be wondering if that is even possible. The answer is yes, but we must also create the same environment for others.


Creating emotional safety is a reciprocal game where we work hard to make our partners feel safe and secure while allowing them to do the same for us. This article will explore some important components for creating emotional safety in relationships.

Signs of unsafe communication

Defining Emotional Safety

To put it simply, emotional safety means feeling genuinely okay with being your true self within the relationship. It’s knowing that your partner sees the real you, supports your authentic self, and cherishes your shared moments of vulnerability.


But why is it so critical? Because without emotional safety, our relationships are just houses built on sand, ready to crumble with the slightest storm.


Let’s Identify Some Signs of Emotional Safety.

Mutual Respect & Understanding

In a relationship where emotional safety exists, you can sense a palpable air of mutual respect and understanding. Each partner works hard to understand any hint of misunderstanding from a place of curiosity. Each partner works hard to avoid judgment, shame, or coercion during a conflict. In the words of Stephen Covey, “We seek first to understand and then be understood” by our partner.


John & Julie Gottman’s research identifies some of the most damaging approaches to conflict resolution. In their research, they have found Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling to be the recipe to end a relationship. When we look at each of the four unhelpful approaches, we notice the absence of mutual respect and understanding. In other words, we do not communicate to understand but to further drive away the other person from us.

mutual respect

Setting and Respecting Boundaries

Another ingredient to creating emotional safety is learning to create and respect boundaries in the relationship. In creating boundaries, we negotiate a healthy compromise that is fair to both parties. If timeliness matters to our partner, we ought to understand that being chronically late is a sign of boundary violation. If cleanliness is important to you, your partner must know that leaving the house dirty can cause you emotional distress.


Respecting boundaries also means accepting accountability for our actions and taking responsibility when we cross a line. This level of mutual respect fosters trust and understanding, leading to a deeper sense of emotional safety in the relationship.

Something to consider:


  • What are your boundaries that, if crossed, could cause you emotional distress?
  • What are your partner’s boundaries that, if crossed, could cause them emotional distress?
  • Have you communicated your boundaries and know your partner’s boundaries?

Consider pondering over the above questions and ask your partner about their boundaries and if it is mutually held in your relationship.

respecting Boundaries

Practicing Empathy and Active Listening

It is impossible to truly listen and empathize with others while formulating a reactive response in our head. Multitasking cannot apply to listening, especially when trying to understand what others are saying. When listening, we need to hold back all the judgment and response so we can truly experience the world of another human being.


To practice empathy is to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and understand their perspective without judgment. This allows us to understand our partner’s emotions and experiences, leading to increased emotional safety in the relationship.


Something to consider:


  • How effective are your listening skills?
  • How often do you think of what to say while listening to others?
  • How present are you when others are talking to you?


In a relationship where emotional safety exists, both partners practice empathy and active listening. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It allows us to see things from our partner’s perspective and validate their experiences.

Active Listening

Creating Emotional Safety in Your Relationships

Safety is about the little things—it’s in the patient silence that fills the space while your partner searches for words, in the steady gaze that says, “I see you,” and in the warm laughter that burbles up at shared inside jokes.

It’s about taking responsibility for our actions and appreciating our differences. Amy C. Edmondson, a renowned expert on team dynamics, beautifully puts it: “Psychological safety isn’t about being nice. It is about giving candid feedback, openly admitting our mistakes, and learning from each other.”

Here are some practical tips for creating emotional safety in your relationships:

  • Take responsibility when you are wrong.
  • Show compassion when others are at fault.
  • Do not shame others for their mistake.
  • Practice curiosity and understanding.
  • Listen with an open arm and an open heart.
  • Respect your boundaries and the boundaries of others.

Building emotional safety doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a path paved with patience, understanding, and consistent, small acts of love and acceptance. It’s about choosing each day to walk beside your partner, appreciating the scenery and the companion by your side.

In the everyday ebb and flow of life, remember to tend to your relationship like a bountiful garden, where every act of kindness is a seed of safety planted, promising a harvest of closeness and comfort.

Final Thoughts

In some instances, couples may find themselves at a crossroads, sensing a growing emotional distance between them despite their best efforts to bridge the gap. If you find yourselves in such a place, feeling as though you’ve navigated every avenue to strengthen your bond to no avail, we encourage you to consider seeking the guidance of a couple’s therapist near you.


Engaging in relationship therapy can offer both you and your partner a nurturing environment to delve into your shared challenges. It’s a space dedicated to fostering understanding and building the foundational emotional safety necessary for your relationship to flourish once more.

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