We live in a very social world, yet it can sometimes be extremely difficult to make meaningful human connections with the people around us. Social Media has become both a blessing and a curse. It’s great that we can search for friends with whom we went to school over 10 years ago, and how we can store everyone’s birthdays in one place, but the fact that everything is digital has made in-person, face-to-face contact almost obsolete.
In a world where no one writes out full words and the norm is using emojis to show someone how you feel, how does one take a huge step and try to have real conversation with someone? Everyone needs somebody on whom to lean, and it’s difficult to get that support from simply reading it on a screen.
The other difficult dilemma is that sometimes our best friends – the people we grew up with and have known the longest – are the hardest to actually reach, so we are forced to improvise or go outside our immediate circles to make that human connection we are craving.
It can be scary to even consider how to open up to someone, let alone put into practice. But you also have to remember that wanting to talk to someone is not enough. There are several things you have to consider about yourself, including how you handle certain types of communicative situations. Sometimes, you close off; sometimes you talk a mile a minute and sometimes you aren’t quite sure how to put what you are feeling into words. Take a deep breath, and speak slowly; everything is going to be all right.
And to help you along the way, we have compiled a list of 15 things you need to know about yourself before you can open up to someone.
15 What You Want From This Person?
Everyone’s got their own reason for wanting to talk, just like everyone will have their reasons for not wanting to talk at particular points. Do you have a personal or professional problem plaguing you for which you really need advice? Maybe you are fighting with your family and need to run your “speech” by someone before you march into your brother’s place. It could even be as simple as just feeling like you are alone in a sea of people. Everybody just needs to feel like they are being listened to and heard from time to time, and maybe this person is going to be that for you because you have no one else (or at least it feels that way). Going into a conversation with someone can be intimidating enough as it is, but going in without a game plan for what you want to accomplish is even worse because by the end, it could feel like a waste of time if you don’t feel you got what you needed from it.
14 That You Are Ready to Talk About The Particular Subject
Everybody goes through stuff, and everybody deals with his or her own stuff differently. In some cases, it might feel like your whole world is crumbling down around you when really it could be a quick fix of talking to someone. In other cases, it can be more serious and you may need to seek professional help. No matter what the subject is that you want to discuss with your chosen person, you need to feel that you CAN safely talk about it. It’s a lot easier to talk to a friend than a complete stranger, even if it is a professional, because we always tend to feel judged when we open up to people. Just remember that if the issue is serious, then talking about it with a friend might actually make it worse if you heed their advice, or they could be unprepared for any sot of mental or emotional response you may have from the discussion. Perhaps you can call a hotline. It may seem hokey, but those people on the other end of the phone are trained and want to talk you through your problems.
13 That You Can Handle Hearing Whatever They Say
It’s hard enough to put the meeting together in the first place to talk to your friend about whatever is bothering you, but nothing can really prepare you for what they are going to say in response. Now, most friends will give it to you straight, but they will also sugar coat particular things to spare your feelings. A lot of the time when you go to a friend for relationship advice – as in, you aren’t quite sure about your relationship – just be prepared for them to tell you to leave and be happy, rather than wait it out and be unsure. If you know that you do not handle particular criticisms well, then it may be best to discuss with a parent or a professional, rather than to snap on your friend. Understand for yourself that they are merely giving you advice, and it is up to you to take it or not, but getting mad at them for providing you with help is a great way to close lines of communication later on when you may really need them again.
12 That You Can Trust The Person
Some subjects are particularly touchy and finding the right person to talk it out isn’t an easy task. When you let someone into your world or your inner circle, you are doing so trusting that they will not judge you, and that they will keep the conversation between the two of you. Everyone has those friends that can’t keep a secret to save their lives, and though it doesn’t make them bad friends, they may not be the right people to lean on in the current situation. On top of all of the other stress, hearing your own drama come back to you from another friend can make everything so much worse because you now have to worry about that friend you can no longer trust, as well as vicious rumors that circulate. In relaying your message to your person, just make sure you truly believe that they are someone who has your best interests at heart, and will not exploit you for personal gain.
11 That You Are Open to Change (Feedback)
There are times in every relationship where you have to have somewhat uncomfortable discussions with your significant other. It could be that things have been bothering you and you need those things to change, or you could have a bad gut feeling, or maybe one of his or your friends said something that really bothered you and it needs to be discussed. As you are probably aware, relationships are a two-way street – in a perfect world, you get back what you put in. Though that may not be the case in every relationship, equality is strived for between most couples because no one wants to feel used by their sponging partner. You may have feedback to discuss with them, but they may have things to say to you as well, and if you are asking them for changes to be made, make sure you put your money where your mouth is and are willing to do the same for them if they ask.
10 Have You Healed From Past Hurt?
Opening up to someone, especially a lover, can be a daunting task if you have been hurt by one in the past. It can be even more brutal if someone you thought was your best friend betrayed you. Your support system of friends and family will be there for you to help you in whatever ways they can but it’s important to figure out for yourself if you have healed from this past pain. If you have, then talking to someone new is still scary but can be very rewarding if that person is receptive to your needs; and if you have not healed yet, you are probably not ready to open yourself up to another person and it’s not fair to him or her or to yourself to pretend that you are. It’s better to take the extra time to ensure you are okay with all aspects of yourself before you try to force yourself to welcome new people into your life, and your heart.
9 "Who Am I Now? Who Do I Want To Be?"
Opening up to somebody can be hard because you basically have to decide who you are and who you want to be to this person. For those of you who do not know yourself, it can be hard to ask a partner to accept you when you are constantly changing your mind about what you want out of life and out of the relationship. It’s vital for your communication success if you are clear about who you are right now, and where you want to be going – you can even talk about where you think you are heading on your current track and discuss how both of your stories can intertwine and work together towards common goals you may share. This might sound scary to you because humans are always changing, but it’s a great start to opening up to this new person if you can at least cover off who you are now and what you want. You can always change your mind, and in good relationships, one or both partners will adapt to the other’s goals, if necessary.
8 With What Do You Struggle Most?
Fighting your own personal struggles is a necessary part of life, but most of the time, we can open up to someone to ask for help in more difficult situations. Before you cast out your fishing line and wait for a bite, you need to know your struggle and how it’s related to your current need to talk. Maybe communication on a fundamental level is your biggest struggle, which can make the idea of a personal, private conversation terrifying, but at least you know and can work from that. Once you know, you can do your best to say simply: “I struggle with overreacting and that is why problem X is upsetting me so much.” Then the person to whom you are opening up can keep that in the back of his or her mind to help provide you with solutions to help solve your current condition, while remembering that you may overreact to his or her response. It’s always better to loop them into your struggles if you can because it makes the communication go a lot smoother, and shows that you have spent time thinking about your own troubles rather than running for help right away.
7 What Are Your Insecurities?
It’s easy to say that everyone has insecurities, but it’s especially difficult to remember that you are being pulled down by your own uncertainties all the time. When you want to open yourself up to meeting or being with someone new, whether that’s a new friend or a new romantic partner, you have to understand yourself and how you respond to certain things. If you understand your own insecurities and have a decent handle on them, it’s a lot easier to be available to make the connection with that new person in your life. It’s also helpful to communicate to them that you are insecure about a particular thing because we oftentimes crack jokes at other’s expenses and although it’s all in good fun, when you are specifically conscious about something, it can sting a lot more and cause lasting damage to your fragile self-esteem. Understand your own insecurities and don't let them get in the way of good communication.
6 How Do You Want To Be Perceived?
If you’ve ever taken a marketing or advertising class, you are probably familiar with the concept that the digesters of the message will always have their own understanding, regardless of what your intended interpretation is. You have to decide for yourself before you attempt to open yourself up to someone how you want him or her to see you by the end of it all. If you are always going to them with little things that you are blowing way out of proportions you are probably going to be labeled a “drama queen.” You probably don’t want that, especially if you do get bothered frequently by small things and often need help sorting through your feelings. In a world where your first impression can make or break you, you need to know how you want to be remembered and project that outwards to them. This may, however, hinder your ability to communicate.
5 Are You Happy Or Unhappy?
In a perfect world, everyone is happy and there are rainbows, puppies and ice cream for all. Unfortunately, life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at us and we get far less puppies and rainbows than we deserve. There’s no rule that you are supposed to be happy all the time, or that only happy people deserve the love and support of another. You have the right to feel how you feel, and the people closest to you should always understand and support you regardless of that. It can be hard to open yourself up for a communication or even a new experience with a new person when you continuously flip flop between being happy and unhappy. You are allowed to have good days and bad days, but knowing overall who you are as a person – that is, being to define yourself on a basic level with a few adjectives – can help a new person understand you and all of the things that make you special. And if you find yourself constantly unhappy, maybe you need to do a bit more self-discovery, or speak to a professional to ensure you get the most out of your life.
4 Why This Specific Person?
When you first make the decision that you need to open up and talk to someone, it can be a little tricky to figure out who is worthy of the honor. You have to take many things into consideration. How long have you known this person? Has he or she proven that they can be trusted? Is he or she judgmental? Does he or she usually make good life decisions? The list goes on. It’s important before you initiate communication to determine what makes you think you can open up to that person? It can be as simple as your gut feeling, which generally doesn’t do you wrong, or it can be because you made a pros and cons list of all the people you generally talk to and this individual won. Each of your friends has their own niche and personality and because of that is probably better at dealing with particular things over your other friends. Talk about your family problems with the friend who has a super dysfunctional family, and talk to the girl who’s had one too many bad relationships about your own relationship struggles. She will understand, and her ability to relate to you will make sure you feel accepted and not judged.
3 That You Have Enough Time To Commit To This Conversation
We live in the age of micro-blogging in 140 characters or less. Twitter, or texting culture has forced us to say what we have to say in an overly simplified manner, which is not a bad thing, but can definitely cause some miscommunication to happen when we fail to say it exactly right in such limited space. Emotions are rarely simple things and the complex things you are feeling often require an explanation. What was once an hour-long conversation with your bestie every day has turned into a quick “hey, how are ya?” in the hallway at work or school, or even a “whatzup?” text every few days. When you truly want to open up to someone, you need to make time for it. No meaningful connections were made in mere seconds and those aren’t the people you should want to get to know anyway. If you are making the effort to have a sit down with someone and talk about what’s going on with you, just make sure you don’t have to rush it and GTFO TTYL.
2 What Do You Need From The Conversation To Be Happy With The Outcome?
When you go out into the world and put yourself out there to talk to someone, you probably have a clear objective in mind. It could be to get advice, or to get clarification on a he said-she said issue, or for verification that what you were already thinking is probably your right course of action. You enter into an agreement every time you have a conversation with someone that you two will both talk, you will both listen and there will be some sort of ending or resolution to your chat. You need to know going in what you want to get out or you’ll always be dissatisfied when it’s all over. It can feel like you got ripped off when you ask a question and never get an answer, so make sure you are clear on what you want and you are willing to push until you get an answer that satisfies you. It may not be what you want to hear, but getting an answer is always better than being left in the dark. The decision is still yours after it’s all said and done but since you asked, you obviously were unsure to begin.
1 You Are Different
There are over seven billion people on the planet, and each and every person is unique – like a snowflake (yes, even twins). This may not be news to you, that you are different, but in those differences come differing ways of dealing with things, varying opinions and very distinctive ways of thinking. When you open up to someone else, he or she might not see the scenario the same way that you do and as such, may have a very different attitude or advice than what you were expecting or even hoping. That doesn't make it right or wrong, and it doesn’t make you right or wrong. It just makes you both different people with different interpretations and perceptions of the same situation. You may eventually land in the same place, but make sure you know that everyone’s path is different and if verification is what you need, it may not come in the way you expect.