Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Staying Cool When Things Get Tense

Finding a way to communicate your true feelings and tolerating a disagreement with your partner can be stressful. Here's some suggestions on how to calm down and remain true to yourself.

True love can be tough going: Owning up to your feelings, tolerating disagreements with your partner, and running the risk of feeling inadequate in bed takes gumption—and the ability to withstand a lot of anxiety. One key is learning how to soothe yourself.

"It can be as simple as regulating your body: deep breathing, sitting in a less tense position, or taking a moment to reflect," says psychologist Ruth Morehouse, Schnarch's wife and office partner. Once you've let some of your physical anxiety dissipate, you can address the mental aspects of your emotional tension: telling yourself you've been through this before and survived, reminding yourself that your partner isn't trying to drive you insane. Essentially, you give yourself an extra beat between stimulus and reaction so that you think before you act or blurt. You acknowledge the feelings, but don't let them threaten your sense of self or determine how you respond.

In the longer term, anxiety-reducing habits such as Pilates, listening to classical music, meditation, running or cooking also help increase your threshold. Most people already have a number of self-soothing tools they use in their life, says Morehouse—it's often a matter of recognizing what you already do and learning to apply it to situations that make you particularly uncomfortable. If you're doing it right, you'll feel calmer and more in control, says Morehouse. And it'll give you greater freedom to be authentic around your partner—come what may.