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Dec 23, 2015

Last week I talked about How To Gain Self-Confidence In Relationship. I discussed the positive cycle between assertiveness and self-confidence. The more you can assert yourself the more self-confident you will be. Just as the more self-confident you are the more assertive you will be.


While we might agree with the concept of being assertive, many of us have no idea HOW to be assertive in a relationship. Here’s a few reasons why:

1. We think assertiveness is synonymous with being aggressive or confrontational and we are afraid of being mean.

2. We are afraid to “rock the boat”. Here is something to consider, the boat is already rocked. There is nothing you can do to hide it or make it go away. The goal here is to be honest and real about what is happening. This will allow you to bring your whole self fully to the relationship.

Through assertiveness we develop contact with ourselves and with others. We become real human beings with real ideas, real differences…and real flaws. And we admit all of these things. We don’t try to become someone else’s mirror. We don’t try to suppress someone else’s uniqueness. We don’t try to pretend that we’re perfect. We become ourselves. We allow ourselves to be there.” ~ Randy Paterson

3. We are concerned about the loss of love, connection, or attention. Everyone fears rejection. 

4. Being assertive feels too stressful which can activate your sympathetic nervous system response (i.e. fight, flight or freeze response).

5. We don’t know how to be assertive. We don’t have any good models to emulate. Assertiveness is a skill that takes practice to develop.


Check Your Beliefs

  • Do you believe your thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires are just as important as your partner’s (not more important, but equally important)?
  • Do you believe you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity?
  • Do you think being assertive is critical to your overall well-being, happiness, and potential?
  • Do you think you can get your needs met without sacrificing the needs of your partner?

Know You

  • Know your limits and boundaries.
  • Identify your emotions, desires, and preferences.
  • Know what you want.

Take Action

  • Confront people who violate your boundaries or rights.
  • Ask for help.
  • Learn to say no. Practice saying “no” for an hour or a day as an experiment to see how it feels. 

Practice Respect

  • Give yourself permission to not be perfect.
  • Contribute to win-win conversations.
  • Be honest and tactful with your loved ones. 

Watch Your Habits

  • Are you overly apologetic?
  • Do you wait for someone else to recognize your needs?
  • Do you feel responsible for your partner’s needs?
  • Do you strive to please people all the time?


  • Start small.
  • Be specific.
  • Be clear and honest.
  • Be respectful.


If you have a topic you would like me to discuss or a situation you would like me to speak to, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.

Thank you so much for your interest in how to be more assertive in your relationship.

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Thank you! 

If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.