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Seeking Safety: Creating An Emotional Safety Plan

Often my office is an opportunity for couples to engage in rekindling their trust with each other. In my professional opinion the best chance to rebuilding trust with your partner starts with two things: learning to trust yourself and setting up boundaries you are comfortable with.

People often focus on planning around physical safety (which is important!) when it comes to deceit, addiction or abuse, but it’s also important to consider your emotional safety as well. Emotional safety can look different for different people, but ultimately it’s about creating a personalized plan that helps you feel accepting of your emotions and decisions when dealing with abuse, stress or engaging in infidelity. Below are some ideas for how to create and maintain an emotional safety plan that works for you.

Seek Out Supportive People: A caring presence such as a trusted friend or family member can help create a calm atmosphere to think through difficult situations and allow for you to discuss potential options.

Identify and Work Towards Achievable Goals: An achievable goal might be simply engaging in a conversation with yourself about what you need and want to do. It can also be setting up boundaries or engaging in tough conversations with your partner. Remember that you don’t have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with right now, but taking small steps can help options feel more possible when you are ready.

Create a Peaceful Space for Yourself: Designating a physical place where your mind can relax and feel safe can be good option when working through difficult emotions that can arise when dealing with betrayal, addiction, abuse or stress. This can be a room in your house, a spot under your favorite tree, a comfy chair by a window or in a room with low lights.

Ask for What You Need From Them: A empowering skill when it comes to building an emotional safety plan is start to ask your partner and friends what you need in a proactive manner. May you are working on rekindling the trust you once had with your partner. Then go to them and ask direct requests, it could be as simple as a text or a phone call or as complex as needing more details about their day. If you left your partner and are still struggling with trusting others, this is a great way to start fresh with new people and creating empowered boundaries. The best people to start this with are people you do really trust already.

Remind Yourself of Your Great Value: You are important and special, and recognizing and reminding yourself of this reality is so beneficial for your emotional health. It is never your fault when someone chooses to be unfaithful, deceitful or abusive to you, and it has no reflection on the great value you have as person.

Remember That You Deserve to Be Kind to Yourself: Taking time to practice self-care every day, even if it is only for a few minutes, really creates space for peace and emotional safety. It’s healthy to give yourself emotional breaks and step back from your situation sometimes. In the end, this can help you make the decisions that are best for you.

Safety Planning can take a great deal of thought and care to create; however, after you create a emotional safety plan there is a great relief that can come about within you. Furthermore, it can then give you permission to ask yourself what you really want.

Share with your partner your needs, wants and desires that will let them know you need to learn how to trust them again. The best way to do this is thru actions that you create.

When you have finished your own internal emotional safety plan go to your partner and ask them for what they can contribute and share with you.

Dr. Ryan Westrum is a couple’s specialist working with sexual infidelity, porn addiction, sexual abuse and sex addiction. Please call him at 952-261-5269 or email at

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