How To Be Assertive In A Relationship (16 Vital Ways)

Communication in romantic relationships is supposed to be easy because there is love involved. However, the narrative isn’t always that of smooth expressions.

A single misunderstood word can spark anger or irritation in the other person. When one person is less respectful of the other party’s emotions or needs, there will be more occurrences of hurt feelings. 

If you are the passive partner in the relationship, you might find yourself in a disadvantaged position most times. To establish a level of control in your relationship, you need to become more assertive with your partner.

16 Ways To Be Assertive In A Relationship 

Assertiveness is the ability to be self-confident in words and actions without appearing aggressive. Passive people need to master the art of being assertive. 

If you’re always trying to remain calm because you’re a passive person, even your partner who loves you will treat you unkindly sometimes. People with an unhealthy dose of self-confidence are more likely to trample on the self-esteem of their passive partners. This is why you feel small emotionally beside your boyfriend. 

The inability to express your emotions to someone you call your partner is unhealthy. If you don’t learn to become more assertive and stand up for yourself, the relationship won’t survive the consequences of your passive approach to life. 

Are you struggling with acting assertively? Or you’re not sure why your partner never listens when you talk? Below are some of the ways to assert yourself in your relationship. 

1. Be confident

One relationship dynamic that shouldn’t be compromised is balance. While it is possible to have one dominant partner and the other a naturally passive partner, there should be a balance of control between both parties. If you struggle with confidence, your boyfriend might take advantage of you. 

He might be unaware of what he is doing, but it will affect you nonetheless. Expressing confidence without feeling you feeling bold is almost impossible. You cannot bluff your way through a long-term relationship either. It is either you can handle your partner’s overwhelming behavior or you exit the relationship. 

If you think you’re compatible with your boyfriend in every other way except communication, you need to become assertive. One of the ways to become assertive is to build your self-confidence daily through positive affirmations backed by kind gestures towards yourself. 

Say and do things that make you feel good about yourself. This way, you can speak to your partner like someone who knows what she deserves.

2. Be clear enough

A passive person finds it hard to communicate their feelings, needs, beliefs, and desires for fear of rejection. If you’re always afraid that people will shut you down whenever you speak, you’ll go through life as other people’s doormats. It is even more painful when your opinions mean little to your romantic partner. 

If you want to be taken seriously, you need to learn how to hold your own down. Communicate your needs clearly with a neutral facial expression to avoid being easily swayed by your boyfriend’s contrary opinions. If you need to adjust your needs, do so, but not because you’re scared to lose your partner.

3. Be in control of your actions

If you usually feel guilty for speaking your mind in a direct manner that might hurt others, it is easy to take the passive approach. However, you are at the risk of being swayed by other people’s opinions and mannerisms. 

When you’re not assertive enough, people will soon forget you have your own opinions and ideas. To be in control of your actions, you have to first rule your thoughts. Regardless of what other people and your partner say, only you can decide how to feel or act in any situation.

Remaining level-headed in the face of anger is a skill many need to learn. When you can talk to your partner about what you want without being aggressive, you will easily master daily stress-free communication.

4. Understand each situation

It is dangerous to assume that one approach will work for all situations. Assertiveness is a soft skill that only emotionally intelligent people master and exhibit seamlessly.

The ability to diffuse a tense atmosphere without any form of a blowout is priceless. For any relationship to last, one or both parties should have this ability.

You can become a master of assertiveness if you can observe and understand each situation. For example, the period you hurt your partner isn’t the time to become unnecessarily assertive. This is the time to say “I know I was wrong and I’m sorry”. 

Trying to justify your error at that moment wouldn’t be assertiveness but arrogance. Being aggressive when your partner hurts you is also not the best way to handle such a situation. 

5. Earn respect through actions, not empty words

An assertive woman is outspoken and not afraid to speak out about her feelings. Honest assertive people will not say one thing, yet do something else on the contrary. To earn respect from your boyfriend, you need to keep to your words. 

Don’t say one thing and do another. Let your actions back your words. Only then will your assertive nature work for you. Being aggressive because you disagree with other people’s points of view is not the best way to be assertive. 

6. Assertiveness is not aggressiveness

Being assertive is a lot of things except being aggressive or unnecessarily confrontational. You can use a calm tone and still speak firmly with your partner. You can disagree with your partner without exchanging aggressive words.

If you have been taking aggressive confrontations to mean being confident, it is no wonder you’ve been experiencing more conflict than bliss in your relationship. Take a step back to analyze your actions to know if you’ve been assertive or aggressive all this time. 

7. Specify your needs

specify your needs

Has your partner been riding roughshod over you but now you’ve had enough? Then you should be specific with what you need if you want him to comply. Aggressive people in romantic relationships act as they do in other personal relationships; they just want to have their way. 

To exert assertiveness with an aggressive partner, you need to state what you want and how you want it. For instance, tell your partner, “I can’t keep doing all these chores by myself. We need to share the responsibility of keeping our home clean”. Give a reasonable ultimatum for each situation. 

For example, if he cannot wash his plates, he won’t have clean plates to eat his meals. If he doesn’t respect the rules both of you agreed to follow, he bears the consequences. Such rules/ultimatums help to maintain order in relationships and to see that your partner meets your own needs.

8. Respect your partner’s boundaries

You’re not displaying assertiveness when you disrespect your partner’s opinions at the slightest chance. If you cannot respect your partner’s feelings the same way you expect him to respect yours, you’re not being honest. If you’re naturally honest with yourself, you’ll easily know when you’re overstepping your bounds

If you keep using a word your partner doesn’t like or demean his beliefs, he won’t respect your assertive behavior when it’s your turn. He will be quick to remind you of how you think your beliefs are superior to his own. If your relationship is to work, you need to understand your boyfriend’s beliefs regardless of their limitations.

9. Practice gradual confrontation

In relationships, a passive person doesn’t like to upset others because of the confrontation that might follow. Aggressive people on the other hand don’t mind exchanging hurtful words as long as they empty their minds. 

To overcome the fear of confrontation, you might need to start small. From a firm no, you can proceed to express your mind to your partner when he makes you angry.

Learn to make him take responsibility for his errors. You should be able to tell your partner, “You’re wrong for saying this to me and I don’t like it“. You don’t have to be rude when you express yourself. You only need to sound like you mean it.

10. Initiate deliberate conversations

A passive person usually speaks only when spoken to. You would hardly find a passive partner initiating difficult conversations. They want to play things safely to prevent any form of quarrel. Even in friendships, passive people don’t want to have any problems with their friends.

To become assertive, you need to be confident about initiating tough conversations. Don’t wait until your partner brings up every issue before you form an opinion about it. If the conversation leads to a breakup, it means the relationship wasn’t meant to happen.

11. Learn to say no politely

Assertiveness isn’t synonymous with rudeness. You can respond with a no without sounding impolite. One toxic behavior of passive people is that they say yes to everyone. Accepting to help everyone will backfire because you’ll have little time to yourself. 

Your own needs will suffer and you’ll grow frustrated at odd times. As such, it is better to know what to accept and what to reject. This way, you won’t be overwhelmed or get short with your boyfriend unnecessarily. 

12. Know when to stay back

You shouldn’t fight every battle, so, you should know which confrontation to avoid. Constant disagreement weakens bonds in relationships. When you’re never on the same page with your partner in a bid to be assertive, your relationship might not survive.

Know when to give in and when to disagree to agree. Know when to just say sorry instead of trying to be right. Know when to forgive your partner without trying to make him work too hard for it. Giving in now and then isn’t foolish, it is compromising where necessary. 

13. Journal your assertiveness progress

One way to practice assertiveness is through journaling. Journaling allows you to direct your feelings towards your journals before expressing yourself to your partner. A journal can also help you evaluate your progress in your journey to becoming assertive. 

If being assertive has always been difficult for you, you can practice the things you’ll say to your partner in your journals first before you direct the words to his face.

Assertiveness is all about confidence, journaling and speaking out positive words can also boost your self-esteem. This will help you embrace your growing assertive nature.

14. Prioritize your self-confidence

prioritize your self confidence

If you’re always in the position of bolstering your partner’s confidence while your esteem is suffering, you need to adjust. There can be no assertive communication if you’re always scared of the other person’s behavior. Without self-confidence, assertiveness is impossible. 

You need to stop being the crutch your partner leans on all the time, especially if your confidence is dwindling because of this. To prioritize your self-confidence, you’ll need to withdraw your excess show of support and allow your partner to handle some of his issues alone. 

15. Stop bottling your feelings

As a passive woman, it can be difficult to express yourself the way you want to. You’re always afraid to upset your lover, which might make you feel guilty afterward. However, if you keep your hurt and anger inside of you for a long time, all the negative emotions will eventually bubble up to the surface. 

Expressing yourself at the right time will save you from feeling guilty after giving in to an outburst of ugly emotions. Learn to assert yourself at every point, and your partner will respect you for it.

16. Check and balance yourself daily

Being passive is easy if you’re naturally calm, but this attitude gets you overlooked. Being aggressive can be deceptive too. You think you’re being bold when you’re arrogant and hurtful. Aggressiveness will get you noticed, but not liked. 

Assertiveness is the balance between passiveness and aggressiveness. To know whether you’re still treading the line of balance or if you’ve crossed it, you need to check yourself regularly. 

You can do this through your journaling process, or make your partner your voice of conscience. If you have an honest boyfriend, it should be easy to be each other’s check and balance partner.


How can a woman be assertive in a relationship?

A woman can practice assertiveness by making her expectations clear. She makes her partner understand that she isn’t lowering her reasonable standards for anything, not even him.

How can I be more assertive without being aggressive in a relationship?

Talk in a tone that commands respect, yet sounds empathetic to your partner’s point of view. Balance firmness with unconcealed love for your boyfriend

What are the 3 C's of assertive communication?

Control, confidence, and clarity. You need to take charge of the discussion with all confidence when it’s your turn. You also need to state your desires in clear terms.

What are 5 assertive behaviors?

Assertiveness means open communication, self-assurance, and inspiring confidence in self and others' lives. It also means knowing when to hold on to or share control, and disagreeing with differing beliefs without expressing rude behavior. 

What makes a woman assertive?

A woman’s assertiveness is determined by her understanding of her worth. Then, her ability to express this worth in her behavior and words. She will stand by her words and actions because she’s stated them clearly.

To Sum Up

An assertive woman does not doubt how special she is, while a passive woman is always worried that she will lose her man. As such, an assertive woman will feel loved and heard in a relationship without any need for reassurance. A passive woman will find it hard to feel the same because she is not always sure of what she wants or how to get it.

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