Since happiness is such a subjective term, it makes sense that there isn’t any ONE key to achieving it. For couples, it can be hard to always feel completely content. As couples ask themselves what actually makes them happy in a relationship, more unmarried couples are seeing relationship therapists. Despite all the methods to the madness, therapist Laura Heck believes that self-disclosure, which is telling someone close to you things about yourself that not everyone knows, is a habit and action that can make just about anyone happy (and even help you make friends as an adult). According to Laura, sharing about yourself is the foundation of intimacy in relationships — and it can be a lot easier said than done. Read on for three times that self-disclosure will enhance you and your relationships.

women sharing secrets

1. When You Want to Make Friends: Romantic couples aren’t the only ones that benefit from intimacy. Per the theory of reciprocity, sharing something about yourself prompts your new friend to do the same. By being the first one to share something — even if it’s a silly, embarrassing story that you don’t tell many people — you signal to them that you trust them, which often makes them trust you in return. Sharing personal thoughts or stories with a casual acquaintance can lead to you two being the best of buds down the road.

2. To Create Intimacy in an Established Relationship: Laura views the word intimacy quite literally, breaking it down phonetically. “To me, intimacy means ‘into me you see,’” she says. “You open a window and allow someone to take a peek inside.” When you admit something about yourself, whether it’s a story, secret or feeling, it creates a positive bond between you and your S.O. and draws you even closer. With someone who already knows a lot of your important stories, try giving them a glimpse into your thought process next time you’re working through a problem.

3. When You Want Someone to Open Up to You: Some people are just closed books — and that’s okay. But it can often leave you feeling confused about how to get them to open up, so that you can take your friendship or romantic relationship to a deeper level. By sharing something about yourself, the other person will feel more comfortable and trusting. That still didn’t work? Prompt him or her to share something that they would consider a two on a discomfort scale of one to 10, like a funny childhood story or secret.

Although self-disclosure can positively impact many social situations, Laura warns against using it in the workplace or in professional settings. While all relationships can benefit from trust, sharing things that make you vulnerable should be reserved for people in your inner circle — if only because it makes them feel that much more special.

Have any tips for sharing personal stories? Let us know @BritandCo!

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