Have you ever heard the saying that communication is key in relationships?
What does communication mean in a relationship?
Relationships take a lot of work. It’s easy to get swept up in the fairytale stories you see in books and movies about how easy and simple love should be. But those are works of fiction. In real life and real relationships, there is a lot of effort involved.
Effective communication is key in relationships. Without it, couples will never learn or understand each other in a healthy way.
The five most important things in a relationship are communication, trust, respect, support, and boundaries. Notice how communication is first. That’s because none of the other important factors can exist without it.
Struggling with your partner to communicate effectively is not uncommon. Many people simply don’t communicate in the same way, causing them to feel unheard or even dismissed by the person they’re with.
Knowing the importance of communication in relationships and learning how to express your thoughts effectively is the best way to improve and strengthen your relationship. If you can’t openly talk to your partner about the big and small things in life, you may start to feel like your relationship isn’t working.
There are many ways to improve communication in relationships. With a bit of effort, you may find yourself and your partner having healthy conversations frequently.
What does Communication Mean in a Relationship?
By definition, communication is the transfer of information from one person to another. In relationships, there can be many levels of communication.
Verbal communication is likely the first form that comes to many people’s minds. How we speak to our partner is one of the most essential factors in strong communication. Be mindful of word choices, tones, and phrases that you use when you and your partner are speaking.
There is also non-verbal communication to consider. Beyond the words you speak, your body language and facial expressions can have a significant impact on how your partner receives the information you are telling them.
Body language such as crossed arms or facial expressions like eye-rolling can be just as harmful to effective communication as words can be.
In relationships, good communication is how couples work through difficult times, make big decisions, and express their wants and needs. It’s needed for everything from small topics like options for car insurance as an unmarried couple to big decisions like if you both want children.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: 62 Best Relationship Advice Quotes for Him and Her
How does Communication Affect Relationships?
A lack of solid communication within relationships can be the most significant contributing factor to fights and conflicts.
When two people can’t communicate effectively, it can cause many emotions to arise on both sides. You or your partner may start to feel dismissed, unheard, and even unloved. You may even feel like you are losing yourself being in the relationship.
When someone feels this way, it can cause them to act defensively. The aggression from these feelings can lead to more opposition and less healthy communication. And all that lack of understanding can lead to deeper problems like lack of intimacy and stalled growth within the relationship.
Over time, this can cause couples to grow apart and eventually end their relationship altogether.
What is Normal Communication in a Relationship?
When two people communicate effectively, there should be no escalation of the conversation, and both sides should be heard. The discussion should be easy and flow freely.
There are many signs of good communication in a relationship. You will know if you and your partner are practicing them or if perhaps there are some areas you are struggling in.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How To Not Lose Yourself In A Relationship
Tips for Building Better Communication In Relationships
#1. Active Listening
When communicating, active listening is vital for your partner to feel heard. You should be entirely concentrated on what your significant other is saying. When you actively listen, you should ignore distractions, make eye contact, summarize what your partner said, and clarify that the conversation was heard and understood correctly.
Active listening helps build trust in a relationship. The person speaking feels heard, supported, and understood when they are actively listened to.
#2. Speak and Respond Authentically
No one wins when you are dishonest in a conversation. If your partner asks you something important and you answer with a lie, you are harming yourself, your partner, and the relationship overall. It’s essential to be honest and open about your feelings and thoughts on topics you’re discussing.
Without honesty, distrust will form once your significant other finds out you have lied to them. Even if the lies seem insignificant at the moment, you can’t take back a betrayal once it’s happened. Frequent dishonesty can lead to a loss of trust that might never be regained.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Be Yourself Around Others
#3. Keep Conversations Private
It can be easy to want to address something your partner has done at the moment it happens. But if other people are around, it may be best to save the conversation for later.
You can’t effectively communicate if there are other people involved trying to give you relationship advice or if external ears are listening in on your conversation. Having an important discussion in front of other people may make you both act out of character, leave one of you feeling cornered, or even make the conversation escalate due to the pressure of an audience.
Waiting until you’re alone will give you much better communication where you both can feel comfortable being honest and open.
#4. Don’t Make It a Competition
If you and your partner disagree about a topic, don’t make it about winning or losing. This can cause a lot of aggression and not lead to any real solution. Instead, try to find a compromise between your two sides.
Always remember, it’s not you vs. your partner; it’s you and your partner vs. the problem.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Stop Being Jealous of Others
#5. Have Empathy and Understanding
You and your partner are not the same people, nor will you ever be. It’s entirely normal for two different people to think differently. You have both had different life experiences, have different opinions, and like different things.
With that being said, it’s normal not to agree on every single thing. However, disagreements don’t mean you can treat your partner poorly. You should still try to understand them, where they are coming from, and have empathy for their feelings.
Communication is the most important thing in a relationship, so it’s essential to keep it positive. And be sure to pay attention when there is negative communication occurring.
Warning Signs of Negative Communication
What is negative communication in a relationship?
Many people may have negative communication patterns without even realizing it. You may think the way you communicate is good for you and your relationship when in reality, it could be harming it.
There are obvious forms of negative communication and some that are not as clear to see.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Not Let Your Goals Ruin Your Relationship
Gaslighting can do horrible damage to a relationship. There are many techniques someone will use when they are gaslighting, but the most common are often dismissal, belittling, denial, and diverting.
The person being gaslighted will never be able to effectively communicate with their partner because they will always be made to feel as if they are wrong or crazy. It’s incredibly harmful to the person’s mental health and the relationship overall.
You should never have to fear your partner’s reaction to a regular topic of conversation. Aggressive responses are extremely unhealthy and never lead to any actual resolution. The person reacting often isn’t thinking rationally and the person being reacted to becomes fearful of being honest with their partner.
When someone is being reacted to in an aggressive way it can, in turn, lead them to form their own negative communication patterns.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: 48 Quotes About Being Calm Under Pressure
#3. Shutting Down
Talking to your partner and watching them shut down is a difficult feeling. You know they have tuned you out, stopping interacting, and are clearly done with the conversation even if you aren’t.
This is a common damaging communication skill many people have. But it can weigh heavily on their significant other. The person on the receiving end often feels unimportant, unheard and ends the conversation feeling unresolved.
There is no definite outcome from someone shutting down. Because of their complete lack of reaction, no conversation occurs. A relationship can never move forward or deal with any sort of problems if one person shuts down.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Put Yourself Out There
#4. Bottling Feelings
It can be hard to tell when someone is bottling their feelings, making it one of the more difficult negative communication patterns to detect.
You may think you had a fantastic conversation with your partner about something important, only for them to have bottled up their feelings and simply agreed with you because they didn’t want to say anything.
Bottling feelings can be dangerous because the person doing so will often reach a breaking point where all the emotions they refused to acknowledge finally surface. Their breaking point often comes with an outburst, and it can be over something that seems highly insignificant.
Extended time spent with someone who communicates with these negative patterns can lead to feelings such as low self-esteem, fear, and unhappiness.
If you or your partner exhibit any of these communication patterns, you can learn to fix them and begin communicating positively and healthily. All it takes is the desire and effort to improve.
How to Fix Communication in a Relationship
If you and your partner struggle to communicate effectively but want to improve, there are steps you can take to work through your miscommunications and grow in your relationship.
Start by being aware of the negative communication patterns you may have, or try to bring awareness to your partner of their own. It won’t happen overnight, but becoming self-aware of the need for improvement is the first step toward being a better communicator.
You can start small with simple topics of conversation like little things that you can both speak about calmly and kindly. Practicing active listening and honesty about whatever topic you choose to discuss can be a great way to improve communication skills and work toward a healthy relationship.
👉🏽 RELATED POST: How to Let Go of Your Parents Expectations
Find small compromises you and your significant other can make with each other. It might be as simple as compromising on dinner. But making small compromises leads you to finding a middle ground on bigger issues.
Start checking in on each other. Ask your partner how they’re feeling and explain what you’re feeling. Building trust by being open with your feelings allows you both to begin having real conversations that are honest and can lead to a resolution.
As your communication gets stronger, you can move into the more complex topics of conversation. You will see how much smoother your conversations go when you and your significant other are both using positive and healthy communication patterns.
Communication for a Healthy Relationship
Relationships can be a lot of work. Love isn’t always straightforward, and sometimes there needs to be a lot of effort put into working through difficult moments and hard times.
Communication is the key to a healthy, strong, and happy relationship. Without it, all the other essential things will crumble around it.
Looking for more tips for building a strong relationship? Click here or below to get your FREE Relationship Advice ebook, with tips from top relationship experts.
If you or your partner struggles to communicate positively and effectively, try to work through the negatives and have patience with each other. With a bit of effort, you will find your relationship growing stronger and your bond with your partner better than ever.
Do you believe communication is key in relationships?
More About Guest Contributor
Alexandra Arcand writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, AutoInsuranceEZ.com and strongly believes good communication is the key to a healthy and happy relationship. She is always looking for new ways to improve her communication skills.
Last Updated on July 28, 2021