Relationships can be hard work. Lots of people find them tricky to navigate. Whether you’re new to the dating scene, or you’re in a long-term relationship, you may find that there are times things can feel a little shaky between you and your partner. There are lots of things you can do when your relationship is struggling, but one of the best places to start is communication.
Sure, you may be speaking to each other every day. That’s communicating, right? Yes, but real, meaningful communication takes effort and may even feel uncomfortable sometimes. It’s more than dropping hints about the things that frustrate you, or yelling when your partner does something you don’t like. Real communication can help your relationship get to a really great place. Here are a few reasons why.
It can help you both open up and be real
When’s the last time you and your partner had a proper talk, and were real with each other? It’s easy to slip into a pattern of ignoring the problems in your relationship, particularly if things are good most of the time.
But, the ability to communicate properly with your partner is a really important thing to have in your relationship. You should both be able to feel heard, and to feel safe about discussing your emotions.
While it may be difficult to initiate ‘real talk’, and while it may feel strange or awkward, chances are by opening up to your partner, they’ll open up too. We all need to feel like we can be ourselves, and being able to communicate openly is an important part of this.
If open communication like this doesn’t feel natural for you, and you’re really struggling to connect with your partner, it may be because you’ve been let down by someone in the past. You could consider talking to a professional about how you can get more real with your partner. You can visit your local headspace centre for support.
It can help you understand and trust each other
Sometimes we can form ideas in our own mind about things that aren’t true. For example, you may think that your partner has some negative feelings about you, or they’re thinking of breaking up with you. Without having a proper conversation about it, you have no way of knowing this for sure.
Don’t let these bad thoughts build up, without acting on them. By having a proper talk and getting everything out in the open, you’ll both know where you stand and can work towards building a trusting relationship.
Communicating effectively can also help you move past misunderstandings and get on the same page. A key part of this is clearly describing how you feel, and listening to your partner’s response. They may be able to share a perspective you hadn’t thought of before.
It can help you feel better
Bottling up your feelings is not healthy. The more you hang onto them, the worse you’ll probably feel. It can also lead to feeling angry and lashing out at people, or saying hurtful things you don’t really mean. It’s important to be in a good headspace when you communicate with your partner, and to think things over beforehand.
By using some useful strategies for having a hard conversation, you can discuss your issues with your partner in a calm and collected way. And the great news is, you’ll probably feel a whole lot better once you’ve aired your concerns and they aren’t eating away at you anymore.
Tips for effective communication
- Talk about everything. No topic is off limits. Avoiding things can result in losing the chance of intimacy and true heart-to-heart, open communication.
- Say what you need to say with love. Don’t be nasty, and try and think before you accidentally say something hurtful.
- Time your conversation well. Make specific time for it, and don’t do it when there are distractions around.
- Get to the point and say what you need to say.
- Make sure your partner is paying attention and really listening. Eye contact is a good sign to look out for.
- Remember that your partner isn’t a mind reader – you need to keep on communicating clearly.
- Be as positive as possible – don’t talk about your problems all the time or it will get tiring.
- Listen. Communication goes both ways.
- Don’t be defensive. Listen to your partner’s perspective and consider their opinion.
- Be forgiving – we can’t be perfect, and you shouldn’t expect this of your partner.
Remember that your romantic relationships aren’t the only relationships you’ve got. It’s important to have meaningful relationships with a range of different people, from your parents to your friends to your elders or teachers.
If you’re struggling to communicate, or want help with navigating your relationship, you can visit your local headspace centre to chat with a professional about it.