People often say that communication is the key to a successful relationship. Knowing communication is essential is one thing, but putting it into practice is something different altogether. Below you’ll find some broader principles to guide your communication at any stage of a relationship.
Quit with the Games
Mature relationships shouldn’t require guesswork. Game playing and manipulation tactics are one of the fastest ways to de-rail communication and healthy relationships, so go ahead and check all that at the door. Whether you’re in the beginning phase of a relationship or deep into talks about the rest of your lives together, be direct and upfront with one another. If you enjoyed those first few dates, say so. Don’t let texts go unanswered for hours because you think it looks good to leave the other person hanging. On the other hand, don’t overthink a quick response because you really like the person and are afraid of looking too interested. If the other person is serious about pursuing a relationship, they will appreciate your directness.
Playing games with each other’s emotions and insecurities ultimately breaks down the willingness to be open and communicative with one another, resulting in emotional walls instead of understanding.
If you are further into a relationship, game playing can often reach a more manipulative level. You know one another better, and inevitably know (or are learning) what drives the other one crazy. If you know hinting at big conversations rather than actually having them stress your partner out, skip the hint and go straight to the conversation. Don’t make your partner sit there for hours dreaming up possible worst-case scenarios because you think this will give you some kind of edge when the time for the real conversation comes. Playing games with each other’s emotions and insecurities ultimately breaks down the willingness to be open and communicative with one another, resulting in emotional walls instead of understanding.
Be Flexible, but Intentional
Some conversations naturally come up, but others aren’t as organic. It’s okay to have it both ways, but you and your partner should pinpoint which categories your conversations fall into. Maybe it’s really easy to talk about your exes together, and you are capable of thoroughly disclosing past secrets to one another. Explore those kinds of topics as they come up, and go deeper into conversations that in the moment aren’t all that difficult. These topics fall into the “flexible” category; things that come up easily or without intentional prompting.
Other topics, however, may be more difficult or just don’t come up as easily or as frequently. Think through which topics these may be in your relationship, and be intentional about how you could thoughtfully discuss those issues. Sometimes this may just be setting aside some time to talk about these things, other times it may require more.
Take your significant other to a place where they feel comfortable if you know you’re going to be delving into something a little trickier. Time your conversation when you know it will be the most fruitful and take into account other factors from the day or the week that may bring an added positive or negative effect. These conversations may require a little more foresight and intentionality but are crucial for the advance of the relationship.
Communication and vulnerability often go hand in hand. Opening up is scary but essential. Being raw shows that you can accept the other person in their entirety. As intimidating as this may be, it's necessary for furthering a relationship and creating a long-term foundation of trust and support.
If you’re too scared to share the secrets of your past, can you really envision a life together that will be happy and healthy?
If you’re too scared to share the secrets of your past, can you really envision a life together that will be happy and healthy? If you’re reluctant to hear details regarding your partner’s political views because you know it’s going to bother you, are you sure this is a relationship worth pursuing? If you’re not into wasting your time in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere, it's important to be open and honest to discover whether or not you are truly compatible with one another.
Prioritize Each Other
If you’re both in the relationship for the right reasons, there should be an equal amount of time when you both get to take top priority. We all bring different ideas and experiences into relationships, and some conversations will be more difficult than others. Recognize the times when your partner might need some more attention, and be aware that this topic might not revolve around you. Your time and place should come, and your partner should give you an equal amount of attention when appropriate, but this particular conversation may not be that time.
If you are in a relationship that values and respects the other person, then your time will come. Knowing that every conversation won’t revolve around you shows that you are capable of being a mature and supportive partner who can actively listen to meet their partner’s emotional needs.
Good communication is more than just the words you speak, but the sentiments that are conveyed to your partner through actions and words. Discovering how you can best communicate with one another may not always be the easiest thing, but it's undoubtedly essential for creating a strong and loving relationship where the needs of each other are given equal respect and priority.