Lack of communication in a relationship is one of the major problems couples tend to deal with. It might look like a non-issue initially but, if you let seemingly small problems fester, they’ll eventually aggravate and negatively impact the partnership. Therefore, you must figure out how to fix lack of communication in a relationship before it drives a wedge between you and your partner.
Communication is essential for a healthy relationship. You should be able to talk to your partner without hesitation. It helps resolve issues and conflicts, and most importantly, understand and connect with your partner on a deep, emotional level. It brings you closer to your partner, strengthens your bond, and helps you grow as a couple.
If you’re facing communication issues, allow us to help you. We spoke to dating coach Geetarsh Kaur, founder of The Skill School, which specializes in building stronger relationships, to understand how to fix lack of communication in a relationship. She also threw light on the causes and consequences of bad communication and if a relationship can survive the same.
15 Expert Tips To Fix Lack Of Communication In A Relationship
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Lack of communication in a relationship can create conflict between partners and drive them apart. It can wreak havoc and cause irreparable damage to the bond that you share with your partner. The relationship, then, becomes a breeding ground for doubt and insecurity. It creates resentment, makes you feel lonely and unimportant, and affects physical and emotional intimacy. Lack of communication in a relationship cannot and should not be ignored. Geetarsh says, “Do not run away from communication. Problems arise when we don’t address the issue at hand.”
It is important to recognize the signs of bad communication in a relationship. Constantly criticizing each other, stonewalling, indulging in passive-aggressive behavior, or getting defensive are warning signs. If you are unwilling to compromise or make attempts to resolve conflict, it is indicative of a communication problem in the relationship.
Don’t worry. There are myriad ways of dealing with bad communication in a relationship. It is possible to fix the problem. If you are in a similar situation and wondering what to do when you can’t communicate with your partner or how to fix lack of communication in a relationship, these 15 tips can help:
1. Actively communicate with each other
One of the first steps to avoid lack of communication in a relationship is to get into the habit of communicating with your partner daily. It does not have to be grand gestures or one of those major conversations every day. Little things like asking them how their day was, leaving notes to let them know what you’re doing, checking in on them throughout the day or appreciating them for something nice they did for you are enough.
Geetarsh recommends keeping your communication channels open. “Whether you’ll be home late, have a last-minute work commitment or there’s a party you need to attend – no matter what it is, always keep communication lines open. Drop a message, call your partner to let them know about your whereabouts. Check on them a couple of times throughout the day. This way, your partner will not hesitate to communicate with you,” she says.
It’ll show them that you care for them and are considerate about their worries and feelings. It could help you connect with your partner on a deeper level. Start with baby steps – small talk or a light-hearted conversation is better than no communication at all. Once you get more comfortable with each other, you could discuss your relationship as well.
Related Reading: Know How Much He Loves You Through His Body Language
2. How to fix lack of communication in a relationship – Be a good listener
Not listening to what your partner wants to say is one major reason for lack of communication in a relationship. You need to be a good listener if you want to build a healthy communication channel with your partner. Communication does not mean that only one party keeps talking about how they feel. It also means carefully listening to what your partner wants to say and acknowledging their feelings.
If you refuse to listen to your partner, they will be forced to remain silent, which will eventually worsen the situation. So, make sure you don’t interrupt while they’re talking. It might just make them feel that their views are not valued or respected. Wait until they finish and then make your point.
Geetarsh explains, “Humans tend to have poor listening skills. Most of the time, we listen to react and not to understand. You need to be more empathetic toward what your partner is saying, listen to them properly, process it and then respond.”
3. Notice each others’ attachment style
Each individual’s way of handling or dealing with relationships is different. The attachment theory developed by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth states that every person’s understanding of relationships and attachment style depends on and is shaped by the care they received in their growing up years. The emotional bond that a child forms with their primary caregivers has a huge impact on their attachment style later in life.
If either of you has an insecure style of attachment, it is possible that you communicate out of anxiety or try to protect yourself by avoiding the conversation. If that’s the case, try to understand and figure out safer ways to communicate. You can probably take some time off to think or communicate in parts, bit by bit or via text or email. If your partner has an anxious attachment style, talk to them in a way that makes them feel safe and assures them of your feelings.
Also, try and understand how your partner feels about communication and what their idea of communication is. If they aren’t communicating with you, try to identify the reason behind it. Talk to each other about it and ask questions as it will help you explore ways to honestly communicate with each other.
Geetarsh explains, “Try to understand and reflect upon your own communication style. The fault may lie in you because you don’t realize or notice your way of communication – are you taunting your partner, do you tend to be dismissive of them or give them the silent treatment? Are you clear enough? Are you being empathetic toward your partner’s needs or just fooling around thinking you know it all?”
Related Reading: 10 Things Girls Like To Hear Their Partners Say
4. Be open and honest about your feelings
Another extremely important tip on how to fix lack of communication in a relationship is to be open and honest with your partner about your feelings. Hiding emotions or vulnerability is a major reason for lack of communication in a relationship. It will only cause resentment and misunderstanding between both partners. You have to find ways to reconnect after a fight or feel close to each other as partners and one way to do that is to initiate honest conversation.
If you are in a relationship, you should be able to share both the good and bad parts of yourself with your partner. You should be able to be vulnerable or emotional and show your weaknesses to your better half. No matter how big or small the problem is, never sweep it under the rug. If something is bothering you, say it. Don’t hold yourself back. Ask questions.
Be absolutely honest about your feelings and opinions. Tell your partner if they’ve done something that upset you or if there’s something about yourself or the relationship that you feel isn’t right and needs work. There is no other way to encourage normal communication in a relationship than to express your feelings to the person you love.
Geetarsh weighs in, “Don’t assume what your partner wants or is thinking. Talk it out and clarify. Couples make the mistake of assuming how our partner feels about a particular situation and accepting it as the truth without communicating or clarifying with them. Instead of addressing the issue, we assume the worst possible scenario and come to a conclusion that may be far from the truth. It’s one of the major signs of bad communication in a relationship.”
5. Choose the right time to talk
An important piece of advice on how to fix lack of communication in a relationship is to know when to talk. There’s always a right time to do everything and this is not just about managing schedules. Make sure both of you are in the right headspace when you sit down to talk to each other. Neither of you should be upset or angry otherwise the whole purpose of having a conversation gets defeated.
“A common communication mistake couples make is of not finding the right time to talk. Timing is crucial for constructive communication between partners in a relationship. The right time can lead to a positive response to your concerns. Notice the body language. If your partner is occupied with work or is in a hurry or hassled, then it may not be the right time to talk to them,” says Geetarsh.
Talking when either partner is going through extreme emotions can prove to be detrimental to solving the problem of lack of communication in a relationship. There’s a high possibility of you saying things that you don’t mean. Your emotions may cloud your reactions, which is why choosing the right time to talk is extremely important to aid healthy communication.
Related Reading: 21 Signs Of Lack Of Respect In A Relationship
6. Establish boundaries
The non-existence of healthy boundaries is one of the signs of bad communication in a relationship. Boundaries are crucial for a partnership to thrive. They help you understand and respect your partner better, which can prove to work in your favor during fights and arguments. They’ll make you feel more comfortable about opening up to each other and help avoid lack of communication in a relationship.
However, make sure you don’t go to extremes while establishing boundaries as that can make your partner feel alienated. Healthy relationship boundaries can help you develop good communication skills, which, in turn, will help you understand and respect your partner on a deeper, emotional level. They’ll also help you avoid any kind of miscommunication or misunderstanding that may exist.
According to Geetarsh, “Boundaries need to be defined from the beginning. While communicating, people tend to become abusive or bring up past traumas, which may result in miscommunication. You need to define boundaries about your communication style. If you continue to make space for negativity in your communication, you will never be able to fix a relationship.”
7. How to fix lack of communication in a relationship – Address unresolved issues
Unresolved issues are one of the major signs of bad communication in a relationship. They pave the way for trust issues, resentment and disrespect between partners. You and your partner may be finding it difficult to communicate due to some painful conflict of the past that has not been resolved yet.
So what to do when you can’t communicate with your partner? Well, to begin with, process the past hurt and conflict. Talk it out. Sort out your past problems. In order to begin normal communication in the relationship, you will need to forgive each other, solve and put your past issues behind, and rebuild trust.
8. Strike a balance between listening and being heard
How to avoid lack of communication in a relationship? Learn to strike a balance. While it is important to be an active listener, it is equally important to be heard. Communication is not a one-way street. It takes two to tango, which is why you should strive to strike a balance between listening and being heard. Listen to what your partner has to say but also get him to listen to you.
Listen to what your partner has to say but also make sure to put forward your feelings and opinions. Remember that you’re having a conversation with your partner, not entering a competition or a debate that you have to win. “If you always end up fighting, play the blame game, never come to a common conclusion, and keep thinking of ways to win or demean or undermine your partner, you’ll never be able to establish normal communication in a relationship,” says Geetarsh.
Be considerate about your partner’s needs but don’t neglect your own. Understand each other’s views even if you don’t agree with them. However, Geetarsh suggests arriving at a conclusion that you both agree with. “Make sure that the conclusion you arrive at is agreeable to both of you otherwise it’ll create problems in the future. The whole purpose of having a discussion gets defeated if either partner is not satisfied with the outcome,” she says.
9. Make time for each other
According to Geetarsh, one of the major reasons for lack of communication in a relationship is couples not spending enough time with each other. So, taking out time for each other is one answer to your ‘what to do when you can’t communicate with your partner’ dilemma. Spending time with each other will bring you closer, allow you to let your guard down, share your thoughts, and feel more comfortable and at ease in each other’s company. You will feel connected to each other, making it easier to communicate.
Lack of communication in a relationship often stems from a feeling of discomfort with your partner. To avoid such a situation, you must make time for each other and work on your relationship. Whether it’s navigating conflict or spending quality time with each other, being together can improve communication in the relationship to a large extent because it creates a safe space for expression and growth.
10. Use statements that start with ‘I’ or ‘we’
How to fix lack of communication in a relationship? Understand the impact your words can have on your partner. The way partners speak to each other makes a huge difference. Couples tend to start conversations or arguments by pointing fingers at each other or blame-shifting. But the truth is, hyperbolic speech can result in aggravating conflict instead of resolving it.
It is advisable to start your statements with ‘I’ or ‘We’. For example, instead of saying, “You don’t have time for me”, you can say, “I feel hurt when you don’t make time for me”. The former statement sends a message that you’re blaming or accusing him of something, while the latter focuses on how you are feeling.
Geetarsh says, “Always use statements that start with ‘we’ because it’s a sign that you’re focusing on togetherness. You are focusing on dealing with the problem together rather than on deciding who is right or indulging in a blame game that will lead the conversation nowhere.”
Related Reading: 10 Things To Do When You Are Drifting Apart In Your Relationship
11. Get rid of the silent treatment
This is one of the major signs of bad communication in a relationship. Giving your partner the silent treatment is not the solution to any problem, including lack of communication. If not anything else, it’s a sign that you are in a complicated relationship. It’ll, then, become a breeding ground of misunderstanding, insecurity and resentment. There’ll be a lot of bottled-up emotions as well as a lack of trust and respect in the relationship forcing both partners to drift apart from each other.
If your partner has done something that angered or upset you, take some time off to cool down. But don’t avoid the conversation or stop speaking to them because you’re angry. It’ll only make your partner feel isolated and send a message that any kind of expression from their end will result in you shutting down all communication lines with them.
The silent treatment is considered to be a major red flag for lack of communication in a relationship. Don’t use it as a means to punish your partner. Address the problem instead. Convey your feelings to your partner. Talk to each other and find a solution that works for both of you.
12. Process your own feelings first
Another piece of advice on how to fix lack of communication in a relationship is to first understand and process your own feelings. If there’s a problem or your partner has done something that you didn’t like, take a step back and understand how you feel about the whole situation. Try to calm yourself and take control of your emotions.
If you walk into a conversation in an angry state of mind, you are more likely to say things that you don’t mean and worsen the situation. Gain control over your anger otherwise the conversation will get heated. There’s a high chance that it may spiral out of control. In such a scenario, resolving the conflict becomes a problem because both partners are too angry to communicate with each other and arrive at a healthy solution.
13. Pay close attention to non-verbal signs
As humans, we communicate not only through words but also via our body language. While it is important to listen to what your partner wants to say, Geetarsh feels that it is equally essential to pay attention to their body language and pick up non-verbal signs and behaviors. It can prove to be a huge indicator of their state of mind and feelings.
Partners may sometimes find it difficult to communicate or express their feelings in words. According to Geetarsh, “They are either inexpressive by nature or their expressions were never acknowledged, which means that you need to create a safe zone for them and make them feel comfortable enough to share their feelings with you.”
This is where body language and its role in healthy relationships come into play. Non-verbal signs and behaviors include facial expressions, eye contact and tone of voice – all of which are quite telling of your partner’s perception of you, whether it’s during an argument or otherwise. Picking up on such non-verbal cues can bridge the communication gap between you and your partner.
It’ll help you figure out how and when to talk to your partner. It’ll also help you prevent the conflict from aggravating further. But, obviously, you’re human and capable of misjudging your partner’s body language signs. So, make sure to ask questions and clarify if your partner shows signs of disinterest or aggressiveness in the relationship. Ask them how they’re feeling otherwise it’ll lead to misunderstandings.
14. Practice affection and compassion
Still struggling with the ‘what to do when you can’t communicate with your partner’ problem? Well, figure out ways to show affection to your partner. Being more affectionate and compassionate toward your partner will make them feel loved, valued and appreciated. They might just feel more comfortable around you and end up opening up to you.
Seeing your love and care for them will help them connect with you on a deeper level and enable sharing of personal thoughts, thereby, opening channels of communication in the relationship. Showing affection and compassion should be regular practice in a healthy relationship. It’s not something you do only to resolve matters and patch up during conflict. Being affectionate is a way of showing your partner how much you love them. It’ll not only improve communication but also help you grow as a couple.
Geetarsh says, “Do not label or dismiss your partner’s feelings. Don’t make statements like “I thought you to be a smart person but you turned out to be a fool” or “You’re acting stupid” or “Don’t be silly”. Don’t undermine your partner’s thoughts and opinions. Be empathetic toward them. What seems trivial to you but may be extremely important for your partner. Validate their feelings and expressions.”
Related Reading: 20 Questions To Ask Your Partner To Build Emotional Intimacy
15. How to fix lack of communication in a relationship – Try therapy
If all attempts at establishing normal communication in a relationship go in vain, seek professional help. You can try both individual or couples therapy. Seeking professional guidance does not mean that your relationship is nearing its end or you’re on the verge of a breakup. You’ll be surprised at the kind of clarity a neutral third party can offer, especially when that third party is a skilled professional trained to deal with such issues.
They will be able to look at your problems in an unbiased and non-judgmental way and offer a safe environment and guidance to help you figure out how you can avoid lack of communication in a relationship. They’ll help you work on your relationship and figure out a solution that works for both of you.
Communication problems can arise anytime in a relationship. A therapist can help you understand the root cause of the problem and suggest ways to re-establish constructive dialogue within the relationship. If you’re stuck in a similar situation, you can always reach out to Bonobology’s panel of experienced and licensed therapists for help.
Communication is key to a strong relationship. Without it, the partnership will cease to exist. Expressing yourself is easier said than done, for sure. But think about it. There is so much that you can share about yourself and know about your partner through normal communication in a relationship. After all, what’s the point of being with a person if you aren’t comfortable talking to them about your thoughts and feelings, right?
Things will not change overnight. You’ll have to work at it every day. But if you’re putting in the effort, it’s a sign that you want the relationship to work. If your partner is able to see that effort, they’ll know that you’re in it for the long run. It might just make them go the extra mile and work toward fixing the communication gap.
Having said that, if none of your efforts have yielded results, then it might be a good idea to end the relationship on good terms. It is quite a possibility that partners are not compatible with each other. If you can’t see any solution in sight, it’s better to call it quits than suffer and be unhappy.