Open and honest communication is the most important aspect of intimacy for your romantic relationship with your partner. Ineffective communication can be a major hindrance not only to your intimacy, but also to your future together.
Communication between partners
Communication in a romantic relationship is more than just talking about your day or making plans for the weekend. It is, in fact, an essential form of intimacy that can bring two people closer together, make them feel connected to each other, and help them meet each other’s needs.
While at the very beginning of your relationship, communication with your partner helped you get to know each other, later on, it becomes an essential tool for resolving relationship problems, as well as maintaining and improving your intimacy. However, sometimes couples come across a major gap in their relationship that they cannot seem to bridge, even though they’ve been trying to communicate in a more open and honest way. Typically, they assume the roles of speaker and listener, expressing their opinions and feelings and then switching roles. Yet, it seems more as though they are talking at each other rather than with each other, and ultimately fail to get their messages across.
While this is the established pattern of communicating in a relationship, it’s rarely effective because it’s missing a crucial piece -– interconnected experience. This means the person in the role of the listener shouldn’t just listen, but also experience and internalize what their partner is saying. Only when both partners truly experience both points of view will these alternating exchanges of feelings and opinions become effective. Such communication will yield true results because it will lead to better understanding and deeper, more intimate connection between the partners. Without experiencing your partner’s viewpoint, feelings and thoughts, you easily can miscommunicate, which eventually will weaken your connection and intimacy.
Another important aspect of communication is its nonverbal dimension. Facial expressions, body language, intonation, and physical connection all are essential aspects of communicating with your partner. Focusing solely on words and neglecting nonverbal signs can cause communication problems, especially if one person places more importance on auditory cues, while the other is mostly kinaesthetic (sensory perception of movement). For a kinaesthetic person, it takes more than words to convey a message, while an auditory person may neglect the physical expressions. Taking into account both verbal and nonverbal aspects of a particular interaction can give communication a more meaningful dimension.
What partners also fail to see is how their intimate communication often is affected by their previous experiences and memories. While communicating, partners often allow their thoughts and feelings from past interactions to affect the way they interpret the current situation. These unresolved issues from the past become an integral part of their present interactions, which can interfere with their attempt to communicate in a new, more effective way. Furthermore, this can cause the repetition of previous arguments, feelings, and challenges that inevitably prevent partners from truly experiencing and understanding each other.
Breaking the established patterns of communicating is challenging and requires a lot of effort from both partners, but it certainly isn’t impossible. By implementing new communication techniques, they can break away from those ineffective patterns and significantly improve their communication. Here are several techniques that can improve intimate communication in a relationship:
1. Observation, not interpretation
One of the most common problems in communication results from a person interpreting an incident, rather than simply observing it. Instead of relating the incident, they interpret it according to their feelings and thoughts, even if that interpretation isn’t true. For example, instead of observing the fact “you’re late for our date,” a person might say “You are late for our date because you don’t value my time.” Eradicating such emotion-colored observations is the first step toward better communication.
2. Honest expression of feelings
Another important step is the honest expression of feelings. Women who are dating older men often say they communicate with their partners better and more easily because older men aren’t afraid to share their feelings openly. Partners need to learn to understand and express their emotions in a non-judgmental way and without fearing that they might seem “weak” or vulnerable.
3. Active listening
As already mentioned, communication isn’t about talking at each other, but with each other, which entails actively listening to your partner. Partners need to internalize each other’s feelings and pay attention to nonverbal cues. When listening, you also should take a non-judgemental position and focus your attention on what your partner is saying, rather than thinking about what to say next.
Nurturing open and honest communication with your partner is essential for having a close, meaningful, and loving relationship.