Miscommunication can be one of the most painful and destructive things in a relationship. Everyone has a language to express their affection and attraction to their partner, but these languages are not always in-synch. If relationships don’t find a common vernacular that feels sincere and authentic for both partners, it’s easy to fall into two traps: Either a person can feel doubt and anxiety because they are missing their partner’s cues, or one can be made to feel insincere – like they’re adhering to a script – if they are just repeating their partner’s prompts.
In my experience, women tend to raise the flag first about how their men communicate: they want to hear the right thing, unprompted. This has bewildered men, who can’t understand why they are getting in trouble for things they haven’t done, for ages. Conversely, if a guy is fed a script of what to say, his own emotional expression is muted, and perhaps the only thing worse than doubting how your partner feels about you is doubting your own feelings to them when you can’t express yourself.
If you feel like your relationship’s communication scale has teetered to one of these unhealthy extremes, here’s how to find a balance.
DO: Bring it up with your partner. Express that you think you’re miscommunicating in regards to your attraction, affection, etc. for one another. Tell them that you want to learn how to better listen and speak to each other so that your feelings are more clear.
DON’T: Rush to conclusions like “You don’t care about me enough!” or “I don’t think my feelings for you are sincere.” These feelings may only be the fault of your lapses in communication.
DO: Ask each other what your emotional languages are. Balance isn’t just saying the right thing – it’s learning to hear the right thing that’s already being said, too.
DON’T: Give your partner lines, phrases or even the right words to say. These will feel too false, too soon.
DO: Stick to categories. Instead of saying, “Why don’t you tell me I’m hot?” say “It really makes me feel good when you tell me about your physical attractions to me, how you fantasize about me.” Instead of saying, “I want you to tell me you miss me so much on the phone,” say “I’d like you to express how you think and feel about me when we’re apart. Knowing I’m on your mind is really special for me to hear.”
DO: After this conversation, make sure to reinforce positive communication when it happens. “You know, that thing you whispered to me at dinner made me feel really special,” will go a long way,
Remember, the key to adjusting miscommunication comes from listening as much as speaking. You need to train yourself to listen to your partner, demonstrate to them how you like to be spoken to, and reinforce positive communications when they happen. Be careful not to be accusatory, and don’t give you partner prompts for what to say – it will feel insincere to both of you. Be patient, because synchronicity won’t happen overnight, but if your relationship is worth the work you’ll be happily speaking clearly before you know it.