If you’re a pro at relationships (and, of course you are) you probably know by now that communication is the key to absolute happiness. But even in relationships that seem fine, sometimes there are hidden signs that you’re not communicating well with each other that end up getting missed.
There’s also a chance that you can be communicating way better than you currently are. If you’re having a ton of screaming fights, or still upset that your boyfriend didn’t get you anything other than a generic box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, this could very well be you. Just because a relationship isn’t a total disaster doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved.
Here are some signs that you might be falling into the bad communication trap.
1Your texting ratio is off, and borderline sad.
Every person has their own texting style. But since texts are often the source of a lot of miscommunication problems (yes, even with emojis) they need to be examined a bit. Do you send your partner 15 texts and only get an “okay” in response? Do you ask him to check in with you through text when he’s reached a destination, but know he’ll totally forget? Well then, your texting style isn’t compatible. That can lead to a lot of unnecessary hurt.
So, what can you do? Well, put down the cell phone for one. Tell your partner, kindly, that it hurts when they don’t respond immediately. They might have no idea. Then, listen to them and figure out why you’re getting ignored. It’s probably unintentional. Remember, not everyone is attached to their phones. From there, work on a compromise.
2Your last birthday was a total disappointment, but you’re afraid to tell him or her that.
Congrats, you finally turned 30! It’s a scary year ahead, but the day itself was made of nightmares. Your guy or girl didn’t take you anywhere and barely acknowledged it. You’ve been together for a year — they should have known better, right? Of course, bringing it up to them will only lead to a fight, so why bother.
Your partner can’t read your mind. Birthdays mean different things to different people, so it’s possible that you didn’t communicate the fact that you were expecting something bigger. As far as bringing it up, you should never feel silenced in your own relationship. Not being able to talk about a certain thing is a huge red flag that the relationship is heading nowhere. Your emotions matter, and the problem will never be fixed if you refuse to speak up about it.
3Your diary has gotten a lot of action recently.
Don’t get us wrong, a diary is a wonderful thing to have. Journaling your feelings can be totally therapeutic, and more people should give it a go. But there’s a common theme with using a journal — when you first start, you normally detail every life event. Then? Life takes over, and entries peter out a bit.
If yours is in reverse, and you notice yourself writing lengthy chapters on a nightly basis, it could be because you can’t vent your feelings, uninterrupted, to your partner. Pretty soon, you might be telling your diary absolutely everything and your significant other next to nothing. This isn’t super healthy.
4You know he or she will explode over certain topics.
If you ask him how his job is, he goes from zero to ten. So, you better not ask, right?
Well, yes and no. You know it’s a sore subject, so it’s nothing you want to use against him. But at the same time, it’s an important topic that he needs to be somewhat open about, especially if the two of you share finances. Work occupies most of his day, and him not sharing it with you? Kind of weird.
When people keep a huge part of themselves closed off, it leads to resentment. That, or perhaps you’ll wonder what he’s hiding. Is he having an affair with someone at work? Do his co-workers know he’s in a relationship? Heck…does he even have a job?
5 He or she can’t remember details about your life.
If you’ve been dating for longer than six months, your partner should know what you do for a living — even if they don’t totally grasp what it entails. He or she should also know if you have any siblings, and what the name of your best friend is. These are all topics that come up naturally during everyday conversation, and if they’re still somewhat hazy, they’re not paying attention.
Sometimes we all have slip-ups and brain fogs, but if these things keep happening, just realize that your significant other is tuning you out. Figure out why, and how to communicate more effectively, since this will definitely lead to a fight somewhere down the line.
6Fights always end in tears.
There can be a lot of reasons for this, but communication is a big one. When you reach the level of tears, things are usually at a point of no return. Yelling, accusing, or storming out are all huge indicators that communication has failed. They’re also a sign that emotional abuse might be right around the corner, so please keep an eye out for escalation.
A lot of times, fights happen because you expect your significant other to do X, but they end up doing Y instead. You wonder why he didn’t do X — you mean, you talked about X for days — but instead, he went to Y. Instead of bringing it up now, you let it build up in your brain.
To a point where, when you finally bring it up, you’re totally heated.
Taken aback, he responds a little too defensively. And suddenly, you’re screaming at each other about something totally different, like who did the laundry last.
Your significant other should be your teammate. You’re both navigating this relationship together. If you feel like he’s your opponent, you need to break it off. Otherwise, you need to work on ways to communicate your wants and needs better to each other. Make sure you start off calm.
7You don’t want to talk to your partner about big news.
Good, bad, or somewhere in-between, you know you probably aren’t going to get the reaction you want. If something huge happens, he or she won’t understand why it’s a big deal. Or, if something small (yet upsetting) occurs, you know they won’t really give you the hug you need. Instead, it’ll be a shrug. Or worse, a lecture.
Couplehood is all about sharing. If you don’t share, you start keeping secrets. And if you keep too many secrets, suddenly you’ve built a life away from your significant other.
You should tell them how you best handle reactions and signs of love and appreciation — in fact, that’s kind of the whole basis around “love languages,” which is a concept that’s truly not as ridiculous as you might assume.
Just remember that your boyfriend or girlfriend should always be your biggest cheerleader and your sense of support.
8Most of your interactions happen electronically.
You communicate through text throughout the day. Then you get home and stare at your phones. Then, you go to bed. Sound familiar?
Technology is a great way to keep in touch, and drop someone a line, but you don’t want to kill off face-to-face interactions. If you’ve noticed that date nights are awkward (since you haven’t actually stared into your partner’s eyes in a long time) there’s a lot of room for improvement in the way you two communicate. If you get back into the practice, you’ll realize how fulfilling it truly is.