It's a no-brainer that communication is important in a relationship. In fact, many experts would say it's the foundation of every relationship. It's what builds intimacy, nurtures trust, and just makes you feel comfortable with each other. But it's easier said than done. For some people, it comes more naturally than others, but even for people who are good at communicating there's always a learning curve when you're in a relationship. I'm a talker and I normally date talkers, but you still have to learn how your communication styles match up. It's the only way you can both feel heard and happy.
It can be tough. Even with all the talking we do, my partner and I have had to navigate and learn each other's methods of communication. The only way to do it is to learn as you go along, which can be tricky. There are bound to be some misunderstandings in the beginning of a relationship and you just have to stick with it. Because it's worth it. It makes you feel safer, makes your relationships more rewarding, and, if like me, you're someone who's naturally anxious or insecure, keeps those fears at bay. And once you learn each other's communication styles, it will start to come naturally until it's almost second-nature.
So don't get frustrated if you're still learning — you'll get there. And here are seven traits of couples with great communication, because disagreement isn't a bad thing. But first, check out the latest episode of our Sex and Relationships podcast, I Want It That Way:
1. They Communicate Often
The best way to communicate? Do it a lot. Couples with strong communication skills don't let things build up. When you don't address things immediately, when you finally do then every little thing you've ever been annoyed about spills out in this muddled emotional mess. By checking in with each other on a regular basis and having communication as part of your daily routine, you can avoid that. Plus, it's a reminder to your partner that you're present and interested — and that's never a bad thing.
2. They're Open-Minded
Communication means actually listening to your partner's point of view. Opening yourself up to seeing their perspective— even if you don't agree with it initially— is the best way to compromise and meet in the middle. You can't just dismiss their opinions or their feelings, so make sure to show you consider them even if you don't agree with them.
3. They Speak From The Heart
There's no point communicating if you're not going to be honest. It's not about saying what the other person wants to hear or getting through a fight as early as possible. It's about being honest, even when that's challenging.
4. They Accept Responsibility
Everyone messes up sometimes. It happens. If you accept responsibility for when you do, communication is a whole lot easier. Don't get defensive, don't pass the blame— couples who can say "I'm sorry" and mean it are going to be way better off in the long run.
5. They Laugh
It's not all deep and meaningful chats or heavy arguments. Laughter is a communication lubricant. If you can laugh, even in the middle of a dark place, it shows how much you trust each other and gets you through those difficult conversations. It's a miracle cure.
6. They're Not Scared To Disagree
Communication isn't all smiling and nodding. One of the most important parts of being in a relationship is being able to fight and disagree constructively— and a key part of that is admitting when it's happening. My girlfriend is a lot less rigid and black and white about things than I am, and she tells me when she thinks I'm assessing a topic too harshly, and I tell her when I think she's being too forgiving. I even sort of like it when she tells me she disagrees, because I know she feels comfortable enough to be honest with me, without ever dismissing my point of view.
7. They're Supportive... Always
"I love you, but..." has become my disagreement mantra. Ugly fighting is not good communicating. If you become contemptuous, defensive, or sarcastic, then your disagreements are going to hurt rather than help. Being able to say "I love you," or show support in another way, even when you're disagreeing, is one of the best ways to foster open communication. It lets your partner know you're there, want to listen, and that this conflict isn't the end of the world. The more you understand that, the more natural the communication will flow in the future. And your relationship will be better for it.
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