One of our deepest human needs is to feel understood. But finding a partner who truly gets who you are isn't easy. It might be tempting to overlook the signs your partner doesn't understand you on a deep level because you're afraid you can't find someone who does. But staying with someone who doesn't get you tends to leave you feeling unheard and disempowered.
You and your partner shouldn't be expected to perfectly understand each other right away, though. Understanding is something you can work toward over time. "When your partner takes actions that make you feel as if they don't understand you, you can say so at the time in a non-defensive, non-accusatory manner," psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW, tells Bustle.
"Be honest without making your partner feel like a bad person, but also make sure you let him or her know that you don’t feel understood," Koenig says. "How a partner responds to your expressing of needs makes all the difference. If they are glad that you shared your feelings and say they'll try to do better, great. If what they say creates more distance between you, the relationship is in trouble."
Here are some signs your partner doesn't truly understand you.
1Your Lifestyle Choices Clash
You don't have to agree with your partner on everything, but one thing you should see eye to eye on is your lifestyle choices. For example, if one person drinks and the other doesn't, the relationship has a greater chance of deteriorating over time, according to a study in The Journals of Gerontology. "For a healthy relationships, the values of partners need to mesh," says Koenig.
2They Frequently Suggest Activities You Don't Like
A partner who expects you to enjoy camping trips when you hate nature or movies when you hate sitting still may not be paying attention to your desires and preferences. "If your partner keeps making suggestions or decisions that would make you unhappy, they are not in sync with who you really are," says Koenig.
3You Hold Back Your Opinion Around Them
Even if your partner disagrees with your opinions, they should understand that your opinions make you who you are and avoid pressuring you into holding them back or changing them. "If you don’t feel that your partner values your opinions or convictions and is frequently disrespectful when you express them, they don't recognize what is truly important to you," says Koenig.
4They Do Things That Bother You Without Realizing They Will
You can't read each other's minds, so there's bound to be miscommunications that lead you to hurt each other without realizing it. But by the time you've been together for a while, your partner should have some idea of what gets on your nerves. If they don't really got you, they might do "something that is totally against your values, yet defend themselves, saying, 'Oh, I didn’t think you’d mind' or 'I thought you’d be OK with that,'" says Koenig.
5They Don't Listen
Understanding your partner requires listening, relationship therapist Carolyn Cole, LCPC, LMFT, NCC tells Bustle. A partner who is always multitasking while you're talking, forgetting things you say, interrupting you, or making things about them won't even get the information necessary to understand you.
6They're Always Missing The Point Of What You're Saying
If you always feel like you're talking past each other, your partner may be too defensive to really take in what you're communicating, says Cole.
7They Minimize Your Problems
We deserve partners who understand not just our desires and interests but also our struggles. It's never OK to dismiss what someone's going through, because even if the external problem seems small, your feelings are not. A tendency to say things like "get over it" is a red flag, says Cole.
If your partner meets this description, talk to them about how you can feel more understood. And ask yourself whether you’re giving them the chance to understand you, because it’s hard to understand someone who keeps parts of themselves hidden.