For the longest time, people have written books, films, shows, and songs about struggling to get through to a partner. In fact, Romeo and Juliet would probably still be alive if they could have just worked on their message-relaying skills. Whether you just want to be heard or you can't decipher your significant other's vague comments, not being on the same page as your partner is definitely frustrating. But if you're wondering if there are signs you have real communication problems, not just occasional rifts, you're not alone. Though catching a little static from time to time is normal in pretty much every relationship, it can be draining when there is a complete breakdown in dialogue between you and your partner.
Obviously all of this — and a number of other problems — could be solved in an instant if you were telepathic or that carnival machine from Big was real. But until Professor Xavier invites you to join his School for Talented Youngsters, you'll have to rely on your good old fashioned sense of comprehension to navigate the murky waters of interpersonal discourse. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to sort through things and identify if you and your SO have real communication problems.
1. You're Exempt
Not many people can think clearly during an argument, but if you find yourself behaving the same way in daily conversation, that's a red flag. As communication expert Preston Ni told Psychology Today, "when we use 'you' language plus a directive, it’s easy to arouse feelings of resentment and defensiveness." Basically, by putting everything of on the other person in the form of a direction or judgment is a recipe for dialogue disaster.
2. You're Both Silent
When one person clams up, it's not exactly the end of the world. But when both partners refuse to talk at all, that's an issue. As psychologist Dr. John M. Grohol told Psych Central, a lack of communication in a relationship can lead to indifference. When neither of you care enough to even argue, you might need to reevaluate things.
3. You Always Analyze
After you've been with your partner for a while, it's hard not to pick up on some of their more annoying habits. But if your relationship was a newspaper and everyday the headline was a criticism, what would that say about your verbal habits? "When partners let negative feelings take over, they begin to see each other through a disdainful lens," psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz told the website for The Today Show. Regardless of who is dishing out the disapproval, the relentlessness of this habit is the real issue.
4. Your Body And Verbal Language Disagree
If a picture is worth a thousand words, an eye roll is worth the whole dictionary. As relationship coach Deb Dutilh told The Huffington Post, sending mixed signals causes real communication problems in any relationship. If your gestures don't match the intent of your words, how can you expect the other person to correctly interpret the message?
5. You're Quick To Guard
It's basic biology to protect yourself when you feel you're being attacked. But there's a difference between an antelope outrunning a lion and you blocking out your significant other. "Defensiveness only serves to accelerate the anxiety and tension experienced by both parties," as clinical psychologist Travis Bradberry told Forbes. No one wins when you're constantly in fight or flight mode.
6. You Assume
I won't even bother with the joke about what you become when you assume. This goes back to the whole mind-reading thing. You might think your point was made abundantly clear and your SO could be completely lost and neither of you would technically be wrong. Relationship coaches (and spouses) Laurie and Joe Battaglia told Woman's Day that making assumptions is a common mistake with couples. Even if you think you're stating the obvious, it's better to fully put your perspective out there.