Establishing effective communication in any romantic relationship can have a big impact on how that relationship develops over time. Unfortunately, it's not always obvious whether or not there's been a lapse in communication until the tension between a couple reaches a boiling point — when it can be much more difficult to get to the root of the issue. The signs you and your partner don't communicate well might be subtle, but definitely shouldn't be ignored.
I spoke with NYC relationship expert Susan Winter to find out how you can spot the problematic signs you and your partner aren't fully understanding each other. "A healthy format for communication is essential to partnership growth and ongoing happiness," Winter tells Elite Daily. "There will be many conflicts that arise over the course of a relationship. Establishing a respectful and effective style of communication allows for functional conflict resolution."
We all know what it feels like to have a disagreement with someone where nothing gets resolved because your communication styles just aren't jiving. When you aren't on the same page with your partner, this can set the stage for even more communication issues in the future. So, if you're not sure you and bae know how to constructively deal with issues and articulate your emotions, here are some signs that could mean you have some more work to do.
1You frequently misunderstand each other.
First off, misunderstandings between people happen, so as long as it's not a regular thing, then there's probably no need to worry. However, if you and your SO are constantly misinterpreting what the other said or meant, then this may be a red flag.
"No matter how clear your statements, your partner takes everything you say the wrong way," says Winter. "Worse yet, no amount of clarification seems to set them right."
2You and your partner are quick to make assumptions.
Once you've been in a relationship with someone for a while, it can be all too easy to assume you know how they're feeling instead of listening and trying to understand what's going on in the moment.
"[If] your partner assumes they know what you're feeling and when you try to clarify the truth of your feelings, your partner assumes you're covering up or not telling the truth," this is another sign that the communication in the relationship isn't working as well as it could, explains Winter.
3You bicker a lot.
Disagreements are a normal part of life, so imagine how strange (and honestly, kind of boring) a relationship would be if you agreed about absolutely everything all the time! At the end of the day, avoiding every argument is impossible. That said, if you spend what feels like too much time fighting over things that aren't really important, and nothing ends up getting resolved, then that might be a sign that communication is probably not your forte.
"If rational conversations are a rare occurrence in your relationship," and your "communication style has degraded to that of bickering and nitpicking rather than information sharing and problem-solving," it may be time to make a shift in how you work through conflict, says Winter.
How to improve communication in your relationship
On the surface, effective communication might sound like a basic skill, but it can actually be really tough! Luckily, if your relationship is lacking a sustainable communication flow, it can be fixed with some effort. "Healthy communication formats can be learned," says Winter. "There are numerous courses taught on effective communication, as well as books and videos that can aid you and your mate."
When it comes down to it, communication is a skill, and just like any other skill, it takes time and practice to improve. So as long as both you and your partner are willing to devote some time and effort to this part of your relationship, there's no need to panic. "It's simply a matter of re-educating yourselves and breaking negative communication patterns," explains Winter. "You and your partner should feel comfortable sharing your feelings with each other. If your relationship has devolved to the point where you cannot do so while feeling safe and secure, then professional assistance is advised."
There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking the help of a trained professional. Ultimately, healthy communication is the backbone of successful partnerships, and helps both parties feel like their needs are being met and their voices are being heard. Everyone deserves that kind of love and mutual respect, so don't quit until you see it reflected in your relationship!