Here’s How To Get Your Partner To Listen If You Feel Like They're Never Paying Attention
For many people, relationships can seem like a happy-go-lucky trailer for a romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson. But in reality, relationships are just as much work as anything else worthwhile, and they come with their own, unique challenges. Some couples have a hard time with trust, others with communication. Whatever the case, you're not alone, and if you are struggling with a significant other who never seems to pay attention, knowing how to get your partner to listen is a great tool to keep handy.
If your partner doesn't seem to listen to you a lot of the times, try to remember that there are always going to be instances when neither one of you is paying attention to the other. "In all reality, it is impossible to be 100% plugged into life 100% of the time," sexologist Martha Tara Lee tells Elite Daily. "Most of the times we are going through life in hynoptic (semi-awake) states and don’t even know this, e.g. morning routine, commuting, etc.," she explains. "Hence, when your partner speaks to you during this time, you’re not listening and have no recollection of the conversation!" So just know that it's not an uncommon feeling. In fact, dating and relationships expert and licensed marriage and family therapist, Anita A. Chlipala, tells Elite Daily that it's "a common complaint of my clients."
Fair enough — but what can you do about it?
1. Don't blame anyone.
Just because it's common doesn't mean it's easy to deal with. Before you start playing the blame game with your partner, try to do some self-reflecting first. "Rather than blame your partner for not listening, ask yourself if you can be a better communicator yourself first," Lee advises. Think about the times when you were annoyed with your partner for not listening, and make sure you were communicating with them in a healthy manner. Then, if they still won't listen, it's time to talk things out.
2. Take ownership.
Initiate a better communication style with your partner by bringing it up yourself. Say something like, "I want us to try a few new things so we are better [at] communicating and have [fewer] misunderstandings. Is that OK?" Lee suggests.
3. Ask for their attention and time.
In order for your partner to truly listen and pay attention to you, you might have to ask them to tune into what you're saying. Simply say, "May I have your attention for five minutes?” as Lee recommends, and go from there.
4. Use eye contact.
In order to truly communicate, Lee says to "establish touch or eye contact. Use your intuition to sense that they are present (not in their mind or distracted in their own thoughts) when you speak." If they need a little nudge, look them in the eyes or gently put your hand on theirs. That way, they're definitely paying attention.
5. Practice active listening.
To end the conversation, ask for them to "repeat back to you the critical information," Lee suggests. This is a technique called active listening, and it will ensure that your partner is truly hearing you. But if they didn't, "Don’t pounce on them and blame or shame them," Lee says. "It takes time to be a good listener too! You do not want to alienate your partner, only to be more effective in communicating with them."
6. Get rid of any and all distractions.
Communication is obviously important in a relationship, but it doesn't mean that you need to be angry or upset with your partner if they aren't that great at the listening part of it. Try to be better, together, as Lee suggests, and work on it. Finally, if they're still not really paying attention, try to be their sole focus. "Be present and eliminate distractions," Chlipala says. She recommends putting your phones away, turning off the TV, and making sure that other people won't interrupt your conversation. That goes for both of you — you can't expect your partner to focus if you don't, too.
Having a partner who truly listens to you is super important, and something everyone deserves. But if your partner doesn't listen, don't give up on them. It might take some practice, but with these tips, you'll both be better listeners and communicators, and that's what every relationship needs.