Communication is obviously key in a relationship—so what do you do if you find yourself in a relationship where real conversations aren’t happening? First, it’s important to remember this is not unusual. If you have been in a relationship, especially a longterm one, it’s likely you’ve experienced some form of communication breakdown. Comfortable silences are normal, but if your relationship is totally silent or you’re unable to talk about anything else besides logistics and surface-level subjects, this might signal a deeper issue you don’t want to ignore.
How not communicating affects your relationship
If you struggle to communicate with your partner, there’s a good chance that over time, you will grow apart. Some of the effects of lack of communication in a relationship include:
Lack of intimacy
Resenting your partner
Feeling as though you are walking on eggshells
Reasons you aren’t talking
There are many reasons why you might find yourself in a silent relationship. Some of these reasons include:
You have exhausted topics. If you have been in a relationship for a while, it can feel like you’re talking about the same subjects all the time.
One or both of you are busy. If you are busy in your day-to-day, you may not remember to take the time to talk and check in with your partner.
You have different conversation styles. Some people grow up in families that didn’t talk at all, and others may have grown up in a family that was filled with conflict. As adults, this might play out in different ways. One partner might keep everything inside, while the other may feel as though they are actively avoiding communication for fear of conflict.
One or both parties have gotten lazy about communicating and no one is taking the first step in initiating conversation. Sometimes people become too comfortable in relationships and stop putting in the work that’s needed.
You are living different lives. One of you may be working and seeing friends whenever they have free time while the other might be putting all their energy into their own hobbies and responsibilities. You aren’t sharing time, experiences, or interests.
There is unresolved conflict. If something in the past has happened that has caused you or your partner pain, it may be hard to move past it and want to put effort back into the relationship. Maybe you have tried to talk through things in the past but you both can’t seem to agree or feel heard. Instead of repeating the same things to each other, you may choose to keep quiet.
How to start reconnecting with your partner
Communication is integral in any relationship to ensure and keep a romantic bond strong. Here are some ways you can work on communicating again:
Start with self and mutual reflection
It’s important to raise your awareness and consider the ways you might be harming the relationship and ways in which you can change. Starting with focusing on yourself is important because it puts you in a position to be proactive. We have more capacity to change if we choose to do so on our own. However, it would be beneficial for your partner to raise their awareness and focus on what they can change to better the relationship, as well.
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Some questions you may want to ask are: Am I communicating in a way that will make my partner be open to listening? Am I listening intently to my partner in a way that allows them to want to speak? Am I willing to share my thoughts with my partner?
Take baby steps towards advancing conversations
It can be hard to get back into the swing of things, but you don’t need to jump straight into the deep end. For instance, after asking how their day was, try to ask follow-up questions. Ask specific questions about what they really did, what they enjoyed, or what frustrated them. It’s important to try and focus on meaningful questions here that may be more feelings-based. As Laurel House, a relationship coach who spoke with Elite Daily explained, “Just because you aren’t jumping from one topic to the next and you are no longer staying up all night talking because you have so much you want to say, doesn’t mean that the relationship has gone stale. Your conversations just need to shift from fresh to in depth.”
Plan to do things together as a couple
Start doing things together, whether that be cooking, hiking, or going out to eat together. That will help you feel more bonded again by sparking conversations and creating memories. Bonus points if you plan on doing a new activity neither of you have done before.
Be ready to have hard conversations
There is only one solution for talking about a tough topic, and that is to go into it vowing to discuss it in a healthy and respectful way. Try to find a balance and be willing to compromise with each other. If it’s a particularly difficult topic, work on sharing your insights gently and lead with empathy.
Consider couples therapy
There is no shame in seeking therapy. According to Gracie Landes, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York City, “[You may benefit from couples therapy if you are] having the same pattern conflict over and over, not being able to get unstuck, feeling like you don’t speak the same language, and wanting to get along better but not knowing how.”
Understanding why and how you stopped talking as a couple is the first step to connecting again. Sometimes the first conversation might just be acknowledging the lack of conversation. The desire for you to reconnect on a deeper level might just be the best thing to talk about. Rebuilding relationships takes time; don’t be discouraged if progress isn’t immediate. The most important thing is recognizing there is a problem.