Home  >  My Life  >  Relationships

42 Secrets to Communicate Better in a Relationship & Ways to Fix a Lack of It

A lack of communication is a major problem in any situation, but learning how to communicate in a relationship is key if you want to avoid some big issues. 

how to communicate in a relationship and fix communication

Many of us confuse communication with having a conversation. Sure, talking to someone is basic communication, but just because you’re talking doesn’t mean you express your feelings, nor does it mean that the other person truly understands what you say. Learning how to communicate in a relationship is what makes it work or fall apart.

Communication isn’t just talking, it’s not just hearing, and it’s not just the words you choose. It’s a number of things that come together to create the perfect storm.

When you can communicate with each other clearly, there will be fewer misunderstandings, less drama, and a closer connection. [Read: A guide on effective communication in a relationship]

What does ‘lack of communication’ mean?

First, you need to know what communication actually is. It’s one of those words that we hear all the time and assume we know, but do you really?

Communication includes:

1. The words you say and the type of words you use

2. The way you say them, e.g. how fast or slow you speak, your tone of voice [Read: How to talk to people in a charming way no matter who they are]

3. Whether you make eye contact or not

4. Body language

5. Non-verbal cues, such as hand gestures, facial expressions, etc.

6. Listening, or not listening, as the case may be

7. Not interrupting

8. Showing empathy to the other person to understand them better [Read: How to develop empathy and master the art of growing a real heart]

To communicate effectively, you must take on board all the above points. However, a lack of communication is far more commonplace in relationships.

This happens when one or both partners simply don’t know how to express themselves. It can also be when there is an underlying issue, and it’s caused one or both partners to shut down and think, “what is the point?”

A lack of communication will slowly erode away at everything you have built up in your relationship, and before long, you’ll realize that you barely speak at all. [Read: 42 red flags and signs it’s time to end your relationship and move on for good]

Can a relationship survive without communication?

When we say ‘communication’ from this point on, we’re not really talking about asking your partner to remember to do the dishes or asking them where they want to go for dinner.

We mean communicating your feelings, your wants, your needs, your desires, and in turn, listening to the same from them.

You see, many people forget that communication is a two-way deal. Too many people like the sound of their own voice. It’s all ‘blah, blah, blah,’ and all you hear is white noise. It all gets lost in the cacophony of babble, and you can’t get a word in edge-ways. [Read: Mars and Venus? The most common gender differences in communication]

You cannot have a relationship without communication, and not any old communication either; it has to be good communication which includes listening to the other person as much as you’re talking.

When partners stop communicating, it really is like the death bell ringing.

It’s a sign that you don’t care enough to fight for the relationship anymore. It shows that you’ve given up; you know they don’t care about your feelings, so you’ve stopped expressing them. Or you can’t be bothered to give them the time of day because you don’t feel respected enough or like you’re a priority in their life.

The list of reasons may continue, but the outcome is the same. A lack of communication in a relationship is a huge issue. Without rectifying this, the relationship won’t last. [Read: The telling signs it’s time to give up on the relationship]

What causes a lack of communication in a relationship?

A million different things can cause two people to stop communicating, but it’s not usually a good sign either way. For instance, stress in someone’s life can cause them to bottle things up and stop talking to those around them.

They become stuck in their own little world, and as a result, nobody is really sure what is going on. That means their partner can worry that they’ve done something wrong, but when they ask, they’re told there’s nothing wrong.

In that situation, we’re talking about what will hopefully be a temporary lack of communication. This is a response to a stressful situation that will probably pass, and then normal service will resume.

However, when the lack of communication continues, the trouble really begins. [Read: Communication techniques to get anyone to open up to you]

In this case, prolonged communication issues are usually down to trust problems, one person *or both* simply don’t feel the same anymore, unfaithfulness, or issues in the relationship which have never been resolved.

Learning how to communicate in a relationship takes bravery, and you’ll have to be vulnerable. However, it’s more than worth the time and effort.

Types of communication styles

We’re all unique, so that means we all communicate in slightly different ways too. However, there are four distinct communication styles that most people fall into. [Read: Communication techniques to finally get them to open up to you]

1. Assertive communication

Someone who communicates assertively is able to express their thoughts, ideas, and points of view clearly and directly.

At the same time, they ensure they’re respecting the other person and not accidentally belittling them.

2. Passive communication

If the assertive type is a positive thing, passive communication is quite the opposite. In this case, a person has become used to hiding their feelings, thoughts, and ideas. They don’t vocalize them, and that means they don’t have their needs met or allow others to understand them.

3. Aggressive communication

When someone communicates aggressively, they’re able to put their point across, but they don’t do it in the right way. Rather than respecting the other person and trying not to upset them, they simply say what they want and be damned with the consequences.

As a result, others are hurt because of their actions. [Read: How to deal with passive-aggressive people and not lose your mind]

4. Nonverbal communication

We all communicate non-verbally, often without realizing it. This includes body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures.

Picking up on these nonverbal cues can help you to understand others better, but it’s also important to know how you’re expressing yourself in this way too.

Key signs of poor communication

So, how can you tell whether you have a lack of communication problem in your relationship? You’ll probably be able to feel it, but you will also notice these key signs.

If you can nod along to several, it’s time to start learning how to communicate in your relationship in an effective way, hoping that your partner also does the same. [Read: Why you should run if you see these red flags early in the relationship]

1. Passive instead of active listening

Listening is a lot harder than most people think. When you listen passively, you’re just hearing the words. However, when you’re actively listening, you’re really taking on board what they’re saying and reading their non-verbal cues.

When there is a lack of communication in a relationship, there is likely to be a lot of passive listening.

2. Shutting down

When there is a lack of communication issue, partners are likely to start communicating passively, i.e. not really saying anything at all. In this case, you’ve shut down because you start to think, “what’s the point?”

In this case, both partners need to focus on learning how to communicate in a relationship. Otherwise, the relationship is doomed. [Read: How to help someone up when they’re feeling down and depressed]

3. Bottling things up until you explode in anger or sadness, often yelling or screaming

When you have a passive communication style, you’re likely to bottle things up, and at some point, it has to come out. At that moment, you’re likely to explode in anger or start crying out of sadness.

4. Becoming verbally or physically abusive

There is no excuse for this happening. If you or your partner become abusive in any way, you’re way, way out of line, and there are bigger problems at hand. However, a lack of communication can cause extreme frustration, which may lead to someone acting out of character.

Of course, that is no excuse at all for this type of behavior. [Read: Am I in an abusive relationship? 66 early signs, effects, and ways to get out]

5. Dismissing the other person’s point of view and belittling feelings

If this happens, it’s often a result of frustration and the whole “what’s the point” thought process. However, dismissing another person’s point of view will only make things worse and lead to an even greater decline in your relationship.

If you’re belittling their feelings, you also need to take a very long, hard look at yourself in the mirror.

6. Passive-aggressive behavior

Another sign you need to learn how to communicate in a relationship is when you or your partner show regular passive-aggressive behavior.

You’re not talking to each other, and you’re not listening. Instead, you’re just trying to score points.

7. Not being clear about your expectations, wants, or needs

How can you communicate what you want or need when you’re not actually communicating effectively in the first place? This is a major sign there is something wrong and that you need to turn your attention toward fixing it. [Read: Healthy relationship boundaries – How to talk about them and set them]

8. The silent treatment

Again, you prefer to stay quiet because you can’t see the point in even attempting to talk. The thing is, doing so isn’t going to help and will only exacerbate the problem.

9. Interrupting

Interrupting is often a result of not feeling heard yourself. You’re desperate to get your point across, even if it means cutting into the other person’s speech.

However, it is also a sign that you don’t respect the other person enough to let them say what they need to.

How communication can save your relationship

It’s true that learning how to communicate in a relationship is hard work, and, at times, you’ll wonder whether anything is actually working.

But it’s important to keep in mind the benefits of learning how to connect with your partner in this way. When you understand this, you’ll be more inclined to keep going.

This is how learning how to communicate in a relationship can actually save your relationship from doom. [Read: 22 practical ways to save your relationship when it’s falling apart]

1. You’ll know there are problems

Some people go a very long time without realizing their partner is unhappy. They just have no clue because their significant other never spoke up and told them.

Great communication can help both people become aware of problems within the relationship. [Read: 18 critical signs of an unhealthy relationship]

2. You’ll create a deeper bond

Communicating helps you bond closer. You’ll have a better understanding of the other person, and it can make you grow closer as a couple when you work to solve issues together.

3. You will have fewer issues

The more you communicate, the fewer big problems you’ll have. You’ll be able to get through issues faster and faster, and that means you’ll have fewer overall. That’s a great reason to learn how to communicate in a relationship!

4. You’ll have a much happier relationship

When you have fewer problems to deal with, you’re happier. When you understand your partner better, you’ll be able to avoid issues and enjoy each other’s company more. [Read: 25 must-follow relationship rules for happy love]

5. You’ll never feel like you can’t get through something

Sure, there may be some things you just can’t get through as a couple, and that’s usually when it’s time to call it quits. However, if you love that person, having great communication can help you feel as though you can get through anything. [Read: A guide for effective communication in a relationship]

How to solve a lack of communication in a relationship

Sometimes, we’re too scared to tell people how we feel, or we don’t want to cause an issue, so we brush it to the side.

We think by ignoring the problem, it will just go away. But, in most cases, it only gets worse, usually resulting in someone blowing up in an angry rage. [Read: Lack of communication in a relationship & why it signals the end]

You never want to let a situation get to that point, especially when you could have easily solved it just by expressing your feelings.

If you want to know how to communicate better in a relationship and solve any existing problems, keep these things in mind:

1. Stop talking and listen

We love to talk, almost to the point where we really don’t care if someone listens or not. But if you want to improve your communication, you must get out of your head and actively listen to your partner.

Expressing your feelings is one thing, but if you don’t listen to their needs, you will not be able to reciprocate. [Read: Do you love talking and hate listening?]

Make sure that you’re not only paying attention to the words they say but reading their body language too. If they’re fidgeting and avoiding eye contact with you, that could be a sign that they’re lying or extremely nervous. Listening is about far more than just hearing.

2. You’re going to have to open up

This is the hard part for many of us. No one wants to become vulnerable, even though it’s perfectly healthy. Many of us think we’re “weak” for opening up to someone else and becoming vulnerable.

But how else will you express your feelings if you’re not honest with your partner? It will be hard, but the more you do it, the easier it will become and the happier you’ll be overall. [Read: Steps to become more emotionally available for lasting love]

3. Don’t assume anything

Don’t assume that your partner feels this or thinks that. If you start assuming how they feel, you actually prevent proper communication from occurring.

Throw your assumptions out the window because they’re not going to help you one bit.

4. When talking, use “I” statements

This is really the basics of effective communication. When you speak about your feelings, always use “I” statements. Don’t say “you.” This is accusatory and easily takes the discussion down a different, unpleasant road.

So, for example, don’t say, “You never wash the dishes,” instead, say, “I feel annoyed when you don’t wash the dishes after saying you will.” [Read: Communication exercises for couples – easy games to be a better lover]

5. Your body language speaks for you

We communicate mostly through body language. So, when you sit down to talk about your feelings, a frown on your face with your arms crossed isn’t giving off great vibes.

Try to maintain an open and neutral position, one that doesn’t give off defensive or aggressive energy. [Read: 23 dos and don’ts that make all the difference in a relationship argument]

6. Do what you say you’re going to do

Everyone says they’re going to change and be a better person. But what really makes the difference is when you actually do it. If you don’t follow through with your words, how can you improve your communication skills with your partner?

If you say you’re going to work on your anger, actually take the steps necessary to do so. Basically, if you say you’re going to do something, do it.

7. It’s a two-way street

The only way to improve your communication is if both people are fully invested in it.

If your partner is already working on their communication skills, you need to step up and meet them halfway. This won’t work if only one person does all the work. [Read: How to communicate with your spouse & end the rollercoaster ride]

8. Avoid texting all the time

If you’re upset about something, sure, you can text them. However, it’s very easy to miscommunicate your feelings via text. The other person can’t hear your tone of voice or see your facial expression behind a text message.

This is why you need to save these conversations for in-person talks, especially when you’re trying to understand how to communicate in a relationship in the best way possible. Yes, we know it’s easier to sit behind your phone, but it causes more harm than good.

9. You don’t have to solve a problem right away

We usually feel that when we have a disagreement with someone, it needs to be solved right away. Of course, we want the problem solved now. It saves us hours of awkward encounters in the kitchen.

But not all arguments or disagreements need to be solved right away. Sometimes, if it was really heated, you’re better off sleeping on it and then discussing it the next day. That way, you both had the space to collect your thoughts and can now effectively communicate. [Read: 15 ways to resolve conflict without the drama]

10. Keep the emotions to a minimum

Okay, you do need to express your emotions. However, you want to express them with minimal emotion. If you cry or yell, you’re going to have a harder time truly communicating how you feel.

Also, your partner will not be actively listening if you’re sobbing in front of them. Staying as rational as possible gives you the best outcome.

11. Know that communication isn’t a competition

The point of communicating in a relationship isn’t about proving that you’re right and they’re wrong. It’s based on empathy and compromise.

If you go into a discussion solely focusing on winning the debate, well, you’re not going to get far. This isn’t a 100-meter dash. [Read: How to be a better listener in your relationship]

12. Choose the right time

If you want to sit and talk with your partner about an issue that really bothers you, pick the proper time and place. Don’t do it an hour before their final university exam or the day after their grandfather died.

Choose a quiet place, preferably not in public, and choose a moment where you both are emotionally neutral.

13. Try to keep it relaxed

Sometimes, communicating our emotions can be quite stressful and difficult. There’s nothing wrong with throwing in some humor to help you relax and lighten the atmosphere.

However, don’t make the conversation turn into a comedy hour, as it distracts from the main objective. [Read: The guide to finding your zone of calm perfection]

14. Don’t interrupt

When your partner is talking, make sure you let them finish before you speak. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to explain something to someone, and they keep interrupting and trying to get their side across.

Learning how to communicate in a relationship means giving each other the time and respect to talk freely.

15. Use your empathy

If you want to understand your partner better and therefore be able to communicate with them better, use your empathy skills. That means you try to put yourself in their position when they’re talking to you.

If you were feeling how they are, what would you do and think? How would you react? By asking yourself those questions, you can understand them on a deeper level. That often helps to resolve a lot of problems. [Read: Reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

16. Prevention is better than cure

The best thing you can really do is start your relationship with great communication. Right from the very beginning, make sure you’re working toward discussing your issues.

It’s much easier to prevent having an issue with communication than it can be to fix it. So if you’re starting a new relationship, get on top of talking about your relationship regularly right away. You’ll be thankful for it later. [Read: Problems that will make your relationship stronger]

17. Start small

Don’t try to go from never communicating to doing it all the time. It’ll feel weird and forced, and you’ll both have issues. Start small. Just ask them if they’re happy with you and with the relationship.

If you notice they’re doing something that’s upsetting to you, just calmly say, “I just feel very uncomfortable when you talk about that,” and see how they respond. It’s better to ease into things when you’re having issues.

18. Ask a lot of questions

The best way to get your partner to open up is just to ask questions. Sometimes they may not think about bringing something to your attention until you ask. When you ask, you’ll usually be given an honest answer.

Ask them things like, “Did I upset you when I did that?” if you notice they’re acting a little annoyed. Get them talking more by leading the conversation there. [Read: 25 important questions to ask your significant other]

19. Never ignore it when your partner is upset with you

If you notice that your significant other is pissed, don’t ignore it. Yes, you can give them their space to be upset, but make sure you’re asking them about it when they’ve calmed down.

Otherwise, your problems will get swept under the rug and grow into unsolvable issues.

20. Carve out time for bettering your relationship

Take a weekend every month and focus on your relationship. Spend alone time together and talk about any problems you want to work on. Make sure you’re both on the same page and nurture your bond.

This could also mean having a regular relationship check-in and talking about how you think things are going. [Read: 33 awesome date ideas every couple should try]

21. Figure out your partner’s triggers

If there’s something you do that upsets them and you’ve noticed a trend, ask them about it. You’ll also want to make sure you’re aware of signs when they get upset.

Again, this is more important when your significant other isn’t great at communicating yet. In this case, learning how to communicate in a relationship is about looking for clues.

22. Don’t hold back

Obviously, you don’t want to be mean when talking your problems out. However, you also don’t want to downplay how you’re really feeling, either. If something is bothering you to the point where you’re thinking about it often, make sure to tell them that. [Read: Tips to help you open up about your kinky side]

23. Make sure your partner understands you

It’s easy to sit and talk about something, but your significant other might not always understand where you’re coming from. Communication is pointless unless both parties are fully aware of the issue.

24. Discuss your communication preferences

There’s nothing wrong with actually talking about how you like to talk! Discussing your communication preferences can avoid clashes and your partner not feeling heard. If they do something you don’t like, say so, but be open to their feedback too. [Read: Being brutally honest – Scenarios when it’s an obligation]

When to seek couples counseling or try individual therapy

If communication simply doesn’t change despite tackling the problem head-on, or your partner refuses to acknowledge there is a problem at all, then it’s time to sit down and seriously think about your future in this union.

No relationship lasts without open and honest communication. This doesn’t have to be a constant drip of words throughout the day. It means talking about the important things in your lives and relationship. If this isn’t happening, it basically means that you’re not connected.

If you’re not connected, where is the love? Where is the emotion? It’s gone, quite possibly somewhere else. [Read: Lack of communication and the little steps you need to take to make it better]

However, it’s at this point you can choose to seek couples therapy or individual therapy to help you learn how to communicate in a relationship. Only you can tell whether this is an issue that sits firmly on your shoulders or on both of you. That will help you choose the type of therapy to seek.

[Read: The 15 signs it’s time to break up, even if it is hard]

Now that you know how to communicate in a relationship, you better get on it. Your communication skills aren’t going to get better on their own, so get to work!

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life. And while you’re at it, check out MIRL, a cool new social networking app that connects experts and seekers!

Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...