No Intimacy? Your Communication Style May Be to Blame

No Intimacy? Your Communication Style May Be to Blame

Are you a…

  •  nag
  •  complainer
  •  criticizer
  •  apologizer
  •  hedger?

Nobody likes to admit it, but every single one of us has a few habits that aren’t beneficial. These are the things we regularly say and do that prevent us from creating the kind of relationship and life we really want.

Because communication is so central to a love relationship or marriage, this is where troublesome habits flare up and cause problems. They can damage trust and kill intimacy.

Here are a couple of ways it plays out…

Rebecca is very particular. When she asks her husband to fold a basket of clothes, she expects it to be done that day and in a certain way. Her husband is on a different time-table than Rebecca and usually doesn’t get to things as soon as she wants them done. So she asks him over and over again when he’s going to fold the clothes and complains about how “lazy” he can be. He gets mad and purposely does a sloppy job of it– hoping she won’t ask him ever again.

Jim is a nice guy. Whenever his girlfriend is annoyed, he apologizes and tries to fix things for her– even if it doesn’t directly involve him. Jim regularly sets aside his plans and what he wants just to try to keep her happy. Ironically, this has left both Jim and his girlfriend unhappy. Neither of them is thrilled with their relationship. There seems to be no passion or spark.

Rebecca and Jim provide two powerful examples of the destruction that can come when your communication habits are unhealthy.

It’s not just yelling and name-calling that can push your partner away from you. Criticizing, nagging and complaining can be just as divisive. Even habits like hiding how you really feel to keep the peace and hedging or being evasive about what you want can lead to serious intimacy problems.

To be close and in order for passion to thrive, there has to be trust and connection.

If there is weak or no intimacy between you and your partner, the problem could be the way that you communicate with one another.

Admit your communication weaknesses.
You might readily know what your partner does that blocks intimacy, but it’s important to acknowledge your own habits too. You can set boundaries if you feel verbally abused or disrespected AND you can own what you do.

Think about the last time you had a tense conversation or moment with your partner. How were you talking to him or her? What are the subtle or more obvious ways your communication style fueled the tension?

You might not talk to your partner with a condescending or critical tone of voice ALL of the time, but if you do it frequently it’s going to break down your connection. You may not be wishy-washy or apologetic about what you want in every conversation, but this can still cause confusion, erode trust and be a turn-off.

It’s uncomfortable admitting that what you do is part of the problem in your relationship so be honest with yourself and be kind and gentle too.

Focus on one change at a time.
Once you see that your communication style is part of the intimacy problems you and your partner are having, it can also be overwhelming. Maybe you’ve interacted and talked with other people in this way for a very long time– maybe your whole lifetime.

Know that you can’t and won’t change the way you communicate all at once. Pick one thing about the way you habitually talk with your partner that you’re going to change and really focus in on that change.

Jim decides that he’s going to be honest about what movie he wants to go see with his girlfriend. They both love movies, but usually Jim defers to whatever his girlfriend wants to see. He promises himself that he’ll stop and think about it first before saying “yes.” 

It’s often easier to make a change if you start out small and doable and then build up to more emotionally charged situations or issues.

Watch for effects.
Once you begin making some small changes in the way you communicate, watch for the possible effects in your relationship. Your partner might be surprised or even confused when you do things differently. Stay on track developing a new, healthier habit and notice how the way that your partner communicates with you shifts in response.

There may be an adjustment period as you and your partner re-learn how to talk with one another. If after a period of time, it feels like you’re further apart than before, take a second look and make sure the new habits you’re trying out are actually beneficial or if you need to do some fine-tuning. You’ll know that you’re on the right track when you feel more authentic with and closer to the one you love.

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