By now, you’ve probably heard that “communication is key” about a hundred times. Having good communication in relationships is fundamental, and yet how many of us have actually been taught why communication is so important? More importantly, how many of us have been taught how to communicate better in a relationship?
Communication can foster trust, intimacy, connection, and even conflict resolution. It can help partners understand each other and build a stronger bond.
But communication is also a skill that requires constant practice, so we asked experts how to improve communication in a relationship, and why it’s so crucial.
“Communication is truly essential to a healthy and fulfilling relationship,” says Dr. Elizabeth Fedrick, a psychotherapist and licensed professional counselor. “Communication gets everything out on the table and allows conflict to be worked through, opinions to be shared, and compromises to be reached.”
Research found that healthy communication plays a huge role in relationship satisfaction. Even though it may feel like we’re repeating ourselves, the importance of communication in a healthy relationship cannot be underplayed. Effective communication skills help with everything, from improving your sex life to resolving conflicts with your partner.
Miscommunication leads to the breakdown of romantic relationships, with poor communication styles contributing to the lack of trust and security within your partnerships.
“Healthy communication can be defined as a dialogue in which both people take turns expressing their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of a situation,” says Dr. Fedrick, who explains that good communication consists of patience, sensitivity, and making an intentional effort to understand how our partner feels.
Healthy relationships cannot exist without effective communication. No one likes having difficult conversations, but they’re essential in order to build trust and respect in your intimate relationships.
“You’re on the right track when you feel you can discuss almost any topic without fear when you aren’t seeking to hurt the other person, and when you want to understand your partner better, not just make your point,” adds Martha Teater, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Choosing Therapy. “It's a positive thing when you trust that your partner has your best interest in mind, not just their own best interest.”
Relationship check-ins can help you understand your partner's needs and point of view — helping you to work through any communication problems together. If you need support implementing a relationship check-in, the Paired app guides couples in check-in on how your relationship is doing!
Every couple has different communication patterns that work for them.
Even though love languages and preferences may differ, these are some signs that your relationship communication style is working well for you.
The problem is that good communication isn’t an innate skill — it takes time and practice to get good at it. Advocating for open communication in your relationship isn’t always easy but it has a huge pay-off in the long run.
“Humans are terrible communicators,” says Dr. Krista Jordan, a psychotherapist at Choosing Therapy. “Social scientists have been researching this for decades and the sad fact is that we are not that great at actually hearing what people are saying,” she adds.
“Many of us didn’t have effective or healthy communication taught or role modeled throughout childhood, and therefore struggle with how to do it in adulthood,” explains Dr. Fedrick.
“Additionally, many people find it hard to communicate with their partners because they might be worried about upsetting or hurting their partner or are hurt or upset themselves, and thus are unsure how to effectively express this,” she adds.
Luckily, anyone can learn how to work through these communication issues to improve their relationship well-being. Below, the experts share their tips on how to have better communication skills.