Things used to be really good and then they became, well, not that great and you just can’t put your finger on why. Nobody’s cheating, there’s no abuse of any sort and you generally can’t complain — but you also can’t really talk to your guy about it. WTF? If you notice any of these signs, your relationship has serious communication issues that just might bring things to a grinding halt:
Your conversations never go deeper than surface level. Remember the days (and nights) when you could stay on the phone with this person for hours on end, never running out of things to talk about and always theorizing about anything and everything under the sun? Those days are gone and in their place exists some of the most superficial, inane conversation possible. It’s like the polite chat with the cashier at the grocery store when you’re buying tampons—light and full of superficial levity but with an underlying level of discomfort.
You don’t ask about each other’s day. “How was your day today?” is one of the simplest questions you can ask your partner but also one of the most important. It shows that you actually care about the ins and outs of what they get up to when they’re not with you and also serves to give you something to talk about. If neither of you think to ask this basic question, there’s a serious issue.
Both of you talk more than you listen. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to want to be heard, especially if you feel like all your partner does is talk, talk, talk. But maybe your partner feels the same way about you and that’s why the two of you just can’t seem to make any headway. You’re both engaged in a constant, ongoing push-and-pull battle—and how does anyone accomplish anything when they’re too busy pushing their own agenda?
You lose your patience/temper very easily these days. If every question that comes out of your partner’s mouth seems to elicit a negative, snappy response and sounds totally stupid in your head, perhaps you’re harboring some pretty deep resentment about the state of your relationship. It’s like backing an alley cat into a corner—one that hasn’t been fed for days and hasn’t been sleeping well. The littlest thing is going to provoke that cat, obviously. If you’re in a state of constant pissed off-ness, there’s something not right at the heart of your relationship.
One or both of you do nothing but nag, nag, nag. It’s bad enough losing your patience or being overly snarky with your partner, but it’s an entirely different thing to go out of your way to drive the stake in a little further. If everything that comes out of your partner’s mouth makes you want to pick them apart from top to bottom, there’s a good chance that you’re being pushed far beyond what’s acceptable in your eyes. It’s not okay to nag—in fact, it’s totally counterproductive to being a good communicator—but you can only put up with so much BS before it becomes your natural fallback. Just don’t get into the constant habit of it because it’s going to make you feel old and sour inside.
You don’t even feel like having the conversation to fix the problem. After the anger comes nagging, and after the nagging comes indifference. This is the scariest stage of a communication breakdown because the next big thing to come is likely a breakup. Honestly, if you’re so far into your relationship that you’re at this level with your partner, it might be better to simply cut your ties and move on. If you feel like you’re being taken for granted, or worse, that your feelings are being trampled on and all you want to do is retreat into yourself and not even bother, then you’re at a breaking point. It’s time to bring out the big communication guns or jump ship.
Assumptions about the other person’s feelings run rampant. You’ve been with your partner so long that you feel like you know them inside and out, but that’s not necessarily the case. Just because your partner has given the same old reaction time and time again doesn’t mean that it’s safe to take that for granted. You know yourself — your reaction to a certain thing can vary all of the time. Assuming that your partner is going to react a certain way based on past behavior and proceeding as such is dangerous. You’d want the benefit of the doubt when it came to your own feelings, and it’s important in communication within a good relationship that you both have the breathing room to stretch, grow and evolve.
You both avoid personal hot-button topics. If there’s anything you dread bringing up for fear of triggering an argument or just generally bad feelings, that’s perhaps the biggest indicator that the two of you have some seriously unresolved business. And if that’s the case, then you’re not communicating well — or, you know, at all.
You’d rather tell your friends your problems than tell your partner. When you find it’s sometimes easier to just go to someone else to vent your frustrations, that’s the siren song of the relationship. The death knell. Just don’t do it. If you or your partner can’t be emotionally intimate with one another that you’re unable to vent (most, not all — let’s be a little realistic) your frustrations about that person to that person, then it’s time to say sayonara.
Your sex life is pretty much nonexistent. Your emotional and mental connection has been so damaged that even your physical connection is starting to wane — and there’s absolutely nothing about “just sex” that holds a relationship together. Not a healthy one, anyway.