Getting better at communication in relationships starts with dropping these five horrible habits.
There are many reasons a relationship ends in heartbreak rather than happily ever after. Some of these are out of your control – bad timing, distance, different visions for the future. Then there are reasons that are fully in your control, the strategies you use to communicate and express your emotions.
Specifically, there are five behaviors that are toxic to any relationship. Recognizing these horrible habits of communication in relationships habits can help spin the negative into something positive.
Blame it on the rain, blame it on the bossa nova, blame it on the boom boom, just don’t blame it on your partner – at least not all of it. Blaming your partner for everything that went wrong does two things:
1) it makes them justifiably defensive
2) it exonerates yourself from all responsibility.
Instead of engaging in the blame game, consider taking the constructive criticism route. With constructive criticism, you take the focus off of the person and instead focus on how they made you feel. “I feel disrespected…” rather than, “You disrespected me”
You also open yourself up to constructive criticism, which helps level the playing field and make it known that it isn’t just one party’s fault.
Avoiding your partner because you’re mad or upset or hurt is a power play, a dirty, dirty power play. When you do this, it causes them to wonder what is going on – it leaves them frustrated in the dark; it’s like blue balls for their soul.
Instead of shutting your partner out, explain to them the reason for your avoidance. Openly communicate that you need twenty-four hours (or forty-eight or whatever) to sit with your own thoughts and process what is going on.
Whining distinguishes itself from blaming because whiners tend to take on a victim role. This “woe is me” role disempowers your partner and automatically puts them on the defensive because – if you’re the victim – that makes them the bad guy.
Rather than whining about your partner's past wrong doings – not washing the dishes or picking his nose too often – consider changing whining to venting. Venting isn’t taking a victim role and, instead, is simply processing out loud. It allows you to get pissed at an issue, rather than defeated by it.
Labeling your partner in some way – or anyone, really – sets yourself up to always see them in that light. If you label them as lazy, for instance, everything they do will make you see them that way. If they go home from work early you’ll assume it’s because of their work ethic and not it’s because of the million other possible reasons why.
Rather than labeling the person, try labeling the behavior. If your partner's past inability to listen constantly angered you, for example, focus on his closed ears instead of his character. And then work to find some middle ground.
If someone told us that sarcasm was great, it’d be really hard not to reply, “Duh.” After all, sarcasm can be very funny and, in the right setting, very attractive. But it can also harm a relationship. When sarcasm is directed at your partner, it comes across as passive aggressive and that only breeds contempt. It’s a way to avoid confrontation through humor that is viewed as not being all that hilarious.
Instead of directing your sarcasm at a person, direct it at a situation the two of you can team up against. Doing this can help unify you with your partner rather than put them on the defensive. This unification opens up the door for true listening and communication.
This article was originally published on YourTango.