Why is it so hard to say what we really mean? Our feelings of pride often conflict with being vulnerable. Its hard to let our guard down. Even in a relationship. A former client said to me once that her boyfriend never listened to her. She explained by saying that one night she went over to see him. She told him she had a hard day and she was exhausted. She then stated that she was mad because he went on to tell her about how hard his day was. I mentioned that he seemed to listen to what she said, but she wasn’t happy with his response. She said that she was mad because he didn’t ask her what was hard about her day, or offer to give her a hug, or tell her how great she was anyway. We discussed the fact that she didn’t ask for those things, but still expected him to get that message.
So often we want something from someone, but instead of being direct, we assume people are mind readers. My client wanted a hug, she wanted to talk about her day and be encouraged, but she never asked for those things. She wanted her boyfriend to just “know” she needed them. A lot of times in relationships we don’t want to risk rejection, so we don’t always ask for what we want. Or we believe that we shouldn’t even have to ask. We may believe it doesn’t mean as much if we have to ask for a hug. I think its important to let people know what we need, especially in a relationship. Then if the person ignores us, we have a problem to address.
Communication is complicated in relationships especially because its hard to find someone that thinks, feels, and believes the exact same way we do. We become upset when people don’t always interpret our communication in the right way. It causes a lot of conflict. The first person to look at when it comes to communication is you. Find out if there is anything you can do differently to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a way that others can understand you more easily. Ask yourself if you are sending “coded” messages to your partner. Is it fair that they always know what you mean without you having to open yourself up a little more? Remember, its not always the listener that is at fault. That is a whole other blog!