Having healthy communication in relationships is the foundation for true love, respect, clarity (in regard to where the relationship is going), solidity, trust & emotional safety.
If you don’t have healthy communication in relationships (whether they be romantic, familial or friendships), you’re always going to be living in emotional limbo.
You’ll feel unsure, misunderstood, insecure and as though the possibility of abandonment, rejection and a breakup is looming around every corner.
I remember being in relationships where I truly felt happier than I had ever felt but deep down, I always felt like something was missing. It’s like the relationship was never started on all four cylinders, so I learned to very efficiently, adapt. Every now and then though, I’d find myself emotionally exhausted and realize that something felt “off.”
I was too scared to check if all cylinders were in tact because if I did, I knew that I’d have to leave the comfort bubble that my projections, insecurities, hopes & fears had worked so tirelessly to construct.
It amazes me how you can be intimate with someone – travel with them, live with them, sleep with them, call them your mate and feel like there’s a soul connection, yet if you sit back and think about it, you don’t really know them that well at all.
Or, you could be dating someone; feel like you know everything about them and that everything is going so well until… that moment, which could have been so beautiful and vulnerable, is completely cold and lonely.
You’re met with a closed (& bolted) door.
He won’t open up.
You’ve now found yourself on the receiving end of your partner’s avoidance; their allergic reaction to vulnerability.
And because your self esteem isn’t exactly high, you start to feel guilty for wanting something that goes with all of the other fun stuff that constructs a mutual relationship – wanting to know your partner on a deeper level.
You’re made to feel as though you’re imposing; a fool for wanting the person that you love to feel free and comfortable enough to communicate with you.
And because you know that communication in relationships is key, you start to wonder how he could want to call you his girlfriend, have sex with you, make you laugh and do all the things that you ever wanted except… when a conversation gets serious or you try to get him to open up… he makes a joke, gets mad at you or just avoids it altogether. HOW?
You convince yourself 1 of 2 things: 1) that he’s just being strong for you, the relationship, etc. (so that you can then buy into the belief that you’ll somehow find a way to communicate for the both of you and “make it work.” By doing this, you reduce your partner to being your unruly teenage son while you become Mom. no thx). 2) You take his avoidance personally and tie your worth to him not wanting to open up. This just motivates you to remain invested and
try even harder humiliate yourself further. You continue to stay because you now have justification for your own relationship stagnation.
It’s like being stuck in the worst kind of way. You’re in a relationship that has so much of what you’ve always wanted, but the foundation is cracking with every move you make. And because healthy communication in relationships is so vital, you’re never fully satisfied, trusting or comfortable because you have a partner that can’t open up.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re in a relationship with someone that can’t open up:
- Understand that physical and verbal intimacy is NOT a precursor to emotional intimacy. Words are just words and sex is just sex – it’s emotions that give them meaning and connection.
- Communication in relationships is impossible if there isn’t a comfortable environment. First, ask yourself if you’re providing an environment in which your partner feels safe to be vulnerable and communicate. Also, examine whether you’re providing a safe environment for YOU to have an honest and vulnerable conversation with yourself. Are you emotionally unavailable?
- It’s NOT about you. Your partner has to have the desire to communicate and be vulnerable. If someone’s not thirsty, there’s no point in leading them to water. Remember – he lived a life before you, a life that had its own trauma. We all deal with trauma differently; some people shut down. You signed up to be their lover, NOT the Trauma Whisperer. You have to allow others to own their unavailability. Remember, you’ve got a life to live.
- BOUNDARIES. As much as you want to be his emotional life raft, you need to remind yourself that you’re not a walking rehabilitation clinic. Your job is to be with him and partake in the joy of being. NOT be his on-call, armchair physiologist. When you take people on as personal projects, you dim the very light of their being because you’re too scared to amplify your own.
- Being “good enough.” I know it’s hard, but don’t buy into the belief that if you were good enough, he would open up. People that are closed off will always align themselves with those that tie their worth to a closed door. Why? because these are the only people that will tolerate a lack of communication in relationships.
- REFLECTION. We value lovers and friends so much because they give us a feeling of belonging, connectivity and security. They are the family that we choose for ourselves. However, if we make those choices through the filter of our negative thoughts, beliefs and fears that we haven’t yet resolved, we will continue to attract more of the same.
It takes having self esteem, self awareness and the ability to have an honest conversation with ourselves to meet & attract someone that will value us, be aware of OUR relational needs and have an honest, open & mutual conversation with US.
No matter how beautiful the home is, if it’s on a foundation of Jello, no one’s going to give a sh*t that the floors are Venetian marble or that the walls are painted with 24k gold.
Communication in relationships is always the foundation and no home, no matter how beautiful, can stand the test of time on Jello.
How strong do you want your relational foundation to be?