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How to Communicate Properly With Your Significant Other

Disclaimer: This article's tips will not work if you are in a relationship with an unhealthy person. Power struggles on one side of the relationship are often labeled as "miscommunication." The partner not trying to achieve dominance is left hurt and confused when trying to voice feelings in a gentle, caring way because his/her partner gets angry, pretends not to "get" what he or she is talking about, or promises to change then does not.

Congratulations! Upon reading this article, you are taking one step to making your relationship even better, or preparing yourself for a future relationship. This article mostly my opinion, and is supposed to enhance relationships and help couples (and even friends) approach difficult subject matter in conversation. Sometimes communicating seems impossible with the opposite sex, but I feel the sexes are not as different as we like to believe.

A lot of people forget that relationships are a lot like friendships. A relationship is like a friendship in that mutual love, trust, respect, and proper communication are essential. The added romance and sexuality in the relationship often make it even more intimate and those involved more vulnerable. I hope these tips will help guide you to making your love life (and maybe even your friendships) even better.

"If you find you are only complaining about various topics all day, cut down on the amount of time you spend ruminating on said problems."

1. Stay positive

I'm not saying you should be act like a scary, happy-all-the-time caffeine addict with no problems in life. My point is that nobody likes being around people who complain all the time. Decent friends and significant others are happy to listen to your problems and offer advice, but if that is the only topic of your conversation, your relationship is not fulfilling to them (especially if they rarely, if ever, can talk about their problems or positive things), and you will still feel down.

If you find you are only complaining about various topics all day, cut down on the amount of time you spend ruminating on said problems.

Find other things to think about. Read the newspaper, dive into a hobby, and learn new facts to share with your friends and sweetheart. Focus on the positive aspects of your life with gratitude, and you may even stumble upon something humorous to tell them later. You can even take negative situations and view them in a funny light that both you and your loved ones will appreciate.

2. Compliment frequently and express gratitude.

People, especially significant others, love to feel appreciated. When your friend is wearing a cute outfit, compliment it. If your significant other is looking extra sexy or did something sweet for you, show your appreciation. If you receive a gift, accept it graciously. A simple "thank you" or "you're so good to me" go very far.

3. Affection can be very rewarding for your significant other.

Random kisses, hugs, and back massages are often very appreciated. Some partners are not okay with public displays of affection, so discuss that with them before going out in public.

4. Bringing up certain topics to save your partner/friend from embarrassment can be tricky.

If your partner has bad breath, bring it up gently yet directly. An example would be "honey, did you eat garlic today?" or "Sorry hon, I noticed that your breath has been a little stinkier lately. I use [insert product here] to prevent that." It is courteous for a significant other to have good hygiene around you, so if he/she defends the stench, it is a huge warning sign. The trick here is not to be so subtle that your partner does not know what you are talking about, or does not realize how important it is to correct said problem.

5. It's even harder to tell someone you love that they did something that hurt you.

First, you must tell the person in a timely manner. Absolutely NEVER let it build up and bother you until you explode. Issues like this are like a disease; you must take care of them early on to prevent the most complications. Do not accuse your significant other of anything if you have no solid proof.

If you feel like your partner is avoiding you or ignoring you, say "I feel hurt because I feel like I am being ignored. Did I do something wrong/is something bothering you? Please talk to me." Admit that as a human being, your perceptions are fallible and your partner probably has a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why his/her behavior is "off" to you. Offer to talk about anything that may be bothering your partner, and assert that you love and appreciate him/her and are there to talk whenever.

Sometimes a partner will say something hurtful to you due to lack of tact, insensitivity, lack of information, or accidentally using the wrong word and misrepresenting him/herself. In that case, say "I felt really hurt when you said ____." If he/she is decent, a sincere apology should be voluntarily given after you explain why the comment/action made you feel hurt.

6. Tell your partner when you have messed up in the relationship.

Take full responsibility for your actions, and never accuse your partner of "making" you do it, as your actions are solely yours alone. This goes for big things and little things (yes, including cheating. Telling your partner is the decent thing to do so that he/she can make an informed decision to stay with you or not.)

Do not expect your partner to get over it right away if you messed up badly. He or she may forgive you quickly, but the hurt may linger for weeks or more. Do not criticize the pace of his/her emotional healing process, as that is not something a good human being does.

7. NEVER tell "TMI" (too much information) about previous partners.

For a relationship to be healthy, you should never tell details about your previous exes, especially sexual details. Those will only drive your partner crazy with jealousy, unwanted images, resentment, and a feeling of inadequacy. It in unproductive and unhealthy.

All your partner needs to know about your past is whether or not you have an STD (it is your responsibility to get tested for everything and know your status), whether or not you are/have been married, whether or not you have had children, whether or not you are a virgin, and if you had any casual encounters/used prostitutes/massage parlors(some people do not date those who do that for moral reasons).

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Obviously, if you are married, leave the relationship. If you are separated, let your partner know the divorce isn't official yet. You can volunteer that you have been hurt in the past to explain some of your insecurities, but do not go into detail.

If you have broken this rule, set a boundary stating that you will not talk about it again.

8. If you are angry at your partner, or simply had a bad day, and are afraid of saying something you'll regret, take some time to cool off.

Do not dramatically stomp away and refuse your partner's pleas to talk, as this is called the silent treatment/stonewalling, a very hurtful tactic that only destroys relationships. Take a deep breath and simply say "I am very angry right now. I need some time to cool off before I can speak with you rationally. Excuse me" before leaving the room.

9. You always have the right to express your emotions.

Your actions are our own responsibility, but emotions should always be safe to express in a relationship. Never judge your partner, for instance, if he/she cries during a movie.

10. Frequent communication is nice for those in a relationship.

If you cannot see each other every day due to busy schedules or distance, a text or call once a day to say you are thinking about him/her is always nice and appreciated. It does not have to be a 3-hour conversation every night, as that can be way too much for many people and their schedules.

What Guys Said 15

  • You don't have time, and I'm sure it gets tiring for you if I keep on going over each additional point. So I'll stop here and not bother you any more. I think if I agree with what you say, I can agree with it generally, instead of going over it in fine detail. I'm a little too wordy. People have told me that before.

  • I guess an understanding of morality, communication, perception, and interpersonal relations is enough to prepare me for the future.

    Like point 8. That's really good, and it shows how we shouldn't do anything in anger. Morality teaches us how to have less anger in the first place, and to eventually do away with it. I also believe that I should never be in a bad mood, and if things ever got to that point, it is better to talk it out. Not communicating is not good.

  • Alright. I think we might be talking about the same thing. I can't think of any situations.

    So if I was in a relationship, do you think I would know how to communicate and be able to recognize signals?

  • Your 7th point is good, especially about the jealousy part. Do you think you need to tell your SO about past partners if you had a bad reputation before? Especially because those past partners might encounter the current partner and say "your wife/girlfriend is so - insert word here". This question came up in a Dear Abby column before. I don't remember the details though.

  • I see.

    One girl whose question I answered said that she was surprised by my youth. She said that I had a lot of insight, and she didn't expect me to be so young. So based on the kind of advice I give, without knowing my past, would you have been able to tell that I had never been in a relationship?

  • Hm. I once answered a question about how basically this girl's friend forced her to go with him and she ended up putting her mouth over the tip of his - you know. She was angry at herself for being coerced into it, and she didn't know what to do, so she asked a question. I think it is important to control our inhibitions, so that these kinds of things never end up happening.

    Btw, do you think that even though I've never been in a relationship, my input into relationships is still valid?

  • Your sixth point is really great! Yeah, if you don't tell your significant other when you have cheated, if the SO finds out about it, whether accidentally or from another source, it doesn't look good. It looks intentional instead of accidental, and any excuses won't work because the SO will have lost trust. So honesty is better than keeping the truth away, which sometimes has a bad way of revealing itself.

  • The fifth point is really good. You worded it pretty well. This is related to good parenting. A good parent teaches his/her child at the exact moment something happens, not later, because it doesn't work. Communication should not happen later, unless it is the wrong time to talk.

    And it is good to explain why you are hurt, instead of thinking "I'm hurt, and you didn't ask", and then end up saying "you don't care about me". That'll lead to confusion and arguments.

  • I think the fourth point is great! In a good relationship, there must be tact. In a good relationship, the couple must be able to talk about difficult things, because that is how they improve themselves. Not talking about difficult topics is a lack of communication. (I know you already know this, so this is just me talking to you about subjects we both know about)

  • I know. In my translations of Chinese, I find it to be difficult to translate from Chinese to English sometimes, because Chinese is gender neutral. I probably wouldn't be able to do better if I was in your place. I've run into similar problems before when I'm talking about a third party, and then another party in regard to that. All the back and forth can get confusing.

  • Oh. I tend to be picky with grammar. I guess I'm too obsessed with exact English. I read so many books, although I don't read as much as I used to be. It isn't too bad, it's just that there are some things that will sound confusing with reference to pronouns, like for example switching between the reader and his/her significant others. I know you can't change anything though, but I just say it like that because I can't find any other way to say it.

  • I'll just comment on part of it for now. If I do everything at once, then I find that (if I was in your place) you might not address everything, or it makes it very hard to address everything all at once. One step at a time then.

    Notice that I have mostly constructive criticism. I do that and don't compliment as much because what I don't mention is very good, so I don't talk about it. So if I don't mention something, it's because I think it is just perfect.

  • I think staying positive is a great idea. So often, people can't stay positive, especially with all this material wealth lying around and so many things to distract us. I find that meditation or just being a good person can actually make me more positive.

    I think what happens so often is that in short articles like these, if you miss something, people call you out for it. That isn't very rational, because there is no way you can address everything, right?

  • I think for #1, you can start with defining what it means to be positive, before you say that "I'm not saying". Start with the definition before saying what the definition is NOT. I think that because this is your article, you don't have to say "my point is". "My point is that nobody likes being around people who complain all the time." Maybe instead 'Nobody will like to be around you if you complain all the time." It wouldn't do to be writing as if talking about people in general.

  • Your first paragraph makes a lot of sense, except for the fact that it is a little confusing. It isn't confusing to me, more like the structure could be changed a little. "The partner not trying to achieve dominance is left hurt and confused when trying to voice feelings in a gentle, caring way because his/her partner gets angry (often), pretends not to "get" what he or she (pronoun use is confusing here) is talking about, or promises to change (and, not then) then does not."

What Girls Said 12

  • Stand your ground. As long as you are 100% honest with your partner about what you want from them deep down, he doesn't have to know, say, if you orgasmed with the other guy. It's stupid. It helps nobody.

  • What if they want to hear 'tmi' about your past, that if they don't know they will dwell on it and it will bother them until they find out?

  • It's hard to tell until you're in one.

  • I don't think I would be able to tell you weren't in a relationship.

    And no, I think it depends on the person. I mean, if someone did something really bad before, the partner probably should know, depending. I need a specific situation.

  • It's not her fault if the guy coerced her into it if she didn't want it. He's the one at fault.

    And yes, but I think a relationship or two would give you better insight for the future.

  • I feel that nobody cheats "accidentally" though. Unless they were drugged or forced, but that's rape.

  • Definitely! Thanks

  • I agree. :/ Thanks

  • I need to make it gender neutral. I can't use one pronoun or else there is the accusation of sexism, and I get that as is.

  • Thanks, but I kind of disagree; I think the wording was fine. It was a featured article, so...

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