How Communicate in a Relationship

Being in a relationship can be great, but if you aren’t being honest with each other, it can quickly take the express train to suck-town. And not the good part of suck-town, either. If you aren’t getting what you need, or maybe even worse, find that you’re compromising integral parts of yourself, it is definitely time to take steps to right whatever wrongs are going on all up in here (“here” being your relationship). It’s a disservice to you and your partner if one or both of you are unhappy in a way that can be solved, or at least can be worked on.
The key to everything is open communication. In all likelihood, if you feel like you are getting some serious negative side effects from your relationship, it isn’t intentional on your partner’s end. This could be anything from feeling suffocated, misunderstood, or that they keep making you mac and cheese even though you know I’m lactose intolerant, but I’m too weak to say no to cheese, Jordan. If you speak to them openly and honestly about what you need, and what you are feeling, you’ve taken a huge step to maintaining proper boundaries (whatever those might look like for you), and having a healthy relationship. Hear that, Jordan? Healthy. Like my GI tract was before you came along and kept being so damn good at putting cheese into things, you brilliant bastard.
As you can probably tell, resentment has inevitably bubbled up between Jordan (who intentionally has a unisex name, I’m a genius), and Hypothetical Me. This could have been avoided if we had simply talked about our issues, and came to a solution that worked for both of us. Let’s see how that would play out:
Hypothetical Me: Hey, Jordan, could I talk to you for a second?
Very Real Jordan: Of course! Let me finish polishing your Emmy.
Hypothetical Me: We need to talk.
Jordan: About what? By the way, Tina Fey called earlier to see if you wanted to get lunch.
Hypothetical Me: I’ll call her back when I’m ready. But speaking of lunch, I don’t have the willpower to not eat things with cheese in them. I didn’t do martial arts as a kid, I never learned discipline. As much as dairy makes my mind soar, it makes my intestines drown. I appreciate you always making food for me, but my body can’t handle this.
Jordan: Thank you for telling me, I appreciate your honesty. I will continue my diet of strictly mac and cheese, but will find an alternative for you.
Hypothetical Me: Thank you. Now let’s watch Elon Musk star surf from our space villa.
See how great that communication was? And also how humble Hypothetical Me is? Good for Hypothetical Me. Now let’s see what may have happened if they didn’t have that conversation early on in their relationship.
Hypothetical Me: Hey, idiot.
Jordan: I hate you.
Hypothetical Me: Let’s watch Elon Musk fire surf from our hell villa.
Pretty different, right? It’s key to address issues as they come up, but also to do so in a non-confrontational way. Using “I” language is always preferable, as you can only speak from your own perspective, not anyone else’s. Don’t be aggressive or blame someone. This only serves to make people defensive, or go on the attack themselves. This will inevitably make you resent each other more, which is, presumably, not the goal in your relationship. But I don’t know for sure. Again, we can only ever speak from out experience.

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Alt text: Man looking at woman in tunnel


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