How to Better Meet Communication Needs in a Relationship

A man and a woman looking at each other.
Want to solve most of your relationship issues? Make sure your and your partner’s communication needs are met.

The ability to communicate effectively can solve nearly all problems in a relationship.

It seems like a simple formula for relationship success. Except reality is never that simple.

A cornerstone of any healthy relationship is the ability to communicate, for a person to be able to tell their partner their wants and needs and listen when their partner does the same.

Communication needs to be in a relationship because a lack of it can cause a breakdown, it can cause issues to go without being dealt with and negative feelings like resentment can build up. People can also become dissatisfied in their relationship because the thing that’s causing dissatisfaction goes unaddressed.

At its most basic form, communication is just two people talking to each other. When people engage in a healthy conversation, good things happen. The problem lies when two people don’t talk to each other, when they don’t say something that they need to or want to say.

This could be your experience. You know that the love shared between you and your partner isn’t an even give-and-take. You can feel an emptiness, a nagging feeling that things can and should be better. But somehow, there lies a barrier you cannot seem to step over.

In this article, we’ll go through why your needs are unmet and how learning to communicate better with your partner can be the answer to your problems.

Why Your Communication Needs Go Unmet

Why is it so difficult for some people to communicate their needs? Why is it that they don’t speak up when they should? Here are some reasons why:

They are people pleasers

One reason that people don’t communicate is because they’re people-pleasers and the idea of saying anything that could potentially upset their partner terrifies them. Maybe they don’t want their partner to leave them. Maybe they’re scared that any kind of confrontation is going to end the relationship. Or maybe they don’t want to seem like a burden of any kind. In any case, they bottle up their feelings and never stand up for themselves.

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They are Unaware of Their Own Needs

Another reason why people don’t communicate their needs is that they don’t know what their needs are. They’re not constantly communicating with their partner because they don’t know what to say to them. Maybe they’re not sure if they should stay in the relationship or not. Maybe they don’t know if they want to get married or not. Or have kids. Or any number of things that could have an effect on the relationship.

They Think Their Partner Should Be Telepathic

Some people know exactly what they need to communicate, but they believe their partner should already know how they feel without having to vocalize it. They think that their partner should know them well enough to know that there’s something amiss with them or with the relationship.

They Simply Do Not Care About Their Own Needs

Then there are some people who simply don’t care enough about what’s bothering them to speak up about it. Maybe they’re just apathetic or they just really relaxed. Either way, they’re not going to say anything.

You can consider these reasons red flags, and they usually indicate that there are underlying issues to your communication problem. These issues include a lack of self-worth, a lack of chemistry and compatibility with your partner, or more. In this sense, the lack of effective communication is a symptom, and can likely improve once these issues are addressed.

A woman looking at a man who is looking at a phone.
Your partner isn’t telepathic, so vocalize your needs.

The Rules for Communicating

There are certain rules of communication in relationships that must be observed if you want to have effective and productive dialogue with your partner. These rules help ensure that you can sort your needs out without hurting each other’s feelings or arguing with each other.

1. Keep It Clean

The first rule of making sure that everyone’s communication needs are met in the relationship is to be civil. Two people, especially in a relationship, shouldn’t resort to insults or name-calling, or anything in the wheelhouse.

While arguments are sometimes unavoidable, and there might be some shouting, maybe a little anger, that’s as far as it should go. Ideally, you should always talk to each other in a calm, rational manner.

2. Keep It Honest

Another rule that should be observed is honesty. People shouldn’t hold anything back when it’s time to communicate. They should be open about anything that’s bothering them so that it can be addressed. There shouldn’t be any subterfuge, it’s all about communication when it’s time to talk.

If your partner has a difficult time telling the truth, or vice versa, tell them that it’s important for you to hear what they have to say and that you will listen to them with an open mind.

A woman looking at a man who is looking at a phone. A woman looking at a man who is looking at a phone.

3. Be Fully Present

People should also be fully present when they communicate. Active listening isn’t a skill that everyone has. Some people tend to let their minds wander when someone talks to them and that’s not just impolite, it’s also unhelpful. Active listening is how people can really learn about what the other person is saying and it’s how it gets addressed.

People should focus on what’s being said, not on something in the background, or what they had for breakfast that morning.

4. Practice Empathy and Take Ownership of Action

But the biggest rule when it comes to communicating with a partner is empathy. Some people can feel like they’re being attacked when their partner tries to talk to them. It’s not an attack, it’s their partner vocalizing their needs.

When that happens, the best thing to do is not to be defensive, but to see where the other person is coming from and to try and be as understanding as possible.

Related to empathy, there should also be ownership. A person should take responsibility for their actions. Do they not listen well enough? Are they not romantic enough? Is it something else?

Whatever the case, a person should take their fair share of responsibility when it comes to the issues in a relationship.

A man and a woman sitting at a desk.
Don’t let your own needs go unmet; let your partner know what they are.

Other Tips to Improve Communication

By following the rules we discussed, you can make great strides to improve communication with your partner. Here are a couple more tips that you and your partner should seriously consider applying if you want your relationship to grow further.

Make the Time to Talk

The first thing a couple should do is to carve out time to communicate. People can get busy. Whether they have a lot on their plates at work or friends and family are demanding too much of their free time, time to talk is often left out of the agenda.

So if a couple wants to keep making sure that their communication needs are going to be met, then they need to make time to do so. It can be an hour a week, it can be an hour a day. But they do need to carve out time wherein they can just touch base with one another.

Keep in mind, that’s not just about the time, but also the timing. Trying to have a serious discussion when they’re both tired or mentally drained isn’t good for a couple and is only going to prick at each other’s feelings.

One thing you can do is to go on regular date nights. While you do not want to spoil the mood by talking about tragic events or serious issues, date nights are a great opportunity to talk about what you would like to happen in your relationship.

Process Feelings Before Speaking Them Out into the World

Speaking of feelings, a good rule of thumb is to process them before having a conversation about them. This way, those feelings can be communicated clearly and concisely, and whatever needs to be said is better understood. Not doing so can lead to unhealthy communication like rambling and ranting.

So gather your thoughts, and perhaps even write them down. Once you are satisfied that you know everything you are going to say, you can say them in the most collected way you can.

Communication is the cornerstone of any good relationship, romantic or otherwise. It’s how conflict gets resolved. Without it, relationships can fall apart. So it’s important for a couple to make sure that the other’s communication needs are met.

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