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Relationship Tips & Advice
If there's one topic that will make all the difference in the world to your relationship, it's communication in a relationship.
If you want a man to talk to you, you have to understand how he communicates.
This may sound like the most obvious thing you've ever heard, but most of the women that I coach and teach don't seem to realize this. They talk to men like they talk to their girlfriends. And it has catastrophic effects on the relationship.
Not only is communication in a relationship important, it's also important to recognize when there's a lack of communication.
We are going to explore good communication, bad communication, and ways to improve your communication with men. This may be the most important article you read this year.
You probably even heard the word communication used to describe relationships themselves.
The simple fact is that you can't have communication without a relationship. And you can't have a relationship without communication.
If we don't choose our words carefully, the relationship will always suffer. We have to be careful about how we talk to our partner.
Let's talk about some of the negative communication patterns we get into so that you can recognize them. I'm going to start with John Gottman's "four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse." It's probably one of the most common models of bad communication. And I feel it's super important for you to review here.
Keep in mind that this pattern is progressive. Number one typically comes first, then the rest follow after in order.
Criticizing a man is putting him down. It's the fastest way to alienate your man, and poison your relationship.
Let's face it, we know that criticism is a relationship killer. But we can't seem to stop ourselves from doing it.
Everyone seems to think that criticism will get a person to do what you want them to do. And it may actually do that - sometimes - but only for short time.
Criticism creates resentment so fast. It's like putting a few drops of bleach in a glass of water. In moments the water is poisoned.
The best thing you can do is to communicate what you would like within your relationship. If you're pointing out how your partner is not giving you what you need, you've skipped a step. Especially if you have never really explained your needs to him. Or why this situation bothers you the way it does.
Make sure you communicate your needs first.
And also remember that criticism is very often just another way to keep your distance from another person. It's avoiding intimacy.
Yes, women do this too. Very frequently.
Being defensive is self protection. Remember that being defensive is just a sneaky way of trying to blame the situation on the other person.
If you feel attacked, look at that first. Chances are you may be either misunderstanding that he's blaming you, or taking it too personally.
The best way to avoid defensiveness is to take responsibility for your part of the situation.
One of the ways I can tell how healthy a person is when they get divorced is by asking them what their part of the relationship breaking up is. Most of the time both people typically blame each other and take no responsibility.
Have you ever caught yourself saying "never mind" to him?
Or maybe he asks you what's wrong and you say "Nothing."
Maybe he's said it to you?
Stonewalling is simply the shut-down of communications. It's when you withdraw from the relationship and the communication. And it blocks the other person from repairing and helping heal the wound.
When we stonewall our partner, it's like turning off all the power to our relationship. And it has a detrimental effect on the love within the relationship.
The real threat is when stonewalling becomes a habit. And this happens a lot in relationships.
We've reached the end of the line. If you've gone through the previous three patterns, the next step is reached when your partner has formed powerful love-killing emotions against you.
Or you've formed negative feelings of resentment against him.
It's the true negation of love.
This is when one person - the one who's feeling the contempt - starts behaving as if they are superior to the other person.
This superiority looks like:
There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt. But that's not exactly true.
Contempt is created by the previous three patterns: Criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling. And an unwillingness to put on the brakes and stop the relationship from deteriorating any further.
Now of course most of these things can be countered by good communication. And that's what we're here to talk about today.
What's most important is for you as a woman not to let your self assume that you are communicating clearly with him. You may feel you have the upper hand communication because you talk to your girlfriends and other people so much. You probably feel like an expert.
But to a man most women are extremely challenged when communicating with him. And is not that you're doing anything particularly bad.
Let's cover some of the important ways to communicate in a relationship.
This is probably one of the biggest secrets of positive communication. Especially with men.
But again if you are addicted to some of the negative patterns out of frustration with a man, it's very likely you may have slipped into the opposite of this one.
Which is criticism.
If you can give a man heartfelt appreciation, he will do anything for you.
Again most people don't really grasp what the life of a man is like when it comes to securing appreciation. He almost never gets it. It's just expected that he performs.
When he was a boy, it was unlikely that he got a lot of appreciation. Studies have shown that girls receive much more appreciation and praise as children than boys do.
I saw this pattern myself with my son and daughter. It's always so much easier to give appreciation to a girl for some reason. I noticed this, and I had to make a concerted effort to really give my son a lot more positive acknowledgment.
And the difference was like night and day.
Here are some ways you can do that:
If you've ever watched the sport tennis, you may have noticed that it's a very rhythmic and pleasing sport to watch. The ball is hit back and forth, and the regularity of it starts to build the excitement of the match.
Conversation should also be a little bit like tennis.
And it's this back-and-forth of conversation that creates a rhythm between the two of you.
But unfortunately another area where a lot of bad habits creep in is in simple conversation.
For example here are some of the things that can happen that kill the rhythm:
Avoid these killers of rhythm in relationship communication.
Another one of the very common communication problems I see is when one or both of the people in the relationship bottle up their feelings or hide their needs to make the relationship work.
To be perfectly honest, this is much more common with women than it is with men. But it does happen on both sides.
One of the things women hate to do is to be too confrontational. This is true in friendships as well as relationships. Women are taught at a very early age that to go along is to get along.
But unfortunately this habit will almost always create a pressure cooker situation.
When you don't talk about the things that are bothering you, or you try to hide them away, they will inevitably build up pressure in your emotions and in the relationship.
Men need you to be very clear when communicating with them. You can't be subtle like you would be with a girlfriend.
Men do not have a very sensitive understanding of subtleties in communication. We men need things spoken clearly. Really to the point of being almost grade school level.
As long as you are respectful and not condescending, he will genuinely appreciate you explaining things to him this way.
Again the biggest problem is that unspoken grievances or problems will always build up pressure behind-the-scenes. Eventually this will lead to an explosion. It may be an argument, or it may simply come out in some of the other negative ways I explained above.
One of the silly clichés of action movies and cartoons is when one character throws a grenade at another character. That grenade is then picked up and thrown right back, where it blows up in their face.
Unfortunately this is a problem in relationships when we try to push the blame on the other person.
This is defensiveness, pure and simple. We're tossing the grenade back at them.
Unfortunately what this sounds like to the other person is that you're not willing to take responsibility or to really own your part of the relationship.
It's absolutely essential that you don't try and throw that grenade back. Even if you know that it actually is the other person's fault.
Simply understand that trying to push the blame back will immediately make the other person dig their heels in. This should make you think twice about trying to make him wrong to make you right.
It's very tempting. Trust me I know, I've been there.
Someone famous once said,
"Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?"
Because unfortunately many times those two are mutually exclusive.
Instead of blaming, have the courage to look directly at the solution instead. CUT TO THE CHASE.
CUT TO THE SOLUTION...
That's the only thing that matters - especially in a relationship.
Get to the solution fast.
Most people don't understand the math of communication. There are certain things we assume about talking about our feelings that simply aren't true.
Please recognize that your feelings are not the same thing as your thoughts. Your thoughts create your feelings, but that's as far as this chain goes.
Remember that your feelings are your experience. And you should explain them to a guy in that way.
Instead of: "You hurt my feelings!"
Try this instead: "I feel hurt and a little angry..."
By not blaming your partner ( which is what you're doing when you say you hurt my feelings), this gives him the opportunity of looking at your reaction and seeing what his part was.
It is vitally important to your relationship that you're able to express your needs to your partner. If they don't know what you need, how can they give it to you?
Just be sure you are prioritizing your needs so that the important ones are addressed correctly.
Unfortunately when we don't get what we need over a long enough period of time, our requests start to turn into demands. We become less patient. And communication suffers as a result.
Always watch your communication so that demands don't slip in. Let your partner know what your requests are, and give them the opportunity to meet them willingly. If they don't, then you have to look at their circumstances.
If they have the ability to give you what you ask for and choose not to, that is a message about the relationship.
Another tricky area in communication is when we color our perceptions with what we want something to mean. When you observe something in your partner, you have to watch out for your interpretation being assumed as truth.
FOR EXAMPLE: you observe your boyfriend using his cell phone a lot more. One way we misinterpret is to jump to the assumption that he's seeing someone else. He must be texting another woman!
However, you might confront him about this, and then he tells you and SHOWS you he's been using a new application.
And he's also been playing a lot more Candy Crush. And then you feel silly.
We have to watch out for our own insecurities and fears. They will color our interpretation of events. And this will definitely hurt your communication.
Trust ... but verify!
Keep in mind that most bad communication starts with difficult emotions and negative thinking. When we get up in our own heads and start making stuff up, we can create a real storm of crazy.
What has your past been like in relationships?
By understanding your past patterns you will obviously be able to notice these patterns before they trip you up.
Again, be careful not to point too much blame at the other person for this stuff. Your reactions are YOUR reactions. The other person is not doing this intentionally to get that reaction. (Not usually, anyway.)
To communicate effectively you have to know yourself AND the other person.
Long-distance relationships are the most challenging. Not because of the communication you have, but because of the time in between communications.
Communication in a normal relationship - where you are close to your partner - is difficult enough. But the distance adds a whole new level of complication.
Now your brain starts to make things up- the assumptions start happening.
And then you get a reply text. And spend the rest of the day feeling foolish for having gone down that trail of assumptions.
I'm sure you've experienced this kind of thinking in the past. Our minds go to some pretty dark places when our imaginations run wild.
This happens even more in a long-distance relationship. We have so much time to think and dwell - and not get the reassurance from our partner's physical presence.
Here are 3 thought distortions that happen in this situation:
Thought distortion 1. Catastrophizing
This is when we take an imagined scenario and blow it up into the worst possible thing imaginable.
Your partner doesn't text you back right away, and immediately we go down a chain of thinking from rehearsed disasters of the past.
Just recognize that your mind wants to close the gap between what you know and what you don't know so that you are not left uncertain for very long. Uncertainty makes your fear factor rise.
Don't jump to conclusions - especially worst-case scenarios!
Thought distortion 2. All or nothing
another way we distort our thinking is when we resort to black-and-white thinking. Where we go all the way to one direction or the other but nowhere in between.
For example: You suggest that your long distance boyfriend fly out to be with you in August. He says he can't do August because of work obligations. Since he can't make time when you suggested, you figure that the relationship just isn't going to work because he's not willing to make that time work. "If he can't make it then, it just won't happen this year," you think.
We have to be willing to look at other reasons and give the relationship a chance to grow.
Thought distortion 3. Emotional logic
Let's say you have a conversation with your boyfriend but it doesn't flow well. You don't seem to really connect on the call.
You hang up, feeling like things are really uncertain between you two. You start to feel anxious and sad.
Since you feel this way, there must be something wrong, you think.
But that's the trick your mind plays on you. The truth is that your emotions are just an interpretation of your thoughts. NOT reality.
Remember that most events are neutral. They are not a positive thing or a negative thing until you interpret them or try to place them in some perspective.
The real key here is - ESPECIALLY in a long-distance relationship - not to let yourself fall into this kind of downward spiral of thinking.
Don't let your emotions start feeding your mood negatively. And then your thoughts turn negative and make your mood even worse.
An essential part of healthy communication and mature thinking is being able to let go of our connection anxiety long enough to look at our situation clearly.
There are actually many more thought distortions than just these three. But this should give you an idea of how our thinking can trick us. In fact our emotions can sabotage the relationship before it's even begun.
And your part of communication that you MUST develop is the ability to observe your communication without getting caught up in it so that you can see the negative patterns.
Be mindful when you speak to him. Notice when your emotions start to pull the communication in a particular direction that neither of you wants.
In order to really be effective communicating to men you have to know how to make a good connection with him.
And connecting with men is actually simple… If you know how men connect to women.
You may think you know how this works. Most women assume that since they know how to connect with women that they know how to connect with men. But this simply isn't true.
In order to connect with a man you must know what his connection code is...
If you like to learn more about how these connection codes work, go here