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© Love Matters | Rita Lino

11 tips for talking to your partner

We’re not born with the talking and listening skills we need to be good at communication, but everyone can learn to become better a communicator.

We can all develop skills to help us understand our loved ones properly and make sure they understand what we really mean. Still, communication is bound to go wrong sometimes, but we can get better at it with practice.

Talking – listening = zero

Communication is a two-way street: listening is just as important as talking. And when you listen, you should really listen so you can really understand what the other person is saying. So, don’t interrupt. Look them in the eyes. And don’t just think about what you want to say next.

Using 'I' statements

If you have a disagreement with your partner, it’s best to express your own opinions and feelings. If you say how you feel about something, or how something the other person did affect you, it’s harder for them to brush it aside. After all, no one can argue about how you’re feeling, because only you know that.

For example, say:

‘I felt really hurt when you went to the cinema without asking me to join you.’

‘It made me sad when I saw you with your arm around that girl/guy at that party.’

There’s no arguing with this. Your partner can’t say, ‘no, you didn’t feel hurt.’

Compare this to saying ‘it was really thoughtless of you to go to the cinema without asking me.’ Then your partner can just say something like ‘no, it wasn’t, I thought you wouldn’t feel like it.’

Don’t bring in what other people think about the situation, or claim you know what your partner is thinking. Like, ‘You know you just put your arm around that girl at the party to make me jealous. And my sister says so too!’ That’s just going to be annoying, and it won’t help your partner to think about your feelings.

Keep your cool

Emotions are healthy and normal. But when you’re feeling emotional, it can be hard to express yourself clearly and listen properly. If you’re feeling furious, for example, it’s probably best to save the conversation for later. Otherwise, you might end up saying something you’ll regret. It can even be a good idea to put an order to your thoughts by writing them down before you bring them up with your partner.

Start with a positive, and then come with the critique

If you’ve decided to tell your partner that you’re unhappy or uncomfortable with something, try to do it in a way that doesn’t upset them. One way is to build on a positive. For example:

‘I love when you pull me close to you, but in the future, can you be a little less rough?’

‘Sex with you is wonderful. But could we try … next time?’

When your partner says or does something you don’t like

We all upset our partner without realising sometimes. So it’s good to let your partner know when you’ve felt upset. Your partner may not realise they’ve done or said something that you don’t like. So don’t start with accusations, yelling, or cursing. Especially if there are other people around. This will make your partner embarrassed and angry.
You’re going wrong if you find yourself immediately shouting things like:

‘You bastard! I can’t believe you did that.’

‘How dare you behave like that!’

Instead, a few minutes after the incident, when you’re alone with your partner, take a few deep breaths, and say something like:

‘I’m not sure you realised this, but I didn’t like …. (then you say the action/ thing they said) because…’

‘I just want to you know that I didn’t appreciate what just happened because…’

You can also point out what they said or did and ask why they did it. For example:

‘Why did you shout at me like that?'

‘Why did you push me out of the way?’

They may ask you what the problem is, so it’s good to be as specific as possible and say how it made you feel.

‘When you belittled me in front of your friends, it really upset me.’

‘When you didn’t call me this week, it made me sad, because I missed you.’

After your partner has listened to what you’ve said, they may agree or disagree. Don't get into a debate about whether the action or statement was intended or not, as this will lead to an argument. Instead explain calmly how that action made you feel (sad, angry, hurt, etc.) and how you would like to do it differently in the future.

‘I hate it when you shout at me as it makes me sad for the whole day.’

‘Don’t push me as it isn’t respectful and it hurts.’

You are trying to create a relationship where neither of you hurt each other. Try to build a solution together. Don’t tell them how to behave, but instead try to talk about what you can both do to avoid this situation in the future. Say what you would like to happen and don’t focus on what you don’t want. For example, discuss what words/names you find offensive, or how often you can reasonably expect to see or call each other.

If one of you gets angry, then perhaps it’s time to come back to the discussion later.

Physical violence is never acceptable, and if this does happen, talking may not be enough to solve your issues.

Remember, the same goes for when you’ve done something to upset your partner. It can be difficult to admit you were wrong. We can all lose our patience or make mistakes without realising it. But what’s important is the actions you take afterwards. Think about how your actions may have affected your partner, listen to what they have to say and pay attention to their feelings. Then discuss how you can both make things better in future.

Expressing emotion

No matter who you are, it can be hard talking about your feelings. However, learning to open up with your partner can be both rewarding and therapeutic.

Here are a few practical tips for discovering and sharing your emotions:

  • Identifying your feelings
    How do we know what we’re feeling and why? This is particularly challenging when we are experiencing new feelings and emotions. However, it is important to take a bit of time to with yourself to understand why you are getting so excited, happy, or upset.

    If your partner does something that upsets you, pause and think about what exactly happened that upset you and why it makes you feel angry/sad/hurt etc. The better you understand the situation and your feelings, the better you are able to communicate it to someone else.

    This is important because if you can’t express what made you upset and why, it's impossible to try to learn from the situation or do things differently in the future.
     
  • Talking about your feelings with a partner
    Identifying your feelings can be challenging. But sharing these feelings can also feel uncomfortable – which is perfectly normal. But the more you practice sharing your feelings, the easier and more natural it will become. Start by sharing your feelings on a neutral topic, or mention how you feel about a friend or family member. And it’s okay to make it fun!

    ‘I really love my mum – and the way she expresses her love by feeding me great food!’

    This shows your partner that you’re open to sharing your feelings – and that you are also open to them sharing their own feelings.

How to tell your partner when you are happy

It’s often easy to express yourself when you are angry with your partner. But you shouldn’t forget to share when you’re pleased about something they’ve done.
Everyone likes to hear positive things and compliments, so make sure you can express your appreciation for the little things on a day-to-day level.

To make it easier, try to divide the explanation into three parts:

  1. State your emotion.
  2. What was the action that made you have the emotion?
  3. Why did this action make you happy?

Examples:

‘It made me feel really special when you introduced me as your boyfriend to your parents. It means now we are serious.’

‘I’m really happy today because we were able to spend time together and I got to know more about you.’

Telling your partner you are in love with them

When we fall in love with someone, it can be tricky to express these emotions – in particular, when we’ve never felt this way before, or do not know how the partner will respond.

If you’re developing strong emotions for your partner but are still unsure if you are totally in love, you can still let them know you are heading that way.

‘I just wanted you to know that I think you are great and that I am falling in love with you.’

Or, if you’ve passed this stage and feel that you’ve definitely fallen in love, chose a time when it’s just the two of you. It’s best not to tell them straight after sex, as they might think you’re confusing sex with love. Instead, go for a walk or return to a favourite hang-out – without people or distractions.
Then you try saying something like:

‘I am really enjoying being with you and you make me very happy. You’re such a great person and I‘m in love with you.’

If you are on the receiving end, don’t feel obliged to say ‘I love you’ back – especially if you don’t feel ready. Be honest and say you really like what’s happening, but that you’re not quite at that point yet. Your partner may not like this, but it’s better than lying to them and yourself about how you feel.

Listening to your partner’s feelings

Sharing your feelings is just half the story. As part of a couple, you also have to listen to your partner about their feelings. And this may be particularly hard if you’ve never been in a relationship before.

We often question whether our partner loves us or not. But if we don’t share our feeling we can’t expect them to do any different. So why not make the first move? Words can mean as much as actions, such as making love or giving gifts. Then give your partner space to speak. Listening to your partner is a time to be fully in the moment, so switch off that mobile phone, look them in the eyes and try to patiently understand what they’re telling you.

How to respond to each other's expression of feelings

When your partner chooses to share their in-depth emotions with you, listen and repeat back your partner's feelings in your own words – letting them know you understood what you just heard. If your partner states something has made them sad or angry, ask if they want advice on how to solve the problem. They may say no, and if so respect that and later find a calmer time to discuss the situation

Also, don’t be in a hurry to shut your partner up when they are sharing their emotions or feelings. That may jeopardise the entire effort. Oftentimes, people get very uncomfortable with so many words and feeling emerging that they want to just end it all and hurry the process up. This can be quite insulting to your partner who too is mustering up a lot of effort to share their feelings with you. Make sure that when you decide to listen, you've given them your full attention for as long as they want to share.

Expect to make mistakes

Learn from your mistakes. These should be seen as opportunities to learn more about yourself and your partner. And as you learn more about each other's feelings, you will develop a deeper, more intimate relationship.

By learning the above steps, you’ll hopefully come to feel more emotionally connected with your partner. Besides providing healing and comfort, it can also have an amazing effect on your sexual intimacy.

Did you learn something new?

Comments

Hello Isaac, thank you for getting in touch with us and we are so sorry you are going through a hard time. Loving someone who is in relationship can be quite difficult, especially if that other person does not feel the same way about you. Does she feel the same way about you?

If she doesn't, then it is important to remember that no matter how much you may love someone, if they do not feel the same way about you, then you cannot force them to love you back. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection towards another person.  Love is warm, it is kind and patient. Love is forgiving. Love is a feeling of a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone. If she does not feel this way, then buddy the best thing to do is move on, which is completely okay!

Being single is okay. It gives you time to work on yourself, find hobbies, practice things that you love and try to learn how to be happy with yourself. Happiness and confidence is attractive in a person and when you find yourself in a good place people will find you.

We hope this information helps, let us know what you think! Have a wonderful weekend ahead and stay safe!

Hi I love a girl and she seems to nasty to me and I can't approach her because she is so hard for to penetrate. I wish she could understand my feeling
Hi Hasso, Have have you told her how you feel toward her? Unfortunately sometimes a person you like may not feel the same as you do and you would have to respect their feelings and choice. If you have not told how you feel find a good time to talk to her, you can also be introduced to her by a mutual friend or better still send her a text to introduce yourself and pick up from there if her response is positive. We wish you well.
I married for about six years and we had ason but later we come and separeted and my wife talk me that our son wasn't me,what should I do our son loves me so much and he knows that I am his father but her mother is blocking him from me.what should I do? And we have separated for five years and I want to marry again.
Hi Paul, I can imagine this is distressing to you. There is little you can do if you are not the biological father of the child as it relates to being a father to him. But have you been able to confirm that you are indeed not the father? You could have a DNA test done to confirm this. If you are indeed the courts can compel her allow you participate in the raising of child including access to your son. Was your marriage legally registered? If you are no longer together nothing stops you from you getting married again to another person. We wish you well.
I have aguy ...we have dated for two years now but each tym he's with his mom bzy each n everyday am damn tired ov his being busy for real yet we tek long t meet n communication is not dat good what can I do plz cos he tells mi dat he loves mi am so confused
Hey Asia, It takes time, dedication and good communication to make a relationship work and grow. If you are not spending quality time together and you are also not communicating well, this may get in the way of you having a great fulfilling relationship. It is important you talk to your partner about the need for better communication and spending time together. Let him know what your expectations are for the relationship so you can both agree how to proceed. We wish you well.
mizpah
Mon, 08/21/2017 - 03:12 pm
Am glad for your advice now that am in a relationship with my prince charming for six months now....am so happy for the information.thank you
Success UD
Tue, 08/22/2017 - 08:51 am
I dating a guy 4 a year now and I am older then him;he happen to have a single mother neighbour who do not like me that much.I don't know y due.But I am having this feels that d guy in question do not love me as much as i do.what should do in such situation.
Hey Success, Have you talked to your partner about this? How his mother feels about you has nothing to do with how much he loves you. Being a single mother she may just be feeling the need to protect her son. Talk to your partner about this he will play an important role in helping his mother to be more accepting of you. Lastly, if you have both chosen to be together you are in love and committed to each, then your age difference will not affect your relationship. Check out this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/happy-relationships/does-age-difference-matter
Waridi
Tue, 08/29/2017 - 11:53 am
I have been dating a boy for three month now and he had change after seeing some text of my best friends (boys) calling me sweetheart I try to call him to explain but he keeps on ignoring my call and txt
Hi Waridi, He obviously misinterpreted what sweetheart means in the context of the relationship you have with the other boys. There is little you can do to if he refuses to pick your call or respond to your texts. Maybe you want to give it sometime before trying to reach out to him again. You have to think about your best friends and how to handle the relationships you have with them when you are dating. Lastly, be open to the fact that he may not be willing to get back with you, and for this reason you will have to respect his choice and move on.
Hi, It can be tough to have a relationship that doesn't have open and honest communication particularly when both partners are sober and perhaps coherent. Has your partner shared why they won't talk to you unless under the influence? That might be a good place to start, also it is important to consider whether your partner needs help, whether they could be depended or addicted to alcohol. We wish you well.
Have been in a releationship and we were in love but things changed when my partner got a job and moved on to another town where she was employed..she doesn't talk to me as she used to and when I call her she doesn't pick my calls. Instead she texts me that she's busy...hrlp
Hi Max, Making a long distance relationship can be challenging but if both partners are committed to the relationship. You need to find out from your partner if she is still interested in the relationship so you can both decide how to proceed. Check out this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/happy-relationships/long-distance-relationships-dos-and-donts
Hi Messy, unfortunately this man is committed to someone else if he has since gotten back with his wife. To be with you means he is cheating on his wife and he can cheat on her with you he may also cheat on you with someone else. You need to think about what you want not just now buy also in the future. Check this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/breaking-up/coping-with-a-break-up
Hi am in a relationship and it is a long distance we usually talk or l call him but the problem is ldonot know to tell wen l answer his call am lost of words all tym but we do love each other plz help
Hi Qharl, You can begin by talking about those things you both have interest in, things you both like or enjoy talking about. Avoid topics that are likely to cause tension. Begin by talking about those things that you don't have to give too much thought to, like how your day was. As you get to know each other, conversations will be easier.
hi, i have been a relationship from feb this year with a married man although his wife lives in kisumu and the man in mombasa. he has been commited and i really love him and he loves me too. am worried because he often calls me and if he calls me its either we go share dinner then back or for a ceremony like bash. i understand his work is up to late midnight but am worried if he is serious because he had told me to look for a bigger house we live together. plz help
Hi Aggy, I can't tell you if he is serious, but if you feel he is going back on his word talk to him about it. It may help to work with specific timelines of when this will happen. Talk about what you want and have him tell you what he wants then you can work together to achieve these.
Immaculate Nambutie
Thu, 11/09/2017 - 07:33 am
I have a boyfriend we have been in relationship for one half months but he saddley change I don't know the reason why he don't pick my calls,if I try to text him he don't reapply and switch of his phone
Hi Immaculate, Sorry about this. You can only be able to sort out the issues in your relationship if he is willing to talk to you which is not the case right now. You may want to give it time to see if he will be willing to talk to you. If he chooses not to you will have to allow yourself to move on. We wish you well.
Am Vero
Sat, 11/11/2017 - 11:33 am
I was in luv wiz aguy who luved mi, bt he lft mi 4 one yr wizout commicomminicting so he came bac wen i hav got another guy bt stil he luved mi so i left dat guy en went on wiz him bt again after he also went wiz out commincating so dis tym i got another guy en got pregnant so i got married bt after getting my bby,he came bak luking 4mi en we met 1day en discussed bt da dad ov my kid was jst misstreating mi... I started getting drims every day dat dat guy was luking 4mi ,after a short tym i seperated wiz da dad ov my kid bt still getting drims abt dat guy dat he z luking 4mi, two weaks bak i got him on fb telling mi dat he still luvs mi bt nw he takes long to call mi or txt mi wat can i do coz i luv him en having drims on him.. Pliz hlp mi
Hi Vero, It appears he knows that you will always accept him back regardless of how many times he leaves you. You need to make a decision as to what it is you want in a partner, do you want to be with a person who only comes to you when it is convenient for them and leaves without notice only to come back? A good relationship is one that is stable, one that you know your partner will always choose you. Think about what you want in a partner and make a decision.
hi.I av a gf we av been 2getha since we started sec school.the girl says she love mh so much&she shows that always wen we are together even though e arent 2getha at om we are far.what can i do to make her not to liv mh
Hi Ken. As long as she is getting what she is looking for in a relationship she will probably not leave you. It may help to get to know what she expects in the relationship and in you as her partner and then try and fulfill her expectations. You also need to share with her your expectations. Have a look at this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/happy-relationships/keeping-a-relationship-strong-dos-donts
Hey Annita, there is no way to tell for sure that your partner is cheating on you, like you said it is just a feeling. The best you can do however is to share your concerns alongside your fears with your partner. Let him know why you feel something could be wrong. The intention is not to accuse them of cheating but really to get to understand what could be going so that together you can agree on to proceed.
hi m dating a married man en we've bin in a relationship in six months now......he has promised to Marry me as a second wife but I doubt him dat he must be cheating on me co he has started behaving strangely I fear he jus wanna misuse me en dump me I nid Sam advice pliz
LM-Ann
Tue, 02/20/2018 - 06:52 pm
Hi Liz, there is really no way to tell if he is having another relationship, best thing to do is to share your fears and suspicions with him. The intention is not really to accuse him of cheating but to find out what could be going on based on the changes you have observed. Remember, by being with you secretly, he is cheating on his wife. Find a good time and talk about this and the future of your relationship.
LM-Ann
Tue, 02/20/2018 - 07:02 pm
Hey Kym, To break the silence you have to talk to each other. It is important you address the silence and what could have led to it. Open and honest communication is important for any relationship and it takes the efforts of both partners to have good communication in a relationship. Remember the quality of communication in your relationship affects the quality of the relationship. Find a good time and talk to your partner and let them know what the lack of communication or silence affects your relationship.
my girl friend z always tough wen she toks to me bt very free wiz my litle bro dat she tels him al her secrets..diz brings shit to me nd dnt knw wat to do
LM-Ann
Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:39 am
Hello Angel, have you and your partner created a conducive environment where open and honest conversations can happens? Perhaps you need to talk about it, express your feelings and also share how you would like your relationship to be.
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