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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

Hey Danny, Sorry to say, we are not a dating service and cannot assist you in finding a partner. Best thing to do is take some time with 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. As always, feel free to ask us any questions about love, sex or relationships if they come up. Best of luck.

Anonymous
Tue, 01/28/2020 - 10:57 am
hey,i have dated a guy for 5 years now,but on our 3rd year of our relationship,i found him with a woman,and i realized i was a sidechick,everything went first,the same week he lost his job,so i couldnt leave,i thought it would take shorter time but till date he has not been able to secure a job,though i decided to forgive him,but i realized he is never going to love me through his action towards me,we are hoping for a job sooner,is it okay to break upwith him after he gets the job i'm 26.sue

Hi Sue, thank you for reaching out to us. We are so sorry to hear you have had such a hard time. You have to decide for yourself what you want. Consider everything you have been through. What you want for yourself, and what you feel is best for your future.

Success
Sat, 03/07/2020 - 08:25 am
I'm success,26 years of age,I dated this guy for over 3 years though I've never caught him cheating before,we really love each other but he made a mistake by slapping me (no beat) and this is what I 8t most in man,I decided to move on, later he begged me so we started dating again but the love is no more there,he try all he could but the relationship couldn't work out anymore,so he makes me 8t men allot After 2 and 1/2 yes I was advised to give someone else chance I did but I've never expected bro love again, though I love these guys,and I can feel it that he loves me too but he always do something, due to his own experiences with his ex he behaves like h doesn't Care and it's really affecting me, it's like my heart is getting broken again ... please what can I do

Hello Success, thank you for reaching out to us. We are so sorry to hear that you were physically assaulted in your previous relationship. Such situations could lead to trauma and make it difficult for a person to build strong and lasting relationships in the future. The best thing to do is talk to a counselor to help you through this. 1195 is the One2One Toll-free number you can call to talk to someone about this issue.

Roshan Singh
Sun, 03/15/2020 - 09:17 am
I love a girl very much but I am afraid to speak her. Someone will then be the recipe. there is to talk to him or how to talk to him I like him very much.

Hi Roshan, thank you so much for reahing out to us. There is no single recipie of approaching anyone per say and reaching out to people that you are attracted to can be difficult because of the fear of being rejected. However, they are no different than how would approach a friend, family or other person. The initial hello and coming up with small talk is the same idea except the person is front of you is attractive. 

The best way to do this when you are nervous is to talk to people who share interest. Do they go to school with you? Are they working? Did you meet them at the movies? This way there is already a commonality between you an it gives you the first conversation topic. Find other people who like what you like and try to mingle from there. 

Otherwise, just be honest. Tell them who you are, why you approached the (they said something smart, they like the same team, you find them beautiful etc) and then build the conversation from there. Tell them about yourself, and ask questions about them. You are attracted to them and ideally as you learn more about them you will become interested in them. 

Everyone has nerves and the girls know that. They will be flattered that you even tried to reach out and talk. 

We will be sending you positive thoughts, and feel free to ask any other questions as they arise. 
  <3 The Love Matters Team 

Love Matters
Thu, 06/11/2020 - 11:32 pm

Hello Bikoboy, 

Unfortunately, we are not a dating site and therefore, cannot help you find a partner. We provide honest information about Love, Sex and Relationships. Feel free to ask any question and we shall be more than glad to respond to you.

Love Matters Team

I fell in love with my friends neighbour we i went for a visit, she loves me so mch en i love her the same. Bt my sister has called me to go home that she is missing me so mch that she wants to see me, so i hv to travel hme bt my girlfriend says she wants to with me. Bt our hme z very far en am scared she wil get a problem with her parents of which wil be bad on both of us. I want her to remain bt knw how am going to express it to her becoz she says she cant stay without me

It makes sense that you would be worried about this. The best thing would be to try and talk to another member of her family, if possible her parents, to see if she has permission to go on this trip. You could find yourself in trouble if you go on this trip without the relevant permissions.

Beebah
Mon, 07/13/2020 - 12:45 pm
Hi pls there is this guy we dated for 2years and we both went to the same University am still an undergraduate but he graduated last year, I got pregnant for him recently and what he did was to denied it but his parent took care of me till I delivered and up till now he's still not ready to show love to me and my kid which is really saddling my heart he has never call to check up on me and my kid pls my question now us that how do I stop worrying abt him because I still love him and I want that to stop by I don't know how to do that and focus on myself ND kid only pls help me

Hi Anonymous. So sorry to hear that you are going through such a hard time. It is really great to hear that you have resolved to move past this is decided to take care of yourself and your child. It is understandable that you would feel broken-hearted by this situation.

This article has some pointers to help take you through this period. Remember to take as much time as you need.
https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/breaking-up/heartbreak-it-does-get-better

IBRAHIM
Fri, 10/09/2020 - 04:49 pm
I WANT AN ANSWER TO THIS A LADY TOLD ME SHE IS CRUSHING ON ME I SAID FINE AND THE NEXT DAY SHE WAS ASKING ME WETHER I HAVE FEELINGS FOR HER AND I TOLD HER I DONT KNOW, THE NEXT THING SHE DID IS STARTING TO IGNORE ME

Hi Ibrahim, thank you for reaching out to us. It is usually quite hard for people to express their feelings and when they get an indefinate answer they may feel embarassed or do not know what to do next. Try reassuring her that her confession does not make you feel any different. If you feel that your relationship may be affected, let her know. Communication is an important part of any relationship.

Happyday
Sat, 11/28/2020 - 12:19 am
My crush told me he likes me we don't meet physical but we chat together, now circumstances are holding him and we are now talking less but I want to be sure if he still loves me
Hi i called my guy on phone and he says i don't love him becaus i don't want to make love wit him that is not by calling alone. Please what can i do?
Love Matters
Tue, 12/01/2020 - 07:03 pm

Hi Joy, thank you for reaching out to us and we are so sorry you are going through a hard time. Making love is not the only form of expression of love. If you have informed him that you are not ready to be physically intimate with him, then he should respect your boundaries. That respect is a form of love, lack of it is a form of lust which is completely different. Do not let anyone force you to do anything you do not want to do with your body in the name of love. 

Rachael
Tue, 02/02/2021 - 11:50 am
My guy always tell me he love me but those not call me wen i call too wen we are talking sometimes he hang up the call,sometimes i call many times he dont answer it and sometimes he answer it he is always busy and am not happy and i told him but he is still dont answer my calls sometime!Is all this also in true love?Those he love me or just playing my mind becus i always want the best for both of us but dont know why this is happen cus i really love him!Pls i need an advice pls!

Hello Rachael, thank you for reaching out to us. We are sorry you are going through such a hard time.
Communication is an important part of any relationship. Have an open and honest conversation with your partner. Explain how their actions are affecting you and the relationship. Try not to be confrontational because that would put them on the defensive and the resulting conversation would not be productive.  Be ready to listen to their fears and feelings and respond to them as well.
This article has some pointers that could help you learn how to better communicate.
 

https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/happy-relationships/better-communication-better-relationships

Juliet Ansah
Tue, 03/09/2021 - 01:45 am
Hi I have dated a guy for about 3years now and we have not seen each other face and he ask me how do I feel about him without sex

Hi Juliet, thank you for reaching out to us. We appreciate it. It is understandable that you have been through such a hard time. Long Distance Relationships can be really tough but if the two parties are dedicated you can definitely make it through. 

https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/happy-relationships/long-distance-relationships-dos-and-donts

I,hv,dated,a,guy,upto,9yrs,now,nd,we,truly,loves,each,other,but,one,girl,have,swear,not,to,leave,him.recently,i,don't,know,what,to,do,course,am,afraid,to,lose,him,to,another,girl.advice,pls

Hello sonia, thank you for reaching out to us. We are sorry you are going through such a hard time.
Communication is an important part of any relationship. Have an open and honest conversation with your partner. Explain how their actions are affecting you and the relationship. Try not to be confrontational because that would put them on the defensive and the resulting conversation would not be productive.  Be ready to listen to their fears and feelings and respond to them as well.
This article has some pointers that could help you learn how to better communicate.
https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/happy-relationships/better-communication-better-relationships

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