Communication. We’ve all heard time and time again that it is key to a successful relationship. But, what does that really mean? Of course, every relationship is different, and every person is different. But, the basics of communication are the same. There is such a thing as toxic communication within a relationship, and this can almost definitely be a relationship killer.
There are many of us who are guilty of this particular communication issue. Criticism is when you are in a disagreement with your partner, and you say something that attacks their character. For instance, “You were late again; you’re so selfish.” That little phrase ‘you’re so selfish’ does nothing to communicate anything positive to your partner — it just hurts them. Instead of saying, “You’re so selfish,” try something that isn’t critical. Something like, “I would like to spend more time with you,” or “I feel worried when you’re late.” This can help you work with your partner, not against them.
It’s easy to fall into this cycle of defensive accusations when in an argument. It starts with something simple like, “You didn’t do the dishes.” But, it ends up escalating to the point where there are no more accusations to make, and you are both just hurt and angry. This vicious cycle solves nothing; you simply go around in circles until you both forget what you were talking about in the first place. The best way to break this cycle is to listen to what your partner has to say and not change the subject. Listen to them and take responsibility.
In a long-term relationship, it’s almost inevitable that you will raise your voice at your partner at some point. However, the issue comes if this is a regular thing for you. If you find yourself yelling every time you have an argument, that’s a problem. Yelling doesn’t aid in communication. The only thing yelling accomplishes is bringing out a stronger emotional reaction in your partner and turning their brain toward defensiveness. Try steering toward the direction of calm discussion instead.
This is a very common technique in relationships. It is generally used as a punishment in much the same way it was on the playground. The reality is, there is nothing constructive in using the silent treatment to end or ‘win’ an argument. All it does is break down the lines of communication and breed resentment in your partner.
Your partner is not a mind reader. This is something we often need to be reminded of in a relationship. They can’t read your mind; you have to tell them what you need. If you don’t speak up about your needs and desires, then you can’t get upset when they don’t give them to you. The only way you guys can be on the same page in your relationship and in life is by communicating your needs, desires, and expectations to each other. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
“You make me so angry.” “You’re impossible to reason with.” These are all phrases that place blame. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to take your frustration out on your partner and place all the blame for your anger onto them. However, you need to take responsibility for your part of the issue and for your own feelings. Instead of placing blame, try turning it around and say, “I feel angry when this happens,” or “I feel hurt because of this.”
If your first instinct when things get tough is to threaten to leave, then you have a bigger issue than a simple argument. “If you don’t stop, I’m leaving,” or “Fine, then leave” are open threats that do nothing but build anxiety and contempt within the relationship. Leaving should never be an ultimatum unless you are truly at the end of your rope and plan to follow through on it. Using this toxic communication method as a weapon to ‘win’ an argument is hurtful and unfair to your partner.
This one seems like it should be obvious. However, the big issue many people have with this is that they are hearing what is being said but not really listening to their partner. You need to be engaged in what they are saying. If you are jumping to the defense or thinking about your response, you aren’t really listening to them.
Communication is one of the most essential parts of a relationship, so be sure that both of you are consistently working to improve it. It’s never too late to evolve the way you communicate with your partner in order to build a strong, long-lasting, and successful relationship.
Gaslighting is another popular form of toxic communication that’s recently more discussed. Have you heard of it? Here’s what gaslighting looks like in relationships.