You thought your partner loved being caressed in the kitchen, but they don’t. They thought you liked their mother-in-law’s quiche, but they were wrong. Misunderstandings – they happen to the best of us – and cause problems, which explains why communication is so important in relationships.
No matter who you are or how good your rapport is – there are times when communication mishaps occur and the culprit – might just be Hollywood.
Romantic comedies often showcase a good partnership as one where you instantly understand each other’s needs, no talk necessary.
The love interest always knows what she needs to hear.
The fiancé always know exactly what ring to buy.
The wife always knows what to do to get him in the mood for sex.
In the world of heterosexual romance, Hollywood tells us that couples who are meant to be, are those who know what the other is thinking – all the time.
That relationships where needs are met with great ease, are the ones that tell you you’ve found the right person.
That if they really loved you, they’d know you need alone time and not a hug, whenever you’re sad.
That if they really cared about you, they’d somehow know that comments about your body during sex make you uncomfortable, but hearing them when you’re dressed up is another story.
Real life might not be as glamorous – but it’s filled to the brim with real feelings and real, heartfelt connection – if you communicate well.
Learning how to get your boundaries, needs and wants across, is key.
Boundaries are your own personal non-negotiables. They’re ideas of what is okay and not okay in a relationship.
Examples of boundaries might be:
Sharing of household chores.
People have different ideas of cleanliness and keeping a home tidy. In a heterosexual relationship, the responsibility of tidying up is often silently delegated to the woman.
A good example of why communication is so important in relationships is because it helps you avoid having the same argument over and over again. This can be done by telling your partner that sharing this responsibility is one of your non-negotiables.
Being sexually exclusive.
Expecting your partner to not sleep with anyone else isn’t unusual. However, this boundary needs to be established. By doing this, you’re making sure you both want the same things, so you don’t commit to a relationship that won’t work out in the long run.
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Needs are any and all things you feel are necessary for your well-being in relationships. Compared to non-negotiables, these aren’t always set in stone.
Examples of needs might be:
Getting verbal compliments.
People like to receive love in different ways. For some, hearing that they’re beautiful or funny, instead of understanding it through their partner’s gestures or gifts, is important. If words of appreciation are an important need – use your own words and let them know!
Spending time alone with friends.
Some of us prefer to spend all of our time with our partner – this includes seeing our friends together. Others want their space, especially as it pertains to their friendships.
Letting your partner know this need will help them feel less insecure about you wanting to spend time away from them. This also means you won’t have to feel like you need to defend yourself every time you go out for drinks with your friends and leave your partner at home – another good reason why communication is so important in relationships.
Wants are the extras in relationships – the things you’d like to have, but that aren’t non-negotiables or crucial to your sense of well-being. You can think of them as “nice-to-haves.”
Examples of wants might be:
Having sex regularly.
Sex isn’t as important to everybody, but if it’s one of the primary ways to keep a relationship alive in your opinion, it’s a good idea to express this want to your partner. Letting them know about it doesn’t guarantee it will happen more often – but you’ll stand a better chance of having more sex than you would not telling them at all.
Engaging in hobbies together.
Some people prefer to do things on their own, whereas others like to do things together. If you feel like it would be nice to do something as a pair; play golf, take an art class, join a choir, or do some cooking together – let your partner in on this want.
Our relationships and marriages aren’t like the great romances of Hollywood. We can’t know what the other person wants or needs without talking about it – at least not all the time, throughout the course of our relationship.
This is a good thing.
In order to get what you want, need and absolutely do not want or need, you have to communicate it. It doesn’t mean it’s always easy or fun in the moment – but it’s almost always worth it – and this is why communication is so important in relationships.
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With 10 years of experience in the helping profession - Leigh helps her clients create stress-free, shame-free, pressure-free sex lives, through her unique combination of sexological science, psychotherapeutic & coaching tools.
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