Remainly - Online Couples Therapy

My partner never listens to me: what should I do?

Good communication is essential when maintaining a healthy relationship. Communicating honestly with your partner builds a solid foundation for trust, understanding and intimacy.

Feeling heard can be very validating; feeling like your emotions matter and your needs are being met can boost self-worth and confidence. However, issues can arise when communication starts to break down, and you feel like you are no longer listened to.

Here we focus on what you can do when you feel like your partner never listens to you.

A woman sat on sofa looking distressed next to her boyfriend

Signs that you aren’t being heard

If your partner does the following, then it could be a sign that they are not listening and that your mutual communication skills need to be worked on:

 

• They claim that you are overreacting.

• They disengage from the conversation and leave the room.

• They focus on a smaller, less relevant topic than the one you were discussing.

• They immediately dismiss your thoughts.

If issues that you have spoken about before keep resurfacing it can be disheartening to realise that you haven’t been able to get through. Understanding why your partner isn’t listening is a step in the right direction towards making yourself heard.

A woman talking with hand to her head and partner looking at her

Why won’t my partner listen?

If your partner is not listening to you, it is not always because you are being ignored or dismissed without thought.

There are a variety of reasons why your partner may seem indifferent or insensitive when you are trying to be heard.

Becoming defensive

Some people may shut down and become defensive when confronted with a problem. Your partner could be unwilling to listen because they feel like they are being attacked or put on the spot.

Mindset

We are often uncomfortable with conflicting emotions or ideas, and would rather see things through the same lens. If you are already in a bad mood or unwilling to listen, then you are more likely to dismiss other uncomfortable topics, even when they are valid concerns.

If your partner is already angry, they may be hearing everything you say as argumentative even when you feel you are expressing yourself clearly and reasonably.

Misunderstandings

Communication is a two-way street. If you and your partner are not on the same page, or one is deliberately misunderstanding the other, then topics can never be discussed in full.

Misunderstandings are a symptom of poor communication and can cause circular arguments that never get resolved.

Tone of voice

Your partner may be disregarding the issues you bring up because they do not realise how seriously you want them to take you.

You may be unwittingly framing your statements in a way your partner is offended by with the tone of your voice or with your body language.

Information overload

If you are talking for a long time, it can be hard for some listeners to process and retain all that information. Your partner may become resistant to listening because they find the overload of information stressful.

A couple holding hands

Creating a constructive listening environment together

When you have identified why your partner may not be listening to you, there are steps you can take to cultivate your listening skills together.

1. Make sure you both have time to sit down and have a full conversation. It will become stressful and feel more urgent if there is a time limit on the conversation.

2. When speaking, be as clear as possible. Jot down some notes beforehand if you have trouble keeping on topic.

3. Check-in with your partner to make sure they are listening and taking in what you are saying. Ask them to repeat what you have said if you start feeling like they aren’t listening.

4. Be patient with each other. This will be a process, and you may want to include a relationship therapist in your journey.

What else can I do?

Learning to be a better listener is essential when trying to improve communication, but learning to be a better speaker is also important.

Articulate yourself

To prevent being misunderstood, it is important to be as clear and concise as possible. Try to ensure that you don’t become too emotional when articulating your points and that if you do, explain why you feel the way you do.

Ask questions

When you are not in the heat of the moment, ask why your partner is finding it difficult to hear you. This is something you must confront together.

Define listening

Discuss with your partner what you both mean by ‘listening’. It will be more conducive to progress if you are both working within the same parameters. Understanding what you both need from each other in order to be heard can pave the way to more successful methods of communication.

If you are considering relationship counselling to help strengthen your communication and listening skills, Remainly can help. Our online video services led by experienced couples’ therapist Andreas Løes Narum are split into pathways designed to teach you the skills needed to restore your relationship and help it thrive.

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