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What are the signs of poor communication in a relationship?

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Depending on both the internal and external issues in a relationship, not every conversation between you may feel sufficiently communicated. In fact, the conversation may feel argumentative instead of attentive.

It is not all that uncommon for couples to feel this way occasionally. However, if conversations between you are left this way regularly, it could indicate that there is an overall lack of communication in the relationship.

Luckily, communication is a skill. Which means it is something that can be worked on and learnt!

In this article, we highlight what the signs of poor communication in a relationship are and why they might be damaging.

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Why is it important to communicate well in a relationship?

Poor communication can have a dramatic consequence as it can cause people in the relationship to drift apart.

When we do not communicate clearly, it can leave us feeling uncertain about the relationship and, in some instances, rejected.

For example, one person may feel that there isn’t enough time dedicated to them from the other. The other person may hold some work stresses that are causing anxiety. If these issues are not discussed safely and healthily, individuals may continue to fault themselves and the other person in the relationship resulting in many arguments and even a cycle of blame.

Using generalised language

A clear indicator of poor communication is the continuous use of generalised language and statements.

This could be statements such as:

  • ‘You always do …’
  • ‘You never…’
  • ‘Why do you always…’

These types of statements, and the use of critical language, create tension through connotations of inadequacy, blame and resentment towards one another.

Making assumptions

This type of statements also come across as an assumption. It reflects how you personally feel and puts the other person in a box. Instead of helping to understand one another, you are limiting each other’s development to that assumption box.

Furthermore, these statements are not constructive to the relationship. They do not identify a problem in detail, but just cause feelings of ill will. Therefore, it leaves little to resolve and amplifies negative feelings.

Arguing About Events From a Subjective Truth

We all have our own versions and memories of past events. And, we may believe we have these events remembered correctly. However, this may not actually be true.

What is ‘subjective truth’

Subjective truth is your personal truth and memory of a situation. Therefore, ‘facts’ of an event are interpreted through your perspective.

However, if there was a third eye which oversaw all the happenings of a situation from both perspectives involved in the scenario, your subjective truth may not be the absolute truth or ‘fact’. Your version of events may be very different from your partner’s.

There are many parts to one story.

Why talking about experience is more beneficial

Therefore, when one or two people argue about the ‘facts’ of past events, it is only from their subjective truth. Not only is this unreliable, but it also overlooks what the experience was for each person.

Discussing feelings and consequences of the experience is more important than agreeing on the ‘facts’ of what happened because it is less divisive. It allows each person involved in the misunderstanding room for explanation. Talking about the experience instead of the ‘facts’ also decreases the opportunity to blame.

Not recognising one another’s input

Not only is it a sign of poor communication, but it may also be a contributing factor as to why you are communicating poorly.

Not feeling valued is a horrible feeling, whatever the circumstance. However, when your partner devalues you, it can really feel hurtful.

Why Each Other’s Input is Important to Recognise

Taking the time to step back and look at mutual contributions to the relationship and the life you have built together, can allow you to see how both of you invest your efforts as well as be a turning point of appreciation.

Perhaps you didn’t realise:

  • How much each of you provide?
  • How can you support your partner more? How would you like to be supported?
  • How can you work towards preventing negative communication patterns?

There are many avenues which open up for you to reconsider.

Continuous cycles of the same argument

Repeating the same argument is perhaps one of the most prominent examples that issues are not being solved through constructive discussion.

There are many elements which can contribute to this.


As previously mentioned, using blaming language is not a good place to start a discussion. It assumes a person is ‘always like this’ meaning that there is no space for them to demonstrate change or be validated for it; hence, why the same argument might continue.

Not listening

Not being attentive when your partner comes to you with a relationship problem, can be damaging.

Showing that you want to be co-operative may diffuse hostility as it indicates you want to remain as a team.

Acting defensively

However, when communications are poor, defensive reactions may take over.

People who resort to defensive behaviour, perceive other’s actions and opinions as automatically threatening. In some cases, it can come across as denial. Consequently, the same arguments, or patterns of arguing, may continue because of the hostility and rejection directed towards the discussion which involves them.

What is the consequence of defensive reactions

Not only can a defensive reaction demonstrate that you haven’t listened;  more detrimentally, it gives off the impression you are not willing to listen. Therefore you are not in the position to solve the problem as a team which often breaks down communication.

However, this pattern of behaviour needs to be broken in order to improve communications.

If you feel that this article resonated with you and your relationship and you would like to explore further advice through online couples counselling, please contact us, here at Remainly. Through an extensive collection of videos, split into pathways, our experienced counsellor Andreas can help you to learn the skills to improve your communication as a couple, allowing your relationship to prosper.

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