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What are the signs of poor communication in a relationship?

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The signs of poor communication in a relationship are numerous, but a lack of emotional intimacy occurs first. If you can't communicate effectively, conversations between you and your partner may feel heated and counterproductive.

You'll find yourself arguing more than sharing. Couples may sometimes find themselves in salty disagreements, which is normal to a certain extent.

Relationships are based on emotions that fluctuate, so disputes and quarrels happen occasionally. However, if these quarrels happen often and poor communication between you and your partner remains obstructed in this way for a long time, then you are in a bit of a pickle.

Prolonged or frequent arguments in a relationship indicate an overall lack of good communication. Luckily, communication is a skill that you can master with a bit of effort.

This article will help you become more fluent in the language of love by understanding how to maintain a healthy relationship through proper communication. So let's dive right in!

A couple stood in the orange sunset

Why is it important to communicate well in a relationship?

Healthy communication means healthy relationships, theoretically and practically. Bad communication means that both partners are at a lower level of mutual understanding than at the start of their relationship.

Let's face it; no one wants to have a conversation with a brick wall.

Lack of communication or the wrong type of communication will lead your relationship down a dark path of estrangement. By the end of this resentment-filled journey, you won't even recognise the person in front of you.

There won't be any emotional intimacy or mutual goals left for you to pursue, but why?

Humans are dynamic beings with changing needs and values. When we stop communicating with people, we stop learning about them and their needs. Eventually, you get so out of touch that you barely have a place in their lives and vice versa.

As a result, you and your partner will both feel neglected and rejected.

Initially, you may have valid reasons for the lack of communication, like wariness, work-related stress, etc. However, you have to understand your partner isn't a seer or clairvoyant.

You have to share your problems with them to keep them in the loop. Communication is the only way to convey your feelings. How else would your partner know what's on your mind?

You don't want emotions to build up in your body like a ticking time bomb and destroy you internally, and you don't want that to happen to your partner either. So effective communication is the only way to remain emotionally in touch with your partner.

Signs of poor communication

Before discussing healthy communication and its establishment, you should know what needs to be avoided while communicating with your partner.

There are a few recurring signs of poor communication in a relationship you may or may not relate to.

Nevertheless, if you experience these things in your relationship, you have communication issues that need to be fixed. Consequently, these are also things describing poor communication.

Using generalised language

Don't you hate it when past mistakes and generalised language are used to describe your actions? How would you feel if a single bad action was used to describe you instead of the thousand good deeds you've done?

You would feel horrible, like the rest of us. Any average human would be outraged and ready for conflict. The same happens when you use generalised statements in a relationship. These statements could be any of the following:

  • 'You always do ….'
  • 'You never…'
  • 'Why do you always….'

The problem with these statements is the tone of overgeneralised blame. You ignore everything about your partner and convey feelings of resentment, similar to instances of passive-aggressive communication. If your partner uses this tone,  have a conversation to re-establish healthy contact. Find out the root cause instead of going towards conflict.

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. Read more about why you should never make assumptions about your partners feelings.

Read more about why you should never assume your partners feelings.

Arguing about events from a subjective truth

Numerous communication issues are conflicted about subjective versions of the same event from the past. For example, you might remember something differently from how your partner remembers it. 

There is nothing wrong with that because every human being has a separate memory and perspective.

Arguing about a past event because both of you remember it differently is unnecessary. You may view a particular memory as a fact, but your partner may not because of their perspective. 

Instead of arguing and resorting to condescending retorts, find common ground in the situation and try understanding your partner's version.

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.

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Not recognising one another’s input

We keep bringing this up, but relationships only work when both partners are willing to communicate and work together.

Communication problems arise when you refuse to listen to their input about what needs to happen in your relationship.

Therefore, it's essential to listen to the signs of poor communication in a relationship.

Your lack of appreciation for their efforts will hurt them.

They will feel unwanted and hurt, further breaking their resolve and driving them away.

Feeling unwanted is the worst emotion in the world. Please appreciate your partner.

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.

When you recognise the effort your partner makes, you'll also learn to appreciate them.

Perhaps you didn't realise:

  • How much does each of you provide?
  • How can you support your partner more? 
  • How would you like to be supported?
  • Are you making enough effort to resolve your communication problems?

Before arguing with your significant other, ask yourself these questions at least once.

Continuous cycles of the same argument

The worst sign of poor communication in a relationship is repetitive arguments. Over time you feel that your personal life is becoming stagnant.

You may feel that you are wallowing in a pit of sand because each conversation is the same as the preceding one.

Most of these repetitive quarrels are tied to common elements found in most negative conversations.

The only way to break free of the argumentative cycle is to rid yourself of these elements.


The infamous blame game has ruined thousands of beautiful relationships, don't let it ruin yours. If your partner complains about the relationship, don't get defensive.

Instead, keep your own emotions in check and analyse your relationship.

Blaming your partner or saying it's 'always like this' will put you in a repetitive loop, which will only lead to poor communication and increased resentment.

Self-awareness and a desire to understand your partner's mind are vital for a healthy conversation.

Not listening

A relationship works when both partners work together and communicate. If one person goes to the other with their concerns and gives them the cold shoulder, things will go wrong.

Talk to your partner to make them feel heard. You should also 'listen' or notice your partner's behaviour because body language can speak volumes about their emotional state.

If you feel your partner is hesitant about something, talk to them. Then, you can watch the game of football after.

Your partner comes first!

Acting defensively

People associate defensive behaviour with guilt, which is not true. People who resort to defensive behaviour perceive others' actions and opinions as automatically threatening. 

So, instinctively, you try to shift the attention from yourself to them.

Your partner will find these defensive manoeuvres infuriating since they generally mean that you aren't willing to listen. 

You have to understand that defensive actions will only result in more confusion. Focus on consciously creating a safe environment for healthy communication.

Nat Turner beautifully explained this in his quote:

"Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity."

Explain and communicate with your partner about feeling threatened or uncomfortable with the conversation. 

Sometimes only body language isn't enough to communicate your intentions or feelings.

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.

This impression could result in serious communication issues in your relationship.

You may find yourself in more conflicts fuelled by anger. Please break this pattern of behaviour and learn to communicate for a successful relationship.


There are hundreds of interlinked but different things that could be branded as signs of poor communication. 

However, you may not be perceptive enough to notice them. In addition, your partner may not be good at communicating with them. 

Therefore, the only true way to know what's bothering your significant other is to ask and communicate. 

If you feel that this article resonated with you and your relationship and you would like to explore further advice through online couples counselling. Click the registration button in the top left to see your next steps.

Through an extensive collection of videos, split into pathways, our experienced counsellor Andreas can help you to learn the skills to improve poor communication as a couple, allowing your relationship to prosper.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bad Communication

How can you fix the lack of communication?

Communication is the apparent key to solving this problem. Talk to your partner more about anything that could bring you closer. 

Spend more time with your beloved, doing something they like, for example watching a movie. 

Talk with them about how their day has been or how they mean the world to you. A simple gesture can go a long way!

Should I press my partner if they don't want to talk about something personal?

Not everything is a sign of poor communication. For example, if your partner doesn't want to talk about something personal, give them some personal space. 

Learn to respect their boundaries because relationships are all about that. Give them security, and tell them that you won't approach the subject again.


If you feel this article resonated with you and your relationship and would like to explore more 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 improve your communication as a couple, allowing your relationship to prosper.

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