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If you’ve found yourself here, reading this, then you’re probably struggling in your relationship.
You love your partner, but you don’t feel heard or respected by them.
Communication is at the core of any relationship. Without effective communication the foundations of a relationship will be slowly worn away.
But it doesn’t matter how well you communicate with your partner if they’re not listening to you when you speak to them.
It has to be a two-way street, with both of you being honest about your feelings and listening to and understanding one another.
To get started, let’s consider some of the signs that your partner isn’t listening to you and giving you the attention and respect you deserve and need.
Then we’ll talk about how you can deal with this problem in your relationship and make sure your partner hears you.
11 signs you aren’t being heard in your relationship.
1. They dominate all your conversations.
Your partner dominates every single conversation the two of you have. They’re the one guiding the conversation and they do most of the talking.
They’re always the one that sets the topic of conversation, and the things and issues you try to bring up get batted away as unimportant.
2. They never ask you questions.
They rarely ask you questions about your day or your life or ask for your opinion on something.
They don’t seem to be particularly interested in what you have to say or what you do with your time.
3. They never listen to your answers.
Maybe they do ask you questions because they feel like they should, but they don’t really listen to the answers you give them.
They see asking questions as a kind of tick-box exercise and never bother to delve deeper and ask you more about your feelings or experiences.
4. Your opinions don’t seem to count.
You might offer your opinion on things, but it never seems to be taken into account or taken seriously. What they decide goes, and they don’t bother to consult you when they’re stuck on something.
5. They always get their way.
You’re not quite sure how it happens, but they always seem to win. You always seem to end up doing things their way, no matter what.
6. You’re always the one to compromise.
Healthy compromise is a big part of any relationship, but to be healthy, it should go both ways.
In your case, you’re the only one who seems to compromise on anything. You always seem to be adapting to them and accepting alternatives to make them happy. They never do the same for you.
7. You’re always the problem.
When you try to discuss an issue with them, they have an uncanny ability to flip it around and somehow make it all your fault.
8. They invalidate your feelings.
When you try to express your feelings to them, they always seem to invalidate them, making them seem trivial. They tell you that you’re overacting or that your feelings are unjustified.
9. They seem to listen but never act.
They put on a show of listening to what you have to say and considering your opinions, but they never act on them. They tell you they’re going to change or that they understand, but their behavior always seems to remain just the same.
You might think you’ve been heard, but then find that the same problems come up again and again and they haven’t taken your words into account at all.
10. They leave the room when you try to talk.
When you try to bring up serious topics, rather than just checking out mentally they might just physically leave and refuse to engage with you.
11. It always ends in a fight.
When you try to speak to them about something serious, it always turns into a fight rather than a civil conversation.
Why are they behaving this way?
Okay, so that list makes it sound like someone who’s a bad listener is a terrible person and a terrible partner. And that’s not the case.
They might not be intentionally ignoring your opinions and not listening to you, and it’s important to come at this problem from a place of compassion if you want to solve it.
It might be their defense mechanism, and it might be because they struggle to handle emotions in general.
You might be picking your moments for speaking to them about important things badly, when they’re busy, in a rush, or stressed.
They may have grown up with over-accommodating parents who always let them have their way and this has guided their approach to relationships.
Perhaps, sadly, they don’t love you anymore and don’t see the point in putting the effort into listening to you and your feelings.
Or maybe they are feeling hurt by something you have done (or not done) and they are punishing you by not paying attention to you. It’s a classic passive-aggressive approach to relationship troubles – rather than talking things out, they just give you the cold shoulder and make decisions that they want or favor rather than consult you.
8 ways to make yourself heard in a relationship.
A lack of communication in a relationship can easily spiral out of control, so it’s great that you’re reading this. You’re aware of the problem and that’s the first step toward solving.
1. Speak to a therapist.
A couple’s therapist could be the answer for helping the two of you properly listen to one another and understand each other without getting angry.
They can provide a safe space for you both to communicate and help guide the conversation so that the most important issues get addressed.
Communication is so important in a relationship, but it’s also a skill that many people struggle with, especially when emotions run high.
If you and your partner aren’t great at expressing your thoughts or concerns with each other, don’t give up on the relationship without seeking professional support first.
We recommend going to Relationship Hero and connecting with one of their relationship experts. It’s great value and it’s all done from the comfort of your own home over video or phone call.
2. Ask your partner if it’s a good time to talk.
Rather than just bringing things up out of the blue, ask your partner if it’s a good time for the two of you to talk. That way they know that they need to give you their full attention.
If it’s not a good time, be patient and leave it for later, scheduling a time that’s good and sticking to it.
When you do come to talk, pay attention to your surroundings. Is the TV on? Are they on their phone? Eating? Hungry? Tired? Are there other people around?
Distractions will detract from the conversation you’re about to have, so you need to minimize them, and if it’s not a good time, be patient.
3. Be concise.
When you do sit down for a talk, don’t beat around the bush. If they struggle to listen, then you need to communicate what you have to say well.
Be concise and focus on the most important things rather than getting distracted and going off topic.
If it helps, jot down a few bullet points before you have the conversation and address each one in turn with as few words as possible.
But don’t forget to pause now and then – possibly between points – to give them a chance to speak. This has to be a two-way conversation if it is to achieve what you want it to achieve.
4. Use “I” statements.
If you want to be heard by your partner, it’s important to express you views or concerns in a way that focuses on you rather than them.
If they are doing something that upsets you, it is tempting to focus on everything they are doing wrong. Instead, try to keep reiterating what it is you would like them to do.
Rather than, “You never show me any affection,” be clear what sort of affection you’d like them to show: “I’d like it if we held hands when walking together.”
The former doesn’t really help them adjust their behavior, leaving you feeling unheard. But the latter is crystal clear and something they can more easily take on board.
When it comes to joint decisions, “I” statements can avoid any confusion.
If you are discussing dinner plans for your anniversary, for example, saying “How about that little Italian place?” gives the impression that you’re unsure and that they might have a better suggestion.
Instead, be clear and say, “I think we should go to the Italian place on the corner, it’s my favorite.”
This makes your wishes clear and your partner more likely to listen to you.
5. Focus on your listening skills.
Do you get angry or resentful or defensive when you speak to your partner? That’s all going to impact your ability to listen, and will mean you struggle to remember what gets said.
So if you want to be more heard, you need to be focused on listening to your partner, not just on getting your point across or on what’s going on inside your head.
Pay attention to their posture and body language and notice how they’re reacting to what you’re saying. Notice what they say and what they don’t say.
Try to be totally present and stay calm so you can communicate effectively.
6. Get them to repeat back the most important points.
A good tactic for making sure you’ve been heard accurately is to get them to repeat back what you’ve said to them when you’re having an important talk. That way you’ve guaranteed that they’ve listened to you and understood you.
You can then invite them to express their feelings on the topic and repeat what they have to say back to them.
This can be tricky to do without getting defensive, so if it doesn’t work then don’t keep going with it. But it can be a great way of making sure that the other person is properly paying attention to what you’re saying.
7. Watch out for signs of resistance.
If you notice that they’re resistant to what you’re saying then your conversation is futile as it just turns into a power struggle.
The signs of this include arguing, dismissing, defensiveness, interrupting, denying, blaming, minimizing, not answering you, not paying attention, or trying to sidetrack the situation.
When you notice these signs, summon your patience and don’t rise to them. Always bring the conversation back to the point and don’t let them rile you.
8. Be firm on things that matter.
If you really want to have your voice heard and your opinion listened to when it comes to making important decisions, you have to stand firm and make sure that they take what you say into consideration.
You might still have to find middle ground because that’s often a fair way to do things.
But don’t allow them to sway you to their way of thinking by using guilt trips or sheer stubbornness. You might think that harmony is better than being heard, but it’s not. Sometimes a little conflict is necessary to ensure a more balanced relationship.
The only small caveat here is if you believe that speaking up would put you at risk of verbal or physical abuse. In such a case, it’s better to quietly seek the help of a professional to get out of that situation and relationship for good.
Still not sure what to do about not feeling heard in your relationship? If you’d like outside help to try to communicate with your partner, it’s worth consulting a relationship counselor. They can help bridge the divide and make sure both of you are heard. So why not chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you work on your communication. Simply click here to chat.
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