When aspiring writers Rowan and Seth met, things just clicked. On their third date, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they decided to move in together. The pandemic threw a wrench in Rowan and Seth’s finances. In response, Seth started a YouTube channel chronicling their lives. He and Rowan amassed hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Seth enjoyed the creative process and attention.
Rowan hated it all. But, rather than explicitly tell Seth how she felt, Rowan under-communicated. Sometimes, she wondered if Seth was “innocently clueless” or “purposefully ignorant” of her feelings. Resentment grew.
Communication is an essential component of any healthy relationship. It’s how people express their needs, set boundaries, and resolve conflicts. People who under-communicate feel disconnected, ignored, and lonely. Since they don’t discuss problems, conflicts are never resolved; they fester and multiply.
Under-communicators aren’t doomed to failed relationships; they can learn, grow, and change. Here are tips to increase healthy communication to stop under-communicating.
Express Curiosity. Get to know your partner. Ask about their thoughts and feelings on various issues and openly share yours. Ask how they like to be supported, cared for, and loved. Trust that they are telling the truth and respect that their viewpoint is valid, even if it is different or surprising.
Practice Setting Boundaries in Low-Stakes Situations. Relationships are full of mundane decisions. “Let’s watch my favorite movie again. You like it too, right?” Be honest! “I don’t like that movie. I prefer a different one.” When you are used to expressing your wants, needs, and desires about the little things, it is easier to continue that pattern on more important topics.
Create a Conflict Plan. Sometimes, people under-communicate because they don’t know how to handle conflicts. Setting ground rules around disagreements can help. Some ideas include limiting the discussion on any topic to 30 minutes, taking turns sharing feelings, no interrupting, and no phones during the conversation.