As a relationship counsellor and couples therapist, I often work with my clients on improving their communication. Sometimes I find that one or both partners can get into patterns of over-communicating, where they are sharing all of their feelings and thoughts about themselves and their partner. Telling your partner everything you think, feel and want is not necessarily a healthy communication style. Your partner may feel unable to meet your demands and it may seem to them that you are making them responsible for your own reactions and behaviours. You may feel like you are having the same conversations, going over the same arguments with no resolution. Your partner may get emotionally drained by all your communication and start to withdraw or go silent. This may leave you feeling ignored or rejected, and as a result you may chase them even more vigorously with your communication, which makes things worse.
If you are an over-communicator, what can you do to get your needs met and to improve the connection with your partner?
1. Look Inside Yourself
It’s impossible for any relationship to meet all your needs. Getting clear on what you need and what you feel is missing for you is a good place to start. Is it emotional support, financial security, excitement, or stimulation? It’s really up to you to take responsibility for your own needs and your partner is there to support you in that process.
2. Be Respectful
Are you communicating in a way that is respectful to your partner? Being respectful of their time and their own feelings, just as you would a colleague or friend, creates mutual respect. Launching into an emotional list of demands as soon as they walk through the door or late at night when they are trying to go to bed, does neither you nor your partner any courtesy. Choosing a time and a place that suits you both is what is needed to set-up effective communication and a happier relationship.
3. Managing Anxiety
If you are anxious, you may try to feel better by sharing all your feelings and over-talking. This can be anxiety – provoking for your partner and consequently they may shut down or withdraw. This can then create the pattern of you over-communicating and your partner withdrawing. Learning to manage your anxiety is an important skill in relationships and can reduce this pursuit-avoidance communication pattern.
4. Calm Down and Reflect
When talking isn’t solving the problem, be prepared to walk away for the moment and take time out to calm down and reflect. When you are running on adrenalin, it’s hard to see a solution to the problem. Taking some time for yourself can support you in thinking about the issue in a different way and looking at what you are responsible for. What is your part in creating this problem? Stop focussing on your partner and what you think they are doing wrong and start looking at the patterns in your own behaviour. This is where change begins.
Communication problems don’t need to destroy your relationship. Working with a professional counsellor can support you to create a positive communication style, where both partners feel heard, validated and valued. Contact me now to start communicating in an effective and positive way for both you and your partner. Let’s talk before it breaks.