Why Open Communication Is So Important For Relationships & Intimacy

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Why Open Communication Is So Important For Relationships & Intimacy

You thought your partner loved being caressed in the kitchen, but they don't. They thought you liked their mother-in-law's quiche, but they were wrong.

Misunderstandings happen to the best of us  and cause problems, which explains why communication is so important in relationships for both emotional and physical intimacy.

No matter who you are or how good your rapport is, there are times when communication mishaps occur. And the culprit  might just be Hollywood.

RELATED: Why A Lack Of Communication In Marriage Is A Death Sentence For Love & Intimacy

Romantic comedies get it all wrong. 

Romantic comedies often showcase a good partnership as one where you instantly understand each other's needs, no talk necessary.

The love interest always knows what she needs to hear. The fiancé always knows exactly what ring to buy. The wife always knows what to do to get him in the mood for sex.

In the world of heterosexual romance, Hollywood tells us that couples who are meant to be are those who know what the other is thinking . All. The. Time.

According to this belief, relationships where needs are met with great ease are the ones that tell you you've found the right person.

That if they really loved you, they'd know you need alone time and not a hug whenever you're sad. That if they really cared about you, they'd somehow know that comments about your body during sex make you uncomfortable, but hearing them when you're dressed up is another story.

Hollywood wants to sell movies , but along with their movies come unattainable romantic ideals. Without meaning to, this sells us the idea of "good" relationships and marriages as those without communication of wants, needs, or boundaries.

Communication is more important in your relationship than you realize.

Outside of Hollywood romance exists the normal relationship. The one where couples fight, wear old underwear, and have issues with sexual arousal and orgasm difficulties.

Real life might not be as glamorous ,  but it's filled to the brim with real feelings and real, heartfelt connection  — if you communicate well.

Learning how to get your boundaries, needs, and wants across is key. 

Boundaries are your own personal non-negotiables. They're ideas of what is OK and not OK in a relationship.

Examples of boundaries might be...

Sharing of household chores.

People have different ideas of cleanliness and keeping a home tidy. In a heterosexual relationship, the responsibility of tidying up is often silently delegated to the woman.

A good example of why communication is so important in relationships is because it helps you avoid having the same argument over and over again. This can be done by telling your partner that sharing this responsibility is one of your non-negotiables.

Being sexually exclusive.

Expecting your partner to not sleep with anyone else isn't unusual. However, this boundary needs to be established. By doing this, you're making sure you both want the same things, so you don't commit to a relationship that won't work out in the long run.

RELATED: 5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Active Listening Skills ( & Build Better Relationships)

Needs are any and all things you feel are necessary for your well-being in relationships. Compared to non-negotiables, these aren't always set in stone.

Examples of needs you need to talk about might be...

Getting verbal compliments.

People like to receive love in different ways. For some, hearing that they're beautiful or funny, instead of understanding it through their partner's gestures or gifts, is important.

If words of appreciation are an important need. Use your own words and let them know!

Spending time alone with friends.

You may prefer to spend all of your time with your partner , which includes seeing your friends together. Others want their space, especially as it pertains to their friendships.

Letting your partner know your needs will help them feel less insecure and can eliminate potential arguments before they happen. When you're both on the same page, it will help you understand what the other needs without them having to spell it out or feel defensive.

Wants are the "extras" in relationships — the things you'd like to have but that aren't non-negotiables or crucial to your sense of well-being. You can think of them as "nice-to-haves."

Examples of wants might be..

Having sex regularly.

Sex isn't as important to everybody. But if it's one of the primary ways to keep a relationship alive in your opinion, it's a good idea to express this want to your partner.

Letting them know about it doesn't guarantee it will happen more often , but you'll stand a better chance of having more sex than you would not telling them at all.

Engaging in hobbies together.

Some people prefer to do things on their own, whereas others like to do things together. If you feel like it would be nice to do something as a pair — play golf, take an art class, join a choir, or do some cooking together —  let your partner know.

Communication breeds intimacy.

Your relationship and marriage isn't like the great romances of Hollywood. You can't know what the other person wants or needs without talking about it  — at least not all the time, throughout the course of your relationship.

This is a good thing.

Communication is the backbone of a good relationship.

It's through communicating with one another that you build emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy.

In order to get what you want, need, and absolutely do not want or need, you have to communicate it. It doesn't mean it's always easy or fun at the moment , but it's almost always worth it.

RELATED: 7 Things Crazy-Happy Couples Do In Order To Stay In Love

Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and writer with a Master of Science in Sexology. She’s been featured in Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, The Tab, Glamour, Sexography, and The Minds Journal. For help with difficult emotions about sex, download her free resource: A Manual For Emotions. Read more on her website about emotions and sex.

This article was originally published at Therapy by Leigh. Reprinted with permission from the author.