30 Unsexy Communication Habits That Make A Relationship Work

Communication is one of the easiest paths to relationship bliss.

Last updated on Feb 22, 2024

couple smiling on the couch Bbernard / Shutterstock

People often struggle to communicate in a relationship, but that doesn't mean your relationship is over or that you can't work it out. There is a bevy of skills you can employ to learn about properly communicating with your partner so that you both feel heard, understood, and loved.

The way we talk to one another is so important. It has the power to make or break our connection, show our love, or prove that we want to make things work with our partner. If your communication is off in a relationship, chances are good that you're both having some issues with one another.


So how can you make sure you're doing your best to respect your partner and show them how much you care when you speak to them?

Here are 30 communication habits that make a relationship work

1. Listen well

The power of listening in any relationship cannot be emphasized enough. It doesn't mean being silent until it's your turn to talk. And it doesn't mean listening only to the things that help bolster your argument and ignoring the rest.

Rather, it means listening with an open mind and really hearing what your partner is saying. It means considering the possibility of being swayed by your partner's side of things.




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2. Don't be confrontational

If you're angry, it's better to take some time apart to cool down before communicating than it is to take a confrontational approach to your partner. This onlt puts them instantly on the defensive, which is a terrible way to start a conversation.

3. Ask questions

Asking questions is the best way to clear up any confusion you might have about what your partner is really saying. Don't assume what they mean; instead, ask them directly.


4. Validate your partner's feelings

One of the most frustrating dynamics you can have in a relationship is the sense that your partner isn't acknowledging your feelings or taking them seriously. You don't have to agree, but you should accept the way your partner feels. Otherwise, the trust begins to erode.

5. Don't take cheap shots

It's normal to argue with your partner, but it's not healthy to hit below the belt. Resist the urge to be vindictive or push buttons. It's not just a completely ineffective communication strategy, but it can breed resentment over time. Some jabs are impossible to ever fully recover from.

6. Don't sugarcoat things

If something's bothering you, say so. If something isn't working, be frank about it.

Things won't always be palatable. You may be trying to keep the peace, but by holding back, you're doing yourself, your partner, and your relationship a disservice. Inauthentic communication breeds inauthentic results and chips away at trust.


30 Communication Habits That Make A Relationship WorkPhoto: Klaus Nielsen / Pexels

7. Use engaged body language

When you check your phone or tidy up while your partner is talking, you're communicating that you're distracted — or worse, that you don't think your partner is worth your undivided attention. Put away all diversions, sit still and focus on your partner.

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8. Pay attention to your partner's body language

Recognizing nonverbal cues — like arms across the body that show your partner is closed off or leaning in, which shows they are open and doesn't feel threatened — will help your rapport enormously. So, pay attention to what your partner's body is showing you.

9. Stay on topic

If you're discussing summer vacation plans, don't use this as an opportunity to discuss when you're going to get around to putting the air conditioners back in the windows this year. Stick with one plan at a time, or you could overwhelm your partner.

10. Don't reopen old wounds

"And another thing..." is one of the most dangerous phrases in the history of communication. Once you decide you're going to put an issue to rest, move on and don't look back. Forgiveness heals, but rehashing the past means you'll never get to that point.

11. Be transparent

Radical honesty — revealing everything you're feeling, thinking, and doing at all times — may be a bit extreme for most people, but at its heart it's an effective strategy.


The more you share with your partner — even the day-to-day stuff like what time you'll be home and which train you're taking — the closer your partner feels to you and the more trust is built.



12. Consider your tone

Sometimes it actually has less to do with what you're saying and more to do with how you say it. Even something your partner doesn't want to hear can be easier to take when said in an effective tone. So be mindful of the way in which you speak.

13. Choose your words with care

You can't unring a bell, as they say. Once something is out, it's out. So before you speak, think, "Am I really saying what I mean, and am I hurting anyone by saying it this way?"


14. Repeat back what you're hearing

Miscommunications happen when one person says something and the other person hears something totally different. Eradicate confusion by confirming what you thought you heard your partner saying. Use this strategy only when you need it, so as not to come off as condescending.

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15. Make sure your actions match your words

"Don't tell me, show me." That's the cornerstone of relationships. Because you or your partner may say something, but then do the opposite or not follow through with promises or plans.

16. Don't bottle anything up

Your feelings are like steam: if you let them all build up, they'll create enough pressure to make you blow your top. Instead, let the steam out little by little. One of the most important communication habits that make a relationship work is the ability to be open about how you feel, after all.


17. Don't be so quick to place blame

Finger-pointing sabotages the team dynamic that a successful relationship thrives on. Consider the roles that you, your partner, and your circumstances play; in any given situation, it's almost always a combination of the three.



18. Express appreciation

Don't get into the habit of communicating only when there are problems. Communicate positive things too, like appreciation for something your partner did. Make it a habit to express your gratitude on a daily basis.

19. Learn to compromise

If you're not willing to give and take, negotiations will break down pretty swiftly. Swallow your pride once in a while. Because compromise is essential in any marriage that's built to last.


20. Say what you mean

Try not to dance around the point. If you're worried about things escalating, find a graceful way to say exactly what you mean. Using "I feel..." sentences is a good place to start.

21. Let your partner finish

Don't interrupt — remember, you should be listening anyway! Let your partner finish their thought without butting in with your own comments.

22. Don't shut down

It isn't fair to your partner or yourself for you to throw in the towel on communication. If you need a few hours or a few days to clear your head before talking about something, express that directly. It will help you in the long run.

30 Communication Habits That Make A Relationship WorkPhoto: Timur Weber / Pexels


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23. Be vulnerable

Expose weaknesses and insecurities if you feel them. It can be hard, but being vulnerable will ultimately bring you closer than you were before.

24. Use more sentences that begin with 'I' and fewer that begin with 'you'

As mentioned previously, the best way to avoid placing blame or letting communication spiral out is to stick with what you, yourself, are feeling or thinking. No one can (or should) argue with that.


25. Talk face to face

Texts or emails are ubiquitous these days, but one thing they're not, is a suitable replacement for in-person communication. Not even a phone call or FaceTime can duplicate that dynamic.

26. Don't assume

There's a reason a dialogue requires two people. You can never know what your partner is truly feeling unless they tell you. Rather than assume what someone is saying or thinking, it's best to just ask them.

27. Don't bark orders

One-sided communication is a fallacy; rather, it takes two to communicate. But instead of bossing your partner around, it's important to openly talk with them, without expecting a grand gesture in return.

28. Don't manipulate emotions

It's fine to tell your partner they are making you feel upset, but it's another thing altogether to withhold your love during an argument or until you get your way. It's extremely manipulative to do this, and is the opposite of the communication habits that make a relationship work.




29. Respect your partner's views

Like validating her feelings, respecting your partner's opinions or views — yes, even political ones — is paramount to healthy communication. Again, you don't have to agree, you just have to acknowledge and respect it.

30 Say 'I love you'

These three words wield an enormous amount of power. Yes, there are ways to say it without saying it, but the hands-down most effective approach is to just say it. (And mean it!)

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