Communication in a relationship is very important. I know. You’re shocked right? What a revelation! Oh, what? You’re not shocked? You’ve heard this a million times? Yeah, well, that doesn’t make it any less true. Communication is one of the most essential ways we connect, and it’s how you keep a healthy relationship, well… healthy. But what exactly does the “right” amount of communication look like? Like, should your boyfriend talk to you every day? Or is a few times a week good enough?
To make things even more complicated, you basically have a boyfriend communication device on you at all times, so it’s easy to just whip out your phone and blow them up. And on the flip side, it’s just as easy to spiral into a panic when you don’t hear from them as often as you would like. I mean, they have a phone, don’t they? It’s been 15 minutes! Why haven’t they replied? They obviously hate you, or are dead, or have pulled an Edward Snowden and defected to Russia. Or just maybe their ringer is off. Anyway…
With this kind of constant access, it’s hard to know what’s considered too little or too much, so we turned to the experts to get some advice on how to recognize what constitutes healthy amounts of communication, and how to fix it when it’s getting out of control.
Should you be talking to your partner every day?
There’s no “right” answer to this question, because there are a lot of factors at play. According to relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, there are three things to consider: The age of the relationship, the comfort of the people in the relationship, and what’s actually happening in your lives at the moment.
“If you’re dating someone and it’s a new relationship, you may be communicating multiple times a day because romance is strong and you’re both chatty, or you may be communicating a few times a week because you’re both playing the field and there’s no real commitment yet,” Masini says. So, take stock of where you’re at in your relationship, and if the amount of communication seems to make sense in that scenario.
You can also pay attention to your communication patterns. Depending on how busy your lives are, you may only have time to chat once or twice a day. Maybe what seems odd on paper actually makes perfect sense in practice. It’s your version of normal.
How do you know if your communication frequency is healthy?
But how do you know if your version of normal is healthy? According to best-selling author and relationship expert Susan Winter, the way to know if your communication is healthy, is if it’s actually working. Are you in sync with your partner, or do you find yourself frequently misunderstanding one another? “Are you and your partner are on the same page as far as values, goals, and day-to-day conflict resolution?” Winter asks. If the answer to any of those questions is no, then you need to work on your communication styles and frequency.
You should also consider your general happiness in the relationship. Masini warns that if communication begins interfering with your ability to conduct your day, that’s a sign that things are seriously amiss. Communication shouldn’t be making it difficult to concentrate at work, or keep you awake at night. If either of those things begins to happen, it’s time to set some boundaries — stat!
Do you need to worry about talking to each other too much?
Not really. Some people just prefer to communicate more than others. The only time this is a problem is if it’s actually interfering with your ability to work, sleep, or live your life normally. Or, if your partner doesn’t have the time or desire to speak as frequently. Don’t take it personally. Different strokes, for different folks.
If it’s not healthy, how do you fix it?
So, you’ve discovered all is not well in Communications-ville. That’s OK, you still have options. According to Masini, the key is to “approach the issue as a relationship problem where you both make adjustments. Then, you try different things, depending on what the problem is and who you both are.” It’s all about finding a balance by adjusting the amount of communication and discussing which topics are off-limits, depending on the form of communication (i.e., over text message or face-to-face). Chances are, with a bit of tweaking, you can find a happy medium.
There are lots of things to try, but if you just don’t seem to be finding that right balance, rather than giving up, call in for reinforcements by seeking some professional help, Winter suggests. “It’s well worth the time and money to learn to preserve the love you’ve created.”
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