Communicating and understanding each other; You’d Think We’d Have it Figured Out By Now!
Lance and Misty have been dating exclusively for two years. For the past year or so, they’ve talked about marriage in vague terms such as, “Wouldn’t you just love to have a house in the country?” or “I’ve always wanted a big family and a dog and a cat,” but no firm details have been set. Misty knows in her heart that she and Lance are meant to be together, but she wants Lance to make the first move, so she hints around about being engaged. For instance, when they are walking by a jewelry store, she stops at the window display and says to Lance, “Aren’t those rings beautiful?” When they discuss their friends Alex and Cindy, Misty says, “They’re so lucky to be getting married this summer. Don’t you think the beach is a beautiful place to get married?”
Valentine’s Day is coming up in a few weeks, and Misty is convinced that Lance is going to show up with a ring. Although Lance is not opposed to marriage, and figures he and Misty will “tie the knot” at some point, the thought hasn’t even occurred to him to get Misty a ring for Valentine’s Day. Instead, he thought he’d surprise her by taking her to that trendy new Italian restaurant that just opened downtown. She’s been wanting to try it, and they can share a nice bottle of wine.
Valentine’s Day arrives, and Lance and Misty arrive at the restaurant. Misty is thrilled because she is convinced that her ring is going to show up in her wine glass or napkin. Of course, no ring shows up. Misty starts getting tense. “Maybe,” she tells herself, “he just doesn’t want to make a scene in public. He’ll probably want to take a little walk afterward and pop the question then.” After dinner Lance announces, “Let’s get back. There’s a great movie on tonight I’ve been wanting to see.” Misty’s mood darkens further. “Maybe the ring will be in the popcorn bowl,” she tells herself desperately. No ring shows up. Misty is furious. Her mood soon becomes apparent to Lance.
“What’s the matter?” Lance asks, but Misty is too angry by now to tell him. “Well, if everything’s okay then,” he says, “I guess I’ll get going now.” He awkwardly pecks her on the cheek and leaves.
Misty is in tears. “He should know what I want!” she fumes to herself. “Obviously, he’s never going to pop the question. Tomorrow I’m going to send him a ‘Dear John’ letter and move on! I’m just wasting my life with a man who is never going to marry me!”
Mind Reading is Not a Communication Skill!
Communication is the way we convey our hopes, expectations, feelings, dreams and fears. They are expressed through our words, our facial expressions, our body language, our tone of voice and our mannerisms. Successful dating relies heavily on good communication skills. Communicating effectively during the dating process will help lead you to your goal of having a successful relationship. When you practice your communication skills while dating, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining your relationship once you find your “soul mate.” A wise person once said “ To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.”
If you find that your dates and relationships are often failing because your expectations are not being met, it’s time to ask yourself how well you’ve been doing at conveying your expectations. If you are not upfront about what you want from the relationship, you only set yourself up for disappointment when your partner fails to provide it. It doesn’t mean that your partner doesn’t want to meet your expectations; it just means that he might not have been aware of them in the first place. By learning how to communicate effectively, you’ll have a much better chance of “hooking” and keeping the person who is right for you.
Lance and Misty are a perfect example of a couple who belong together but are about to throw away a good relationship due to poor communication. Both of them want marriage as a long-term goal, but they failed to discuss it openly. Misty threw around vague hints and expected Lance to read her thoughts, while Lance just tabled the discussion and figured the issue would resolve itself somehow in the future. Lance and Misty had an otherwise good relationship and plenty in common, but their lack of communication on this important issue caused a rift between them.
Unfortunately, people can rarely read each other’s minds, yet how often do we expect our partner to do just that? Yes, your partner should be familiar with your likes and dislikes after you have dated for a few years, but that doesn’t make him a mind reader. You still need to express your needs clearly and often. Poor communication is often characterized by the use of threats, the “silent treatment,” yelling and recriminations. If you and your partner find yourselves using these “techniques” a lot, it’s the first sign that your communication skills have broken down (or were never present in the first place!). Communication is crucial at all stages of a relationship, whether you are going on a first date or have been together for many years. Anytime communications break down, the relationship is in danger of failing.
Get out your journal and list five ways that you can communicate more clearly when in a relationship or on a date. Put them into practice and let me know how it goes!