6 Rules For Open & Honest Communication With The Person You Love

Written by Scott Stabile
Expert review by Kristina Hallett, PhD ABPP
Board-certified Clinical Psychologist
Kristina Hallett, PhD ABPP is a board-certified clinical psychologist, Director of Clinical Training at Bay Path University, and an associate professor in Graduate Psychology. She has a private practice in Suffield, Connecticut, and over 25 years of experience providing psychotherapy, consultation, and supervision to medical and mental health professionals in addressing relationship and major life issues with a specialty in complex trauma and dissociative disorders.

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy

Communication takes work. A lot of it. How often have you walked away from a conversation with your partner feeling angry, disappointed, or misunderstood? How often have you said things you regretted, things that hurt your partner unnecessarily? How often have you wished for more open and honest communication with the person you love the most?

You're not alone. And you can change things.

Good communication is as important as it is difficult, especially in committed relationships. When couples discuss serious or provocative issues, one or both involved can often feel frustrated with the conversation and the outcome. In the heat of the moment, we tend to forget how to be kind, patient, and loving. It's time to remember.

Let's transform the way we talk to one another!

Here are some suggestions to help you become a better communicator with your partner, which will absolutely improve the communication in your relationship. You can't control how he or she communicates, but you can serve as an example and an inspiration.

1. Be timely.

Important conversations shouldn't be put off, but neither should they be initiated at awkward or inappropriate times. Don't bring up your bedroom issues at the beginning of the Super Bowl or launch into a serious talk on your way to a holiday party. Make a plan to speak if you have to. Set aside a specific time so that neither of you is taken aback by the discussion. And never start a conversation when you're too angry to see your partner as anyone other than a terrible devil-person. Wait until you've calmed down a bit.

2. Be flexible.

Conversations—especially the deep ones—rarely go smoothly and hardly ever go as planned. They twist and turn, a tangent here, an unexpected comment there. Don't be rigid when you're talking with your partner. The more attached you are to how the conversation should play out, the more disappointed you'll be by how it does.

Move with the dialogue, bend with it, be in the moment with what's happening between the two of you. You can still share what it is you need to share, but you may end up having to do it differently than you'd planned. And that's OK.

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3. Be patient.

Have you ever struggled to express yourself? Labored over the perfect words? We all have. Nobody communicates perfectly. It's important to be patient with your partner as they work to express themselves. Don't plan your responses before they've finished sharing their perspectives. Listen to what they're saying, with openness and patience.

4. Be intuitive.

We've all been misunderstood, and it never feels good. Think of all the times what you said didn't match how you felt. There are more than words at play when you talk with your partner. Energy underlies everything being said. Use your intuition to tune into it. It's incredibly important—especially if you're with someone who struggles with communication—to listen with your heart even more than your mind. Don't just focus on the words, but feel the energy behind them.

This is not an excuse for your mind to twist your partner's words and intentions. It's an opportunity for your heart to realize the truth of them.

5. Be accepting.

It's impossible to communicate with love and clarity when you're filled with judgment. Find acceptance for your partner—no matter what's going on—and engage from this place. When we feel judged, we either get defensive or shut down, neither of which encourages open dialogue. When we let our partners know we accept them, whether with words or energy, we invite them to reveal themselves in a more vulnerable and honest way.

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6. Be honest.

Probably the most important thing you can bring to your communication with your partner is honesty. If what you're saying isn't true, then nothing real is being shared. Speak your truth, as much as you are able, with clarity, love, and gentleness. When you dodge the truth out of fear for how it will be received, you only build bigger walls in your relationship. When you communicate your truth from a place of love, you're always reinforcing the strength of your connection with your partner, no matter the response. You have to be honest.

Communication can make or break a relationship. The more open and connected the dialogue, the healthier a relationship tends to be. Take responsibility. You are in control of the way you communicate with your partner. Make a conscious effort to bring as many of the above intentions into your communications, and you're bound to see and feel some very positive changes in your relationship.

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