Relationships can be a rollercoaster ride, full of highs and lows. Communication between partners is essential for a relationship to flourish - but it’s not just about what we say, but how we say it that can make or break an intimate relationship. 1 2
Fortunately, communication styles can be learned and improved upon, which can help foster intimacy in a relationship. Let’s explore why the four types of communication are essential for building strong connections with your significant other.
Want more fulfilling relationships in your life? Discover how communication & attachment styles shape your relationship dynamics.
Understanding communication styles
The four communication styles are: aggressive, passive-aggressive, assertive, and passive. Each communication type has characteristics that can directly affect a relationship’s intimacy.
Aggressive communicators tend to be competitive and dominant and often use intimidation tactics to get their point across. This can make the other person in the relationship feel disrespected, invalidated, and unheard.
These individuals often communicate in a hostile manner, likely making the other person feel unsafe and emotionally disconnected. As a result, this communication style can be destructive for a relationship as it does not foster trust or intimacy between partners. 3
Passive communicators often avoid direct communication, which can frustrate the other person in the relationship. People with passive communication may have difficulty healthily expressing their emotions and feelings.
Discover the art of balancing communication styles in relationships. Improve connections with insights from our expert guide.
People like this may feel inferior or powerless and will likely be taken advantage of in the relationship. This can lead to feelings of resentment, which is damaging to intimacy between partners.
As the name suggests, passive-aggressive communicators express themselves in a passive and aggressive way. This communication style often involves sarcasm, nitpicking, and subtly putting down the other person.
This type of communication can be highly destructive to a relationship as it does not show respect or consideration toward the other person. In turn, this damages the relationship’s trust and intimacy.
Assertive communication is a healthy way of expressing emotions and feelings that involves taking responsibility for your own needs and being respectful towards other people’s needs.
When you’re assertive, you communicate in a direct and honest manner without being hostile or passive. This allows both parties to feel heard and understood, fostering intimacy within the relationship.
Individuals like these tend to be more cooperative and willing to compromise when needed. All of these qualities can help build trust and intimacy between partners. 4
These four communication styles can have a significant impact on the success of a relationship, as well as its level of intimacy. Understanding and knowing which type of communication is most effective for your partner is key to fostering strong relationships and lasting connections.
Effective communication is key! Explore the four styles in relationships and master the art of adapting for healthier connections.
Impact of communication on intimacy
Intimacy is a crucial part of any relationship, and communication plays a critical role in developing it. When we communicate effectively with our partners, not only are we able to express our needs, but we also understand each other better.
Here’s how different communication styles can impact the level of intimacy in a relationship:
Stonewalling is a type of passive communication that happens when one partner expresses their feelings to the others, but instead of engaging in dialogue, the other person shuts down and withdraws emotionally.
This can lead to feelings of loneliness and abandonment which can damage a relationship’s level of intimacy. It also leads to disconnection between partners as they are unable to communicate effectively with each other.
2. Verbal aggression
Aggressive communication often involves much hostility, which can damage a relationship. When one partner verbally attacks the other, it can leave them feeling disrespected and unheard, leading to resentment and anger.
Over time, this type of communication can break down the trust between partners and damage the intimacy in the relationship. Because there are a lot of unexpressed emotions and feelings, the partners are less likely to be open with each other, which can further hinder a relationship’s intimacy. 5
3. Criticism and blame games
While criticism can be helpful in some cases, too much can harm a relationship. Pointing the finger at your partner or blaming them for their mistakes is not an effective way to communicate and can lead to feelings of insecurity and hurt. 6
This type of communication does nothing to foster intimacy between partners, as it often leads to a breakdown in trust, respect, and understanding. Use constructive criticism instead of blame games when voicing your concerns to your partner, as this will help build a stronger connection between you both. 7
4. Respectful dialogue
Respectful dialogue is the key to fostering intimacy in any relationship. This helps build trust between partners and encourages openness, which is essential for healthy relationships.
When communicating with your partner, always use ‘I’ statements to express your feelings and needs without blaming them or appearing aggressive. Using ‘You’ statements can sound accusatory and lead to a communication breakdown. 8
Discover the power of self-awareness in communication.
5. Open and honest expression of feelings
The best way to foster intimacy in a relationship is to express your feelings openly and honestly. You’re more likely to feel connected and understood when genuine and vulnerable with your partner. 9
That being said, it’s important to ensure the other person in the relationship is comfortable hearing what you have to say. If not, discussing things in a less confrontational setting might be best.
Did you know your attachment style affects relationships? Learn how to identify yours and improve your love life with expert guidance.
6. Active listening
An active listener is important in any relationship; it helps build understanding and respect between partners. Pay attention to what your partner is saying, ask questions, and try to understand their point of view. 10
Knowing that your partner is listening and taking the time to engage in an open dialogue will help foster intimacy in the relationship. This will create a sense of closeness between partners and make them feel more connected. 11
Effective communication is essential for any successful relationship, allowing us to connect deeply with our partners. Discover other communication tips to help you maintain a strong connection with those you love.
The best relationship books to help you survive and thrive
Whether single or in a relationship, it can be tough to navigate the waters of love. These books offer advice and guidance from experts and real-life couples alike, giving you the tools you need to make your relationship work. These books will surely provide some valuable insights if you are looking for a way to spice up your love life or simply learn how to better communicate with your partner.
- Love: The Psychology of Attraction: A Practical Guide to Successful Dating and a Happy Relationship
- Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Navigating Life and Love in the Modern Age
- The Power of Four Bases for Relationships: Can You Hit a Home Run in a Relationship?
- Communication and Relationship: A Guide to Deeper Connection, Trust and Intimacy to Improve Communication and Strengthen Your Bond as a Couple
- Couple's Bucket List: 101 Fun, Engaging Dating Ideas
- ↑ De Netto, P. M., Quek, K. F., & Golden, K. J. (2021). Communication, the Heart of a Relationship: Examining Capitalization, Accommodation, and Self-Construal on Relationship Satisfaction. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 767908. doi.org
- ↑ Crowley, A. K. (2010). The relationship of adult attachment style and interactive conflict styles to marital satisfaction (Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University).
- ↑ Pike, G. R., & Sillars, A. L. (1985). Reciprocity of marital communication. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2(3), 303-324.
- ↑ Assad, K. K., Donnellan, M. B., & Conger, R. D. (2007). Optimism: an enduring resource for romantic relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology, 93(2), 285–297. doi.org
- ↑ Johnson, E. P., & Samp, J. A. (2022). Stoicism and Verbal Aggression in Serial Arguments: The Roles of Perceived Power, Perceived Resolvability, and Frequency of Arguments. Journal of interpersonal violence, 37(13-14), NP11836–NP11856. doi.org
- ↑ Gottman, J. M., & Krokoff, L. J. (1989). Marital interaction and satisfaction: a longitudinal view. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 57(1), 47.
- ↑ Klein, S., Renshaw, K. D., & Curby, T. W. (2016). Emotion Regulation and Perceptions of Hostile and Constructive Criticism in Romantic Relationships. Behavior Therapy, 47(2), 143–154. doi.org
- ↑ Biesen, J. N., Schooler, D. E., & Smith, D. A. (2016). What a difference a pronoun makes: I/We versus you/me and worried couples’ perceptions of their interaction quality. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 35(2), 180-205. doi.org
- ↑ De Netto, P. M., Quek, K. F., & Golden, K. J. (2021, December 13). Communication, the Heart of a Relationship: Examining Capitalization, Accommodation, and Self-Construal on Relationship Satisfaction. Frontiers in Psychology, 12.
- ↑ Weger, H., Bell, G. C., Minei, E., & Robinson, M. J. (2014). The Relative Effectiveness of Active Listening in Initial Interactions. International Journal of Listening, 28(1), 13–31. doi.org