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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Fennell

5 Signs You're Dating a Bad Communicator

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

Are you trying to figure out if the person you're dating is the source of frustration and the root of conflict in your relationship? In this article, hear a licensed therapist share her top 5 signs you're dating a bad communicator and what to do about it.

When Dating Starts to Feel Hard

We all know the beginning of a relationship is fun, easy and usually stress-free. Yet, the longer we get to know someone, the more we can become aware of red flags in a person that might cause us to questions things. Communication can be a big one: when we start to wonder if the other person is really able to share life and love us in a way that feels good.

Yet, communication issues are about more than the language spoken between two people dating. When we start to question if the person we are seeing has some bad habits: we have to consider their actions, body language and boundaries they set. Here are 5 signs to dig deeper into knowing if you're dating a bad communicator.

1. They Don't Follow Through with Plans

Often when we are dating someone the goal is to build connection by spending time together. This can be challenging when the person we are dating struggles to follow through. A lot of times when someone is not great at communication they will double book themselves. Not out of bad intent, but often out of guilt or anxiety.

Instead of saying no to one obligation or request: bad communicators just say yes to everyone. This is really an issue of boundaries, which then overflows into poor communication. A lot times this leads to canceling with others last minutes or changing plans without much warning.

This initially might not seem like a big deal, but over time can start to feel disrespectful and frustrating. And those feelings are valid, because over time you start to feel like you aren't a priority or like you don't matter. This can be painful and wears on any relationship.

2. Resistance to Vulnerable Conversations

A dating relationship is about balance: both moments of fun and building a space for intimacy. The eb and flow of these things is up to the couple as they navigate their pace of dating. Yet, overtime there are opportunities to share in vulnerable moments with each other.

This is often when you open up about the past or perhaps difficulties you might be going through in the present. It is a chance to gain support and connection in the relationship. As researcher Brene' Brown teaches about in her TED Talk, vulnerability can be a powerful tool in a relationship.

Yet, if your partner is resistant to these conversations it may indicate a communication barrier. This can feel hurtful and cause distance in any dating relationship. This can be a sign that your partner is fearful of connection and avoidance might be their solution to feeling safe.

3. They Get Angry Instead of Honest

Communication is also about being willing to take responsibility when one party has messed up. This requires owning your part, being willing to apologize, and accept that we all make mistakes. Yet, when you are dating a bad communicator, this can look like defensiveness.

Instead of being honest about the part they might have played in conflict or an argument, a bad communicator might become angry and argumentative. This can trigger increased defensiveness all around, which often leads to more arguing. This type of communication is a vicious cycle and can be hard to break.

Even when you might have the best intentions to be non-defensive in your communication, it can be very challenging to stay that way when you are communicating with a partner who is angry. The urge to react becomes second nature. When only one party is willing to own their part or take responsibility it is also difficult to gain resolution or move forward.

4. Lack of Awareness of Emotions

Often communication is about more than what we think, but also about what we want and need. In a dating relationship it is important to know what we are feeling so we can express our needs and wants with our partner. When emotions have space in our dating life, it allows freedom to be ourselves and share desires.

When a person can't name or identify they feel sad, for example, then they might not know they need a hug in that moment. This kind of lack of emotional awareness might leave your partner struggling to know what they need and want. In a relationship this can create stress when both people aren't clear about expectations.

Dating a partner who struggles with emotional awareness can also prevent them from offering emotional connection and comfort to others. It is challenging to give others what they might need, if they are unable to even do this for themselves. This can lead to resentment and disappointment between partners, due to not feeling emotionally satisfied.

5. Pull Away or Shut Down During Conflict

There are moments in every dating relationship where conflict is bound to happen, even with a healthy thriving couple. Conflict is just a term for how two people work through a challenge. Often it is when there is a disagreement or difference of opinion that conflict kicks.

It is unrealistic to expect you and your partner to agree at all times, yet the way the two of you work through conflict is even more crucial. When your partner pulls away or shuts you out during a disagreement that can be isolating. It can also increase the conflict and lead to more issues.

Often when someone responds to conflict by withdrawing it is due to feeling emotionally flooded. This is when they are so emotionally overwhelmed they shut down. It can prevent healthy communication and cause confusion because it looks like avoidance.

Often there are coping skills that need to be learned when a partner struggles with this poor communication strategy. It is a defense mechanism learned to protect them when they feel too much. It can lead to you feeling guilt or shame due to the lack of resolution when there is conflict in the relationship. Yet it is not your job to fix or manage your partner's issues.

Now What? I'm Dating a Bad Communicator.

So perhaps you've read through this list and the person you are dating checks several of the signs of a bad communicator. Unfortunately, we can't change others and make them more skilled. What we can do is focus on ourselves and what we are good at in our communication abilities.

We can focus on being a great listener by summarizing back to our partner what they just said when they finish speaking to us. This will allow our partner to feel heard and respected. We can also focus on sharing our needs and wants in the relationship, which is important for setting healthy expectations.

We can also make sure to continue to strengthen our other relationships while dating. It is important to keep connections outside of our dating life in order to stay grounded and keep us feeling nurtured. Those closest to us might help remind us if our dating relationship is really what we want when we start to see these red flags. Remember to give yourself permission to reconsider a relationship if it no longer seems like a good fit.

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