Your Partner Doesn't Listen to You: What Can You Do?
“My partner doesn’t listen to me, it’s like talking to a brick wall. They only think of themselves and they just don’t listen to reason.” Maybe this phrase sounds familiar to you. It could even have been the reason for your last break-up. Because in 80 percent of the cases of conflict and distance in a relationship, communication problems are the cause.
Is there an effective strategy to solve these kinds of problems? As a matter of fact, there are various approaches but they’re complex and challenging. Also, what you must remember is that, sometimes, you focus all your attention on your partner and blame them for not listening to you. Nevertheless, inefficient communication is a two-way street. Therefore, you may also be responsible.
There are different factors that could be mediating this unsuccessful and invalidating dynamic. Some may be circumvented and overcome by applying new strategies together. These are skills that can be developed between you to improve your relationship. However, sometimes, communication challenges may be insurmountable.
Every happy and stable relationship is defined by nurturing and respectful communication.
What can you do if your partner doesn’t listen to you?
Refusing to budge. Doing things their own way. Ignoring you. Only saying what suits them. We could give a thousand examples of unsuccessful communication. Gender doesn’t matter. Deficits in correspondence, in active listening, and the lack of a comprehensive dialogue can appear in anyone.
Sometimes, the problem isn’t so much the lack of listening, but rather what your partner says when you speak to them. For example, perhaps you want to unburden yourself to your partner and, instead of really listening and understanding you, they give you the kind of response you really don’t want or even understand.
In this case, added to your feelings that your partner doesn’t listen to you is that they also don’t understand you. However, in reality, you simply both have a different perspective on things as well as different ideas about what communication actually is. This is a multidimensional reality with many nuances.
Let’s see what you can do in these circumstances.
Listening is also about knowing how to understand. Sometimes, that can be the real root of the problem. That you’ve stopped understanding each other.
You have to understand why they don’t listen to you
When your partner doesn’t listen to you it might be due to two factors. It could be due to their own way of being and their personality. Or, it may be because there’s a problem with the communication between you. If it’s the latter, you could well be equally responsible for the problem.
The causes could be:
- They aren’t listening to you due to a clear confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. In other words, they only listen when you say something that fits their beliefs and perspective. In fact, if the message doesn’t fit what they believe, they shut down.
- They’re a narcissist. This is another variable that you must consider. The narcissistic personality believes that they know more than anyone else. Therefore, what you say will be irrelevant.
- They’re angry. This attitude reveals a clear emotional and personal immaturity. Instead of dealing with the problem, they avoid it by building walls or applying the law of silence.
- They don’t listen to you because of the tone you use. The way you address them will either make them more or less receptive. Raising your voice or using an aggressive tone makes that process difficult.
- They ignore you in order to circumvent problems. Some people tend to turn a deaf ear when something doesn’t interest them. For example, this often happens when there are problems in a relationship. They find it better to dodge than face the situation.
- They lack trust and are emotionally distant. It’s possible that the relationship has declined to the point where they feel resentful and distanced. In this kind of situation, they might tell you “I don’t listen to you because you don’t listen to me either”.
Listen and speak to understand each other (assertiveness in love)
Good communication in a couple is a shared exercise: it takes two. Doing it the right way, as revealed in a study from the University of Georgia, predicts satisfaction in the affective bond. Therefore, when your partner doesn’t listen, it’s advisable to correctly convey what you feel and need.
You must understand what’s happening and make yourself heard. The following strategies may be helpful.
- Find the right time to talk to your partner about the communication problem.
- Speak assertively and directly, without using reproaches, and without preaching or looking for blame. You should propose an improvement in your conversations. Mention the need to talk to each other and feel heard. Remind them that a conversation is an exercise in mutual support and enrichment, not a power game.
- Avoid phrases like “you always” or “you never”.
- Use an affectionate, close, and understanding tone. Give them space to express themselves.
- Clarify what you both can improve on to achieve effective communication and active listening.
When looking for a solution to communication deficits, you mustn’t focus only on the negative things that your partner does. This only intensifies the grudge or distance between you. Try to propose solutions instead of focusing only on the problems.
If your partner doesn’t listen and continues to ‘block’ you
Sometimes, your partner may continue with their auditory blocks and not commit to any changes. Ineffective, cold, and dishonest communication creates deep and painful gaps. Therefore, if you find there’s no progress, you could resort to couples therapy.
However, if your partner doesn’t agree and there’s no understanding at all, you should start to seriously consider your options. After all, recognition, acceptance, and appreciation in a relationship are nourished by the communication process. Without it, nothing makes sense.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Lavner, J. A., Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (2016). Does Couples’ Communication Predict Marital Satisfaction, or Does Marital Satisfaction Predict Communication?. Journal of marriage and the family, 78(3), 680–694. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12301
- Johnson MD, Lavner JA, Mund M, et al. Within-Couple Associations Between Communication and Relationship Satisfaction Over Time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. May 2021. doi:10.1177/01461672211016920