In relationships, communication is key

By Mara Shaprio

For Matt Millerlb, senior in LAS, technology has become an important part of the way he communicates with his girlfriend of seven months.

Each day, he speaks with his girlfriend in person, through phone calls, text messages and pictures on Snapchat. Miller said this communication has helped his relationship grow.

“It’s getting to know people,” Miller said. “Communication is the foundation of a lot of things. It helps to understand where people are coming from.”

Communication is an important part of every romantic relationship, according to Kami Kosenko, University alumna and professor of communications at North Carolina Universitylb. If communication is not emphasized in a relationship, she said serious conflicts can arise.

“Communication is a determinant of satisfaction in that relationship,” Kosenko wrote via email. “Couples who are satisfied with the communication tend to be satisfied with the relationship. Miscommunication or poor communication in relationships can be a source of conflict and dissatisfaction and can even lead to physical abuse or sexual assault and harassment.”

However, an issue many couples face is knowing how to balance how often they communicate with one another.

“It’s different for each couple,” Miller said. “For some people, it’s healthy talking all the time, knowing what the other person is doing all day. It’s how you can be a part of their life.”

Kosenko explained that sometimes couples over share, which can cause problems.

“I do think couples can be too open with each other,” she wrote. “There are things that we should keep to ourselves. For example, you wouldn’t tell your partner every time that you see someone who you are attracted to walking down the street.”

Jake Navarezlb, junior in LAS, has been in a relationship with his girlfriend for six months. He said it was normal for the two to communicate every day. When they don’t have the chance to see each other in person for the day, they make sure to call each other at night to catch up.

Navarez said couples should be honest with one another about their feelings to avoid confusion.

“It’s really good to be transparent,” Navarez said. “You can’t have a feeling on one side and expect the other person to know how you feel. Just sit down and talk to each other.”

However, no matter how long a couple has been together, it can be easy to develop communication issues. Kosenko believes couples should figure out their weaknesses and try to move past them.

“Couples should also consider their communication strengths and play those up in the relationship,” she wrote. “For example, if you are better at communicating online or via phone than face-to-face, then that might be a form of communication that you should rely on in your relationship.”

Even if communication is difficult, Miller said fighting can actually be healthy for a relationship.

“It’s a really valuable way to get to know somebody, what makes them tick,” he said. “It leads to intimacy in resolving stuff and forces you to communicate and be more clear.”

Gender can also affect communication. Sexual scripts, according to Kosenko, are mental roadmaps for how we should act in sexual situations.

“These scripts tell us what to expect out of dates, out of relationships, and out of sexual interactions,” Kosenko explained. “The traditional sexual script (in heterosexual relationships) tends to paint the male as the initiator (of the date, relationship and sex) and the female as the resistor.”

But there are ways these issues can be solved.

“Resolving these issues will require that the couple assess what they have trouble talking about, how their communication patterns have changed over time and what their expectations are for communication in the relationship,” Kosenko wrote.

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