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Stuck in a Communication Loop with Your Partner?

By Krista Carter, LSW

You’ve had the same fight for years. You get into it, and you can’t get out for hours, sometimes days. You bring up things from the past and are unable to let them go. You repeat and repeat and repeat, and the fight never ends. Maybe your partner flirted with your neighbor. Maybe they cheated. Maybe they ignored something very important to you. Whatever the infraction was, we at Symmetry Counseling understand that sometimes, it doesn’t go away, and it ruins today. Even though your partner stopped, apologized, and you said you forgave them, you still burn inside over this problem and bring it up with every new fight. You just can’t forget how much it hurt.

Identifying A Communication Loop

Maybe you have differing lifestyles that perpetually land you both in an argument that never ends. You want to decompress quietly at the end of the day, and your partner wants to chat it up about the day’s work drama. Your partner wants to eat vegan, and you eat meat. You want to be more social, and your partner wants to spend time alone. The list of lifestyle differences is endless. If you experience any of these scenarios and a regular, ugly argument within them, you are likely in a communication loop. Communication loops are rounds of ugly communication that do not end. The problem never gets resolved, and they repeat, often with every new annoyance or fight that you experience with your loved one. But what do you do about them?

Strategies for Healing Relationship Communication

The first thing you might do is seek to repair the damage done each time the fight comes up (Gottman, 2015). Common ways to repair a fight are humor, soft touches, apologies, or talking to your partner about a time when you each felt loved by one another. If you can’t do that because the fight is too volatile, part ways as much as possible during the fallout. Many successful couples have neutral corners to which they retreat after hot-tempered experiences. A neutral corner includes a space of your own, limited communication, and stimulation outside of the relationship. And within that stimulation, talking to friends about the fight extensively will only fuel the next one. So, keep the discussion with others about it to a minimum. Take the space you need and offer that to your partner. When you do communicate with one another, keep it light and kind if possible. Over the course of a few days or even a week, things will likely diminish, and some peace can be restored. If not, your communication loop may have damaged your relationship deeply. You can recover, but it will take commitment and work from both of you with the help of a skilled counselor.

Letting Go of Old Hurts

The second thing you can do is to look at your part in this. If the hurt is very old, can you conceive of living without it or letting it go? Such pains live in our heads and hearts years, sometimes decades after they occur, and it is unfair to you to keep them alive when you might otherwise be happy. With the help of a licensed therapist, you can let it go. There are techniques to rid yourself of pains from the past.

Strategies to Ensure Both Partners Feel Heard

Finally, using various therapeutic strategies can reframe your experience with your partner. For instance, making sure each partner feels heard in the relationship is a primary experience for any two bonded people. When one person doesn’t feel heard consistently, a repeat fight will likely continue. When you can break down the communication barrier, and you and your partner both feel heard, you can cross many milestones in a communication loop. You can break the loop, and with an experienced couples counselor, this process can be even more attainable.

If you and your partner are stuck in one of these vicious cycles, reach out to Symmetry Counseling at 888-661-2742. An experienced couples counselor can help you achieve more peace and happiness.


Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. Harmony Books. 


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