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Unhealthy Communication Patterns

Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor

It is likely that most relationships could use some help when it comes to communication. No one always responds perfectly, always agrees, or listens the way they need to during every conversation and that’s normal. The thing is, many couples engage in unhealthy communication all the time and do not seek help to change it. It is difficult to change the way you have always communicated with others even though it isn’t working for the relationship. Below are some common examples of unhealthy communication patterns that may help you identify areas of growth for your relationship. If you need guidance changing your communication patterns, it can be helpful to seek individual or couples counseling for any support and tools you may need.

Lying (Dishonesty)

Sometimes it can feel easier to lie rather than speak the truth when it comes to how we are feeling, behaving, and thinking. You may be wondering how a white lie could hurt, but it will definitely catch up to you. While it may feel scary to be honest, it is the best approach. When you are honest with how you are feeling it gives your partner the opportunity to be there for you and ask questions to understand. An example of this may be saying when you are upset rather than lying and saying “I am fine.” By speaking what is upsetting you, you are being vulnerable and allowing your partner to help.


In conversations or disagreements we can be quick to cut someone off or assume we know what they are about to say. Unfortunately, we may be cutting someone off before they are able to make their point or complete their sentence. Making assumptions and interrupting lead to poor and ineffective communication. Try allowing your partner to talk and complete their thought before taking your turn.

Blaming and Criticizing

At times it is hard to admit guilt and easier to blame the other person. We are all guilty of it and know it isn’t the best approach when it comes to communication. Name calling, blaming, condescending tones, and finger pointing are all used to distract from the problem at hand. It is much more effective to leave the blaming and criticism out of the conversation and take responsibility. Doing so leads to resolution rather than hurting the other person and potentially making the problem worse.


Comparisons happen in conversations all the time. People compare their bad days, relationships, feelings, etc. While comparing can be productive at times it can be detrimental at others. Oftentimes comparing feelings and relationships minimizes the other person. It can make them feel inadequate, unimportant, and dismissed. Try empathizing with your partner and working together rather than comparing to get a point across.

If you see some of these unhealthy communication patterns playing out in your relationship and would like some support, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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