Julia wishes that conversations with her long-time boyfriend weren’t quite so ugly. It seems like they can be talking about something mundane– like the weather– and, inevitably, one of them makes a remark that is cutting or mean. The conversation descends into a string of belittling remarks from that point on.
It didn’t used to be this way.
When Julia and her boyfriend first got together, they were sweet, kind and passionate with one another. It seemed like they couldn’t get enough of one another. Something happened during the two years that they’ve been dating; she’s not even sure what has changed.
The sweetness seems to have dried up and all that’s left is a string of sarcastic and snarky exchanges that leave Julia feeling sour inside. She often wonders why she’s still with this guy and what happened to the great relationship they once had together.
There are, of course, more than 2 ways to kill a good relationship. We could make list after list of bad relationship habits that weaken trust, tamp out passion and break connection.
Because healthy communication is a cornerstone of a close and connected relationship, we’re going to focus in on 2 habits, that many couples fall into, that can mean certain death to the relationship if they continue.
We’re talking about…
– sneering or cutting remarks
– testy, nagging or finding fault with
These are related ways of communicating and they’re both unpleasant and dangerous to your love relationship or marriage.
Sarcasm and snarkiness are sure ways to put your partner on the defensive. In almost every case, the gist of the snarky or sarcastic comment is that “you did something wrong or are inadequate.”
If, for example, you say to your mate, “Great job forgetting to pay the electric bill, AGAIN,” it’s quite clear that you blame your partner for the oversight. It might actually be his or her responsibility to handle the bill or it might be something you two share.
When someone else makes a mistake and you are adversely affected, it can be frustrating and irritating. However, is pointing out that mistake using unkind words or a harsh tone of voice really going to solve the problem?
It’s most certainly NOT going to help you and your partner work together to get done what you want and need to get done.
The real goal is obscured and ignored when you are sarcastic or snarky. Is your goal to drive home how disappointed you are and how badly your partner messed up OR to pay the bill?
Couples might not consider the ways that they communicate to be a negative. They might just see themselves “joking around” or “teasing.” On the surface, it might seem all in fun, but the effects are just the opposite.
If your relationship is built around one or both of you making jokes at the other person’s expense, this is bound to build not only hurt feelings, but also distance between you. Nobody enjoys being made fun of– nobody– especially not the person with whom you’re trying to create a trusting and intimate relationship.
Some people have become so accustomed to communicating in these relationship-killing ways, they aren’t even aware of what they’re doing and why. A very first step in turning around these habits is to notice what you’re doing as you’re doing it (or soon afterward). When you hear sarcastic or snarky words coming out of your mouth, stop– mid-stream if you have to.
Once you’re at the place of recognition, it’s time to get curious. You honestly might not know why you have a tendency to be sarcastic or snarky with your partner. Take the time to figure out why.
You might have had past experiences in relationships that have led you to expect that “all men” or “all women” will always be a certain way. From your point of view, this just seems to be the way it is. Because you feel helpless to change the other person, you’ve developed the habit of being sarcastic.
On the other hand, it could be very obvious to you why you have the habits you do. Perhaps your partner consistently breaks his or her word or seems unreliable. Your attempts to gently remind your mate have not worked and so out comes the snarkiness.
The bottom line here is for you to find out what is behind the saracastic and snarky comments you make. Take ownership for your communication habit that contributes to tension and disconnection AND address the real issues that are fueling your habit.
Getting behind the sneers and cutting remarks is essential. You can’t know what’s really true for you and you can’t improve communication (or your relationship) without this vital information.
Next, talk about it with your partner in honest and kind ways.
This might be a real stretch if your usual mode of communication is sarcasm and snarkiness. Be very aware of what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. You might even tell your mate that you’re trying to communicate with him or her differently and then come up with some communication “ground rules” together.
The point here is to make a shift– both within yourself and with your partner– so that you feel like you’re working together instead of against one another. Honestly share how you feel and what you want and then listen to what is true for your partner.
Alex Wise is CEO of Loveawake.com - the fast-growing online dating site. The site uses your responses to pair you with compatible dates across New Zeland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and etc, promising a high accuracy rate as long as you know what you want and are honest about it. He has been covering online dating, relationships, online and marriage niche since 2008. He loves sharing meaningful content that educates and inspires people to bring their dreams into reality