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How to Be a Better Listener In a Relationship

by Danielle Wright

Relationships are complicated; I think it's safe to say that if you choose to get into a romantic relationship, then you are welcoming these challenges.

One of the obvious challenges, of course, is listening to your partner. No one is exempt from this issue—both men and women are guilty of ignoring one another. This can cause a rift in the relationship and create a strained environment, making it hard for the relationship to grow and thrive. So what happens when your partner is not listening?

Choosing to not listen to your partner can take on many forms—this can range from not taking their advice to not listening to their wants and needs. I remember seeing a post via Facebook where a woman was upset because her boyfriend was not receptive to her efforts in planning his birthday. She later revealed that he stated to her prior that his only interest was going to Waffle House. She ignored this, renting out a house in the mountains and buying him gifts to which he did not respond to her liking. She claimed he was selfish and ungrateful, but the truth is, she did not listen to him. Overriding his request for simply wanting to go to Waffle House is a blatant disregard for his personal development and boundaries.

It’s no surprise that this happened, however. Women are notorious for saying what they don’t mean while expecting their partners to read their minds and do the opposite of what is asked. Meanwhile, men say what they mean and mean what they say. So, oftentimes, women are selfish enough to believe that since that is how she operates, he operates in this fashion as well.

Men and women are very different, and until women take accountability for not wanting to accept this important truth, problems like the aforementioned will continue to arise. If a man says he does not like something, believe him. Men will always act in their best interest, no matter what—what he likes and what he wants are usually aligned with his status at the moment or the life he envisions for himself. Actively listening means listening to understand, not respond.

To be a better listener in a relationship, you have to accept the fact that your way is not always the best way, and individuality does exist. This is different from sharing common interests. You can both enjoy anime but prefer different styles of anime. You can both enjoy Marvel movies, but perhaps he’s not a fan of Black Widow, and you’re not a fan of Thor.

However, as a unit, you both enjoy the genre as a whole. Putting your emotions above empathy is damaging for relationships. Your way is not always the right way, and we have to praise others for their uniqueness. A relationship where one party feels superior to the other will result in parties not listening, and one party feeling misunderstood, overshadowed, and belittled. Something as simple as requesting Waffle House for your birthday and not getting it, to being called ungrateful for having a lack of interest in what your partner thought was best for you is controlling and abusive.

Listening to your partner is paramount for the relationship’s success. Ladies, say what you want and mean it. Time and time again, women refrain from speaking their truth due to emotions. We don’t want to hurt our partner's feelings by requesting something they cannot afford or that is out of reach for them. However, men are not like this. If you’re dating a man with high standards and is materialistic, he will expect a Patek for his birthday even though he knows you only earn $50,000 a year in salary.

Men are never afraid to ask for what they want, and women have to listen and provide just that. On the other hand, women need to adapt this way of thinking as well. Stop being timid and shy and expecting him to surprise you—ask, and you will receive, and if you can’t receive it, he will tell you. By choosing not to listen to one another, we inevitably disappoint ourselves. When he does not listen to you, or you do not listen to him, it’s all going to have the same outcome; no one will be satisfied because no one is speaking their truth out of fear.

Having empathy is the best way to approach any conversation, and this applies to both men and women. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Relationships are built on communication and trust, among other things. This is why it is important to establish your standards and boundaries early on in the relationship. If your love language is receiving gifts and you have expensive taste, do not settle for someone who is not financially stable and then tiptoe around your wants and needs to spare their feelings.

This is not love, and it will eventually cause your partner to resent you because they are unable to meet your needs (i.e., make you happy). All men want to make their partners happy, and if they feel like it’s an uphill battle to do so, they’ll simply leave and downgrade. But what may seem like a downgrade to you is them just finding what works better for them—the same level. To avoid this kind of disappointment, listen to learn, not to respond.

Actively engage in conversations that help you determine if the person is right for you or if you should be aiming higher to circumvent disappointment later on. There’s a saying that goes, “He told you what it was; you just weren’t listening.” Don’t let this be your reality. Always listen and pay attention to what is said and done, as that will give you the best chance for success.


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