Treat the following tip like a knife and fork, your most basic tool.
You may have to be intentional at first about learning how to use it, but once you understand, it’ll be like second nature. These techniques should be an extension of yourself.
That said, it’s perfectly fine to whip out this blog article when you’re in the middle of a particularly boring conversation with your partner, because this technique will help you connect better and more naturally.
Conversations get boring
In every relationship, there comes a point when your conversation is overflowing…with silence. If it’s the first time this ever happened, you may stop and wonder:
Is my partner boring? Has he been boring this whole time?
Am I boring? How did I get this way?
Conversation doesn’t flow naturally forever. When we first get together with someone, everything is new and exciting. Conversation comes naturally, because you’re literally crazy curious about every detail of the other person’s life.
But further down the line, you know a lot more, you’re less curious. Your conversation changes from genuine interest to a never-ending line of “so what’re you doing’s” and “so how was your day’s”.
There’s nothing wrong with asking these questions, especially if you’re genuine, but we have this tendency of making it our main conversation starter, and we may even ask the same question twice in a single conversation. As if “what she’s doing” has changed from point A to point B.
What we’re really doing is forcing our partners to create the substance of the conversation.
A question like, “so, what are you thinking about?” In that context, tells your partner “look, I want to connect right now, but I want you to put in the work.”
He may say something like, “I don’t know,” “nothing,” or something else equally boring. She just might get mad because she’s “clearly in the middle of something.” Or–and this is a big Or–he may give you exactly what you need to jumpstart a meaningful conversation about the day.
However, he’ll only do this because he dropped what he was doing, interrupted his train of thought, or otherwise sacrificed his own mental capacity. He did all the work, and that work can be exhausting.
Offer more than you want to gain from your partner
Focus on emotion.
Change a ‘reporting’ question like “what’re you up to?” to something that makes you both feel better. “I really enjoyed going to the park with you yesterday. Can we do it again tomorrow?”
This kind of question gives more detail, and while it still might interrupt her train of thought, it makes her feel good about coming out of it. Who doesn’t love a compliment? You can follow this up with something like, “what was your favorite part of the day?”
Let the conversation flow, but be sparse with specific events, and talk more about the emotions you felt. If we constantly talk about what you do and what I do, we’re never really talking about what we do together. You could easily say the same thing to a colleague..or a therapist.
Also, check out 3 Expressions of Gratitude to Help You Grow Your Relationship.
Suggest something you’ll both look forward to.
“Hi there! Just the thought of our date tonight makes my heart race!” Here, you’re attacking her with excitement and a compliment, but you’re also reminding her that you guys have plans this evening.
It’s like a triple-whammy (what is that again?), and it drives us nuts. For most of us, our lives are at least somewhat monotonous. We’d all go crazy if we didn’t have things to look forward to. That type of uncertainty is one of the five basic human needs, so reminding your partner about what he has waiting for him will both, keep him happy, and get him through his day.
Know when your partner really doesn’t want to talk.
Just like you don’t always want to talk, your partner doesn’t either. You shouldn’t always just “try harder”, because sometimes a person needs to be left alone with their own emotions. You can make your partner happy, but you are never responsible for his happiness. Likewise, he’s not responsible for yours.
But there’s a different kind of silence.
The art of the muted conversation
Make googly eyes as him, and don’t say a thing.
Keep washing the dishes, while she comes in and hugs you from behind.
Kiss her on the forehead when she walks in the room.
Sit there next to each other, and just get done what you need to, while enjoying the presence of your favorite person in the world.
The trick is to be fun, playful, and show that you’re happy, using your mannerisms and eye contact. Realize that you don’t have to be talking to have a good time. The primary benefit is that you can connect emotionally with your partner without having to go through the mental gymnastics of a deep and meaningful conversation. You can still be alone with your thoughts.
The muted conversation is a powerful tool. Don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage.
* * *
So those are just a few examples of what you can’t do, but the most important among them is to offer more than you want to gain from your partner. Just like anywhere else in life, we get the most value back when we offer the most value in the first place.
You can’t inspire your partner to do things that you aren’t even willing to do. Leading by example, or being the best person you can be, and offering the most value to the world, will always make those around you strive to be better, to give you more in return.