The objective of this article is to help people who fail to make emotional contact with others understand why that might be.
By: Susan Adams, M. Ed.
Summary: Real communication is important but can be difficult to master. This is why, without it, some people circle the dating world forever without ever getting connected to anyone. They may describe themselves as lonely or simply unable to find the “right person.” This article is a discussion of what might be the problem.
Communication describes the way we try to get through to each other. This is the process of transmitting feelings, ideas, attitudes, needs, facts, and beliefs to others. It is vital in the concept of making attachments to others.
Language is one means of communicating but there are others. Facial expressions, silences, gestures, touch, hearing, vision, and many other nonverbal symbols and clues are used in giving and receiving messages. In fact, nonverbal communication sends much more powerful signals than verbal. There, then are several reasons why people may fail to connect.
We are taught in childhood not to express certain feelings and impulses. Some people were taught to deny their feelings. They were prohibited from getting angry, crying, discussing sexual issues, and sometimes even loving. By shutting off these emotions we limit the depth of our relationships with others. This inhibition is intensified during dating;the real person is often disguised in an effort to favorably impress the other.
If we lack confidence we may stop ourselves from making contact with others for fear of rejection and ridicule. We hesitate to share personal feelings, to trust others, or to be frank and offer constructive suggestions. Fearing a negative reaction, we avoid certain subjects or keep our hurts and angry feelings to ourselves. However, they only enter the picture in some other form later. There are only two things that we can do with feelings–either talk about them or act them out.
Too often we fail to hear the real message or the essence of what the other person said. We may be too busy thinking of what we are wanting to say next or we may just not have good listening habits.
Often we judge others inaccurately by first impressions or by incomplete information. We tend to assume things about people on the basis of our interpretation of what they say or do without first checking out this impression with them. Acting out false assumptions often creates misunderstandings, or, at the very least, keeps us from getting to know another person intimately.
Some people have absolutely no idea of how they appear to others. They don’t hear their tone of voice, how clear they are in saying things, or the mannerisms that may distract from the effectiveness of expressing themselves. We seldom ask for feedback about what we have said but it is a good idea to do so.
Some people, for example, many adult children of divorce, distrust the permanence of relationships. They may use any or all of these communication difficulties to protect themselves from intimacy for fear of loss. For any of these issues, a good relationship therapist can help to either teach the missing skills or to help remove the emotional blocks that prevent the skills from being practiced or cultivated.