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Lack of Communication: Signs, Examples, and What to Do

Lack of communication is when people fail to interact and express themselves in ways that foster healthy connections and relationships. This can take a toll on trust and intimacy in close relationships.

Poor or insufficient communication in relationships can create problems, including insecurity and conflict. Here’s what you should do if you struggle to get your point across or understand where someone else is coming from.

Whether you are interacting with your partner, a friend, or a coworker, communication is critical to the success of any relationship. Good communication means that each person feels seen, heard, and understood. 

Communication isn’t just about what you say out loud. It can also include all of the subtle verbal and nonverbal ways you communicate. For example, consider how you might tell someone you are “fine” even though your body language says otherwise.

Lack of communication can stem from many sources, but it can ultimately undermine the trust and connection between two people. Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you troubleshoot communication problems and find ways to bridge the gap.

Signs of a Lack of Communication

A lack of communication in a relationship can be upsetting and confusing. You might want to understand how the other person is feeling, but poor communication leaves you feeling unsure or completely in the dark.

In order to get to the root of the problem, you need to be able to recognize the signs. Some key signs that communication is lacking in your relationship include:

  • Not listening to one another
  • Constantly interrupting
  • Avoiding certain topics
  • Yelling, shouting, or screaming
  • Shutting down and giving each other the silent treatment
  • Gaslighting to deny the other person’s reality
  • Expecting someone to be able to read your mind
  • Not clearly explaining expectations
  • Dismissing what people say
  • Engaging in passive-aggressive behavior
  • Stonewalling
  • Feeling isolated and misunderstood
  • Not sharing all the details or information with one another
  • Blaming language
  • One-sided communication

What Causes a Lack of Communication?

Lack of communication may stem from a person’s upbringing, past relationship experiences, personality differences, and poor communication skills.

If people grow up in a household with a lack of communication or dysfunctional communication, they are more likely to repeat those same patterns in their own relationships as adults.

Patterns in past relationships can also contribute to a lack of communication. Having a past uncommunicative or passive-aggressive partner might lead a person to expect future relationships to involve similar communication patterns.

Personality traits can also play a role. Introverts, for example, may be quieter and less talkative overall. This can sometimes lead to communication challenges, especially if their partner is more extroverted.

Examples of a Lack of Communication in Relationships

Some classic examples of a lack of communication in a relationship can include:

  • Avoiding talking about important topics or issues.
  • Assuming rather than asking for clarification or confirmation.
  • Stonewalling or withdrawing during conversations.
  • Making assumptions about the other person’s thoughts or feelings without checking in.
  • Ignoring or dismissing the other person’s perspective or concerns.
  • Not actively listening or paying attention during conversations.
  • Withholding information or feelings due to fear of conflict or rejection.
  • Using passive-aggressive behavior instead of addressing issues directly.
  • Keeping secrets or hiding important details about one’s life or emotions.
  • Allowing misunderstandings to persist without attempting to resolve them through open dialogue.

Unfortunately, lack of communication can contribute to conflict, arguing, and even divorce. In one study, researchers found that conflict and arguments were one of the primary factors leading to divorce. Another study found that 70% of couples cited “communication” as a key factor leading to divorce.

Can You Overcome a Lack of Communication?

If you are dealing with a lack of communication in a relationship, you might wonder if there are things you can do to fix the problem. Communication issues can absolutely be overcome, but both people have to be willing to put in the work.

Unfortunately, the same reasons people experience poor communication are sometimes the same reasons they refuse to change how they interact and communicate with others. If the other person doesn’t make an effort, communication problems may be difficult or impossible to overcome.

If this is the case, it is important to establish clear boundaries. Sometimes, you may need to limit your interactions with that person or consider ending the relationship. 

Dealing With a Lack of Communication

If you are both committed to improving your interactions, there are a number of strategies you can use to effectively overcome a lack of communication. Some ways you can get started include:

Use Active Listening

Set aside your own feelings and instead concentrate on what the other person is trying to say. Give them your full attention and focus on listening to understand vs. listening to respond.

Use “I” Statement

Frame your comments around how you feel, what you need, or what you want. Focus on how you feel (“I feel worried when we don’t talk…”) instead of what the other person is doing (“You never call me…”). 

Such language is less accusatory and less likely to provoke defensiveness, which can lead to conflict and a lack of communication. 

Give Helpful Feedback

As you talk, reflect on what the other person is saying, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback. Saying something like, “Thanks so much for sharing that. It really helps me see where you’re coming from,” helps the other person feel more supported and understood.

Choose the Right Time

Make time to have conversations when both people are comfortable and relaxed. Don’t try to have important or difficult conversations when angry, pressured, or stressed. Choosing the right time helps ensure that you have the right mindset to have a meaningful, productive conversation.

Be Empathetic 

Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Being empathetic and striving to really understand where the other person is coming from can give you insight into what they need and how you can’t respond more effectively.

Key Points to Remember

  • Lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and disconnection between partners.
  • Healthy relationships require open and honest communication to foster understanding and mutual support.
  • Avoiding difficult conversations can exacerbate issues and hinder the growth of the relationship.
  • Consistent efforts to improve communication skills and address concerns can strengthen trust and intimacy in relationships.


Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for divorce and recollections of premarital intervention: Implications for improving relationship education. Couple & Family Psychology, 2(2), 131–145.

Williamson, H. C., Bradbury, T. N., Nguyen, T. P., & Karney, B. R. (2016). Are problems that contribute to divorce present at the start of marriage, or do they emerge over time? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33(8), 1120–1134.