As a Dating Coach, I hear numerous accounts of missed opportunities to openly connect and communicate with significant others. Fear of conflict, worries about being judged, afraid of vulnerability, or making assumptions can lead us down an unhealthy path within relationships. When these things occur we miss the opportunity to use healthy communication to assert and express ourselves within a relationship.

You have each heard or used the term ‘passive aggressive’ but do you know what it truly means? Passive Aggressive Styles avoid conflict and use indirect resistance, whether it be through behaviors (pouting, procrastination, sabotaging) or language (“fine”, “whatever”, or making verbal jabs). This style of communication creates unhealthy patterns within a dating relationship and can only lead to feeling unheard, hurt, assumptions, judgment, or not getting your needs met. A person using the passive aggressive style appears to be okay with things however, on the inside they are deeply bothered or upset. Therefore, it creates a constant internal conflict or disconnect with the external world because this person rarely stands up for him/herself. Certain requests made by a significant other in a dating relationship in turn get subtle resistance by the person acting passive aggressive. A passive aggressive person lacks the confidence to assert or express him/herself in a healthy way creating distance, disconnect, and missed opportunities within the dating relationship.

A healthier style of communication is Assertion or Assertive Techniques. Assertion is a style of communication that demonstrates a confident yet forceful way to state your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc. The key to assertion is that it is used without offending either party. For example, simply stating “no thanks” or “I appreciate your view, however I believe…” or “I like you and would like to see you again”. Assertion can be easy and again it simply states what you want without offending others. Assertive techniques are most effective when they can be used in daily communication, to resolve conflict, voice your feelings, and state what your wants and expectations are within a dating relationship. Assertion, as a communication style, is a technique used to create healthy boundaries within any type of relationship, while showing confidence and demonstrating healthy behaviors.