Creating connection within relationships

When a man fails to listen, his partner senses the loss of the connection she yearns for, the connection for which we all yearn in our relationships.

by Gary van Warmerdam — 

One of the great assumptions men make in relationships is that they understand their partners. Often, men stop listening closely because they assume they already understand. They hear the words or phrases their partners say and assume they know what is coming next. Their minds quickly project the end of the story, as they anticipate it. They stop paying attention because they have already moved on to a conclusion.

A man may hear the words his partner is speaking, but his attention has already shifted to forming a reply. By losing attention to his own thoughts, he no longer maintains a connection with his partner. A woman can feel the energetic and emotional connection, her partner’s presence; she can sense when it exists and when it is absent.

When a man fails to listen, his partner senses the loss of the connection she yearns for, the connection for which we all yearn in our relationships. As a result, she may start to lose trust that her man is there for her in other ways, as well.

When a man is really interested in what a woman has to say, he asks questions. He does not comment or give his opinion. He listens actively by asking questions that explore her viewpoint and understanding. This does not mean he has to agree with her or propose a solution, only that he listens attentively. His attention is with her, and he is not concerned with expressing his opinions.

This dynamic of listening is often genuine and automatic with people who are just getting to know each other. Eager to learn as much as they can about each other, new couples often enjoy the energy and emotion created through channels of attentive communication.

Later in the relationship, as the man becomes more familiar with his partner and assumes he knows her, he pays less attention to what she says. As a result, the energetic and emotional quality of being present with her within an intimate channel of communication is compromised or lost. She may not know why, but at some point she begins to notice that the connection has changed or begun to deteriorate. Women generally notice emotional changes in relationships much sooner than men do.

When a man doesn’t pay close attention, he takes for granted what his partner is saying. This unconsciously sends the message that his partner’s words and thoughts are unimportant. Understandably, this can be interpreted by his partner to mean, “If what I say is not important, he must think I am not important.” A reaction of this kind can erode the channel of communication, ultimately putting further distance between the two.

Ways to build new communication channels

When you talk with someone, experiment with refraining from commenting. This will help you pay closer attention to the other person and really hear what they are saying. You can relax, knowing you don’t have to come up with a comment or reply. To hold up your end of the conversation, limit what you say to exploratory questions.

It may help to think of yourself as a journalist conducting an interview. Your job is to ask questions and explore your partner’s topics of conversation. You likely will find your mind thinking of comments about what they are saying. Notice, when this happens, that you are no longer focused on understanding their communication; you also are no longer present with them and have lost the energetic connection. You may also find it tempting to voice your comments. Again, do your best to refrain, as this isn’t really listening.

When you jump in with your own opinions, you send the message that what your partner is saying is less important than your own words. When someone is interrupted, they often feel put down and disrespected. In order to avoid such feelings, they may stop sharing with you altogether.

Men are not the only ones who assume to know their partner so well that they stop listening. Women stop listening to men, as well. People also stop listening in relationships with their parents, children, friends and business associates. How many times have you witnessed a group of people in conversation, each of whom listens only long enough to find a place to jump in with their own words?

By focusing your attention through listening, you can change your feeling of connection with your partner, as well as with everyone else in your life. By being present within the channels of communication, you can change the way you feel in all your relationships, for it is through feelings and emotions that we create the connection we seek within our relationships.


Gary van Warmerdam coaches individuals through changing emotional reactions, core beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors, so they can be happy in their lives. His teachings are practical exercises founded in universal spiritual traditions.  505-385-7940, or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 2, April/May 2006.

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