6 signs a man has serious communication issues, according to psychology

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If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a guy with serious communication issues then you know what it’s like to feel like you’re speaking a different language —  even though you’re both speaking English. 

Communication is the glue that holds relationships together and without it, things can get tricky. It can feel a lot like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube that’s missing some pieces. 

I’ve always found it interesting to think about why some people have poor communication skills while it comes so naturally to others. Like everything else in psychology, a lot of it has to do with upbringing and how caregivers communicated with you at a young age. 

Regardless of the reason, it’s important to know how to identify when poor communication is at the heart of the problem. Otherwise, you might mistake it for a lack of compatibility or something more serious. 

To help you diagnose whatever issues you might be having with your partner, I’ll discuss some signs you might be dealing with a man who can’t communicate well. 

Just remember — all relationships are a two-way street, and if you’re going to point the finger, you also need to self-assess to know how much of the problem is yours to claim. 

With that said, let’s dive in!

1) The silent treatment cures nothing

When people offer nothing but silence during a relationship conflict, it’s a clear sign that they’re not comfortable saying what’s on their mind. Worse — it can also be used as a deliberate manipulation strategy for them to get what they want from you. 

In the first case, it might not be anything malicious. Rather, they may just feel awkward expressing uncomfortable feelings. Some men struggle with being open and vulnerable and when they feel emotionally threatened, they just clam up. 

On the other hand, when silence is used as a tool for manipulation it could indicate a more serious problem. 

Psychologists have recognized the silent treatment as a tool for manipulation in close relationships for decades. It’s a common tactic used by narcissists to push and pull you into place. 

Signs you’re being subjected to the silent treatment include: 

  • Being blatantly ignored
  • Only getting minimal responses
  • They act like nothing’s wrong when there’s clearly a problem

If your partner is angry about something and refuses to address it explicitly, it means the communication lines between you are seriously clogged. 

I know how bad it can feel to be on the receiving end of silence. It’s important to remember that it’s not your fault for not being able to read their minds — despite them making you feel like you should just know!

2) “You should know!”

Do you feel like you’re supposed to read minds? I’ve been there, playing detective in a conversation and expected to be telepathic.

When a man expects you to decode his thoughts without a word, it’s a pretty big red flag. 

Firstly, it diminished your right to an explanation which really isn’t a good starting place for a healthy relationship. It also positions them in a place where they can relinquish responsibility to express themselves. 

Men often complain that women expect them to be telepathic, but men can do it, too! At the end of the day, we’re all capable of communicating poorly and we should all strive to communicate to the best of our abilities.

Expecting someone to read your mind? We can do better than that. 

If this sounds familiar to you, it might be time to address the problem head-on. I find that making things as explicit as possible is a good way to navigate through the murky waters of relationship conflict. 

When all your cards are on the table, there’s little room for playing guessing games. 

3) Your worst critic

Criticism helps us grow but only when it’s done in the spirit of love. 

It’s good to be called out when you’re genuinely acting badly and we should be able to rely on the people closest to us for honest and loving feedback. 

When I was younger, I was in a relationship with a guy who relentlessly criticized everything I did. From my music taste and writing to the way I spoke. It made me wonder “Does he even like me at all?”

Excessive criticism isn’t just harsh; it’s harmful. And to be honest, it took me a while to regain my self-esteem after being with him for two years. I don’t regret ending that relationship — not even slightly. 

You know it’s a red flag if they’re criticizing: 

  • Your appearance
  • Your taste
  • Your creative art

It’s as if he was trying to conjure up a public image and by default, I was part of that. When I didn’t do something that fit into his “style,” you could tell he was suffering narcissistic injury as a consequence. 

Sorry, but like — get over yourself. 

The same guy was a magician when it came to sarcasm. It seemed as though everything he’d say had a particular sting to it. Was I dating a wasp or what? 

4) Sarcastic sting

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against sarcasm. Sarcasm can be fun and it’s a good way to spice up a conversation now and then. But when sarcasm is a person’s default way of speaking and it seems like they’ve actually forgotten how to be genuine, it’s a problem. 

One interesting study looked at whether understanding others’ thoughts is related to how often people use sarcasm. 

They measured people’s ability to understand another person’s thoughts and how much they use sarcasm. 

What they found was pretty interesting. 

Men used sarcasm more often than women and also faced more sarcasm. Women used less sarcasm, especially with other women. People with better communication skills used sarcasm less overall but used it strategically in certain situations to ease tension.

5) Argumentative tone

Some guys love a good debate, but what if every talk turns into a trial? 

I’ve been there — it’s exhausting! 

Imagine discussing something as simple as what movie to watch, and suddenly, it’s as if you’re presenting a case to a judge. 

Every thought you express gets dissected and challenged. It doesn’t stop at movies or dinner choices; even casual comments can trigger a full-blown debate. 

This constant need for argument can turn simple conversations into seriously stressful encounters.

It’s like walking on eggshells, where you’re wary of saying anything that might start another endless debate. This kind of communication isn’t sustainable, it just leaves you drained and dreading the next conversation.

6) Ghosting — “Now you see me, now you don’t”

Ghosting is the ultimate communication cop-out. 

One day you’re chatting, the next, he’s vanished. 

I had a boyfriend who did this. It was bewildering.

As per research in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, ghosting is a clear sign of avoidance and fear of confrontation. It’s like they’re there, but not really.

It was at the beginning of our relationship and he’d just disappear for apparently no reason. After spending a few days together, he’d just be completely uncontactable. 

To this day, I’m not sure why he did it. But when I called him out on it he apologized and stopped. If I had to guess, I’d say he was trying to make me miss him. But when he realized that I just thought it was immature he changed his tune. 

I’m not saying a guy with these traits is a lost cause. People can change. 

But first, we’ve got to spot these signs and address the issues like adults.

Cracking the communication code

Men aren’t always the best communicators and it can be left up to us to steer the relationship in a healthier direction. 

People aren’t always aware that they lack basic communication skills, and it isn’t until you’re in a close relationship with someone that it becomes abundantly evident. 

It would be a shame to mistake poor communication for a lack of compatibility. I mean, endiong a relationship just because you can’t express yourself? 

It’s important to remember that not everyone was taught to communicate properly as a child. So it’s good to have a healthy dose of patience when dealing with your partner. 

Communication problems can be easily solved. And you won’t know what the deeper issues are until the communication pipelines are properly cleared. 

If you recognize these signs, you might be dealing with a man who lacks communication skills. And it might be worth addressing it head-on!

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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