16 alarming signs your partner doesn’t understand you (even if they love you)

It’s one of those sad truths of life, sometimes love isn’t always enough.

In the real world, there are many factors that decide whether your relationship will survive.

Feeling understood by your other half is one of those.

Misunderstanding leads to miscommunication, which might lead to more arguments. All of this can put a strain on your relationship and create a barrier to intimacy.

So how do you know if your partner isn’t right for you? Here are 16 alarming signs your partner doesn’t understand you, and what to do about it.

Why it’s such a big deal when your partner doesn’t understand you

At times we can all feel misunderstood, isolated, or lonely, even when we are surrounded by those who love us most in the world.

It’s actually a part of the human condition and something that a lot of people experience.

But nevertheless, feeling understood is incredibly significant to the quality of our relationships and our happiness.

In fact, in Psychology Today, author Leon F. Seltzer Ph.D. argues that feeling understood could even be more important than feeling loved.

Manal Ghosain writes about our wanting to be accepted, appreciated, approved, attended to, liked, loved, cared for — and understood. But what she doesn’t consider is that if we don’t, or can’t, experience others as understanding us — who we are and what we’re about — then all of these other wants can end up feeling relatively meaningless. Not feeling that others really know us can leave us feeling hopelessly estranged from the rest of humanity. It may well be that feeling understood is a prerequisite for our other desires to be satisfyingly fulfilled.”

Research also backs up the importance of feeling understood to our overall wellbeing.

One study found that feeling understood by others is linked to higher life satisfaction and fewer physical symptoms.

“My partner doesn’t understand me” – 16 signs to look out for

1) They can’t read your emotional cues

Emotional mirroring is one of the signs of a close bond. As body language expert Tonya Reiman explains:

“To put it simply, mirroring is matching someone’s behavior, whether it’s their voice, their words, or their non-verbal cues (think gestures, movement, and body posture)”.

This subconscious habit creates a comfort between two people, as we naturally prefer people like us.

But if your partner doesn’t seem capable of reading your emotional cues, it’s unlikely they will be able to respond in the appropriate way to make you feel better.

Whether you are 3 seconds from bursting into hysterical tears or seething with rage — your other half seems oblivious.

Being able to pick up on and interpret emotional cues is important in allowing us to understand one another in a relationship.

So naturally, when someone doesn’t pick up on your feelings it can be incredibly frustrating.

2) They’re always questioning you

Does your partner always question ‘why’? Why you said something, why you did something, why you feel a certain way.

Clarifying and asking questions is really useful in a relationship, and can show a healthy interest in your partner, and that you are curious to know more about each other.

But if it’s happening over every little thing, it’s not a good sign. Why? Because this question used too often implies confusion.

Their need to constantly dive deeper into your actions, words and emotions strongly suggest they don’t understand you.

If your guy or girl knows you, then on many occasions they shouldn’t need to ask why, because the reasons would already be clear to them.

3) You’re always unsure of where things stand with them

Does it feel like your relationship changes on a daily basis? Maybe you feel unsure of how your partner will react in any given situation.

This can leave you wondering where things stand between you – especially if they never seem to be on the same page as you.

A lot of this actually comes down to how you communicate with each other. Not knowing where you start is a sign that one or both of you isn’t letting on how they truly feel.

In this situation, it’s beneficial to seek help from the experts:

Relationship Hero.

This a site of highly trained relationship coaches, who can work with you to improve your relationship.

Whether you speak to a coach alone or bring your partner with you, their expertise can arm you with the best way to communicate with each other so wondering where you stand becomes a thing of the past! 

The sad reality is, many couples break up due to not understanding each other, even if there’s genuine love there. 

So before it gets to that point, speak to someone. Get your relationship back on track. Learn how to communicate effectively and build a thriving connection with your partner, before it’s too late. 

Take the free quiz here to get matched with the perfect coach for you.

4) They’re dismissive of your feelings

She laughs when you are mad, or he thinks you’re overreacting when you cry.

Not being capable of empathy and compassion towards the upsetting emotions your partner is experiencing is often a sign that they just don’t get you.

They are incapable of feeling the hurt that you are experiencing and so they are dismissive of it.

They may also have a tendency to minimize your problems. There is a disconnect because they cannot seem to grasp that even when the problem doesn’t seem such a big deal to them, your feelings about it are strong nevertheless.

If your partner makes you feel like you should just ‘get over it’ when something is wrong, you’re bound to feel misunderstood.

5) You feel distant

  • There’s a tangible uncomfortableness that hangs in the air sometimes.
  • Spending time in silence together is awkward.
  • You sometimes feel lonely, even when they are around.

These are all signs of a disconnect between you two when it comes to emotional intimacy.

Perhaps at the beginning of your relationship you didn’t notice as much, you were too busy doing fun activities and having a laugh together. The sexual chemistry may also have masked the absence of other types of intimacy within the relationship.

But as time goes on the void between you two may have grown. Relationships progress and develop by moving beyond just surface exchanges.

Sharing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions as you open yourselves up to one another creates a sense of familiarity and attachment.

If you aren’t doing this you may start to feel a distance between you emerge. You may have fallen in love, but find you’re still not clicking on a deeper level.

6) They don’t get your jokes

Plenty of us put a sense of humor as one of the top traits we’re looking for in a potential mate.

According to Scientific American, humor plays a really important role in our relationships:

“Men and women use humor and laughter to attract one another and to signal romantic interest—but each gender accomplishes this in a different way. And as a relationship progresses, the way men and women use humor changes; it becomes a means of soothing one another and smoothing over rough patches. In fact, humor is rarely about anything funny at all; rather sharing a laugh can bring people closer together and even predict compatibility over the long haul.”

When you consider the significant role humor has, your jokes totally missing the mark with your partner suddenly becomes more significant.

Your humor is a reflection of you, so if your partner doesn’t get it, it could be that you’re just not on the same page.

7) You’re very different people

They say opposites attract, but in reality, this is rarely the case in romantic relationships.

In fact, countless studies have shown we are attracted to people who are similar to us.

Author of “Great Myths of Intimate Relationships: Dating, Sex, and Marriage,” Matthew D. Johnson explains that as time passes personality contrasts become more noticeable and start to stand out in a relationship:

“The problem is that what’s true of magnets is not at all true of romance…In the end, people’s attraction to differences is vastly outweighed by our attraction to similarities. People persist in thinking opposites attract – when in reality, relatively similar partners just become a bit more complementary as time goes by.”

The bottom line is that when you are very different from your partner, it may be harder for them to try to understand you.

8) You have totally opposite tastes

You may align on the bigger things in life, such as values and your overall attitudes, yet find that your outside interests and other characteristics still clash.

You love pop, they adore death metal. You’re a morning person, they’re a night owl. You love camping in the wilderness, they’re more of a 5-star hotel type of person.

It’s not that you need to have every hobby in common, but if you have zero shared interests it can become a sticking point.

Our compatibility rests on finding common ground. If you’re not mentally stimulated by the same sort of things, it’s just trickier to find that ground.

When you don’t really get one another’s passions and interests, you can feel misunderstood by your partner.

9) You don’t feel confident

The more uncertain we feel, the less confident we tend to be.

If you feel like your partner doesn’t understand you then it may start to impact your confidence within the relationship.

If you are feeling resentment, frustration, or nervousness when you are with your other half, then it’s a sign you are struggling to connect.

Your confidence may take a hit when you do not feel like you are being heard within the relationship or as though you can be totally yourself.

Maybe you are withdrawing a little bit because you actually fear being misunderstood and it’s started to impact your self-esteem.

10) You never talk about your relationship

Not wanting to talk about your problems in the relationship is always a red flag in general.

When it comes to your partner not understanding you it’s also a glaring warning sign.

If they don’t want to get into issues, it suggests a certain level of emotional immaturity. They may struggle to deal with or understand the feelings that are brought up.

If your other half wants to understand you better, they will want to listen to how you are feeling about your relationship, rather than try to ignore it.

They may avoid talking about the relationship because they know that they struggle to understand where you are coming from and want to dodge arguments or disagreements that may arise because of that.

11) They suggest activities you don’t enjoy

Similar to buying you gifts that you really don’t want, if your partner is always suggesting you do things that you really dislike, it’s not a good sign.

It indicates that they either don’t realize what you like and dislike or don’t really care because it matters more to them what they enjoy.

They know you hate action movies, but that’s always the first suggestion when you go to the cinema. They know you hate hiking, but still keep insisting you spend your Sundays on the trail.

Disregarding or not paying attention to your preferences is an alarming sign that they are not in sync with who you are.

12) You can’t speak your mind

Anyone who has ever been in a successful relationship will tell you that at times biting your tongue is actually the best thing you can do.

There’s definitely a lot to be said for greater patience and tolerance for cultivating harmony in a relationship.

But you should never feel like you are walking on eggshells. Neither should you be nervous about sharing your thoughts and opinions.

As psychologist Perpetua Neo told The Independent:

“In healthy relationships, growth is very important, generally in the same direction, so you need to be able to have arguments, and conflicts and points of disagreements without killing each other.”

Having to dumb yourself down or keep certain things under wraps, just for the sake of keeping the peace, suggests that your partner is not capable of seeing your side of things.

13) They don’t listen to you

When it comes to our relationships, the familiarity we feel around each other leads us to make harmful assumptions that fuel misunderstanding.

This is illustrated by something that scientists call the “closeness confirmation bias”, which is often at work when romantic partners feel they don’t know each other anymore.

Research published in the Journal of Experimental School Psychology found an unconscious tendency to tune out people you feel close to because you think you already know what they are going to say.

“Closeness can lead people to overestimate how well they communicate, a phenomenon we term the closeness-communication bias. In one experiment, participants who followed the direction of a friend were more likely to make egocentric errors—look at and reach for an object only they could see—than were those who followed the direction of a stranger.”

Basically, the closer the connection, the less likely we are to actually carefully listen to them over time. This puts an understandable strain on the relationship.

14) They buy you gifts you hate

Nobody gets it right all the time, and in the history of every relationship, there’s likely to be some shockingly bad gifts exchanging hands.

When Buzzfeed asked its readers to share the worst gifts they’ve ever received from someone they were dating, there were some real humdingers:

“Two months after having a C-section, my ex got me a toner belt. You know, the ones that wrap around your stomach and make your muscles contract. He excitedly handed it over CHRISTMAS DAY and couldn’t understand why I was crying.”

If your partner is unable to choose a gift for you that they know you will like, it is a subtle but powerful indicator that they don’t understand you.

15) They miss the point when you talk to them

Do you feel like you always have to overly explain pretty much everything?

Your partner never just “gets it” without having to dissect what exactly you mean.

You have to go into details about why you feel the way you feel and it’s totally exhausting.

Or you may say something and they seem to have totally got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

It’s not that you’re looking for your partner to be psychic but it feels like they’re not capable of looking past the surface to see the true meaning of what you’re telling them.

For example, you try to tell your boyfriend that it’s not that you want him to buy you flowers, you just want him to care enough to buy you flowers.

But he just doesn’t get it and keeps saying he’ll get you flowers then if you’re going to make a big deal of it. He keeps missing the point of what you’re really trying to say.

16) You never feel like the real you around them

People are complicated. We all have many sides to us and plenty of us will show very different sides of ourselves to different people.

Then occasionally there are those who we meet that make us feel truly seen.

It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you find it.

Being all of yourself just seems effortless. You don’t feel the need to dilute or alter your personality. You can be unapologetically you.

The connection is a deeper one because it penetrates the outer shell and goes right to the core of your inner essence.

When you’re around these people, it’s almost like they see through your mask. We can let the walls down because we know that they will quickly see through any facade, so what’s the point.

If you don’t feel this way with your partner, it’s a really strong sign that they don’t understand you.

If you cannot be your unfiltered self and feel comfortable, it suggests there is something about the relationship that makes you feel unsafe to show yourself.

What to do when your partner doesn’t understand you

1) Identify the ways you feel misunderstood

Is it all areas of life and your relationship that you feel misunderstood, or just over certain things?

Perhaps your boyfriend doesn’t understand you emotionally, or your wife doesn’t seem to get you sexually. Maybe feeling like your partner doesn’t understand you is making you lonely in the relationship.

Getting clear on the root of the issue for you will help you address it with your partner.

Try writing down the actions, words, or events that have made you feel a little disconnected from your other half. That way you will be able to give them some examples as well as narrow down in your own mind where the biggest issues arise.

It’s also important to consider how well you understand yourself. The more you know yourself —your characteristics, values, preferences, motives, etc.— the easier it is for others to know you too.

Are you giving your partner the best opportunity to get to know you? It’s difficult if you keep parts of yourself hidden. Consider whether you are being truly vulnerable and genuine with your partner for them to understand you better.

2) Figure out if they’re truly right for you

You know they love you, and you love them too. But if they’re not “right” or emotionally compatible then no matter how strong your feelings are, these misunderstandings might never stop happening.

But how can you find out for sure whether they’re right for you?

Someone who is emotionally compatible and right for us will engage in a healthy, non-toxic relationship with us and try to communicate their feelings while encouraging open communication of your feelings. 

A healthy, compatible relationship will come from true love and not codependent behaviors

What is that, you ask?

Codependency is an unhealthy relationship dynamic where one person may play the role of a savior to their partner, who is playing the role of the “needy”, or someone who is in need of a savior. 

I learned this from a globally known shaman, Rudá Iandê, in his free masterclass on love and intimacy. 

He helped open my eyes to the fact that I was indeed in a codependent relationship – and that we weren’t truly compatible, but it felt like we were.

And it felt that way because we had these unhealthy dependencies on each other that we were both fulfilling. 

When I realized that my relationship was built on these unhealthy habits, everything changed.

I found the ability to communicate with my partner about this and we took a break to work on ourselves. 

About a year later, we met again and we hit it off – and built a new, much healthier, and amazing relationship!

This can happen for you too, if you want it. So try out the free masterclass, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

3)Talk to your partner

It isn’t always easy to create a dialogue around challenging relationship problems, but it’s the only way you will resolve things.

You may be tempted to sweep difficulties under the carpet, but as relationship writer Joseph Granny told The Guardian:

“The biggest mistake that couples make is avoidance. We feel something but say nothing. At least until we can’t stand it anymore.”

It’s vital to let your partner know how you’re feeling so that you can work on things together.

4) Really listen to each other

Earlier I mentioned the problem that many couples have because of the closeness-communication bias. That’s our tendency to become worse listeners the more familiar and close we become with someone, which then breeds misunderstanding.

That’s exactly why when you’re wondering how to communicate with someone who doesn’t understand you, really listening to one another is always a great place to start.

Practicing active listening with your partner can help promote far better communication habits. Active listening skills include:

  • Using neutral and nonjudgmental language
  • Showing patience (periods of silence are not “filled”
  • Giving verbal and nonverbal feedback to show signs of listening (e.g., smiling, eye contact, leaning in, mirroring)
  • Asking questions
  • Reflecting back what is said
  • Asking for clarification
  • Summarizing what has been said

5) Create more opportunities to connect

Ultimately, we create bonds with significant people in our lives in many different ways, and we can still enjoy happy and loving relationships without always feeling 100% understood all of the time.

Creating opportunities to connect in other ways can help you to feel closer. Marriage researcher Carol Bruess describes what she calls connection rituals:

“Start small here. Choose to create tiny moments of intentional shared experiences together. If your partner is the one who usually makes dinner, join them in the kitchen and ask how you can help tonight. Maybe pull up their favorite artist on Spotify and set the tone for more joyful — even if they’re tiny — feelings between the two of you. These gestures of connection are the powerful stuff of thriving marriages, each one contributing to a larger reality of being a we again.”

Final thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve now got a better idea of whether your partner gets you or not, and what to do about it.

But, if you really want to find out where these misunderstandings stem from, don’t leave it up to chance. 

Instead speak to a real, certified relationship coach. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Relationship hero is the best site for love coaches who can give you genuine helpful advice. 

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

Click here to get started.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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