What Makes Communication Hard + Inaugural Office Hours

Communication is the number one rule for open relationships, so why do people struggle with it so much?

What Makes Communication Hard + Inaugural Office Hours

When seeking advice on open relationships, the same message appears over and over again: "Communication is the number one rule."

The message might not appear in those words exactly, but the idea of "communication above all" is rampant. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying this message is incorrect. On the contrary, I believe it and encourage it as well - heck, it is why I pursued Communication for my doctoral degree instead of Psychology or any other related field.

We need to keep seeing this message because communication is also the number one challenge in all relationships. For example, my day job is in the public sector, and I teach "Effective Communication in the Workplace" to a full house regularly. I have come to believe that people are more willing to acknowledge that they need help communicating in the workplace because it is less vulnerable to admit we suck at writing emails than it is to acknowledge that we are less than skilled at communicating in intimate relationships.

So, what will it take for people to admit they need to learn new communication skills for open relationships?

First, I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are many people who think communication is easy and they do not do any work to adjust their communication styles to accommodate different relationship types. It is like a competency bias: "Communication isn't hard, and I can do it." Sure, people can open their mouths and say things, but that does not make effective communication. I won't talk much more about this because you are here, reading this, meaning you know that communication is a skill to be honed over a lifetime.

Instead, we will focus on courage. It takes an immense amount of courage to be accountable in communication - to learn and practice new and different approaches. New things are often uncomfortable things, so you also need the courage to get and remain uncomfortable. Courage is also what is needed to hear difficult things from your partner(s). It opens up the opportunity to both deliver and receive information in a way that is fundamentally different from our mononormative communication upbringing.

Take a moment to think about how courageous you are. Are there certain topics that you avoid? Are there certain partners who invite communication where others make it more challenging? Take some time to reflect on the ways in which you are courageous, and also the ways in which you would benefit from developing courage.

An honest self assessment is where we will begin. New beginnings take courage, so I commend you for arriving here with me.

In curiosity,

Dr. S. Kay Webb

P.S. Paid members will be getting a workshop on Courage in Communication this month. Join us here:

Office Hours will be sent to Paid Members on Wednesday, June 12th. Please email me your questions as soon as possible for inclusion!