How to Listen So Your Loved One Feels Loved

listening couple

Of all the things that I hear most about as a therapist that is folks feeling like they are not being listened to. I hear this from adults and children alike. From couples to parent-child relationships. We ALL want to feel listened to. It makes us feel safe and protected. It makes us feel LOVED. And who doesn’t want to feel this way when we are with our loved ones.

So if I had to pick out one thing that would be at the top of my list for good relationship building, it would be to LISTEN with your heart and soul.  For seeming so simple, it can feel a bit elusive. Most of us have had experiences where some one says to us, “You are not listening!” Or it may be on the other side of the coin and we are feeling our loved one is really not hearing us or getting what we are trying to say.  Let’s take a look at the HOW TO of REALLY GOOD LISTENING.


1. “Be There” if You Want it to Count.  First up you have to BE THERE for good listening to take  place. Of course, we have to be there physically, but we have to really be there on an emotional level as well.

  •  PHYSICALLY being in the same room, being fairly close, being turned toward, being eye to eye and being in a stance that indicates you are giving your full attention and focus. This would also mean we cannot be looking at our iPhones or on our laptops or watching tv, or face booking etc. We have all gotten a bit obsessed with being “plugged in”. We have to “unplug” to really hear each other.
  • EMOTIONALLY being open to putting yourself on hold and hearing what your loved one has to say, being non-judgmental without seeing their feelings as “right” or “wrong”, but just feelings, being open to feeling what it might be like to be in their shoes.

2. Listen without Interrupting, Avoiding Advise Giving. This one is not easy. Many of us struggle with this one. What we have to remember is if we interrupt, it feels like we are not listening. And when we give advise, it might feel like we do not feel our loved one can figure it out on their own. Of it may feel we are discounting their feelings. In other cases, we may be asked for our thoughts and opinions and of course in this case we can share our thoughts for their consideration. Some folks really want this and if so enter in without being overbearing.

3. Acknowledge and Reflect What You Think They Have Said. Try to summarize what your loved one is talking about and to check out if you are getting what they are saying. This helps to do this fairly frequently along the way as it can be hard to reflect if too much is said. This is different from interrupting. Normally interrupting is to give our opinion. Reflecting is letting the person talking know you are really hearing them.

4. Ask How You Can Help. Doesn’t it feel great when someone asks how they can help. We know we are cared for and our loved one is there to support us. So by all means do ask.


Special Notes:

  • Not Able to Listen due to the environment, time or emotional state you are in. Be honest and open and let your loved one know you really want to hear what they have to say, but you are exhausted and want to give it your full attention when you are in a better state. Do follow-up as soon as possible.  Your children are all around you and you feel distracted, so suggest a concrete time to sit and talk when it is more private. Maybe you are very upset with the issue at hand, so you ask for a break to cool down. The main thing is to be concrete with a set time for later if you must delay.
  • Avoid Answering Your Phone or Getting Side Tracked with Other’s Interrupting. Doing this will show that your top priority is your loved one. This will go a long ways to a person really feeling listened to.
  • Remember when you listen to your loved one, they will reciprocate. Thus the basis for healthy communication.

So LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. It is the foundation for all good relationships!



Five Ways to Show Your Loved One YOU Are Really Listening

couple not communicatng with laptops open in restaurant

“Are you listening?” Does this sound familiar?  So are we really listening to our loved ones? We probably think we are. Most of us don’t on purpose not listen. We just don’t always listen in a way that our loved one feels really heard. 

When I work with couples in my practice I find this is a common communication issue that brings distress to the relationship. So what are some things we can do to make sure we are REALLY listening to our loved ones?

Five Ways to Let Your Loved One Know YOU are Really Listening

  1. Stop what you are doing. This may mean putting your phone or computer down to rest. Or turning off the TV or whatever you may be doing. And making eye contact with your partner or spouse. You are setting the FOUNDATION for a meaningful interaction.
  2. Listen with the intent of hearing and reflecting what your loved one is saying so they can feel you have REALLY and truly heard them. This may not be as easy as it sounds. But it will pay big dividends in your relationship. When someone reflects what we are saying we know we have really been heard. It feels so divine to be heard at this level.
  3. Avoid giving your feedback and opinion. That is the hard part I think. Because we all have something we feel needs to be said. But if we can hold off and just listen and “be there” it will create a feeling of “YOU really matter to me and I want to know what YOU are feeling and thinking.”. By all means do share your feelings and thoughts if you are asked. But remember it is really more about “being there” to listen.
  4. After you have really listened, you can respond in a way that shows you have heard your partner’s feelings not just their words. This may mean listening at a level to be able to detect the underlying feeling beneath what is being said. You might even want to name what you think you are hearing. “So you are really angry about . . . ” or “After all the hard work on the meal, you feel unappreciated.”
  5. Ask what your loved one needs from you? This may be something you can do or maybe not. But the fact that you have asked shows you care and want to do what you can.

couple communicating face to face in restaurant enlarged image

Being listened to is a true gift. In our crazy busy lives we don’t always connect in a way in which we are really listening. But when we do it is so very magical. It makes us feel loved and cared for and that is what most of us really want in our relationships.

So hope you will take time to give this special gift to your loved one today!