6 Communication Skills Women Struggle With (That Lesbian Couples Need To Master)

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nonverbal communication skills
Love, Self

Despite the stereotypes, not all women are great communicators!

I believe that lesbian couples have a distinct advantage over opposite-sex couples when it comes to communication and being understood.

Research shows that there are many significant differences between how women and men communicate. Studies also show that women are more adept than men at sending and receiving nonverbal communication.

It stands to reason, then, that if two women are in a relationship, they have an easier time communicating than do their heterosexual counterparts.

But if you’re in a lesbian relationship, you could risk believing that communication should always come naturally between the two of you because you’re both women. One of you isn’t from Mars and the other from Venus… Right?

Since you can frequently finish each other’s sentences, you might fall into the trap of believing that you can read your partner’s mind.


Yes, even women in same-sex marriages need to hone communication skills. Turns out lesbians and queer women aren’t mind readers — in spite of so many similarities.

Even though you aren’t a mind reader, it will serve you well to sharpen your skills at reading (and sending) body language and other nonverbal communication within your partnership.

You know how all the experts emphasize that regular (verbal) communication skills are just as much about listening as they are about talking?

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Well, when it comes to mastering nonverbal communication, it’s really important to learn the art of both interpreting and sending non-language based signals. 

If you’re like most lesbians who can use a little help in the nonverbal skills department, you’re probably quite frustrated. In fact, you might even feel like that stereotypical person that’s stranded on a deserted island, trying in vain to write S.O.S. in the sand or watching for smoke signals in the sky.

Learning a few simple but powerful nonverbal skills will make you and your wife or girlfriend much happier. You’ll stop feeling like you’re all alone on a deserted island. And your partner will start feeling like you adore and totally “get” her.

Sounds like a win-win to me!

The best nonverbal communication skill set includes being great at interpreting your partner’s nonverbal signals and being intentional about how you send nonverbal messages to her. If you learn both sides of this equation, you’ll be able to overcome the communication problems in your relationship.

So ladies, here are 6 nonverbal communication skills you need for a happy wife and life:

1. Become an expert on her facial expressions

Faces speak volumes. Don’t be creepy, but start studying your wife’s face for clues about what she’s thinking or feeling.

When you see her facial muscles change, or her eyes shift try to guess what she’s signaling non-verbally.

Then check it out with her to see if you guessed correctly. Make this a playful practice, and over time you’ll get better at reading her face and eyes. She will be happy that you really understand her.

2. Look for signs of tension in her body

Can you tell when your partner is anxious or nervous? She might show signs of tension by playing with her hair, moving her foot, or rubbing her neck. Get to know her unique “tells” of tension and anxiety.

If she’s usually a big talker, silence could be a sign of tension. On the other hand, if she’s not usually very talkative, chattiness may point to her being nervous or tense.

When you hug her, notice if her body is tense or relaxed. Then, if you feel tension in her shoulders (for example), gently rub her shoulders while you’re still hugging her. This will cue her to relax her shoulders. It will also let her know that you are listening to her nonverbals and that you care about her.

3. Pay attention to her mood, gestures, and movements

Tuning into your partner’s mood and body language is another important nonverbal communication skill to develop.

Can you tell when your wife’s mood is down in the dumps by looking at her? Do you notice her having trouble staying present or focused recently? Does she seem to be distracted in ways you haven’t seen before? Has she become a couch potato?

When you notice a change in her mood or movement, check it out with her. Let her know what you’ve noticed and ask her how she's feeling. You can say something like “Honey, you haven’t seemed like your usual active, happy self recently.” And see if she’ll open up about what’s going on within herself.

4. Get up close and personal

Whether you’re interpreting your partner's nonverbal signals, or she’s reading yours, being in close physical proximity to one another will increase the chance of getting it right. So move in close enough to see the details of your partner’s face and especially her eyes when you want to know what she’s saying without words.

Also, you can use this physical closeness to convey nonverbal encouragement to your partner. Nonverbal encouragement signs include:

  • Eye Contact
  • Leaning forward
  • Nodding
  • Tilting Your Head
  • Smiling

5. Never use threats

One of your core responsibilities to your partner is to never threaten your relationship. And this isn’t just about making sure you don’t say something threatening like “Maybe we aren’t right for each other.”

Nonverbal threats can be even more damaging than verbal threats.

Be mindful of avoiding these types of threatening gestures:

  • Rolling your eyes when she’s talking to you
  • Avoiding eye contact when she’s spilling her guts
  • Breaking something out of anger
  • Slamming a door after an argument
  • Leaving the house without telling her where you’re going
  • Any type of physical violence
  • Hitting a wall or other surface in front of her
  • Raising your hand as if you’d like to hit her

And know that giving her the “silent treatment” is another form of a nonverbal threat. It’s unkind and it will make your sweetheart feel insecure. Don’t do it.

If you’re angry and too upset to talk, tell her so. You can say something like, “I need a break from this conversation for awhile. I don’t want to shut you out, but I need a little time before I’m ready to talk about this again.”

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6. Soothe her with physical touch

This is an area where you have a clear advantage because your partner is a woman and not a man. Research shows that women use touch to build connection, rapport, and to show support. Men, on the other hand, use touch to establish power or sexual interest.

Your relationship will benefit by making sure touch is one of the skills in your tool-bag of nonverbal communication options. Researcher Paul Zak found that touch releases oxytocin, a brain chemical which helps us feel bonded and connected to someone.

Make it a habit to gently touch your partner when you want to feel more connected. A little touch on her arm or cheek works well. And touch her when she seems distressed, sad, or lonely. Hold both her hands, kiss her forehead, or give her a hug. This type of touch will help you both feel instantly relieved and bonded.

Nonverbal communication is very important in intimate relationships, because when done poorly it can make you feel misunderstood and isolated.

But when a lesbian couple gets really good at interpreting and sending nonverbal signals, they become empowered communicators. And that leads to a deep sense of bonding and security.

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Lynda Spann, PhD, LMFT is the founder of The Lesbian Couples Institute and a couples counselor. For more information visit the LCI website.