Let’s talk about a pretty good indicator that your relationship is dying.

If you stop talking, your relationship starts dying. Unfortunately, what you are doing when you stop talking is no longer making a connection with someone you care about. That is super important if we want to keep love flowing between us and somebody else.

But very nice people get trapped by a piece of advice that they’ve heard before which is, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

There’s a place for that. I’ll talk about that. But when somebody who really wants to be a nice person has something that they know isn’t going to be complimentary and is possibly going to make the other person feel a negative way, sometimes they will hesitate to communicate because they don’t want to do that. They want to adhere to that advice.

Now, when is it appropriate to use that advice? If you are participating in gossip or you find yourself judging other people and kind of trying to tear other people down to make yourself feel better, then yeah, that is mean-spirited. That’s not that YOU are mean-spirited. Sometimes we just get trapped in some bad habits. You want to focus on that. Find out what’s going on with you that you are feeling compelled to do that. Re-train yourself so that’s not your go-to for feeling good about yourself. In that case, yeah, if you don’t have something nice to say about someone then don’t say anything.

But sometimes we have something we need to say. Especially in an important relationship when somebody has hurt us. We want to communicate it, but maybe we get trapped thinking that that’s going to hurt their feelings so we don’t communicate it. That happens to people who work really hard to figure their own thing out and then come with it later.

But we don’t always figure it out, do we? Sometimes that energy sticks around and we become quiet. We retreat into silence. Instead of saying anything, we choose to work it out on our own. And then the next time, we think we’ll just work it out on our own again. And then the next time the same thing and on and on until…you retreat so far into silence that you stop sharing the stories, and you stop sharing the experiences, and the little ways you feel, and the little things that are going on with you.

Here’s an example. If you’ve got a friend that you see all the time, you’re regulars, you hang out all the time and you don’t see them for a week or so, when you see them it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I have so much to tell you.” Then, you spend all this time catching up and telling your stories, and telling them what has happened.

Contrast that with a friend who you don’t see for a super long time. They ask, “How are you?” And you find yourself saying, “Fine. Nothing really new here. Same old thing.” And you don’t fill in the details or tell the little stories. Maybe you hit some highlights, but the active communication between the two of you hasn’t been there and so you retreat into a silent interaction. You lose that connection. You might have great love for them and you might still feel very close but you lose that active connection. And in our important relationships, our romantic relationships, our familial relationships, our really close friendships, we want an active connection. Active communication is part of that.

Best case scenario if you can’t be kind, you can at least be compassionate and have loving communication. That is the goal. Shoot for that.

But sometimes we’re mad. Or we’re upset or we’re angry or we’re hurt, and we just can’t move ourselves away from it first. It’s going to take a long time. It’s going to end up in a long period of silence. Who even knows if we’re going to be able to get through it or not, or if we’re just going to bury it down where it’s going to resurface another time later. Sometimes it isn’t going to be kind but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

In fact, I would argue that not saying anything is way worse than communicating and saying what you need to say to someone else. It might hurt them. It might be a very challenging conversation that you’re afraid of having. It might be a struggle. But that is how you keep love flowing between you and somebody else. You tell the truth and you trust that the relationship is going to weather the truth, that you guys are going to be stronger when you come through it, and that by continuing to strengthen that communication, next time it will be easier and the time after that it will be easier. So that talking IS the habit. Telling them what is going on with you IS the habit. Not to say those communications are going to be easy, but choosing to have them becomes easier.

And that’s the way you stay connected. That’s the way you keep love flowing by continuing to have communion in your relationships instead of retreat into your silence.

So keep in mind that when you stop talking, your relationship starts dying. That communication and connection is hugely important. You should say something, even if it’s not going to be something “nice”.