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“They never talk to me”, is the most common complaint I hear from codependents about their marriage partner.

I find this especially sad, because this person rarely sees how deep and tragic their wound.

This subject is so sad, I can hardly bear writing about it. How many children are left lonely with no one they really feel they can talk to? A huge problem in our time-poor, addicted society at large.

The Codependent’s Gap With Conversation Skills

Codependence begins with a child taking care of a self-centred (and usually drug-addicted or alcoholic) parent. Let’s consider what conversation this child (was it you?) was subjected to.

Their mum (or dad) may have sat home drinking (or taking other drugs), feeling rejected or abandoned by their spouse, while the child was used as little more than a dumping ground for this parent’s selfish mind states and self-indulgent monologues.

Many times this parent may have accused the child of not talking to them (just like the absent spouse) when really it was the parent who was leaving no real possibility for genuine conversation.

The child was probably also told how ‘special’ and important they were. For being themselves?

No—you guessed it—they were special for taking care of their parent and listening to them complain.

What level of conversation skills does a codependent learn (or fail to learn) from this experience?

  • To look for people they can dump their problems on?
  • To expect attention and sympathy when in their worst mind states?
  • That blaming and complaining is a normal conversation?
  • That it requires being drunk, stoned, or otherwise intoxicated to really open up?

It amazes me the amount of time and money people will put into their appearance, while never considering, what comes out of their mouth is really what gives their relationships life and depth.

If you wish your partner talked to you more, I wonder if there are skills you are lacking that might help?

Narcissists are Experts at Dodging!

Narcissistic individuals have usually learned poor conversation skills growing up too, generally more in the realm of knowing how to lie to get away from an emotionally demanding parent. “Yeah sure mum, I cleaned my room . . .  you are the best, I will see you later.”

This, while their codependent sister or brother sat at home ‘taking care’ of mum (or dad) because dad (or mum) isn’t home (again) or has left permanently.

Do you begin to see how this pattern plays out in families over-and-over again?

In this series, I am going to tackle the enormous gap left in the lives of people who grew up in this type of dysfunctional home.

How many hours each week do you spend on your appearance? Do you work out at the gym? Visit the hairdressers? Buy clothes? Put creams and potions on your face, nails and lashes?

I wonder, is there just one of these routines you might swap for working on having better conversation skills?

I personally have a wound in this area and so addressing this gap in myself took time and courage. My conversation skills are still a work in progress, but together I know we can help each other stay on track.

As always I have collected the best research and information I can find on this subject and today want to leave you with these challenges to get started . . .

Better Conversation Intro – Exercises to get you started. Please make sure you are logged in.

In Part 1 of this series, I will share some simple and super easy to use techniques (you can begin using right away) that will draw people out in conversation and get them to quickly connect with you on a deeper and more intimate level.

Not a member yet? This series is part of the subscription options:

Kim’s Group

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Dear Kim, I know you know I love your posts as I have written to you several times before. I thought I’d share with you that Nigella Lawson (of T.V. cooking programme fame)has given me inspiration – she just loves to self-indulge and is pretty much hedonistic (if the programmes can be believed) in such a very attractive way, that “good girls” like myself who’ve always believed, because we were brought up that way, that we have to be self-less and always put others’ desires and interests first, can now question that philosophy in the very best way. I feel she gives me permission to please myself! Do watch her on TV if you get the programmes there in Australia – she is an inspiration!

    1. Thanks Jill, You know we don’t have a TV (never get time for it) but I will see if I can find some of her shows on the internet!

  2. Hi, this is a good article. I like the research idea. I did do that back in the day with M. He loved F1 so I tried to watch it with him and learn. I even read about it. We played F1 quizes too. I started to read about History as that was something I liked but was not good at and he loved it. Funny though because he rejected that. He would say how lonely he was and wanted conversation but then would not appreciate what I was doing to listen to that for him. He would later still play the card that we did not talk enough and then I would remind him about what I had tried to do. He then would spin it and say, ” Well, your doing that not because you are intersted, its because I am interested.” LOL OMG could not win with that whiny hiney:-) But i have read about story telling with imagination and my sons healing has really taken off with that. He loves it and he stays glued to me. I have always been good at picking up what people like to talk about and I am very intersted in many different things they talk about. I can even take something I know nothing about and ask a million questions to try and a get it. They always love that because they love to talk about it. And I really have fun doing it. I love to go out in public and just talk to anyone anywhere. My next step with my son I think is taking the stories that we create and making them into books.:-)

      1. Sure I will. You should do a series on TV and video games. It’s terrible on the brain and not good for connection. I notice a huge change in our life with out TV.

        1. Ha ha ha – we threw out the TV years ago!!! 🙂 A few weeks ago I said to my son, who hated me for about 2 months when I stopped letting him play Minecraft. “Imagine if you were still playing minecraft now instead of playing sport? He moaned and said, “I know I can’t believe that is all I used to want to do.”

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