Emotional Wellbeing


Mandy Kloppers

How to Read the Relational Style of Your Partner

We tend to underestimate the importance of relational styles, and we do so with our relationships at stake.  

Relational styles are a core component of our perception of others.  

And being able to read and effectively understand the relational styles of other people can greatly improve our relationships with them.  

So, what if you’re able to read the relational style of your partner?  

Just imagine how beneficial this can be for many aspects of your relationship.  

This guide provides key insights into how exactly you can do this.  

Let’s go! 


1.Identifying attachment style 

If you’re wondering what the attachment style is, it’s basically a description of the human tendencies and patterns of connections we make with the people in our lives. 

These patterns are set in childhood and they can predict the nature of our relationship with others. There are three main types. These include; 

  • Secure attachment style: Individuals in this class get close to others with ease. They have no problem expressing themselves, don’t live in fear of abandonment, and can manage interdependency excellently well.  
  • Anxious/preoccupied style: Traits of this style include a strong yearning for commitment borne out of the fear of abandonment. They may chase this too aggressively and may come across as clingy, demanding, and controlling.  
  • Dismissive/avoidant style: This type of partner feels more comfortable in their shell. They can hardly risk trusting or depending on others and rarely show their emotions to their partners. Their partners’ yearning for intimacy may make them feel uncomfortable.  


Understanding your spouse or partner’s attachment style is a big deal. 

This should be the first step if you want to gain insights into the dynamics of your marriage or relationship. To a great extent, it can help reduce friction and conflicts within the relationship. 


2.Understanding relational focus 

People set priorities and focus in their relationships. 

The concept of relational focus is used to describe where an individual’s focus lies in their relationship. This, in turn, can impact how they orient themselves to their partner. Psychologists agree there are three main types of relational foci. These include; 

  1. Self-focus, characteristic of partners who are invested in their personal needs and desires. 
  2. Other focus, describing partners who are invested in the needs and desires of their partner. And 
  3. Activity focus, characteristic of partners who are more invested in the task at hand than they are in what either partner wants.  


As observed, the attachment style dictates the relational focus of attention in any relationship, to a significant extent. Also, individuals exhibit these traits in varying degrees.  

Having a balance of both self-focus and other focus is the best but many people miss out on this. Overall, here’s the takeaway from here; 


  • Avoidant partners who don’t trust the other partner for their needs and desires may become too heavily invested in self-focus or activity focus that the other partner may feel totally neglected.  
  • Anxious lovers may lose sight of their self-focus (while becoming heavily invested in the other party’s needs and desires, no matter how egregious they seem) in their bid to ensure the other partner never leaves, out of their fear of abandonment.  
  • Dismissive lovers turn to activity focus to feed their fear of emotional connection. They may become obsessed with personal pursuits or with certain aspects of the relationship such as sex.  


3.Recognizing the communication style 

Communication and relational styles vary across genders 

It’s no secret that women are more relationally organized, so they tend to chat more in building relationships and forming connections. Men, on the other hand, tend to be more reserved, often not interested in saying too much. 

The bulk of these differences can be traced to socialization, not forgetting that dominant hormones in each gender also play a role in this. Again, these traits can vary in individuals. We’ve seen men with feminine communication styles as much as we’ve also seen women with masculine communication styles.  

In any case, the most important thing is to understand your partner’s communication style. Does your wife chat more or appear more social and relational than you do? Or is your male partner more instrumental or self-oriented in their approach to conversations? Whatever it is, recognizing the communication style of your partner is important in fostering connections in any kind of relationship.  


Tips to help you become more relational to your partner 

If you’re struggling to build a relationship with your partner, chances are you’re getting it wrong in one or more of the three areas discussed above.  

As far as the attachment style, relational focus, and communication styles are concerned, it’s always great to know where you and your partner stand if you’re to make progress.  

That said, here are some tips to help you become more relational so you can forge a stronger relationship with your partner; 

1.Overcome social phobia or social anxiety disorder. This condition often makes the individual fear they would act in ways that may seem embarrassing or humiliating in the view of the other person. This often makes it difficult to initiate relationships and forge connections. 

2.Show genuine care and interest. Your partner or anyone for that matter would find it easier to open up to you if they’re convinced you’ve shown genuine care and interest. 

3.Embrace your vulnerabilities. becoming more vulnerable can help improve your relationship significantly. While you might worry about how your partner would respond, chances are the response might be one of empathy and understanding.  

4.Don’t think you’re better than your partner.  People in relationships need to have a common ground. But there will always be a problem when either partner has a superiority complex. Don’t put your interests and needs above your partner’s. Think “we” rather than always “me.” 

5.Appreciate the little things. A little appreciation can go a long way in a relationship. Giving out compliments and saying something as simple as “thank you” for the smallest of things can help show your partner you love and appreciate them. This, in turn, can help you build rapport to keep your relationship going strong.   

6.Share responsibility for blames and credit. Playing blame games is one of the quickest ways to sabotage any relationship. Show honesty and act on situations, rather than react. Andon occasions when you or your partner falls short, find the strength to forgive yourself or your partner. 

7.Seek first to understand your partner, before being understood.  The essence of this entire guide is to help you understand your partner and their unique relational styles. This will help you understand why they do what they do. Not only will this foster better understanding, but it can also help you avoid unnecessary conflicts and confusion.  


Maintaining a relationship is becoming increasingly challenging in this self-centered world.  

Rather than reacting to every single thing your spouse or partner does, taking the time to understand their relational styles will help you understand where those behaviors are coming from. If you’re interested in steering your relationship towards the right path, this is always a great place to start! 


Author’s Bio: 





Bijan Kholghi is the founder of www.coaching-online.org and a life coach with a special psychological education in hypno-systemic coaching. His teacher Dr. Gunther Schmidt is the founder of Milton Erickson Institute in Heidelberg (Germany), a direct student of Milton H. Erickson, and a leading figure in psychotherapy education in Europe. His highly effective coaching and therapy method helps people getting aware of their unconscious pattern and gaining control over them. This leads to a more fulfilled and happier life.