We all know how wonderful it feels to have someone else’s undivided attention. But for some reason it becomes very easy to the pay least attention to the one person in your life who loves you more than anything else.
Of course, there are many reasons why we stop paying attention to our partners. But failing to pay adequate attention to their needs is a top cause of relationship breakdown, say the experts.
Happily - it’s one dodgy habit that’s easy to fix.
According to relationship coach Katherine Jane, it’s easy to assume that once we’re settled into a relationship that our partners will always remain the same. And that we no longer need to listen to their world to know what they’re thinking and feeling.
This is a mistake that couples in long-term relationships regularly make, she explains.
"They won't stay the same, just as we won't.” she says. “Paying attention to each other allows the relationship to grow, improves intimacy and keeps the 'distance' which often develops in long-term relationships at bay."
Experts also point out that paying attention to your partner is not something that always comes naturally. Once the honeymoon period is over (and you no longer find everything they say absolutely fascinating!), it’s easy to substitute genuine interest for routine chit-chat.
"Paying attention to your partner requires more than saying yes at the end of every question and nodding in their general direction while watching your favourite show on TV,” says celebrity relationship expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams.
“Whether you're in a new relationship or have been together for years, it is vital to the success and happiness of your relationship that your partner feels valued by you and the best way to demonstrate this is by paying them attention.
“The best relationships continue to thrive because each person makes their partner's needs just as important as their own.”
Wise words, but focusing 100% on your partner can be a serious, and potentially, risky relationship investment psychotherapist Hilda Burke explains.
“If you really listen to someone and discover what they’re about, you might learn that you’re incompatible,” she observes. "Authenticity always encompasses risk."
"But I would argue that finding this out early can save us a lot of heartbreak in the long run…”
Happily, connecting with your partner will almost always bring you closer together, rather than driving you apart, she adds.
There is another simple reason why our interactions with our partner can become a little weak. These days, technology provides a huge opportunity to communicate with the rest of the world. But it can happen at the expense of engaging with your real-life love.
In order to break the habit of being distracted, it can be worth relearning how to offer your undivided attention to another person.
“When people complain that they don’t know what to do to make their partner happy, I say to them: 'Just listen!' says Hilda Burke.
"And not just listen until they find an opening to say what they want to say. No, to simply listen with an open heart, to listen for the purpose of learning more about our partner.
“This is difficult for many of who are programmed to half listen in conversations and then upon hearing certain buzz words that resonate with us, using them as a cue to utter our own opinions or thoughts on said subject.”
“Men think they have to fix everything when often a woman just wants you to listen. So don’t offer solutions unless you’re asked. When I wrote the book it was one of the biggest criticisms women had
“When you listen to your partner you show you care. And remember that if you don’t listen someone else might be...”
If you want your relationship to flourish, it could also be worth noticing how the idea of listening makes you feel, adds writer and holistic therapist Eve Menezes Cunningham.
“Do you feel any resentment at the idea? Perhaps thoughts like... 'Why should I pay attention when she/he never seems to pay ME any attention?' cross your mind.
"The process itself might reveal something you feel is missing in the relationship.”
In order to improve your ability to listen, Nick Seneca Jankel (the founder of wisdom and wellbeing company www.ripeandready.com), advises making a conscious effort to make an emotional connection.
He suggests that a short meditation can help you reach your ‘still point’ as a couple, and encourage frustrations and resentments to fade.
“Invite your partner to a 10 minute meditation. Sit next to each other or face to face. You can even touch hands in front of your eyes. Close your eyes and breathe deeply together, settling into the moment - and each other. Chill that way for 10 minutes and then share something important with each other.
"Notice the vibrant quality of attention your partner gives you and the beautiful, heartfelt connection you have to each other. Our reconnected hearts are the lifeblood of authentic romance and nourishing intimacy."
:: For more tips on how to pay better attention to your partner, click through our selection of expert tips.