Strengthening Relationships: Overcoming Emotional Isolation and Enhancing Communication

What is Necessary for Productive Communication?

Effective communication begins with the ability to tolerate frustration. This frustration tolerance is a necessary prerequisite to delaying gratification, which in turn allows you to think, reflect, and therefore communicate more effectively.

Oftentimes, what I notice with the couples I treat are obstructions to communication, leading to a lack of understanding and no changes. These obstructions may arise when one partner fails to recognize the idiosyncratic way in which the other is trying to communicate. This can be due to low frustration tolerance and impulse control.

Picture this scenario: She is seething with anger because she feels that he was selfish when he made plans with his friends, stayed out late watching the game, or left her home alone for too long. She lashes out and calls him selfish, which is an impulsive thought. This illustrates how someone with low frustration tolerance struggles to delay the gratification of hurting him, leading to impulsive actions.

Is she trying to hurt him because she feels hurt? Is this perhaps a projection of a painful feeling, a mangled or distorted form of communication? Slowing her down with inquisitive questions and exploring her strong reaction reveals that she cannot express how hurt she feels or convey the pain of being disregarded. To access these complex emotions, we first need to delay the gratification that comes with impulsively attacking him. By slowing her down and helping her reflect and think, she can express herself more clearly.

narcissistic relations

Addressing Emotional Deprivation

If you are in a state of almost constant emotional deprivation, you need to seek comfort in one way or another. Persistent emotional deprivation can lead individuals to seek comfort in destructive behaviors, such as alcohol or substance abuse, or other stimulating behaviors, such as perpetuating painful but stimulating arguments and fights. Without meaningful connection and communication, the vicious cycle of emotional isolation, deprivation, and need for stimulation may continue unchanged.

Since no one is truly listening, there can be no meaningful thinking together, no helpful joining of two minds in contact with each other. A vicious cycle ensues where each partner is left alone with their own horrific thoughts.

Increasing Frustration Tolerance and Impulse Control

Recognizing and slowing things down is an important step toward increasing frustration tolerance and impulse control, paving the way for genuine connections. Returning to the example of him leaving her alone too long, I help her get closer to her experience of feeling tormented by him while simultaneously helping him begin to express how he felt cruelly treated and blamed by her.

Gradually, as deteriorated or obstructed forms of communication and impulsive thoughts slow down, elements of understanding begin to develop. However, to have the capacity to weather the emotional storms, you must remain curious and interested in knowing your own and your loved one’s inner psychic reality. You must try to understand what they are really saying or trying to communicate.

narcissistic relations

Overcoming Narcissistic Issues

With this approach, he begins to see what she is really trying to communicate. However, if he struggles with his own narcissistic issues, such as lacking empathy, it hinders his understanding of how his actions and behavior have painfully impacted her. He stays fixated on feeling insulted by her accusations of selfishness. Because of his own limited frustration tolerance and impulse control, his immediate focus is on counterattack. Slowing him down helps him recognize and acknowledge that he left her out or was inconsiderate. This is not yet a full apology but a significant step forward.

He is now attempting to communicate and connect, but she quickly launches into a familiar accusation: “This is what you always do… you’re always selfish, you never consider me…” At this moment, she prevents the communication from becoming meaningful. She seems unable to tolerate being held emotionally and wards off any sense of pleasure or intimacy.

Recognizing Idiosyncratic Communication

Perhaps she fails to recognize his idiosyncratic way of communicating, much like his earlier oversight when she called him selfish. This was her obstructed form of communication; she simply couldn’t say she felt hurt. If left unchecked, this routinized mutual misunderstanding could perpetuate the cycle of miscommunication and emotional disconnection.

In other words, cycles of miscommunication lead to emotional disconnection and a feeling of being “alone.” You may argue that you are not alone because you still have your loved one, yet you feel alone and will continue to feel so unless a more meaningful connection can be forged.

narcissistic relations

Fostering Meaningful Connections

Attention, coupled with the ability to tolerate frustration, paves the way for deeply fulfilling experiences that remain manageable and devoid of overwhelming stress. This makes it conducive for retention and storage. The act of storage entails not only remembering but also internalizing the experiences of understanding others, serving as a catalyst for breaking cycles of persistent emotional deprivation.

Fulfilling experiences serve to fill us with valuable emotions and insights, reducing feelings of loneliness and emotional deprivation as we find ourselves enriched by meaningful connections and internal growth.


Effective communication is hindered by low frustration tolerance and impulse control, leading to emotional deprivation and isolation. By slowing down and reflecting on our reactions, we can better understand and communicate with our loved ones, paving the way for genuine connections. If you’re interested in exploring more about various aspects of narcissism and improving your communication skills, consider subscribing to The Narcissism Decoder Podcast for future insights.

Book Telehealth Visit

I regret to inform you that I do not accept insurance and I am not participating with any insurance companies at this time. Payment for services rendered will be the responsibility of the patient directly. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. More information about financing can be found on this page.

* All indicated fields must be completed.
Please include non-medical questions and correspondence only.

Accessibility Toolbar

Scroll to Top