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The Psychology of Interrupting and How it Affects Dating

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

In any context, getting interrupted in a conversation is never fun. It tends to tell us the person isn’t particularly interested in your perspective or feels like what you have to say isn’timportant. Particularly during a date, people who interrupt can often feel like they are signaling an important indicator of how your communication style would be later down the line as a couple.

But it can often be a more complex issue than that. We take a deep dive into the psychology of interrupting, how there are different types and how you can nip it in the bud early on in a relationship.

The effects and psychology of interrupting other people

The first important thing to note in the psychology of interruption is the often radical difference in intent and perception between parties.

But every person interrupting should know that they’re putting the person being interrupted at a social disadvantage. Getting interrupted can often create a feeling of a lack of respect or that you hold your opinions as somehow more valid than theirs. A lack of mutual respect can be a red flag for most singles and a conversation killer.

A recent study from IFAAMAS showed that while interrupting generally increased one’s social degree of dominance it had a dramatically negative effect on notions of affiliation and affection1, which is poisonous to a blossoming romance. Another study from the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior volume found that interrupters were seen as less sociable and more assertive than individuals who did not interrupt, on average2.   

What does it mean when someone constantly interrupts you and their psychological motivations

However, when it comes to the psychology of interrupting, it has been found that there are a variety of contributing factors to it and different types of social motivators. A lot of these aren’t in bad faith or meant offensively but may be part of natural behavioral models.

The reasons both personal and psychological of interrupting

Here are some conscious and subconscious reasons that may be behind the question, of why my partner interrupts me:

  • A major factor behind interrupting is anxiety. The person may have a disjointed idea of how to keep a conversation going. This can be a vicious cycle as their interrupting behavior can scare off potential new connections and only further fuel their sense of anxiety and isolation.
  • Another major driver is narcissism or egocentrism, which is a relationship trait to definitely avoid. Narcissists often feel compelled to dominate conversations as they hold little interest in the perspectives of others.
  • Socially awkward people may also be ignorant of the normal etiquette of conversations and may be people who interrupt simply because they don’t know better, which can require some patience and communication from partners.
  • One of the most toxic motivators behind interrupting is aggressive and dominant personalities. There’s little chance of these types of people changing as they view their need to overrun conversations as a base aspect of their personality.

 Now let’s look at how interruptions can differ in certain conversational contexts.  

Different types of interruptions

Not all interruptions are the same, nor do they all carry the same intent, so it’s important to also understand what does it mean when someone constantly interrupts you:

  • Gain power in the situation – These interruptions fit the narcissist model and often are just about controlling the direction of the conversations
  • Build intimacy and rapport with you – When people get excited at a certain topic or thought it can often lead them to interrupt you just as a way to show you that they’re listening.
  • Express emotion – This is mostly completely involuntary and is often built into people’s models of communication for expressing surprise or affirmation.
  • Style of communication – Many were just brought up with an interruptive communication style, possibly brought on by how their family or immediate social group interacted.

When it comes to getting interrupted as a power dynamic, it’s important to show your own assertiveness in the situation while also reflexively expressing that it’s not acceptable behavior when dating you. Surprisingly, straightforward communication may be the best pathway when asking yourself why my partner interrupts me.

How to stop your dates from interrupting you

Regardless of the psychology of interrupting and the various social situations that drive it, being constantly interrupted when you’re on a date can grow frustrating, even for the best of us.

Here are some effective strategies for dealing with pathological interrupters in constructive and positive ways.

  • Tell them during a neutral emotional state – Before you let the interruptions get you angry, calmly talk to them about how their talking over you is getting in the way of a natural conversation.
  • Forge ahead – This can be effective with both neutral and aggressive interrupters. Simply ignore their interruptions and carry on talking and they should take the cue.
  • Communicate your frustration non-verbally – Sometimes people don’t know they’re irritating you through their interruptions so make sure your expressions and mannerisms tell them when words won’t do.
  • Take a look at your own communication style – Sometimes our natural way of conversing invites interruption, such as not being concise when we talk, leaving long pauses between sentences or seeming as if you were finished with what we were saying, so it may not always be intentional. 

At the end of the day, sometimes it’s just best to let it go. People tend to stick to the personality and communication style they have. So sometimes the best choice is just choosing not to have that person in your life any longer if their style of conversation doesn’t mesh with yours. 

Learn to positively nudge the psychology of interrupting in your partner

Sometimes when it comes to dating, you just have to go with what feels right for you. If interrupting is a major issue in your dating life, you could try to let them know when they are stifling the flow of conversation with their interjections. For the more passive forms, it can often be a question of communicating your frustrations to help modify their behavior. At other times, it’s best to recognize the difference in dating style, just cut your losses and find someone with a more compatible communication style.

eharmony is a platform that specializes in connecting singles with compatible personalities, lifestyles and communication styles. Our rich selection of communication features will also help you get to know other people in a variety of different ways than just talking. So try out eharmony today.

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