“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak.”—Thomas Edison

People who seem to “have it all together” are single for a number of reasons. They are focused on their careers, may view relationships as “work” or not a priority, and/or they want to show out, ho out and be “free.” The list goes on and on, but one of the most underexplored reasons why some people are still single is that they do not listen.

Here’s a gentle reminder of the importance of practicing the art of listening, a very useful, simple and easily accessible skill that some don’t use to its advantage when seeking love and romance.

You can tell someone what you like, don’t like, may like, or will never like, and they will present the very opposite of what you desire. Take the classic sitcom Martin for example. Gina, Pam, Tommy and Cole loved him to death, but most of the unfortunate events of the show could have been avoided if Martin had not jumped to conclusions and actually listened to his loved ones.

From the time he thought that Gina was having an affair to him thinking that she was trying to kill him for the insurance money, Martin overreacted due to not listening. Once he had an idea of how something was, there was no stopping his stream of consciousness, which essentially caused him more harm than good. Of course, there wouldn’t be a sitcom if he would have listened more, but you get what I’m saying.

If you’re trying to get to know a woman and you don’t see very many pictures of her out at the club or social media updates of her “getting f*cked up,” then you might not want to keep inviting her out to lounges and bars every time she talks to you. If that guy keeps telling you he prefers to have serious conversations in person as opposed to Gchat, it may not be such a great idea to text message him telling him that his best friend died. These may seem like two very obvious examples, but you’d be surprised how often people ignore the apparent.

Listening not only shows that you respect your potential mate, but it saves you both a lot of time. The first few interactions with a potential/current mate set the tone of the relationship. Too many people are busy trying to impress the one they like to the point where they forget to use the skill to collect and gather information that will set them up for the win.

When attracting and interacting with a potential mate, you should listen to understand who the person really is and whether or not you can actually get along. Do you like the same things? Is this person too rigid for your taste? Are they really saying something authentic or just what you want to hear? Active listening, coupled with intuition, will not only assist in you in finding out if someone is worth your time, but also helps you present your point of view more effectively to allow them to vet you as well.

The key to any successful relationship, or the start to one, is communication, and the base for great communication is active listening. One can neither appropriately address nor respond to the needs of someone else until he or she knows what those needs are and understands the needs of the other party involved. Plus, people who don’t listen are just plain annoying; annoying to talk to, annoying to be around, and annoying to be with. No one wants to feel like they’re not being heard. So do yourself and everyone else a favor and just listen.

Shantell E. Jamison is an editor for EBONY.com and JETmag.com. Not confined to chasing headlines, this Chicago-based writer, radio personality and cultural critic is also the author of Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self.