Clear those emotional road blocks.
Do you ever feel like when you want to talk about something important, your partner shuts down? Does it feel like pulling teeth sometimes to get a word from him? Do you sometimes wonder if anyone’s even in there?
Here are three things you can do to get your partner to open up to you, without things being too painful.
1. Back off and let give him room to breathe.
If you're like most frustrated partners trying desperately to connect with your shut-down partner, you're probably in his face a lot trying to get him to speak. To help him feel comfortable enough to reach out a bit, you've got to back off.
I know it might seem scary to do that because you worry that if you stop making an effort to reach him, there will never be a chance to connect. But in order for him to open up, he needs his room. Many people are in their partners' faces about needing to hear from them, but what they really need is some room to breathe. Without that room, they feel suffocated and overwhelmed, and many just freeze up.
Many become desperate to say something just to please you but don't have the head space to make the words come out. That may sound hard to believe if speaking your thoughts and feelings comes easy for you, but trust me, it's not easy for everyone. If your partner shuts down, speaking about his thoughts and feelings may be difficult, and damn near impossible if you're constantly in his face about it.
2. Be nice and show empathy.
You're frustrated and upset. You feel like you're the only one in the relationship sometimes because your partner doesn't seem to want to open up and connect. So you get mad and lash out. That makes sense. But guess what? It doesn't do any good for you.
Every time you criticize your partner, it's like you're shooting yourself in the foot. Even though underneath your anger and frustration you're just desperate to hear from him, getting mean about it just pushes him away even more.
So play nice. Try to find little things to appreciate out loud and pump him up a little. He's only going to open up if he feels safe, and little compliments will help. Work extra hard for a week or two to find and show your appreciation.
3. Don't be afraid of vulnerability.
You may not know this, but he's probably terrified of you. You’re better with words, seem more aware of your feelings, and can (and do) destroy him in an argument. This is all really scary to him. He sees you as capable of anything, which includes doing a lot of damage to him.
So if you can, pay attention to that tough exterior that you have. Take a second to acknowledge it and try to let it go. Let him know what's really going on underneath and that you just want in.
If it's true, let him know that you realize you can be hostile at times, but you just so desperately want to hear from him. If you're lonely and sad, show him your true feelings. Most often when you open your mouth and tell him something, all he sees is red. But if you show him your softer side, he'll be less afraid.
You're more powerful than you realize and you're more important to your partner than you know. Show him your truth and he'll be more likely to respond.
This article was originally published at My Best Relationship. Reprinted with permission from the author.