2 'Shadow Sentences' People Use When They're Afraid To Say What They Really Mean

Sometimes when we're hurt it's hard to say what we really feel, but that usually just makes things worse.

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So, you're dating someone and things are looking up. But there is just one tiny problem. When problems arise, you or your partner have a habit of avoiding what you truly mean.

So, why do we do this? And what sentences or phrases do we use to avoid the truth?

Podcaster and author Chris Williamson recently explained "shadow sentences" people use when they're afraid to say what they really think.

Why do people use "shadow sentences"?

Williamson explains, "Shadow sentences are not stating what you want or need, but instead saying a thing you hope will cause the other person to realize what you need, and then getting upset if they don't."


Basically, you're pointing in a general direction without giving clear instructions on where you need your partner to go.

RELATED: Why You Need To Tell Him How You Feel Even If You're Scared

But I get it; you shouldn't have to always spell out your needs all the time. But, if you've never expressed your needs then it's unfair to expect your partner to be a mind reader.

And yes, it's vulnerable and nerve-wracking to express how you feel. It's terrifying to sit down and tell your partner, "I've been lacking this lately."

But as Williamson points out, "It protects you from rejection by not actually asking for anything. It's the ultimate expression of, 'If you loved me, you'd know what's wrong.'"


Moreover, shadow sentencing is a terrible form of communication. It's not only toxic, but it doesn't allow for both parties to be open and vulnerable in the relationship. But there is a way to fix this.

Williamson writes, "When one person starts speaking openly and carefully, it gives the other person license to do the same." So, start being vulnerable with your partner and your partner will begin to do the same.

However, how do we even know if we're using shadow sentences? And what are some of the common ones people use?

Shadow Sentences People Use When They're Afraid To Say What They Mean

1. "Oh, I'm glad you have time for that."

It's inevitable that at times your partner might choose to do something without you. If they seem to have plenty of time to spend with their friends and little time to spend with you, it can be frustrating and upsetting.


If you are afraid to come right out and say, "I really would like to see you soon, it makes me worried when you spend time with your friends but not me that it's because you don't want to be with me," you might resort to sarcastic and passive-aggressive comments.

You might say something like, "Oh, you're going out with your friends again? It must be pretty important to see your friends again. Glad you have so much time on your hands."

Don't get me wrong, the frustration you're feeling is one hundred percent understandable. But this isn't the ideal way to communicate your needs.

Moreover, your partner will likely react in one of two ways:

  1. They'll feel confused and defensive.
  2. They won't catch onto your true emotions.

Either way, this will just leave both of you frustrated, creating more distance and misunderstandings in your relationship.


RELATED: 5 Small (But Significant) Ways To Change How You Speak To Your Partner

2. "That call must be really important."

Ever been out with someone who's always on their phone? It can be super annoying and disrespectful when you're trying to connect. But don't forget, how we express our frustration matters.

It can be temping to use another snappy quip instead of being vulnerable and simply saying, "Hey, I'd love to speak and know you're busy but it makes me feel really good when you focus on me during dinner. Can your phone stuff wait until later?"

However, this isn't the way to go. Not only are you being passive-aggressive, but you aren't being clear with your needs. And not being clear about your expectations can make it hard for your partner to change their behavior.


So, simply say, "I understand you're busy but I would like your attention to be on me right now. Can you please put your phone away and save it for later?"

@bethathealinggirl Replying to @twtweetiebird first step is always communicate communicate communicate ♥️😍 #relationshipadvice #alwaysonthephone #datingadvice ♬ original sound - clare

In both instances, being clear about your expectations and the appreciation you'd feel if your partner met them is important.

If your partner truly cares, they'll do everything to make sure you don't feel neglected again, but this requires clear communication and vulnerability on your part.


RELATED: What Does Lack Of Communication Do To A Relationship?

Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.