9 Surprising Mistakes You Make That Cause Your Partner To Not Want To Open Up
A healthy relationship involves openness and honesty, but if you feel like your partner is holding back, it's important to take a step back and analyze if you're making them feel comfortable enough in the relationship. There are a number of surprising mistakes you may be making when your partner won't open up, and fixing these issues may open the doors for more intimate conversation. Of course, if your partner is emotionally reserved, that might not always be your fault, but you can do your best and engage in habits to help make them feel safer and more comfortable when they're around you.
"Generally, people close themselves off emotionally when they are not feeling it is safe too open up, to be themselves, or to take a risk," therapist Rebecca Burton, LMFT tells Bustle. "Reasons for this can range from experiencing a difficult childhood to being rejected by love partners to simply feeling misunderstood by others."
You can't force intimacy, but you can do your part to encourage healthy conversations and solid trust in a relationship. To make sure your partner feels comfortable being honest and vulnerable around you, Here are nine surprising things that may keep them from opening up to be aware of.
1. You Might Try Too Hard
Even if your intentions are pure, pushing someone too hard to open up about difficult topics sometimes can backfire. "If your partner is struggling with opening up, let [them] know you're happy to provide a little space, and you'll be there for them when they're ready," says Burton. "This may help convey a sense of safety."
2. You Share Too Much
It's understandable to want to relate to your partner, especially if something similar has happened to you. "But unfortunately, this may indicate to your partner that you'd rather talk about yourself than hear about them," says Burton. "Sitting quietly with your partner's feelings can sometimes be more helpful than saying, 'Me too!'"
3. You Try To Distract Them From Their Problems
Trying to distract your partner from their problems isn't always the best solution. "Although this may sometimes work, it can also feel dismissive to your partner's feelings," says Burton. "Rather than providing distracting entertainment, ask your partner if [they are] in the mood to be distracted. If not, ask if they know what they need instead."
4. You Ask A Lot Of Questions
It's normal to be curious, but you want your partner to lead the conversation. "A few gentle questions are sometimes totally welcome, but too many, and your act of caring becomes an interrogation," says Burton. "Another way to approach a partner who has a hard time opening up is by listening and responding with empathy, reflection, and love."
5. You're Taking Things Too Seriously
You want to take the relationship seriously, but you don't want to go overboard with how intensely you approach every conversation. "If every conversation becomes a 'Very Big Talk,' your partner may try to avoid connecting with you altogether," says Burton. "Make time for fun activities and conversations."
6. You're Always Looking For The Solution
"If your [partner] shares a problem with you and you immediately try to fix it, you may cause them to shut down," relationship counselor Kac Young PhD, ND, DCH tells Bustle. "Instead, encourage them, and don’t map out the solution unless they ask for it. Approach everyone as if they are intelligent and capable beings and respect them enough to know that they have the right to express themselves and grow into their own remedy."
7. You're Distracted
It might seem like no big deal to scroll Instagram while listening to your partner talk about their day, but if they don't feel like they're getting the attention they deserve, they might not bother filling you in on their life. " "For example, your partner might be excited to share news with you, but you check your phone while they are sharing," therapist Christene Lozano, MS LMFT tells Bustle. "When someone experiences that what they have to say doesn't matter, it makes sense for them to feel upset, hurt, angry, and not want to open up again."
8. You're Not Going Out Of Your Way To Ask How They Are
"Sometimes, you might assume your partner will be forthcoming with what they are doing and how they are feeling," says Lozano. "However, they may not be inclined to open up because you haven't overtly expressed that you'd like to know how they are doing. It sounds simple enough, but a 'Hey, tell me about how you have been today?' can go far."
9. You Gossip About Others
Some people like to tell their partner everything, even pieces of gossip they wouldn't share about their friends. But this habit of filling in your significant other on what everyone is up to might make them afraid of what you might say to others about them. "[If you gossip about other people's intimate details, your partner will learn not to trust you," therapist Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT tells Bustle.] This definitely isn't the case for everyone, but if you notice your partner isn't opening up, it may be something to consider.
It's not always easy getting a partner to open up, especially if they're used to dealing with their feelings on their own. But if you show them you're listening, without too much pressure, they may become more comfortable talking things out.