3 Reasons Why It’s Hard for you Partner To Open Up
Gaby Balsells |
October 7, 2021 |

I get this question a lot: “Why doesn’t my partner open up more?”

And this is a common pattern in romantic relationships, one I see a lot in my private practice. One person is more expressive and craves a deeper connection with their partner, so they think more about the relationship and maybe worry more about it. And the other person is more rational, relies more on logic and problem solving, and therefore it feels less natural to them to have emotional conversations and to share more deeply about their thoughts, needs and feelings.  

If this feels familiar, here’s 3 reasons why it might be hard for your significant other to open up:

  1. They might be out of touch with their emotions:

Feelings were not normalized and talked about in their family and their past, so they are not used to connecting with their emotions. It doesn’t feel natural to them to recognize, feel and talk about them. When asked about emotions, they might not have an “emotional vocabulary”, which means they don’t find the words to describe their inner experience. 

And all humans have the same kind of emotions, but we recognize and organize them differently. So this person has all the same deep and broad feelings you do, but sometimes they might be of their awareness. However we don’t discard their ability to learn about emotional intelligence, just because it’s something they haven’t done before! That’s a lot of the work we do in therapy. 

  1. Fear that voicing their feelings will cause a fight:

I hear this a lot when there’s been a history of past relationships (family or romantic) with a lot of conflict and confrontation. The narrative is something like “when I brought up emotions or needs in the past, I was met with defensiveness and anger, resulting in a huge fight.” 

Therefore they can equate that speaking up for their feelings and defending their needs will for sure lead to a fight. How they make sense of that is that conflict is to be avoided and therefore it’s better to “keep quiet” instead of speaking up for their needs. This might be the reason they are aware of having these emotions but choose not to bring it up. The risk here is keeping quiet builds resentment over time. 

  1. They don´t feel safe enough to share more:

It might be that in the past when they have risked sharing vulnerability or feelings with you or with people in past relationships, they were met with judgement or indifference. (Sometimes this happens without noticing, with no bad intention! We can miss each other, or get lost in translation). This means their vulnerability was not met with a super positive response, which feels uncomfortable for anyone and therefore they have shut down their vulnerable feelings. 

And sometimes in romantic relationships, this merges with a pattern of feeling like they need to be the strong one -“the rock”- in the relationship. Therefore in times of stress, they will be more rational and solid, which plays into patterns of relationships in which they usually partner with someone who is more emotional than them. So, a lot of the work we do in couple’s therapy is making this pattern more flexible, so although one person might be more rational, they learn that they can also share with and lean on their partner. And together  you create the safety needed for more emotional expression and freedom. 

That being said, I want to point out what a cool think it is that you wish to understand your partner better and grow your relationship. And just the fact that you feel this desire means it is entirely possible for you to have a better relationship!

About me

I guide power couples to build happy, thriving and long lasting relationships. 

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About me

I guide power couples to build happy, thriving and long lasting relationships.

Most Popular