Sharing your thoughts and feelings openly elevates your level of emotional intimacy and draws you closer. But what if you’re missing that? What if your partner doesn’t open up the way you wish they did?
Wanting your partner to open up to you, but feeling their distance, is a frustrating and lonely place to be. For both of you. It leaves you with a heart-wrenching longing of not knowing how to reach each other. Not in the way you truly want.
You get the sense that things are going on beneath the surface, but without knowing what those things are, it can lead to doubts and worry.
So how do you help someone who’s so guarded to open up? Short answer – very carefully. And by this I don’t mean proceed with caution, I mean handle with care.
Caution can result in both of you withdrawing. Caring draws you together.
Demanding or coaxing them to open up will only result in distance and a more deeply entrenched pattern of withdrawal.
Sharing intimate emotions and thoughts can feel threatening and scary to your partner if they’ve ventured in that direction. And requests for them to do so can come off sounding pushy and demanding – no matter how gentle your approach.
Someone who is reluctant to be vulnerable has learned to guard their tender heart for a reason. Or perhaps for many reasons. They’ve come to know it’s safer to shut down than it is to risk opening up. Often times they received messages that emotions, especially tender and fearful ones, have no value. They learn emotions can’t be trusted.
The person who is withdrawn needs to know they are safe to venture out of their emotional hiding place. But don’t expect them to come bounding out ready to spill just because you tell them they are safe with you. They need to test the waters over and over, one tiny baby step at a time, before they’re ready to wade in deeper.
They might need the help of a third party. It’s common for me to hear clients say, “I can’t believe how he/she opens up when we’re with you, but it’s a whole other story when we’re on our own.” This is beyond normal so try not to take it personally.The safety net of an unbiased party makes the process of opening up easier. Click To Tweet
There are often ways we add pressure to our partners unknowingly – even though we’re trying to help. Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that will send your partner back to their safety zone. And that’s no one’s fault.
Something you can try is this: When they’re talking about something that happened, and that can be related to work, hobbies, the kids, etc., consider adding “I’m guessing that made you feel ________.” Keep it simple. Don’t ask them to agree or share what was really going on for them. Quite honestly they might not even know if they’ve tuned their emotions out over the years.
Chances are their withdrawing happened over a long time. It will take time for them to be able to trust and feel safe to venture into the land of emotions. Besides relying on faith, trust and pixie dust, consider finding someone you both resonate with who can help you on this journey.
Live a happy, sexy life!
Dr. Gayle Friend
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