Why do men shutdown and not open up so much?

My boyfriend will open up about our relationship but rarely. If I try to talk to him and ask him what his opinion is he will give like one to six word answers and never go into detail. He says he is happy but I want him to express himself more. I talked to him about this and told him I am not forcing him to say or feel anything but I want him to feel comfortable telling me how our relationship is going if he is happy what he likes about me etc. He says he shuts down because of his past and I have told him so many times I am different and I'm not ever going to hurt him or cheat on him like the girls he has dated before. We say I love you before we leave anywhere or go to bed and we have been together for 1.5. years. He got me a claddagh ring 3 months after our one year anniversary so I know he is serious but I want to know how serious he is because he never talks in detail about us but once in a blue moon. We have talked about living together, getting married, kids he is all comfortable with talking about. He wants a future with me but why doesn't he ever talk about our relationship? Why do men shut down like this? I have been hurt in the past too but I'm not afraid anymore and I'm always talking and sharing my feelings about us with him but I feel he doesn't talk much back unless he is comfortable doing so. What can I do to make him open up to me more? Again I don't want to force him to do anything he isn't comfortable with doing either.



Most Helpful Guy

  • Most of us are taught from childhood to hide our emotions, especially negative ones like hurt, pain, embarrassment, and also the most positive one, love!

    Then come the traumatic experiences of break ups and betrayals later in life, on top of that.

    Is it any wonder we tend to be shut down, most of the time?

    Your guy clearly has had both experiences, and while verbally you may agree to talk about your relationship, in reality it's hard for him in practice.

    Try to take advantage of quiet moments to talk just a little about how you are feeling, and he will TRY to respond. Encourage him but don't pressure him to be tender or emotional very much, or he'll get scared and pull away in reaction to the pressure.

    Try to get him to open up just a little at a time, and then go sit in his lap or something to show how much it means to you to hear him tell you his feelings. Reward him when he opens up, in other words.

    • +5 !

    • I try to do that sometimes it works other times when I'm not concentrating on that as much and kind of act like I don't care - He feels more comfortable and tells me things. Like I said I always prove to him he can trust me and I don't know why he doesn't like being vulnerable with his own girlfriend I'm not asking like all the time because guys hate that but when he wants to he should. Good advice though thank you!

    • You're welcome! Keep me in mind for best answer!

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What Guys Said 8

  • TL;DR version: Because we don't find it necessary to analyze things that are going well, we need time to think, and because it usually ends up blowing up in our face anyways.

    Long Version: Honestly, men don't analyze their relationships the same way that women do. If we're happy with something, we're happy with it. We don't spend time pouring over how each individual detail of something makes us feel.

    I know that I tend to run mostly on intuition. I don't know why I've made a certain decision until after I've made it, and have time to think back about why I made it. Girls give me no end of trouble for this. They demand instant answers to everything, and then get upset when I can't provide them on the spot. We need time to think. There's some interesting research showing that women tend to analyze multiple ideas at once, where men tend to stick to one idea at a time, and keep at it until they've solved it.

    If there's no problem to solve, we aren't going to devote a whole lot of time to thinking about it. (If It ain't broke, don't fix it). It's entirely possible that he just thinks the relationship is going great, and opens up whenever he does have a concern. Just because it's not as often as you'd like doesn't mean there's a problem that needs to be fixed.

    Aside from that, opening up tends to get us into a lot of trouble. Any time I've tried to tell a girl I don't like something about her, she get's insanely self-conscious and thinks I'm an a**hole for days. I told my last girlfriend I wasn't a fan of her haircut, and she wouldn't see me for a week. Talking to a woman is honestly like treading through a minefield. All you have to do is innocently observe something she's feeling insecure about and they flip out. I hate to sound like a masochist, but I've yet to be proven wrong.

    Aside from THAT, you guys also really love putting words in our mouths. I can't tell you how many times an innocent comment of mine has been misconstrued as something terrible. For example, I told one of my exs that we didn't always have to be doing the same thing when we were together, and that it would be nice if we could just enjoy each others company while doing individual things. Like if I wanted to read or browse the web while she watches tv. She took this to mean "you're getting in the way of my life, and I don't want to spend time with you", and nothing I could say or do would convince her otherwise.

    As for what you can do, give him a few things each week you'd like him to think about. We're not good at coming up with answers on the spot, and usually end up blurting out something offensive or stupid out of pressure. Don't expect him to answer all of your questions instantly and on the spot, because he probably won't be able to.

  • I hate people who shut down, be it boy or girl.

    It's a sign of mental weakness to me.

    Well, the subject has to be of importance, if it's just small fry, then that's understandable if you don't feel like talking about it. But other than that yeah, I hate people who mentally shut down.

  • I'm reading this and I really don't see anything wrong, him saying he loves you and wants to marry you and have kids, that's basically the most you will get from a guy. Him saying he wants to marry you and have kids a huge deal, I don't think you realize that. Anything about the relationship that you need answered you will just have to bring it up, that's not in a guys nature to talk about and express.

  • Please don't expect that by telling him to talk amd express more, he will start doing so. Not in a million years. Guys are not wired to talk and express like the women do or expect. And there is nothing worse... I repeat,... Nothing worse... And I repeat again... Nothing more irritataing than being told to do so.

  • Cause society tells us to. That men are not supposed to be emotional or overt about their feelings or thoughts. That we're supposed to be "a strong man who can take anything and not flinch once" and crap like that. It's an outdated bunch of bullsh*t that's slow to die off. And apparently even though women (and men) have fought for the idea of "strong women" and that's become more socially acceptable, we still see a disproportional amount of acceptance for a "weak man" (I mean, hell, look at that bullsh*t, calling them "weak" cause they show their feelings/thoughts...). Just a bunch of double standard bullsh*t that's continued on.

    • I'm not sure if it's disproportional. Theoretically, if women are now taught to be strong, doesn't it mean we are also "losing" the right to be weak and can't be as emotional as before? Therefore, it wouldn't make sense if men gotten weaker, that would be a role changing or "too equal".

      But anyway, you should be able to open up with your moms and wives. There are things women only confide on their husbands too.

    • Show All
    • That's a good thing then, isn't it?

      You've to conform in some way because we live in societies, but you still get to be yourself and not abide by the rules all the time. :)

    • Eh, I dunno. Depends. Some aspects sure, others, nah.

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What Girls Said 6

  • Some men are more big on showing instead of being vocal about their true feelings.

    I honestly think that he really cares about you and means what he says when he does say it. I would just back off and maybe when he gets a bit more comfortable then he will become more vocal on his feelings towards you.

  • Sorry, but think you're kinda already forcing him.

    You say sometimes when he's comfortable he can talk about those things, you talked about living together, getting married, kids, you say I love you all the time, isn't that all about your relationship? Maybe it's just me, but honestly I don't down what else is there to talk about in detail? Lol

    Could it be that you want him to express his feelings more often, or maybe marry soon?

  • not all me do

  • well try to deal with it and get together with him once a week and ask him to tlak to you a lot that day or soemthing. tell her you wnat to know about him more like a date night.

  • He's clearly happy with the relationship you guys have, but he isn't as expressive as you are, and that may be something you need to just accept. I don't think it's only his past - it's also simply his nature. Some people like to talk about their feelings often, and others do it less and in their own time (me being a prime example). He's already quite comfortable if he wants to get married and have kids with you.

    I wouldn't keep asking him about it, because it might come across as nagging or pressuring (though I know that's not your intention). You've made your position clear and told him he should feel free to be open with you, so now let him share when he wants to share. One thing you can do is engage in positive reinforcement and reward him when he talks to you about his feelings on your relationship and everything. Also, when I say reward I don't mean tell him 'thanks for opening up, babe", I mean getting intimate after he shares.

    • Yeah I try to do that too and It's hard I can't read him I want to know how the relationship is going but sometimes it's like I'm prying at a wall trying to get it to come down and it will only come down now and then. I don't want him to be afraid of me I'm the loyalest girlfriend and longest girl he's been with. I just want to get inside his head! its frustrating! ya know?

    • I understand. Try to base how the relationship is going by mainly his actions rather than only words though. I think you can get inside his head better if you look at it this way: He's been with you 1.5 years. Great, he enjoys being with you. He gave you a Claddagh ring. Awesome, signifies his commitment. He talks about getting married and having kids with you. Wonderful, he's serious about you. Etc. Etc.

    • I have a feeling he's the kind of guy - if there's a problem he'll tell you and address it, but if there isn't it's all good and he doesn't feel the need to talk a lot about how good things are. No news is good news sort of thing. I don't think he's afraid of you, or talking to you, but it's not the way he is to be an open book all the time, you know what I mean? He's just a little on the reserved side.

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