Ask A Guy: How Can You Get A Guy To Open Up?

Dear Ethan,

How can I get my boyfriend to open up to me? When he gets mad or upset he never tells me what’s going on or what he’s feeling. He just seems to want to deal with it on his own. I want him to feel comfortable with me so he can talk to me about what’s bothering him when something upsets him. Help!

When I read this question to my girlfriend, the topic hit so close to home that she had to check her Gmail outbox just to make sure she didn’t submit it herself while sleep-emailing. While guys often criticize girls for “oversharing,” apparently you’re not alone in feeling that guys have a tendency to “undershare.” Even as a dude who considers himself in touch with his emotions (and writes a weekly dating advice column!), I, too am guilty of this habit. However, in order to get your man to open up to you, I think it’s important to understand the difference between male and female communication.

In general, men like to talk in order to solve problems, while women converse in order to process their feelings and work out that which they want to express. Unfortunately, most of us guys view communication as a means to and end rather than as a process of discovery, and we often avoid discussing issues until we’ve figured out how to fix them.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to respect your boyfriend’s space; the worst you can do is to nag him or criticize him for being distant. Attacking or attempting to coerce a guy into discussing his emotions will most likely only cause him to retreat further into solitude. Feel free to share your own emotions without expectations of consistent reciprocation, and make it clear that you’re always there for him when he’s ready to talk. Try not to take his male-ness personally! If he’s a guy worth dating, he’ll open up to you on his own with just a little support and patience from the girl he loves.

Good luck!

Ethan Fixell is a writer and comedian from New York City best known as one half of comic “dating coach” duo Dave and Ethan. He is also the creator and editor of For more on Ethan, visit…or call his mom, Robin.

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  • Lou

    Hi can I just ask I am accusing my man of having a one night stand with a girl this girl is a lot younger then him n it’s his nates young sister I keep accusing him he gets annoyed and keeps saying he fed up and to ask the girl myself if he did sleep with her would he really be asking me to ask the girl myself ? I want ask her because it’s not mature I don’t think I would only ask him

  • chelz

    I’ve been in a relationship for two years now. Everything was going fine & all of a sudden, he dumps me. He says it’s not me but his feelings changed and he needs to find what he wants in life. He says he still loves me but doesn’t feel we should be together yet he still tells his mother that he wants to marry me one day. Before we broke up, he asked me to go to the same college he was going because he wanted us to still be together and I accepted. When he broke up with me, I asked him why he asked me to be with him in college. His excuse was “you’re my best friend, I love you and I don’t ever want you out of my life”. His mom recently contacted me and said he’s been crying his eyes out and knows he made a huge mistake but still feels the same way. I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS! Guys, I need advice from you’re perspective. What does the break up mean?

  • Amy

    I just met this guy, and I’ve shared things about my life and the people who I spend time with. But when I text him ask him what things he enjoys doing with his free time, I get no response. When he text me he ask how I am, what I’m doing, etc…. I respond. I don’t ask a slew of questions, maybe one a day if that and still nothing. Like I said we just met, so we are in the new stage of just getting to know one another. Like we are talking/dating, nothing serious. I would like to know more, and see where this could lead to. How do I learn more, or even ask that? I haven’t dated a lot and I like him enough to see if there is something and freak him out.

  • Factsonmen

    Great post. Communication is the key to a great relationship, however as stated in the article both men and women have different communication styles. It is the responsiblity of both parties to learn and understand each others style and adapt.