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.
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 ActualConversation.com. For more on Ethan, visit EthanFixell.com…or call his mom, Robin.