Help him help you.
There’s nothing more important in a strong relationship than feeling like your partner knows and understands you on a deep, emotional level.
But opening yourself up emotionally to your partner isn’t always easy.
And why should it be? Making yourself vulnerable to another person is a DAMN hard thing to do.
It means sharing parts of yourself with them that even YOU aren’t always comfortable with.
But we do it.
Because we know the rewards it can yield and worth so much more than some temporary discomfort now.
It’s not always easy for men to open themselves up emotionally in relationships.
Very often this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the way we treat men in our society.
Men are supposed to be tough and strong, which means keeping their feelings deep under wraps.
This means when they get into a relationship, opening up can feel damn near impossible even when you know there’s nothing they want more.
But where does that leave you? You can’t force someone to bare their soul, but you can’t be in a relationship with someone who isn’t willing to risk making themselves vulnerable either.
So you work on getting him to open up, and to be more vulnerable with you, emotionally.
Here are a few helpful guidelines to help him do just that without scaring him away.
1. Let him know why you value your relationship.
Talking about your feelings (even your good ones) doesn’t come naturally to everyone. So set a precedent.
Let him know in clear, simple language what you appreciate about your relationship.
It doesn’t have to be grandiose, in fact, make it a habit.
When the two of you are working in tandem in the kitchen to make fajitas and you can do it without saying a word or getting in each other’s way, tell him how great you think that it is.
You’re setting an example, letting him know that it’s not only okay to say what you’re thinking and feeling, but that it can actually feel pretty great to do just that!
2. Share your hopes for your relationship.
It’s tempting when you’re in a relationship that is going well to think about the long term.
And why not? The future, when you’ve found a person you want to share it with, can be so exciting to contemplate.
But for him, it might be overwhelming.
Instead of peppering him with questions like “do you ever want to get married?” “to you want to have kids?” “where do you want to live?” share your hopes for your relationship.
“I am so hopeful that our relationship will keep growing,” is much nicer and easier to hear than “all my friends are getting married, what’s your timeline?”
Sharing your hopes without putting pressure on him lets him know that there is no expectation for him to spill, but that if he wants to open up, you’ll be happy to receive what he has to say.
3. Share your fears for your relationship.
When you are in a romantic relationship with someone who is having a hard time opening up emotionally, it can be hard to share what you’re afraid of.
Resist the urge, however tempting it might be, to keep your fears and insecurities bottled up for fear that he will not be able to handle them.
By sharing your fears with him in a low-stakes way before it turns into a fight, you set another important example.You can talk about problems in your relationship without it being the END of your relationship. If you’re as open about the bad stuff as you are about the good stuff, it will only serve to make him feel even safer.
4. Make him feel safe in your relationship.
Taking the steps listed above is a great way to build a foundation of safety in your relationship, but there’s more you can do to encourage him.
Safety in a relationship means knowing that every fight you have isn’t going to be the last conversation the two of you engage in.
Make talking about your relationship the norm. That way, he won’t come to dread “big talks” and clam up in fear of them.
When you’re feeling stressed out and cranky, tell him that so that he can separate your feelings from your feelings about him.
Always share what’s troubling you because in not doing so you create a tense environment and tense does not a safe space make.
5. Let him know that the two of you are partners in this relationship.
A relationship is an agreement between two people (maybe more than two if you are polyamorous).
It’s a balancing act and it’s a partnership that can be hard work. But when it works, it’s the best thing there is.
Let him know from the beginning that you’re there to balance and support him, and that you, in turn, expect the same.