“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
It hurts when your boyfriend (or anyone you feel close to, for that matter) doesn’t talk with you like he used to. You may be feeling sad, confused, angry, worried – or all of the above. So what do you do? What needs to happen for him to start talking again?
Because direct, honest communication is key to any wholesome relationship, you want your boyfriend to feel safe expressing his feelings to you.
There are strategies you can use to help create that safe space for your boyfriend to start talking to you again, which will be discussed below.
It’s important to recognize that your boyfriend not talking most likely isn’t about you.
Your boyfriend may have had an experience that has led him to believe that it is safer to be emotionally closed off than it is to open up. He may not be in a place where he’s ready to address the issue or where that belief comes from.
While you cannot force him to talk to you, or acknowledge what may be keeping him from talking to you, you can provide him with a safe space to open up to you when he’s ready.
Here are three ways you can create that safe space to encourage your boyfriend to open up to you:
1. Model vulnerability
You can show your boyfriend how to be open with you by being open with your own feelings. Use “I” statements (for example, “I felt hurt when you didn’t answer my text, and I need some comfort right now,”) to clearly express your feelings and needs. This shows your boyfriend that you are comfortable with expressing your feelings and that it is okay for him to do the same.
2. Listen when he talks
When your boyfriend is talking, you can encourage him to continue to speak by giving him your undivided attention. This means making direct eye contact with him and making sure your phone is out of sight. Active listening also involves reflecting what he’s saying back to him, offering supportive feedback, and not interrupting him.
3. Use “I statements”
Have you ever gotten into an argument with your boyfriend and found yourself telling him what you think he’s doing wrong? How did he react? Maybe he got defensive and argued back – or shut down completely. To avoid putting him on the defensive, you can keep your focus on your feelings and experience rather than his by using “I statements.”
For example, rather than saying, “If you’d just quit playing video games we’d have more time together!” try saying, “I really miss spending time with you. I would like it if we could brainstorm some things that we can do together this week.”
Again, remember that you cannot force your boyfriend to open up to you. He may need time and space before he’s ready to talk. It’s important to be patient with him and seek out support from other sources (friends, family, a therapist) when you need it.
Elena Simonsen, LCSW – www.bybsandthrive.com
Before you get concerned about communication changing between the two of you consider a few different factors that may be playing a role.
1. Have you left the honeymoon stage?
Researchers have shown that the honeymoon stage of a relationship can last up to two years but that relationships feel more settled down after this length of time.
In the early stages of a relationship, it is common to talk for hours and spend lots of time getting to know each other (if you didn’t have a pre-existing relationship before dating).
However, this is not bound to last forever (nor does it need to!). It may be that your communication is changing because your relationship is progressing.
2. Is he going through a life transition?
In times of chaos, our communication patterns change. Research shows that couples who live together (especially if they have children) spend an average of only 20 minutes communicating each day! What we talk about and how often we talk shifts depending on what we’re dealing with in our lives.
If your boyfriend is going through a big change (i.e. starting a new job, taking a difficult class at school, etc.), understand that this communication change probably has nothing to do with you. Give it some time to see if your communication naturally picks back up in a few weeks or so as he adjusts.
If both of those reasons don’t apply to your relationship, consider making the following changes to improve communication between the two of you:
1. Make the time – make sure you are giving him your full attention when you’re talking. If the two of you are struggling to find time together due to busy schedules, see what can come off your plate; you must first have time to communicate in order for it to happen.
2. Ask open-ended questions – Ask questions that can’t be responded to with just a one-word answer. Instead of saying, “Did you have a good day?”, ask “What was the best part of your day?” See if this gets more of a response out of him.
3. Try to pinpoint how he’s feeling – If verbal communication is in short supply, see what his body language or tone of voice is telling you (80% of communication is non-verbal!). Ask deeper questions while also respecting that he may not be ready to dive into exploring his emotions just yet.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
Relationships change all the time. The way things were in the beginning may look different now, which might be what is going on. If your boyfriend is communicating less, do not initially take this as a red flag for the relationship.
Start by getting curious about what has changed in your relationship:
- Is he genuinely communicating less, or are both of you communicating less?
- Are you stuck in a rut of surface-level conversations and struggling to go deeper?
- Is there more stress going on in your lives that could be impacting connection?
Sometimes communication changes in a relationship are not intentional and are a result of external circumstances.
Whatever may be causing the change in communication, it’s essential to share your needs and desires with your boyfriend. Be direct and tell him you need to have more communication with him. Explain how you feel things have changed by using “I language.”
“I feel you have been more distant lately. I want us to be more connected.”
“I’m wondering if you are intentionally not talking with me anymore. For me, it feels as if things have changed.”
Give him the chance to share his perspective and explain what is happening for him.
Ask him to share his needs and desires when it comes to communicating. If you both have the same needs/desires, great. If not, see if there is a compromise that supports both of your core needs on communication.
Remember that you have to talk about your concern to increase the chance of communication. Communication issues don’t change when you are not talking.
Rachel Elder, LMHC, MHP – www.rachel-elder.com
The start of a relationship is new and exciting.
When you’re learning about each other, conversations flow and you find yourself constantly chatting or texting. As time goes on, there comes a point where things naturally shift.
Communication becomes less frequent as we settle into the rhythm of the relationship.
However, if his avoidance leaves you questioning if he’s still interested – it’s time to address it.
Women have a tendency to analyze interactions and try to understand how the other person is feeling before addressing an issue. Instead, let your concern guide you to ask if he has also noticed the changes too.
If he’s changed the way he talks to you it can be helpful to point out what you liked about communication in the past.
He may not have realized you’ve been missing these things and the two of you can get back on the same page. Leave room for the possibility the two of you may need to re-invest in the curiosity that brought you together.
Over time we lose the thrill of discovering our partner as we settle into the mundane routines of life.
Together talk about what shared experiences could help reignite the spark. Have fun! Break out of the everyday schedule and do something fun together. This not only helps with bonding but also gives the two of you new things to talk about.
Don’t forget to check in with yourself and make sure that your supports are in place.
Sometimes we get wrapped up in the whirlwind of a new relationship that we can neglect other relationships in our life. When we do this we can become dependent on our partner for our social needs.
Speak your truth, take care of yourself, and be open to your partner’s feedback.
Dana Hall, LCPC, MA, TF-CBT – www.DanaLHall.com
If you find that your boyfriend has quieted down and doesn’t talk to you the way he used to, this could mean that he is becoming more comfortable in the relationship.
It is not necessarily a bad thing for two people to share intimate and quiet time together. In fact, it can be a sign of a healthy relationship.
Once a certain comfort level is present, it is not always necessary to talk all the time.
This may not mean that he is not interested in you, but simply that there is a secure bond, and communication is happening in other ways. As a couple becomes closer, each person learns to read another’s nonverbal cues. This reduces the necessity for explaining every little thing.
In a different scenario, if you find that you are trying to have conversations with your boyfriend and he refuses to engage, he could be distracted or losing interest.
Try not to force conversations that he obviously doesn’t want to have, but at the same time, know when it is important to say what you need to say.
There’s a fine line between too little and too much communication.
If your boyfriend is in fact losing interest in you, that will become apparent in many other ways besides reduced conversation. There will be no doubt about it, and you will know that this is not working out. However, there is no need to jump to conclusions just because there’s a change in communication style in the relationship.
Throughout the course of getting to know someone, you learn about their personality at deeper levels, their moods, and each person’s need for space.
Try to give your boyfriend space if he needs it, as this can often help a relationship. People change and relationships change, and the only constant in life is change.
Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com
It is thought that when we first meet a person and the beginning stages of the relationship, we are our best selves.
This can be confusing if the relationship progresses, and we and our partners find ourselves becoming more comfortable in the relationship. It may be noticed that our partners aren’t speaking to us in the same manner they once were.
If this is happening, it is most likely negative speak, or else it wouldn’t be an issue.
First, let’s not personalize.
Ask your partner if anything is going on in their life to cause them stress. Sometimes when stress or negative things are happening in a person’s life, they take it out on the people closest to them. This is a form of projection.
If this is ruled out, move on to, is there anything you have done to upset your partner that they feel as if the negative talk is warranted.
Just to point out, negative talk is never acceptable, however, an individual may not have a completely mature sense of self and therefore, may resort to negative dialogue as a way to get frustrations out.
We have ruled out everything and it seems that your boyfriend now doesn’t speak kindly to you out of anywhere.
Stand up for yourself.
Advocate for yourself. Verbalize what kind of dialogue you find acceptable and what dialogue you do not. If something feels uncomfortable to you, say something and be confident. Odds are, it won’t get better if you remain silent.
Lori D’Elia, MA, LMFT, CPC –www.deliafamilysolutions.com
Something has changed in your relationship and you don’t know what. Somehow your boyfriend is no longer sharing his life with you or relying on you for comfort and support.
- Are you wondering if your partner is losing interest?
- Are you being too paranoid or just being intuitive?
- Has your relationship become too complacent with the fire and sizzle gone?
What happened? You may need to have THE TALK.
You need to clear the air and get things off your chest to improve the situation and redirect the relationship in a better direction.
What you are doing is opening the floor to discussion and hopefully, to a solution.
You are stating how you feel about his lack of communication and how that makes you uncomfortable and sad. You want to relay that you feel the void when he shuts you out and you no longer know who he is. You want him to be honest with you so that you both have an understanding of what needs to be done to adjust, compromise or let go of the relationship as it is.
You can ask yourself the following questions:
- When he speaks, is it curt, rude, annoyed or abrupt?
- Has the romance left the relationship and is your intimacy lessened?
- Does he talk about your future together anymore?
- Is he willing to listen to you about your concerns?
Don’t worry about feeling uncomfortable or even a little paranoid when discussing things.
Instead, worry about being in a relationship that needs a lot of work to be healthy and whole.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.