“No relationship can survive without trust, honesty, and communication, no matter how close you are.”
~ J. Sterling
If your boyfriend is very blunt and ends up hurting your feelings regularly, here are some tips on helping him express himself more sensitively as well as understanding why he responds bluntly.
First off, do you understand why your boyfriend is so blunt?
A blunt approach may signal that your boyfriend is brutally honest—which is helpful in the honesty category, but hurtful in the brutal delivery.
Are there experiences that have required him to be blunt in life?
For example, some men have jobs that require very direct communication for safety reason, and some men have learned to be blunt because they have been in a culture/family/gender that has pushed them to be more direct than sensitive.
However, if his blunt approach is regularly causing you to bristle, try these approaches:
Request that he think/breathe a bit before he speaks to you, particularly if you two are in stressful time or experiencing conflict.
Men’s biological systems are wired to stay in fight-or-flight mode longer than women’s systems, so you may find yourself on the receiving end of his fighting words or bluntness if he doesn’t cool down first.
Ask him to communicate how he’s feeling, if he’s willing.
If this is something uncomfortable for him, try to be patient. Many men aren’t taught how to identify what they’re feeling, much less to express it in emotional terms. Show him that you are listening and not critical, and ask that he do the same for you when it’s time for him to listen.
If your boyfriend says something bluntly that hurts you, tell him in the moment.
You may have to explain what exactly it was about his delivery that was hurtful: Was it the words he used? His tone? His shortness?
Keep in mind that he is not likely to be wired the same as you, and may not understand why you need him to be sensitive.
Ask yourself what happens internally when he is blunt with you.
- Do you find yourself withdrawing from the relationship?
- Does it cause you to build resentment, or to fear sharing anything vulnerable?
Whatever the case, explain to him calmly how his blunt manner affects you, and let him know that you’re expressing these feelings because you care about him and your relationship, and don’t want anything to come between you.
As long as you feel loved and appreciated in other important ways, chances are that your boyfriend’s bluntness isn’t intended to hurt you.
Try to remember that, but if you notice yourself withdrawing, building resentment, or feeling consistently scarred by his words, consider couples counseling to work through your differences in communication styles with a professional.
Jennifer Meyer, M.A., LPC, NCC – www.jenmeyercounseling.com
I have been accused (and am guilty of) being blunt. I have the best of intentions with my direct communication, but I understand that sometimes I could benefit from being a little softer.
I say this to help you understand that if your partner is being blunt, they may mean well, but their way of communicating may not be ideal for you.
I am a big proponent of being truthful and honest in our communication and saying exactly what we mean (and meaning what we say). However, sometimes even doing that with the best intentions may hurt our partner.
I find people are often blunt for a few reasons:
- That is how they were taught to communicate and/or this communication style may be the most comfortable for them
- They may be exhausted and not have the energy to say it in a more “fluffy” way
- They want to make sure you know exactly how they feel
- They may not realize that this is not how you want them communicating with you
If you feel like your partner is being too blunt, I think it is important to understand that while it may not be your preferred style of communication, they may have the best of intentions and just want to make sure that you know how they feel.
It is also OK to ask them to be a little softer in their communication style and to tell them how you feel when they communicate very directly.
It is important to look at intent versus impact. Their intent may be that they want to be clear and concise, but if the impact is that it is hurting you, then it is worth a conversation and I hope they will listen and hear how you are feeling.
It is also important to remember that being blunt and direct are in theory, still healthy forms of communication.
These are very different than being condescending, belittling you, verbally abusing you or making you feel like your opinion does not matter.
If you are feeling very hurt by their communication, then I think it is important to weigh out whether your partner is truly being direct and blunt (which I would argue means he has good intentions) or if he is being mean and cruel. These are very different things with very different intentions.
Ashley Baldwin, LPC, CACII – www.facebook.com/BaldwinCounseling
While you can’t change someone’s personality, sometimes people can make some changes in their behavior. This is only possible when the other person is open to making changes. Nobody changes anything for somebody else.
It’s important to define “blunt”.
I think of blunt as being very forthright with minimal filters for other people’s feelings. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can sometimes result in hurt feelings.
What blunt doesn’t include is rude, hostile, or abusive language.
Some people grow up in families that were just not that warm and sweet. It doesn’t mean that they were mean, but they may have been somewhat insensitive to the effect of their words on their children. Those children will likely learn a similar style of self-expression.
Asking somebody to make a change starts with personal ownership of the problem, rather than blame.
“I would feel better if you would be willing to try to be a little gentler when you talk to me. Sometimes my feelings get hurt and I probably shut down. I want to know you as well as I can and when I shut down I may lose some of what you are telling me.”
I know this is a long example of what I mean by taking personal ownership of the problem], but if you notice, there are no accusations in this communication.
That’s what I mean about taking ownership. You are not telling your partner that he is wrong; you’re telling him how you feel. Because the dynamic is ultimately subjective, he might actually feel that you’re too sensitive!
The goal is to hear each other and see if some adjustments can be made to make your interactions more palatable and more productive.
The goal of communication is to get closer, not push each other away. Just don’t expect huge changes.
If he’s a blunt guy and you’re a sensitive woman, that’s just the way it is.
However, each of you looking at your own communication styles that might interfere with this goal is probably worth the effort.
Sally LeBoy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
It all comes down to communication.
If you feel you are in a relationship or dating someone who tends to be very blunt and insensitive at times it would serve you best to be open and honest about his behaviors and that his style of communication bothers you.
This may be a personality style that can be tweaked and changed.
If he knows that you would appreciate a gentler approach and he cares enough about you and the relationship then hopefully he will take your words seriously. If he does not then the relationship needs to be re-examined.
It starts, however, with you being open and honest about what works for you or not.
He cannot mind read. No one can. You will need to be clear about your wants and desires in general in your relationship, and how you are being treated must be discussed as well, rightly so!
Think of it this way-your boyfriend (if he is a good guy) wants to please you and to feel close to you.
He wants to make you happy. He may very well see this as just one more way he can feel connected to you-he may even feel thankful you gave him this feedback.
Help yourself-help the relationship-be upfront and don’t waste any more time feeling unsatisfied or disrespected.
Heather Petitpas, MEd, LMHC – www.tissuesfortheissues.com
From an early age, men and women are socialized to communicate differently. Women are taught from the time they are young girls to be caring, nurturing, and to put others’ needs first.
Men are taught to be direct, forthright, and assertive.
Even though it’s 2020, these messages STILL continue! It’s no surprise then that when young boys and girls grow up and enter romantic relationships that they carry with them the communication patterns they learned when they were young.
The reality is that there are positive aspects to both ways of communicating.
There are times where being blunt and speaking your mind is important and valued. There are also times where it is important to soften communication and put empathy and validation first.
Context is everything.
Your boyfriend may be very used to communicating in a more direct way at work or with his friends – pretty much with everyone but you! It may be hard for him to change his communication style so drastically when he is with you. There also may not be very many times when he needs to change it. It could be that this is part of who he is and his communication style may not budge much.
What’s most important is that he shows up for you with kindness and compassion during times where you are vulnerable and need his support.
That is not the time for jokes, sarcasm, or insensitivity.
Tell him honestly that you would like him to just listen to you and try to understand what you’re feeling during these times without giving advice, trying to fix it, or criticizing you.
Hopefully he will be able to tone it down during these moments when you really need him to hold you emotionally.
Unfortunately if he’s not able to change his communication style to be more supportive when it’s needed or if you find that the two of you communicating in different ways is leading to you feeling badly about yourself or resulting in frequent fighting, it may be that you let him go in order to find a guy who communicates more like you do.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
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