When your husband or boyfriend becomes quiet all of a sudden, it can be very unsettling. Having a man distance himself this way, often sends women into a bit of a spiral of self-doubt and panic.
“What’s going on?”, “Is he hiding something from me?”, “Why is he being this way out all of a sudden?”
What makes this situation worse is when you confront men about their silence, then often only brush it off as nothing and continue brooding…
First off, you’re right to be worrying about this!
Something is up with him. What’s more, this kind of silence is frequently a precursor to a breakup or even divorce.
Men can act in the strangest of ways, and they sabotage relationships too!
Going quiet or resorting to silent treatment is one of the most common ways of how they do it.
In this blog post, I will explain this male behavior and outline the five biggest reasons why and when men go silent. They’ll help you understand how to approach your boyfriend or husband in a way that will get him to talk.
1. Men Go Quiet When They Are Stressed or Overwhelmed
The by far most common reason why men go silent in relationships is: because they are stressed or overwhelmed by their job or school. This kind of silence can also be related to family emergencies, injuries, or other external problems.
Some people process their issues by rambling about them, while others go quiet and try to recover on their own.
This is particularly common if your boyfriend or husband is an introvert. Rather than talk to you about what’s going on for him, his first reaction to stress is going to be going silent and trying to lose himself in gaming, binge-watching series etc.
2. Guys Go Silent When They’re Struggling With a Big Issue
This reason is a slightly more serious variation of the previous one. All of us go through some major changes in life and can start doubting our relationships as a result of it.
Quite a few coaching clients of ours come to us with this problem. Their partners became silent for no apparent reason, only to then find out that they were actually questioning all their life choices, were in a life crisis, were unsure of their sexuality or suddenly became unsure about wanting commitment.
The reason for your partner’s silence in this case could be that this particular issue seems so vulnerable or insurmountable, they don’t even dare start talking about it.
Or they themselves might not even be aware of what’s truly going on.
When this is the case, it might take some digging before you can find out why exactly your boyfriend or husband went silent all of a sudden.
This reason often goes hand in hand with any of the previous ones. Sometimes men try to communicate things, but they end up feeling like their attempts fall on deaf ears.
This might happen when you react defensively or ignore what he says. Or when what he is saying is just too vague, or when he just shuts down way too easily.
Either way, when your boyfriend or husband tries to tell you something, but it doesn’t land the way he wanted, he might end up feeling dismissed.
He might then be too discouraged to try again and will go quite simply because he feels like he is out of options.
This kind of reaction is particularly common for shy or emotionally unavailable men. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard to get them to open up.
5. Men Get Quiet in Relationships When They Don’t Know How to Communicate Their Needs
Last but not least, another common reason why men become quiet in relationships is because they have never learned how to communicate.
Talking about feelings and emotions is often a taboo, even more so for guys than it is for women. You might feel like your boyfriend or husband is becoming distant or giving you silent treatment, when in reality he is simply struggling with talking about where he is at and what’s going on.
Bunkering in and brooding is the only way he knows how to process his emotions.
So he is not shutting you out on purpose but simply because to him, that’s all there is.
He is used to being alone with his problems and accepts it as an inevitability.
In these situations, when a man goes silent, it is his loudest cry. It’s the only way he can communicate to you that something is up and that he needs your help.
Should You Give Him Space When He Goes Quiet
I know that for a lot of you guys, your first reaction to a man going silent in a relationship is to give him space. You hope that distancing yourself from him will be enough to get things to return to normal.
This can be a good approach when the reasons for his silence are not too severe or constant.
For example, if your boyfriend and husband is stressed with a work project and goes quiet because of it, you can just wait it out. Once the worst blows over, or the project ends, he will return to normal on his own.
Things become more difficult if the source of his silence is a long term problem.
Like a job that’s just constantly stressing him out, family issues that are not going away or a life crisis, a personality crisis, etc.
When your boyfriend or husband is struggling with something more severe, giving him space might only lead to him becoming even more quiet and distant.
How to Get a Silent Man to Talk
The key to getting a brooding man to talk is to make the conversation about him and not about yourself. Telling him how YOU feel and what YOU need will most likely only make him shut down further.
Making room for where HE is at and what HE needs, on the other hand, will get him talking to you in no time.
This is how you can support him in whatever he is going through and get him to open up to you again. It’s also how you can speed up his recovery so that your relationship can return to normal sooner.
If you’re looking for more step-by-step guide on how to make this happen, it’s something we cover in detail in our online course: Rebuild Your Relationship
Here, we will give you phrases you can use to help your boyfriend and husband feel heard and understood. It’s the only way to get past his silence and get him to finally be more open and trusting again.
How do you communicate with a man who won’t communicate?
If you find yourself in this very situation, then chances are you can already sense him becoming more distant and shutting down emotionally, and you wish he would have just told you what is going on.
If only he just openly said what is not working for him, you could already start fixing it!
But no, your boyfriend or husband seems to endlessly resist all your efforts and continues to stay silent, even though you know that something IS bothering him.
Communicating with a man who won’t communicate is no easy feat, but it can be done. In this blog post, I will share tips on how to approach your significant other so that you can get past his defensive walls and get him to open up to you again.
But before going into what to do, I want to first outline what’s making him act this way.
3 Most Common Reasons Why a Man Won’t Communicate
Understanding why your boyfriend or husband doesn’t want to talk will help you approach him the right way. Because, even though it might seem like he is just being defensive or difficult, it’s never quite so simple.
In his head, he likely has good reasons for shutting you out and distancing himself.
Some of them might have to do with you and your relationship, while others are the result of his past experiences and his upbringing.
1. He Is Holding a Grudge
One of the most common reasons why someone doesn’t want to talk is that they are holding a grudge about something.
For example, you might have said something judgmental about his gaming habits or didn’t appreciate something he did. But rather than straight-up say what is bothering him, he is trying to communicate his upsetness by giving you the silent treatment.
Unfortunately, this kind of childish behavior is far more common in relationships than we’re all willing to admit. Even though it might be his direct reaction to something you said or did, there is also another, deeper underlying reason for him to be so quick to shut you out and distance himself:
Your boyfriend or husband might not have had the healthiest of role models when it comes to communicating when growing up. He might have picked up some bad, self-defeating habits that are now keeping him isolated and making him shut down emotionally.
So the reason he doesn’t talk is: on one hand, he might not know how and when to say things in a way that will make him feel heard.
And on the other hand, he also likely doesn’t know how to respond to you communicating things to him and feels threatened easily.
3. He Says Things That Are Hurtful to Hear
Sometimes it might seem like a man won’t communicate, when in reality he is in fact saying things the whole time. It’s just that the things he is communicating can be very hurtful or scary, so much you literally can’t hear them.
For example, he might be telling you about his relationship doubts or making unreasonable demands. These kinds of things might be so outrageous or scary, it’s hard to take them seriously. So they just kind of slip your mind.
When this happens to you, it might seem that your boyfriend or husband isn’t communicating, when in fact he is. It’s just that he is saying things you can’t or don’t want to hear.
How Do You Deal With a Significant Other Who Doesn’t Communicate
Communication is always a problem in relationships, and in most cases couples struggle with all three of the above-mentioned reasons.
A man who doesn’t want to talk is likely holding a grudge. But at the same time, he is probably also stuck in self-defeating patterns he picked up in his past. Only to make matters worse, he likely tried communicating certain things to you, but you just couldn’t hear him out.
Getting through to him will feel like navigating a maze with lots of booby traps. But it can be done. To illustrate how to do it, I want to share a story with you guys.
One of our coaching clients – Jessica – found herself in a relationship rut.
Her boyfriend just started a new job and shortly after started becoming increasingly distant. No matter what she tried, he remained grumpy, fought her on everything and spent all his free time gaming.
When she reached out to us, she was on the verge of a breakup. She just couldn’t take it anymore.
It took two things for her to turn it all around:
Doing Something He Wants or Likes Will Get His Guard Down
Dealing with a man who doesn’t communicate will require a huge dose of patience.
You will have to give in and come his way, at least to some degree.
In Jessica’s case, her boyfriend refused to do anything else than gaming. The moment he stopped working, all he wanted to do was shoot virtual enemies all night long.
She was really irritated with it, but then she realized that gaming was his only way to relieve stress from his job.
Instead of taking his inactivity as a personal rejection, she saw that he is struggling with something and that this is his way of coping with it.
One evening she sat next to him, started watching his game and browsing her phone. Initially he was suspicious and felt judged, but she told him she is just tired but doesn’t want to be all by herself.
She kept on observing what he was doing and made a few genuinely nice comments about his gaming skills.
This was enough to win him over.
Eventually, he asked if she was hungry. They ended up making food together and started TALKING. This was actually a huge win, because they haven’t had a conversation this long in months!
In order to communicate with a man who won’t communicate, you will likely need to start by winning him over similarly. Doing something he likes or wants might be the ONLY way to get his guard down.
Set Boundaries to Get Him to Take You Seriously and Prevent Him From Using You
The second component of getting through to a man who is bad at communicating is setting boundaries with him. This is often the only way to get him to take you seriously and keep his own bad habits in check.
In Jessica’s case, her boyfriend and her lived together, and he was just expecting her to do all the housework.
Much like him, she had a full time job and wanted him to help out, at least a bit.
She told him she needs him to start putting his own dirty dishes away.
Initially, he rebelled and they both let everything pile out on the kitchen counter. But after a few days of not having any clean plates, he finally backed down and learned the lesson.
He started taking her requests more seriously and actually made an effort to come her way too.
Putting your foot down and making a guy feel the consequences of his choices is often what it takes to get him to take you seriously. Even if he initially only stubbornly rebels and remains distant, someone who truly cares about you will eventually get your point and come around.
How to Communicate With a Man Who Won’t Communicate
In order to communicate with a man who won’t communicate, you will have to apply both of the above-mentioned approaches:
1. Get him to drop his guard down by caving in and giving him what he wants
2. Setting boundaries to get him to take you seriously
When a guy’s behavior towards you is so inconsistent, it’s because he is hiding something. He is not being honest with you and is consequently using you either only emotionally, but possibly also pragmatically (for money, stability etc.).
2. He Only Makes an Effort When He Needs Something From You
Another big warning sign that a man might be manipulating you and using you is when he only makes an effort shortly before asking for things.
It can be something as trivial as him needing to use your car or asking you to take care of his kid or pet on the weekend.
But he can also use you emotionally this way. A sign of this is when a guy is only nice and attentive when he needs you to build him up, reassure him or comfort him.
It’s perfectly normal to exchange these kinds of favors in a healthy relationship.
But if his moments of need are the ONLY times when he gives you his attention and makes an effort for you, then he is not serious and doesn’t really care about you.
3. There Is a Double Standard in Your Relationship
Another common sign that a man is using you is when there is a serious double standard in your relationship. This means that he can get away with doing the exact same things he then blames you for.
For example: he might flirt with other women and stay in touch with all of his exes. While, when he finds out you had lunch with a male coworker, he flips out and accuses you of hiding things from him.
This can also happen in purely emotional context.
Another example of this kind of double standard would be that it’s ok for a guy to be depressed and spend countless hours gaming.
But when you’re feeling down and, e.g., stop putting effort into your appearance, he will make snipe remarks and tell you to get it together.
Double standards are not only utterly unfair. They’re also a sign of immaturity and a lack of self awareness. Even if he genuinely believes, he does nothing wrong, a guy who does this to you will continue using you as long as you let him.
4. He Doesn’t Keep His Promises
Another warning sign that a man might be using you is when he keeps on breaking his promises. Again, it’s normal to forget something now and then or to overestimate yourself and then back out of things last minute.
It can happen once or twice, but this needs to be the exception and not the rule in your relationship.
No matter how justified his excuses might seem to you, if the man you’re dating doesn’t keep his word, he is not serious about you.
Another common but often overlooked sign that a man is using you is that he keeps on playing power games with you. This one is so hard to spot because most of us are blind to this kind of tricks.
To shed some light on this topic, here are a few examples of power games men play:
Sending one word replies
Taking forever to get back to you
Leaving you on ‘read’ for hours and then suddenly writing you back
Being hot and cold
Making jokes at your expense
Intentionally leaving you hanging in conversations
These are just a few examples, but there is really much more to it. In the pickup communities, some men actively learn how to manipulate women this way. This is one of the things players do, to get you to fall for them and chase them.
But in the context of a relationship, power games mean that he is going to actively seek to establish control over you in subtle, seemingly playful ways.
A lot of guys who do this doesn’t actually realize it. They’re just insecure and this is their defense mechanism.
A man who plays power games with you might be using you.
Last but not least, a guy who is using you will make you chase him for almost everything.
He will do so by remaining unattainable, but continuously giving you a sense of hope at the same time.
This how he will try to get out of having any sense of responsibility in the relationship, while ensuring that you don’t give up on him and move on.
So you will have to chase him to, say, give you an answer about his weekend plans. Because, on one hand, he hinted that he missed you, but he also didn’t give you a definitive answer when you asked if he will come over or not.
Another classic area where guys can use women this way is when it comes to commitment. He will hint at it, but never actually explicitly state that he wants to be together.
Knowing if a guy is just using you or if he actually likes you is often easier said than done. So don’t beat yourself up about missing the signs and letting him get away with it.
The truth is, we all use each other in relationships to a greater or lesser degree.
As long as the exchange seems fair, that he is using you just as much as you’re using him, you don’t need to worry about it too much. You can both work on fixing this together!
However, if two or more of the above-mentioned signs fit your case, and you’ve been drained and are tired of begging for attention in your relationship, consider that it’s time to do something about it.
Because he most likely is using you.
However, if you confront him about it, and he does genuinely like you, he will make an effort to correct his behavior!
What Do You Do When a Guy Is Just Using You
When a guy is using you, the only way to test how he truly feels about you is to stand up to him and start setting boundaries.
If he has been unintentionally acting this way, he might still rebel initially. But eventually, he will be willing to accept that the rules have changed.
He will step up his game and make things work.
But if you standing up to him only makes him more distant and unavailable, then there isn’t much you can do about it.
It takes two to build a happy relationship, and if he isn’t willing to play his part, you can’t force him to do so.
Maybe he just isn’t mature enough to give you what you need and deserve.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on how to stand up for yourself and set boundaries with a man, this is something we cover in our online course Rebuild Your Relationship.
Here we teach women why it can be so difficult to stand your ground and how to overcome it.
We also give you tips on what to say and do to make it clear to him that you won’t let him use you anymore.
Dating a man who doesn’t want anyone else to have you but won’t admit it, can be very confusing.
One day, you can be over the moon about something he said or did. Only to have him tear it all down, as though he didn’t care about you at all!
I have experienced this kind of emotional roller coaster myself. My then boyfriend and now husband used to be an avoidant who struggled with commitment issues.
Because of that, he would bombard me with mixed messages that were impossible to decipher at the time.
On one hand, it seemed like he was very much in love with me. But then he would pull away or say things like “You’re better off without me.”, which made me worry that he wasn’t really attached and would eventually leave.
A guy who doesn’t want anyone else to have you will give you just the right amount of encouragement to make sure that you continue chasing him.
But at the same time, he will remain doubtful and undecided as long as you let him!
In this blog post, I’ll help you recognize the signs that you might be stuck in this very situation. I’ll then give you tips on what to do to motivate him to finally make up his mind and openly commit.
1. He Makes an Effort to Impress You
One of the most obvious signs that a man doesn’t want anyone else to have you is when he keeps on trying to impress you over and over again.
He might do so by taking you out to fancy or expensive places. By cooking elaborate dishes, showing off his skills or strength etc. The possibilities are endless.
What makes this sign confusing is that he might be playing it cool while doing this.
Some guys will say that it’s nothing, they do it every time, or that it’s not a big deal.
But don’t let him fool you.
He is trying to impress you so that you view him as the best possible catch because deep down he is attached and this is his way of making sure he can dominate all potential competition.
2. He Comes Back After Pulling Away
It’s not uncommon for guys to distance themselves or ask for space when you’re dating them or even in a relationship.
There are many reasons why men pull away. But, regardless of why he might be acting this way, observing the patterns in his behavior alone, can tell you a lot about whether he is actually emotionally attached or not.
The biggest sign that a man doesn’t want anyone else to have you is when he consistently keeps on coming back after pulling away.
He is comfortable with distance, but only as long as he can be sure that he is in control of the situation.
In reality, he is emotionally attached and wants to keep you in his life.
So when he senses that the connection might be beginning to fade, he will come back to rekindle the flame between you and make sure that you remain hooked.
3. He Is Kind and Considerate
There is nothing more confusing than a guy doing something incredibly considerate and caring and then claiming that it’s no big deal, and he would do it for anyone.
This might include him taking care of you when you’re sick, getting you groceries, helping out at the house, being there for you emotionally, being supportive etc.
Make no mistake, it’s not that you’re not special to him…
I hope you now know how to tell when a guy doesn’t want anyone else to have you. To find more tips on how to get a guy to show you that he cares, check out my husband’s post: 4 Steps to Make Him Worry About Losing You
Thank you for reading! If you’re unsure about any of the signs, leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you.
Like you’re a car on a racetrack, trying to get to the finish line as fast as possible? So that you can finally figure out what the hell is going on?
I would personally do a lot of this in my relationships.
And it burnt me out!
I’d start worrying about something and then one thing would lead to the next… I’d start finding more reasons to get anxious. Which only made me more worried, and so on and so forth.
In order to stop overthinking there are a couple of things that need to happen.
I’d like to take you through the steps so that you can gain a better understanding of what’s happening.
And how you can stop OVERTHINKING and start enjoying your relationship instead.
But before going any further into figuring out how to stop it, I want to first give you a few examples of what I’m talking about. So that you can know for sure when it happens.
Signs of Overthinking in a Relationship
Here are typical signs of overthinking in a relationship:
Feeling very insecure in the relationship
Worrying that your partner will suddenly change their mind
Having a hard time with giving space and boundaries
Worrying that your partner doesn’t care about you
Doubting if you’re really compatible
Feeling anxious and afraid of being abandoned
Never feeling safe
Never being sure of anything
The first step in overcoming overthinking is noticing and recognizing it when it happens. So keep the above-mentioned signs in mind, notice when those kinds of feelings come up in high intensity.
When they do, just try to relax. You can even try to self soothe anxious attachment. Overthinking is a dangerous trap that might only make all your fears come true for no good reason. This brings me to my next point.
Why Do People Overthink So Much in Their Relationships
The next step in overcoming this tricky problem is to understand your reasons for feeling this way.
I used to ask myself: “Why do I overthink so much in my relationship?”
The answer I would come up with is that I was just trying to find A SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM in my relationship. Or alternatively, I was looking for an ANSWER to a doubt of mine.
It would start with something about me or my partner’s behavior.
Like: “Does he really care?”, “Is he pulling away because he changed his mind about us?”,“Are we good for each other”, “Are we meant to be together?” etc.
But the thoughts in my head would only turn in circles or even escalate, and I rarely ever came to any clear and final conclusions.
Overthinking only made all our relationship problems seem scarier and more overwhelming.
It would become an endless cycle of fear and doubt that lead me to acting clingy and needy.
I struggled with giving him space. It made me hesitant to let go, because I worried that if I did, my then boyfriend and now husband would pull away forever.
To make matters worse, this behavior of mine made him only need MORE space. That then fuelled my anxiety and made me even more anxious and clingy.
And that brings me to the real truth about OVERTHINKING.
It has nothing to do with “THINKING” and everything to do with DOUBT, FEAR and sometimes PANIC.
It’s often a result of having being abandoned in the past. Or of being ignored and left to fend for yourself.
Life is messy. Nobody in the whole world had a perfect childhood. We’ve all had our share of bad relationship experiences too.
Much like a veteran can panic at the sound of fireworks. Even a small sign of relationship trouble or distance can trigger you to start overthinking.
Is Overthinking Toxic in a Relationship?
A toxic behavior is damaging to others. Verbal, physical or emotional abuse means that one of the partners is harming the other.
But when it comes to overthinking, most of the damage is actually done to yourself.
This is why overthinking isn’t really toxic. However, it can sabotage your relationship for good.
It leads to a vicious cycle that will make the things you worry about eventually come true. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy that destroys trust and connection.
How to Stop Overthinking Your Relationship Anxiety
What really helped me snap out of overthinking was to stop focusing on the THOUGHTS in my head, and start focusing on my FEELINGS instead.
You can get so lost in all the what ifs and doubts. But when you check in with yourself and ask yourself, WHAT AM I FEELING?
This approach can actually lead you to finding some answers!
Understanding the real motives behind overthinking can help you break out of the vicious cycle of stubborn thoughts and doubts.
This is the next step in overcoming this problem.
1. Figuring out Your Feelings Will Help You Gain Control
Now that you know that overthinking is a sign that something about your relationship is worrying you, you can now ask yourself:
“What is it that I’m so worried about?”
These are some of my fears that caused me to overthink:
Being afraid of getting trapped in an unhappy relationship
Worrying that Gabriel doesn’t really love me and might leave
Fear of repeating my parents’ mistakes in relationships
Diverting your attention AWAY from your thoughts and putting it on your FEELINGS will help you gain control over the situation.
You’ll be able to draw conclusions and take actions to counteract your fears.
Realising that I was really afraid of repeating my parents’ mistakes immediately made me think of ways of making sure that never happens:
My parents argued A LOT and were often verbally abusive with each other.
Everybody has different fears about their relationship.
You’ll focus on yourself here and your own perception of things. Plus, taking responsibility for your own fears and needs, rather than blaming them on your partner, is the only way of how you can get through to them.
Nonetheless, getting in touch with your feelings will help you understand your fears and figure out how to communicate them in a way that will have the highest of chances of being heard and taken seriously.
2. Put a Stop to Overthinking by Feeling Understood
The by far the best way to stop overthinking is to feel UNDERSTOOD!
Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to fully deal with this problem all on your own. You’ll likely end up turning in circles and never feeling at peace.
But we worked on our communication and figured out ways to really hear each other out.
Putting your fears and doubts out there and having someone receive them will make you feel less alone and overwhelmed.
It can also be helpful and reassuring to gain an outsider’s perspective of your problems.
Overthinking in relationships can be a big problem.
It can make you doubt EVERYTHING and cause you a lot of emotional distress.
In case you feel hesitant about sharing your worries and doubts with your boyfriend or husband, or need help with getting him to actually listen, check out our Rebuild Your Relationship Course.
In it, we give you clear outlines and steps to untangle- and make sense of, the often disorienting rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions. You’ll then learn how to convey them in a confident and clear way, so that you feel truly understood and can finally put all the over-thinking to rest.
What Does It Mean When You Feel Contempt for Your Partner
Contempt in relationships is a difficult topic to face. It’s hard enough to spot it when you’re on the receiving end of it. But seeing and admitting that you might be the one doing it, is even tougher.
This is why I want to make one thing clear:
We all have issues and shortcomings. Nobody has a perfect track record. We’re also all quick to judge and dismiss others sometimes.
However, in order to be able to get past it, both of you need to realize that acting contemptuous towards someone, it has more to do with YOU than it does with THEM.
When you feel contempt for your partner, it means that you’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of treatment earlier in your life.
Contempt is nothing more than an ineffective and damaging way of communicating your needs and feelings.
We always believed that relationships should be FUN and uplifting! And we were obsessed with finding real-world practical solutions for our relationship problems. Today we help others do the same with our blog.