“Communication is key to healthy relationships.” Everyone says that, don’t they?
Well, it’s easier said than done – especially if you’re in a relationship with a man who simply can’t communicate.
Be it shutting down during arguments, distancing himself when he can sense trouble, or being completely unable to open up, men who struggle with communication are a tough nut to crack.
But that’s because you can’t crack them in the first place. You’ve got to gently peel away their layers.
The inability to communicate doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker; after all, it’s a skill that can be learned. Of course, your partner has to be willing to try in order to make it work.
Your job is to create a safe space in which they can open up. Here’s how.
1) Communicate with inner calm and respect
Sssh. Come in a little closer. Let me tell you a secret.
The reason many men run away from confrontation at the speed of light is that they just really hate drama.
They don’t want to fight. They don’t want to have a three-hour-long argument that goes nowhere. They don’t want to run in circles while you’re both getting more and more upset with each other.
Your man may have had this exact experience with other partners in the past, or maybe they saw it growing up at home. Whatever it is, he may struggle to communicate because he expects this exact scenario to play out before it even starts.
Here’s what you can do.
You can voice your feelings with a sense of calm and respect. You can speak clearly, in non-accusatory terms, and with kind intentions. You can say, “I don’t want to fight. I just want us to calmly discuss this so that we can solve this issue together.”
Once he knows that arguing isn’t what you have in mind, he’ll be much more likely to communicate.
2) Give him space if needed
I used to be one of those people who always had to talk it out straight away. There was no cool-down period, no space to sort through our thoughts and process our emotions.
Then I learned the art of giving each other space, and my disagreements with others have been much better since.
Some people need a little bit of time to themselves before they can figure out a solution together. And that’s okay.
If he tells you he needs to go on a short walk or be in the other room for a bit, don’t stand in his way. I know it can be hard, but space might be very good for both of you, whether you realize it or not.
In the meantime, you don’t have to just sit there and grow angrier by the minute. Instead, find an outlet for your emotions.
3) Don’t keep your feelings bottled down
Your partner can’t communicate. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep your own feelings suppressed deep inside you, fostering resentment and boiling with anger until you blow up.
When he needs space or even when you’ve just been feeling very irritated with him lately, make sure your emotions have someplace to go.
And no, I don’t mean cooking with so much anger that the whole kitchen’s full of banging noises.
Go for a run. Work out. Punch the pillows in the safety of your bedroom. Dance to some high-energy songs. Cry it out.
Once you let it all out and then slowly bring your adrenaline levels down, you’ll have a much better sense of clarity, which means you’ll be better able to communicate calmly and with respect.
Anger makes you want to leash out. It makes you say things you might later regret.
Don’t let it take control of you.
4) Don’t assume – ask questions instead
“He’s been acting kind of withdrawn lately. Maybe he doesn’t love me anymore.”
As someone with an anxious attachment style, I’ve had these thoughts in the past, too. In fact, assumptions were something I heavily relied on in my previous relationships – until I realized how often I’d actually been wrong.
Assumptions are a risky game because you can never see the world from anyone’s perspective but your own. Your partner may be withdrawn for multiple reasons, none of them having anything to do with their love for you.
I know from personal experience how hard it can be to date someone who struggles with communication. It’s super easy to slip into your assumption mode and act based on that.
But do you know what’s better than that?
“Hey, I’ve noticed you’ve been kind of withdrawn lately. Is anything troubling you?”
I’m not saying your partner will give you a thorough run-down of every single worry on their mind just because you asked, but as far as your part in the relationship is concerned, asking straightforward questions is a great place to start.
5) Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
Some men hate it when you fuss over them. They don’t like the dramatic aspect. The same applies to communication.
If he decides to confide in you or bring up an issue that’s been on his mind, try not to flip out. Don’t make things more dramatic than they need to be.
Listen actively and with compassion. Be gentle and kind. Thank him for confiding in you and ask him what’d make him feel better – for example, would he like emotional comfort or is he seeking advice?
And if he approaches you about something concerning the relationship, try your best to see his point of view and validate his feelings. Then explain your perspective and invite him to brainstorm possible solutions together.
It takes a lot of courage for a man who struggles to communicate to open up to you. When he decides to do so, welcome his attempts with kindness and grace.
Become his safe space.
6) Be clear about your needs and expectations
A man who loves you wants you to be happy. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.
He may struggle to open up, he may be unable to communicate clearly, he may need time to learn how to express himself… but throughout it all, he will want to make you happy.
Tell him what you like, how you want to be treated, and what it is you need in a romantic relationship. Don’t waste your time dropping hints – plenty of good men aren’t subtle enough to notice them.
Say it as it is.
“I’d like us to go on a date at least once a week.”
“My love language is physical touch.”
“I feel most loved when we cuddle and watch something together.”
Be honest, encourage his attempts at making you happy with joy, and use your own communication skills to help him develop his.
It’s also a good idea to ask him what his own needs and expectations are so that you’re on the same page.
7) Recognize whether there’s been progress
He might promise you he’ll open up and learn to communicate better, but that doesn’t mean anything until he’s actually put in the work.
As the relationship goes on, stay in tune with how he makes you feel and how your interactions change over time.
Are things better now? Or does it feel like there’s always some short-term change until he slips back into his old habits and you have to start from scratch again?
If you can’t see any long-term progress, it’s time to ask yourself:
Is this something you can be okay with forever?
8) Figure out if his communication style is a dealbreaker for you
Some men can’t communicate very well, but they show their love in many other ways – they’ll build you a new kitchen, surprise you with gifts that show they’ve put a lot of thought into them, or pick you up from work every single day no matter how exhausted they are.
Not everyone expresses love through words, and that’s okay.
However, every relationship will eventually run into some issues. Those issues usually need dealing with in order for things to progress smoothly, and if your partner’s unable to face any kind of confrontation no matter how much you try to give him space and be kind, it’s important to ask yourself if this is something you can accept in the long run.
It’s one thing to struggle with communication itself but still work on your relationship problems through action.
It’s another to always run away from issues and have that avoidant behavior manifested through the inability to communicate.
So, the last question I’m asking you is:
If you were to stay with a man who can’t communicate for the rest of your life, would you still be happy?
Your answer tells you what you need to know.