18 Ways Men Unintentionally Shut Down Conversations With Women

18 Ways Men Unintentionally Shut Down Conversations With Women

Sometimes, men just want to help fix things. However, when your partner wants to talk about their feelings or a difficult situation, well-intentioned responses can backfire big time. Let’s explore those accidental conversation-blockers, those things we say that make our partners want to shut down entirely.

1. “Just calm down” or “Don’t be so upset.”

This is the emotional equivalent of putting a fire out with gasoline. Invalidating her feelings does the opposite of calming her down! It sends the message that her emotions are wrong or a nuisance. She wants to feel HEARD, not told to ignore her emotions. Research has shown just how harmful this invalidation can be, so don’t do it!

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2. “Well, here’s what you should do…”

Leaping straight to solutions dismisses the need to simply feel the emotion first. Yeah, problem-solving is great, but sometimes she just wants to vent or to process out loud. Unsolicited advice can feel like you’re not truly listening to her experience — you just want to be the hero.

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3. “Lots of people have it worse…”

Ouch! The “it’s not that bad” minimizer should be a no-go. Trying to offer perspective comes across as you brushing off her problems. Her struggles are real to her, even if other people objectively have bigger issues. Let her have her feelings without comparing them to a hypothetical scale of suffering.

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4. “Yeah, I know what you mean! This one time, I…”

Sharing your relatable experience can be helpful, but not if it always turns the spotlight back to you. She needs space to talk about her situation. Making it about your similar story, even if well-intended, can feel a bit hijack-y.

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5. “Well, actually…”

Okay, sometimes this is needed if she’s wildly off-base about something. But if you nitpick every minor detail when she’s sharing a story, especially an emotionally charged one? It makes her feel like you’re focused on being right, not truly connecting. If it’s not something majorly important, pick your battles instead of being a know-it-all.

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6. Changing the subject or cracking jokes

Humor is awesome, but as a way to avoid uncomfortable feelings? Not so much. She wants to sit with a difficult emotion, not have it brushed aside. If things get TOO heavy, offering to change the topic gently is okay, but don’t do it as a way to avoid the issue.

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7. “Have you tried…?”

Again, unless she specifically asks for your input on solving the problem, don’t assume that’s what she needs. Often, she just wants to be heard, not immediately bombarded with potential fixes. Offering endless advice can feel dismissive of her own ability to figure things out.

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8. The silent stonewall

Going cold and refusing to engage when things get emotional is incredibly destructive. It sends the message that her feelings are a burden, and that she’s not worth working through the discomfort with. It’s a way to punish her for having “unacceptable” feelings, and it won’t be long before you’re single again if you keep this up.

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9. “Why are you always bringing up the past?”

The past informs the present! Avoiding tough conversations about old hurts leads to resentment. If she’s brave enough to bring up past pain, it’s because it still impacts her. Dismissing it makes her feel like her emotional needs don’t matter.

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10. Exasperated sighs and eye rolls speak volumes.

Non-verbal cues matter! Even if you don’t say it out loud, sighing like what she’s saying is idiotic or overly dramatic shuts her down fast. It screams, “I’m not taking your feelings seriously,” making her unlikely to open up again anytime soon.

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11. “You’re overreacting” or “You’re too sensitive.”

Basically, this is a more aggressive version of “calm down,” and equally unhelpful. It again invalidates her emotional experience. Maybe she is overreacting a bit, but telling her that isn’t going to change how she feels in the moment, CNBC points out.

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12. Logically dismantling her arguments is obnoxious and harmful.

Mature married couple fighting, blaming and accusing each other, having relationship problem at home. Middle-aged man and his wife on verge of divorce or separation, arguing indoorsistock

Sometimes a rational discussion is needed, obviously, but not when she’s in the throes of an emotional moment. Focusing on winning the argument with facts and logic ignores the messy, nuanced nature of human feelings. It misses the point entirely.

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13. “But what about ME?”

She shares a struggle, and you counter with how something in YOUR life is equally hard. It creates a weird competition of suffering, not connection. Her opening up is not an invitation to one-up her problems with your own.

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14. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry!” — The rushed, insincere apology

Mumbling an apology just to make her stop talking does more harm than good. If you don’t understand WHY she’s hurt, a half-hearted “sorry” isn’t going to fix anything. It comes across as dismissive, not like you’re truly hearing her pain.

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15. “But remember that time YOU…”

Frustrated couple, headache and fight on sofa in divorce, disagreement or conflict in living room at home. Man and woman in toxic relationship, cheating affair or dispute on lounge couch at house

Dragging up old grudges derails any productive heart-to-heart. The goal is to deal with the present issue, not turn it into a tally of past wrongdoings. It escalates the situation into a full-blown fight instead of focusing on resolving the current issue.

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16. Phone scrolling, zoning out, half-hearted “uh-huhs”

man criticizing girlfriend in kitchen

Even if you’re kinda listening, she can tell you’re not fully present. This sends the message that what she has to say isn’t important enough for your undivided attention. It’s disrespectful and a surefire way to make her retreat emotionally.

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17. “You always…” or “You never…”

Rarely are things this black-and-white. Exaggerations undermine the point you’re trying to make. It puts her on the defensive as she’s now focused on all the times the generalization ISN’T true. Focus on the specific behavior in the situation you’re trying to discuss.

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18. “Can we just talk about this later?”

Sometimes, you truly need a break! But done without empathy, it feels dismissive. Acknowledge her feelings. Say something like, “This is clearly important, and I want to give it the focus it deserves, but I’m a bit fried right now. Can we pick this up tomorrow?” shows you’re not blowing her off, just need to recharge to be fully present.

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Josh grew up in Connecticut and thought he could never be happier away from big bodies of water until he moved to Minneapolis and fell in love with it. He writes full-time, with his lifestyle content being published in the likes of Men's Health, Business Insider, and many more. When he's not writing, he likes running (but not enough to train for a marathon even though his buddy won't stop asking him).