Most guys aren’t exactly open and forthright when it comes to talking about our feelings. That being said, if you have a boyfriend who’s a little closed off and not all that open with his feelings, don’t give up. There are a few ways that you can nudge him in the right direction.
- Know when he needs space. You may want a guy to open up, but that doesn’t mean you can try to make it happen just any old time. There are times when a guy needs space to work through something on his own. In those instances, you just have to let him be. If he seems stressed out or in a bad mood based on his body language, let it go. In those instances, he’s already closed himself off and he isn’t going to talk until he’s had a chance to calm down on his own.
- Do something he’ll enjoy. Most of the time, saying things like “we should talk” isn’t a good approach. If a guy is going to get in touch with his feelings, he has to feel comfortable and relaxed. No one is every relaxed by being told that you need to talk. Do something casual like bowling or mini-golf—really anything where you know he’ll enjoy himself. Once he’s relaxed and enjoying himself, he’ll be more receptive if you bring up a heavy topic or want him to open up to you.
- Be willing to listen. This seems obvious, but nobody is going to open up to someone who isn’t going to listen. If you tend to interrupt your boyfriend when he talks or jump to conclusions way too quickly, you’re going to have a tough time getting him to open up. Keep in mind that your boyfriend isn’t just going to spill his guts to you right away. He needs to get the sense that you’re going to listen without judging him. Show him that you can be a good listener and he’ll be more likely to keep talking until he really starts opening up.
- Ask open-ended questions. Most of us guys hate being bombarded with a lot of questions. It makes us feel like we’re guilty of something and being interrogated. That means you ladies have to choose your questions carefully. Don’t ask questions that a guy can brush off with a yes or no or with a quick answer. For example, don’t ask “how was your day?” since this can be answered with a simple good or bad. Instead, ask something like, “How did you spend your day?” Do you see the difference? The latter will require him to give a longer answer. Just apply that same logic to any topic you want to ask him about.
- You go first. Like a lot of things in a relationship, sometimes you need to take the lead. If you’re willing to go deeper than regular chit-chat, your boyfriend should feel more comfortable doing the same. He may even feel obligated, which would get the job done, right? Sometimes we need to see you jump in first before we’re ready to dive in as well. If you open up, it’ll signal to your boyfriend that it’s OK for him to do so too.
- Be encouraging. Always encourage any sign that a guy is about to open up to you. Don’t say something like, “Glad, you’re finally opening up to me.” That’ll just embarrass the guy. Just smile, nod, and tell him to keep going. Grabbing his hand or a light pat on the shoulder can be good ways to show positive reinforcement. Subtle signs of affection like that will help him feel comfortable opening up to you.
- Get him talking about anything. Most of the time, you need to ease guys into sharing their feelings. Sometimes, getting him talking about anything is half the battle. Just like taking him mini-golfing is a way to make him comfortable, just getting him talking about anything can be a good first step. Ask him about the movies he likes or his favorite hobbies. If you just get him talking about stuff he likes, he’ll start to relax. From there, you can steer the conversation toward more serious and personal stuff to get him to open up. You don’t want to force it. But if you’re patient and a good listener, you can eventually get him to start opening up about the deep stuff.
- Make it about you. This seems counterintuitive but it can work. Let a guy know that it’s important to you that he opens up to you. That doesn’t mean you tell him that he has to do it or else. Tell him that you want to understand or get to know him better. Deep down, most guys want to be good boyfriends so they’ll make an effort. However, you can’t push too hard or force them into it. That kind of thing can backfire quickly. Just convey to your boyfriend that this is something that’s important to you. If a guy sees that, he’ll be more willing to open up to you.