Apart from trust, communication is the most important element of a healthy relationship.
Humans are social creatures; we enjoy talking to each other, but fundamentally, we want to be around people who understand our needs, and to understand someone’s needs, they must be communicated.
One of the many reasons relationships fail is a communication breakdown or an inability to communicate. You may have noticed that your partner often switches off; they’re in a bad mood, and you don’t know why.
In most cases, they expect you to give them what they need, even though they haven’t communicated their needs to you.
This type of behavior causes major frustrations in a relationship because neither of you a mind reader. Sometimes, your partner might try his hardest to communicate with you, but it’s not working.
That’s because some people have never been taught about the importance of healthy communication. This article will discuss 14 ways to communicate with a man who won’t communicate.
What is Communication?
Even though male-female communication is important in all relationships, including work, family, and friends, it’s not a subject we are taught in school. So, before discussing how to communicate effectively with your partner, let’s discuss what it is.
Communication is the transfer of information from one source to another.
At a minimum, it involves one sender and one recipient. The sender is the one communicating the message, and the recipient is the one receiving it.
Communication sounds simple enough, but several things can affect it. These include the cultural situation, our emotions, the method of communication, and sometimes, our location.
There are also several types of communication, but for this article, we will only discuss verbal and nonverbal communication.
Verbal Communication: Verbal communication refers to the way we use words in the spoken or written form. But since your partner probably isn’t writing you a stack of love letters, I’ll focus on spoken communication.
Effective speaking has three main components: the words used, how they’re said, and how they’re reinforced. Speech also includes pace and tone of voice.
There’s a high chance your partner isn’t good at any of these and often gives you the silent treatment, hence his inability to communicate with you.
Non Verbal Communication
According to experts, between 70 to 93 percent of our communication is non-verbal. In other words, what we don’t say is more important than what we actually say. For example, you ask your boyfriend if there’s a problem.
He says no, but he’s got a scowl on his face. You automatically know there’s something wrong because his facial expression tells you there is. Non-verbal communication is about body language; this includes:
- Body Posture: Leaning forward and upright signifies that someone is interested and focused on what you are saying. However, slouching and turning away from the communicator indicates that the listener is uninterested or bored.
- Hand Gestures: Hand gestures can reinforce what a person is saying and give the listener insight into their emotional state. Grand, animated hand gestures indicate a person is passionate or excited about what they’re saying. Trembling hands could be a sign of anxiety or lying.
- Head Movements: Nodding is a sign of agreement, and shaking the head is a sign of disagreement.
- Facial Expressions: Unless you’re an extremely good actor, your emotions will show in your facial expressions. Happiness is generally expressed through smiling, anger through scowling, etc.
- Fidgeting: According to marketing expert Jim Blythe, playing with objects, biting nails, or shaking the knees is displacement behavior, these actions show how you’re feeling inside, and none of them are positive.
- Vocal Tone: Speaking style, volume, rate, and pitch all help the listener understand the speaker better. For example, lets say you are having a normal conversation with your partner and his tone is sweet and warm. You ask a question such as, “Can I borrow $100 until next week?” He replies, “Of course, you can borrow as much as you want.” But his tone has changed to sharp and cold. His tone of voice lets you know he’s tired of you asking him for money.
Communication skills are complex, and that’s why they are valued by employers worldwide. Unambiguous, effective, accurate and good communication is actually very difficult.
The good news is that you can improve your man’s communication skills and learn what to do when someone shuts down emotionally.
14 Ways How to Communicate With a Man Who Won’t Communicate
According to relationship expert Laura Doyle, what men want in a relationship might not always be the same as what women want. This also reflects how men and women communicate with each other in their relationships.
Even if your man might not communicate well verbally, he communicates through his body language and his actions.
In other words, there is more to listening than hearing what a person is saying. Since your partner doesn’t speak much, here are some tips on how you can listen with your eyes:
1. Study His Eyes:
Does your partner look away when he’s discussing things with you or does he make direct eye contact? Looking away can signify disinterest, boredom, and sometimes deceit. Looking away and to the side is often a sign of lying.
On the other hand, looking down indicates submissiveness or nervousness. Pay attention to his pupils because they will automatically dilate if the conversation goes well.
If your partner’s blinking rate increases, it is a sign that he’s thinking more about what is being said or he’s stressed. However, increased blinking coupled with touching the eyes or mouth indicates lying.
Glancing at something means he’s interested in it, so if you’re having a conversation and he starts glancing at the door, there is a chance that your partner isn’t happy with what’s being said and wants to leave.
2. Pay Attention to His Mouth
The mouth can say much about a person is feelings (pun not intended). When you’re analyzing your mans body language, pay attention to the following lip and mouth movements:
- Turned Down or Up: When the mouth is slightly turned down, it could signify grimace, disapproval, or sadness. When the mouth turns up, it’s a sign that he feels optimistic or happy.
- Pursed Lips: Lip tightening indicates distrust, disapproval, or distaste.
- Covering the Mouth: Is an attempt to hide an emotion such as distrust or disapproval.
- Lip Biting: Chewing the bottom lip, can be a sign that a person feels insecure, worried, or fearful.
- Smiling: Don’t assume your partner is happy if he’s smiling, it might not be genuine, and could be a sign of cynicism, sarcasm, or false happiness.
3. Hands and Arms
Pay attention to what your partner does with his hands and arms during a conversation:
- Crossed Arms: Signals that your partner might feel the need to protect himself, closed off, or defensive.
- Hands-on Hips: This can indicate aggression or indicate that he is in control and ready to take on the task at hand.
- Hands Behind the Back: This posture could indicate that your partner is feeling anxious, or bored, or it can be a sign of anger.
- Fidgeting or Tapping Fingers: Your boyfriend might feel frustrated, impatient, or bored.
How a person holds their body says a lot about their emotions and overall well being in that moment. Watch out for the following:
- Sitting Up Straight: Indicates that a person is focused and paying attention to what’s happening.
- Sitting Hunched Forward: Implies that a person is indifferent or bored.
- Open Posture: When the body’s trunk is exposed and open, it’s called an open posture. It’s a sign of willingness, openness and friendliness.
- Closed Posture: Closing the body off by crossing the arms and legs, or leaning forwards, is a sign of anxiety, unfriendliness, or hostility.
5. Be Aware of Proximity
How close does your man sit or stand beside you when you talk. If he wants to be around, he’ll move closer, if not, he’ll back away. You can gain insight into a relationship by observing the distance between them.
It’s important to mention that you should consider cultural norms before jumping to conclusions. For example, Argentinians are very touchy-feely, and whether they are happy or not, they will likely remain in close contact with you.
On the other hand, Romanians prefer to keep their distance when communicating with people.
6. Look Out For Mirroring:
Mirroring involves copying the body language of the person you’re interacting with.
If your man mimics your body language, it’s a sign that he wants to build rapport with you.
Common mirroring gestures involve drinking at the same time, or resting your elbows on the table simultaneously.
Observe His Head Movements: Does your partner nod fast or slowly when you’re having a conversation. Fast nodding indicates that you’ve said enough, and he wants to speak.
Slow nodding indicates that he’s interested in your words and wants you to keep talking. Tilting the head to the side is a sign of interest, and tilting the head backward signifies uncertainty or suspicion.
7. Look at His Feet
One of the most vocal parts of the body is the feet. Most people are so concerned with ensuring their face and upper body communicate the right emotions that they forget about their feet.
When sitting or standing, people will point their feet in the direction they want to go.
If your partner points his feet in your direction, he’s pleased with you and wants to stay in your presence. But if his feet point towards the door, he wants to leave.
8. Become an Active Listener
Sometimes, we find it difficult to communicate with people because we misunderstand what they’re saying. You might have this problem with your partner and he’s shut off because of it.
Listening is just as important as communicating the message because it is never received if heard incorrectly. The good news is that you can improve your listening skills through active listening.
Active listening not only involves hearing the words being spoken, but hearing the message in the words. Here are some tips on how to improve your active listening skills:
- Pay Attention: When your partner speaks, give him your undivided attention. If you’re doing the dishes, dry your hands, turn around and look at him. Basically, stop whatever you’re doing and focus on him. Don’t entertain your thoughts, look directly at your partner, and if you’re out in public, or there are other people in the background, ignore any side conversations that are taking place.
- Ignore Internal Dialogue: You can’t listen to your partner when conversing with yourself. We all have that little voice in our heads that we listen to, and sometimes we can enter into a dream like state when we are talking to someone as we engage with that voice. This is especially true if the conversation isn’t that interesting. Make every effort to shut off that voice to give your partner your full attention.
- Act as if You’re Listening: Use gestures and body language to let your partner know you’re listening. These might include smiling, nodding occasionally, and an open posture. It’s also important to mention that you should try your best not to exaggerate these movements, especially if the discussion is heated, Exaggerated movement can be interpreted as sarcasm, and you’re not trying to make things worse, you’re trying to make them better.
- Repeat What He Says: To ensure you hear your partner correctly, paraphrase what he said. Start by saying something like, “Are you saying that…” And then go on to repeat what was said.
- Ask Questions: If you’re unsure what he’s trying to say, ask questions for clarification.
- Don’t Interrupt: Even if you’re partner is saying something you don’t like, let him finish speaking before you respond.
- Appropriate Response: Unless your partner asked for advice, don’t give any. If he doesn’t tell you what he wants you to do with the information at the beginning of the conversation, ask him and don’t jump to conclusions.
9. Ask the Right Questions
There are two types of questions, open and closed. Open questions allow the listener to express themselves further, and closed questions typically require yes or no answers.
If you are a naturally talkative person, no matter how a question is asked, you’ll expand on it because you like talking. Since your partner doesn’t like talking, if you ask him closed questions, he will give you closed answers. Examples of closed questions include:
- Do you want to make dinner together tonight?
- Are you feeling okay?
- Do you want to see a film tonight?
- Did you find the play interesting?
Even if you want your partner to express himself further, the above questions won’t allow him to. Instead, ask open questions such as:
- What food do you feel like cooking together for dinner tonight?
- What made you so angry earlier?
- What film would you like to see tonight?
- What was it about the play that you enjoyed the most?
Can you see the difference here? You are literally forcing your partner to speak, there’s no way he can get away with giving you one word answers with these questions.
10. Start With Feelings and I Statements
One of the reasons why your partner doesn’t communicate might be because he doesn’t like how you speak to him. When there’s an issue, and you start the conversation by placing blame, he will get defensive.
No one likes being accused of something even if they’re guilty. Clinical psychologist Shelley Sommerfeldt states that starting your conversations by discussing how you feel about the situation makes it easier for your partner to process.
For example you might feel as if your partner spends too much time at work and neglects you. You’re first instinct is to start your conversation by saying something like, “You’re always at work, it’s obvious that you’re job is more important than me.” Instead, try saying, “I feel neglected because you spend so much time at work.
When you let your partner know how their behavior affects you, they will be more open to a conversation to see how you can work together to rectify the situation.
11. Tell Your Partner What You Need
What do you do when you can’t communicate with your partner? The answer is simple, tell him what you need. Your man might not be very good at telling you what he needs, but you will encourage him to do the same in communicating yours to him.
Sometimes you just want to release your frustration about a situation, you don’t want advice on how to solve it, and neither do you want their opinion. But other times, you want your partner to help you devise a solution.
Neither you or your partner are mind readers, and if you launch into the conversation without letting him know what you need, he is going to do one of two things, sympathize with you, or offer a solution.
Since most men are problem solvers, he may give you a solution when that wasn’t what you sought. Or, he’ll sympathize with you when you were looking for a solution. Therefore, the best way to start the conversation is to be direct about what you need at that moment.
12. Express Your Vulnerability
If you want to know your partner in a way that no one else does, express and explain your vulnerability. The aim here is that the more you open up to him, the more he’ll open up to you. Here are some tips on how to do this:
- Self Reflect: To be vulnerable with your partner, you’ve got to know exactly who you are and why you do what you do. Everyone has a past, or scars from their childhood that affect who they are now. What are yours?
- Don’t Rush: Vulnerability can be scary so dip your toes in the water before heading for the deep end. For one, you might not feel comfortable revealing everything, and two, your partner might not feel comfortable with you being that open with him.
- Be Vulnerable in the Moment: You disagree with your partner and he hurts your feelings. Instead of bottling it up and then having an outburst a couple of days later, tell him exactly how you feel in that moment. But remember to use, “I” statements instead of the accusatory “You” statements.
- Express Your Fears: Tell your partner what you’re afraid of, especially regarding your relationship. Don’t shut down when you feel insecure; discuss it with your partner no matter how irrational you think they are. Sharing your fears allows your man to take care of you, and reassure you that he’s got your back.
13. Learn His Love Language
One of the reasons why you might find it difficult to communicate with your partner is that you speak different love languages. According to psychologist Gary Chapman, there are five love languages and we all speak one of them:
- Words of affirmation: Expressing love and appreciation through words.
- Physical touch: Expressing love through physical touch such as hugging and holding hands.
- Acts of service: Expressing love through doing things for your partner such as washing the dishes, picking the kids up from school or washing the car.
- Quality time: Expressing love by spending time with your partner.
- Gift giving: Expressing love by giving gifts not just on special occasions.
Think about it like this, what would it be like trying to speak to someone who spoke a different language than you? Impossible to hold a conversation, right? Well, that’s exactly what happens when you and your partner don’t understand each other’s love languages.
You might expect your man to buy you gifts all the time because that’s your love language, but because he doesn’t know this, and his love language is acts of service, he’s always doing things for you, but you don’t appreciate it because that’s not your love language.
Can you see the conflict here? The good news is that you can resolve it by learning his love language. Unlike learning a foreign language, the process is really simple. Spend a week using all the five love languages and see which one he responds to best.
He may have two, but he’ll rarely have any more than that. Once you start speaking to him in his love language, teach him how to speak to you in yours.
14. Be His Friend
Men love women, but they also enjoy being around other men because they understand each other. Your partner might struggle to communicate with you because he feels you don’t understand him.
One way you can understand him better is by becoming his friend. Here are some tips on how you can do this.
Be His Cheerleader:
Men like feeling like men, so they hang around other men. If you pay attention to a group of men, you’ll notice they’re always hi-fiving each other and cheering each other on.
But these things are typically related to their masculinity. Men like praise. They enjoy being praised for their masculinity. Here are some tips on how you can become you’re partners cheerleader:
Compliment His Body:
Even though men are not body-shamed as much as women, they are very conscious about their physical appearance. All the hero’s in movies have six packs, and strong arms. All women swooned over Brad Pitt when he revealed his abs in Fight Club. Here are some examples of how you can compliment his body:
- I love the way you hold me, your arms are so strong.
- I can tell you’ve been working out, those abs look edible.
- You’re looking extra handsome today.
- I love that outfit on you, it highlights your best features.
Compliment His Efforts
Whether he did the dishes, took out the garbage, or changed a lightbulb, let him know that you recognize his acts of service. Here are some examples:
- You’re such a good cook, I appreciate that you took the time out to make this meal for me today.
- I’m so impressed, you know how to fix everything.
- Thank you for doing the dishes last night and letting me sleep early.
Compliments To Show You Respect Him
Research suggests that men value respect more than love. As a woman, you probably prefer to hear how much your partner loves you. Of course, he wants to know that you love him too, but he’d much rather you let him know you respect him. Here are some examples:
- I respect how you didn’t argue with that man on the bus today.
- I love the fact that you are a man of integrity.
- I admire the way you were able to admit that you were wrong.
- Your ability to forgive the people who have hurt you is inspiring.
Compliments That Show You Trust Him as a Leader
Men are natural-born leaders, but times have changed, and although we’re not all the way there yet, with equality, women can lead just as well as men.
Sometimes, this can cause problems in a relationship, and women can unintentionally undermine their partners. You can avoid this by complimenting him in this area. Here are some examples:
- I would follow you anywhere.
- You’re so intelligent, you always give the best advice.
- I don’t think you can steer me in the wrong direction.
Learn About the Stuff He’s Interested in:
Is your boyfriend a sports fanatic? Whether it’s basketball, football, or baseball, learn about the sport so you can talk to him about it and watch the game with him sometimes.
But it’s important to understand that sports mean a lot to men, so you can’t pretend you’re interested. You’ve got to be all in. Pay attention to how your man acts when his team wins, that excitement isn’t short-lived.
He doesn’t pump the air and keep it moving. He has a pep in his step for the rest of the week, and any time he speaks to his homeboys, that’s the main topic of conversation.
On the other hand, if his team loses, he is equally as depressed, and he will mope around as if someone has died. Whether his team wins or loses, you must match his energy, or he’ll assume you don’t care.
Have Fun With Your Partner:
Men enjoy going out with their friends because they have fun together. They leave their problems at the door, they laugh, act the fool and just have a good time.
There is no denying that life can get hard sometimes, especially when communication between you and your partner is lacking. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun together.
Set some time aside to do things that he would normally do with his friends such as:
- Go dancing
- Play golf
- Play card games
- Get a couples massage