Being open and honest with one another is important for any relationship. Sometimes it can be easy to share everything, but it can also be an uphill battle to get comfortable enough for your significant other to open up fully. Everyone is different. While it often takes a combination of time and familiarity to create that kind of exchange, some people are more private and need the addition of a conscious, open environment.
Regardless of where you are in your journey together, there are a few practices you can engage in to help your partner open up a bit more. These habits can create a comfortable environment and build a foundation of trust between you. You should practice these things consistently, not just when you’re itching to know something.
Get Your Significant Other to Open Up by Offering Your Own Info
If your partner tends to offer their own testimonials after others start to spill their guts, you may have an easy in already. People can often feel encouraged and safe to share their feelings and experiences when those around them are doing the same, so why not lead by example? Talk about your day, your ideas and your internal emotions. It might just encourage them to chime in.
Approach Conversations Calmly
When somebody is always on edge or perhaps already has some anxieties when it comes to discussing their feelings out in the open, the last thing they need is to feel accosted or have an ambiguous text looming over them all day long. Saying things like “we need to talk” or bringing it up when you’re both rushing out the door will probably only make them clam up even more.
Ask Open-Ended Questions for Your Significant Other to Open Up
Sometimes, open-ended questions are the best way to get someone talking. Even if they don’t have much to do with internal thoughts and feelings, they could very well lead the conversation in that direction. Sometimes, open-ended questions will help you understand more about your partner’s thoughts on life, which can be as useful as anything.
Show Genuine Interest
Listening is about being present. You can talk the talk of wanting your partner to open up, but listening occurs when you walk the walk. Look them in the eye, make an effort to understand them and, of course, put the phones away.
Check in Regularly
You don’t need to just let your partner know you care once and then consider your work done. As much as we’d all like it to be that easy, it’s just not how life goes. When someone is used to staying quiet and internalizing their feelings, one conversation won’t be enough to turn their outlook around. They’ll need reassurance and encouragement, and you can be the person who helps them find it. Check in and ask them about how they’re feeling.
Don’t Freak Them Out
Some conversations take easing into, and that’s OK. If there’s something specific you’re looking to know, patience is key. Going right for the throat is sure to scare a lot of people. Dance around it a bit first — let them warm up to expressing themselves.
Talk in the Car
Direct eye contact can be great, but it can also be daunting. The car could be the perfect setting for some of your first big conversations. It allows you to be open and honest with one another in close proximity without staring at one another face to face. There’s less pressure to perform, which makes it much more comfortable.
Let the Conversation Simmer
It can be tempting to want to yank an answer out of your partner right away. Although their tight-lipped nature may frustrate you, taking the pressure off can sometimes be the best thing. Opening up will never come as a result of one magical conversation. Instead, it springs from a foundation of meaningful interactions that build over time. Let things simmer.
Take Their Love Language Into Account
You might be more of a words person, which means that talking makes you feel comfortable. On the other hand, your partner could favor physical touch, with hugs and other forms of contact pushing them to open up and feel more at home. The ways people prefer to receive love can often make all the difference. Take the love languages quiz together and make sure you’re conscious of how they like to receive love when you have those in-depth conversations.
Don’t Push It
One of the biggest parts of creating a dialogue with anyone is being prepared for the responses. While you can try any number of strategies to get them to open up, you need to respect their boundaries should they choose not to share what you want them to. Everyone is entitled to privacy, and appreciating that will help you grow stronger as a couple.
Making Space for Love and for Your Significant Other to Open Up
You want your partner to open up because you care for them and want to be closer to them. Remember that just like it isn’t easy for you, it isn’t easy for your significant other to open up, either. Take time and make space for respect and openness. What you find may just surprise you.
Mia Barnes is a lifestyle writer with an interest in healthy relationships, and of course all things…life! She is also the Editor-in-Chief at BodyMind.com.
What do you think?