Sometimes the reason for a guy’s silence is obvious: He’s engrossed in work; he’s concentrating on Angry Birds; he’s crammed so much burger into his mouth that he’s incapable of making a sound. But there are also times when his tight-lipped state is a total mystery… and that’s when it can have a negative effect on your relationship. ‘A women will often take a man’s silence to be a bad thing because she assumes it means that he doesn’t want to communicate with her or that he just doesn’t care,’ says Dr William July, author of Understanding The Tin Man (Broadway). It doesn’t help that when he sees that his silence is hurting you or making you angry; he just feels even more pressure to say the right thing… and becomes even less likely to talk. Luckily, you can break the cycle by understanding why he shuts up in the first place.
You’re probably sick of asking him what he’s thinking and being told ‘Nothing.’ Well, you may want to stop and consider how you’d react it he actually told you what was going through his head. ‘Often, a man will think that talking could result in his losing more points,’ says Dr Warren Farrell, author of Women Can Hear What Men Don’t Say (Tarcher). So, he keeps things to himself, which makes it impossible for him to participate fully in the relationship.
Let’s say you describe a fight you’re having with a co-worker and your guy doesn’t respond. You think he’s zoning out, but it may be that he has weighed the situation in his logical mind and is siding with your co-worker, not you. Based on past experiences, he knows that admitting as much will only get him in trouble (because, let’s face it, you’re looking for emotional backup, not rational input)… so he just stares at you like a deer in headlights. The only way to get him to stop censoring himself is to let him know that you’ll take his opinion in stride, even if it’s not what you want to hear. ‘If he has reassurance that you’ll listen and respond more positively than in the past,’ Farrell says, ‘he’ll feel safe enough to talk.’