How to encourage a man to be emotionally vulnerable with you


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How to encourage a man to be emotionally vulnerable with you

  1. 1. How To Encourage A Man To Be Emotionally Vulnerable WithYouWhen I give a seminar about creating emotional intimacy, I am often asked about how awoman can get her husband to open up and communicate about how he feels with her.I can hear the frustration and pain in her voice from not feeling emotionally connected toher husband and the loneliness that comes as a result of this disconnect.I call these “how to get” questions. Other examples include “how do I get my husband togo to therapy,” “how do I get my wife sober,” or “how do I get my spouse tocommunicate with me.” The issue I have with these questions are the words “how do Iget.” When people use these words, what they are asking me for are the tools or tricksthat would get their partner to do what they want. When it comes to a psychologicallyhealthy adult relationship you can’t get your partner to do anything. This would implythat you have power over them.When the behaviors of power and control become part of an intimate relationship, therelationship will soon lose all intimacy. If an adult believes that they are being controlledthey will resent it and pull away from their spouse. Thus, you can’t “get” a man to openup and be emotionally vulnerable because you don’t have the power.That doesn’t mean that you are totally helpless in this situation. What you can do iscreate an atmosphere where it’s psychological safe and conducive for your male partnerto open up and verbally communicate his emotions, and take the risk of beingemotionally vulnerable. This doesn’t mean he will, but it will help reduce the risk factor,so the fear of being vulnerable will be lessened.What does it mean to create an atmosphere where it is safe to be vulnerable for a manor a woman and where she or he can take the risk and communicate their emotions.The first major component to creating an atmosphere where it’s safe to be vulnerable isto remove all judgement. Judging how someone feels emotionally will be an instantinhibiting factor when trying to have a man open up to you.Phrases such as:“You shouldn’t be upset.”“You are just overreacting.”“There is nothing to be afraid of.”
  2. 2. “Don’t worry it’s all going to work out.”“You are not being logical.”Regardless of the intention that is behind these statements, they are all judgmental.What they are communicating to him is one basic message: you shouldn’t feel the wayyou feel emotionally. If he hears this message he will stop communicating his emotions.Instead of being judgmental there needs to be an atmosphere of acceptance. A man isgoing to feel safe in exposing his vulnerabilities if he believes he is going to be acceptedinstead of being judged. Being accepted isn’t the same as approval, it just means thatyou take a neutral position to a man’s emotions.Another key factor to creating an atmosphere for a male to be emotionally vulnerable isto not try to fix any problems he shares with you with advice.Even though your intention is to help him with his problem, it’s not your responsibility tofix it because he is an adult. Otherwise, you are going to be co-dependent and that willdefinitely create problems. What you want to do is verbally acknowledge his emotionsas they relate to his issue being shared.First, the verbal acknowledgment will tell him that you care and also that youunderstand how he feels. This is called being emotionally supportive and that’s whatmost adults truly want when they share a problem. If they want more than emotionalsupport, then it’s up to him to ask for your input regarding his situation. If he doesn’t ask,then ask him if he wants any input or suggestions regarding the problem presented.Allow him the adult choice as to whether he wants your suggestions.Another reason that this creates an atmosphere in which a man will feel morecomfortable being emotionally vulnerable is that he is the focus of your attention. Youcan’t be doing some other activity such as cooking or looking at your laptop, your focusneeds to be on him. It’s as if you have a stage spotlight on him and that spotlight stayson him until he is done. If he starts to share don’t shift the focus back to you by usingthe pronoun “I” because then you shifted the focus off him and on to your self and hewill shut down and stop sharing as a consequence of the shift in focus.Besides trying to create an atmosphere that is conducive for a male to open up anotherthing that you can do is to provide consequences to the fact that he doesn’t open upand share his vulnerabilities. I always tell women that you can’t get a man to doanything because you don’t have or want the power to get him to change his behavioras mentioned earlier, but what you can do is provide consequences to his
  3. 3. If you don’t provide consequences then basically you are enabling the very behavioryou want changed. Telling him you want him to open up and be vulnerable most likelywon’t be enough motivation for him to change his behavior. Consequences are whatmotivates people to change their behavior. What are the consequences depends on thepeople and the situation.Woman react to this approach by saying, “you want me to threaten him or give anultimatum?” No, that’s not what I mean. Just communicate that if he continues hiscurrent behavior of not opening up something is going to happen. It’s like you know ifyou run a red light there is a high likelihood that you will get a citation or get in anaccident. It’s just adult life.One last thing that I advise women who want their male partner to become vulnerablewith them is to make sure that they are vulnerable with him first. Share your emotions ofwhat’s going on in your life, whether it’s at work or within your relationship.Remember, the model of masculinity in this cultural does not give a male the option tobe vulnerable whereas women in general don’t question their femininity if they arevulnerable. So if you take the lead and take the risk first it may make it easier for him totake the risk himself.Remember these changes don’t occur instantaneously. So have some patience andunderstanding of how long his “wall” to emotional vulnerability has been up andremember that it’s scary to take it down, but it is so rewarding and such a relief when itdoes come down.To read more go to and check out the video clips on you tube,blogs and information about my three books. For more free tips and insights on what really attracts a man, how to make yourself irresistible to him and how to capture his heart, click the link below.