There are so many reasons. And, so often we take it personally when someone doesn’t share. We think it means something about us.
Well, sometimes that is true. Very often, it isn’t.
We’ll talk about both sides.
When it is not about you:
There are so many factors that could contribute why someone is not sharing how they feel with you, regardless of whether the feelings are what you would consider positive (“I’m having fun with you”) or negative (“I’m feeling bothered about xyz”). So, this list is not exhaustive by any means. It’s simply meant to open your perspective.
One factor is whether or not the person is an introvert. Introverts process internally, then are ready to share. An introvert is also more likely to be private or shy, so their temperament might lend itself to not sharing about their internal world as readily.
Another factor is that this is not what they are used to in their family. Sharing feelings or what is happening inside them is just not something that occurs to them to do. It’s not part of how they are used to relating with people close to them. And, it may not be something they are even used to reflecting on, even privately.
Another contributing factor is past experiences in general. They may have had experiences in their past where they have shared and it has not been a positive experience. In fact, those experiences could have been traumatic.
Finally, it is possible that there has been someone who is incredibly emotional in their life, who shared a lot of what occurred internally and this was overwhelming. So it is something they want to avoid.
Again, this list is in no way exhaustive, simply a couple of factors to consider that help open your mind to reasons why someone might not be sharing.
What you can be doing to encourage someone sharing how they feel with you:
ONE: Consider what kind of space you are creating for someone to share with you.
Are you being present when your person is talking with you? Or are you on your phone?
Are you being open and curious?
Are you interrupting? Being critical?
Are you spending enough time with your person that is not filled with “to do”s? Meaning: is there ever space in your interactions to talk about more vulnerable topics?
TWO: Model it by sharing how you feel.
Start with nice things. “I had fun with you” or “I liked when you said xyz”.
Start just building up the conversation about what is happening between you (process dialogue) instead of always talking about things other than the relationship (content dialogue).
If you want to know more about process vs content dialogue, check out our post on communication here.
THREE: Get curious.
Ya. Just ask your person when you are both relaxed (not in the middle of a tense moment) if there is anything that stops them from sharing their thoughts or feelings more often.
So often, this is a result of our temperament and our life experiences, not anything so personal.
And, this is workable by simply understanding your person’s natural ways and creating some safety and practices to share just a little bit more.
Do you want some support creating more space in your relationship to talk about what happens between you?
Contact us, we’d love to support you.