unheard of: closes directly

Question: I can’t talk to my partner about our problems.

We don’t talk to each other anymore. We love each other, but I miss the conversations we had together. If I don’t just want to talk to him about everyday things, but about how we’re doing, he closes immediately.

How do I get to him? If I try to clarify a subject, he withdraws. But conflicts can only be resolved by talking about them. Why doesn’t he understand? If I’m persistent, he often even reacts aggressively. Or he leaves the room entirely.

Otherwise, he is totally sweet, peaceful, and a great companion.

Answer: Stop using a strategy that obviously isn’t working

It is normal for a couple to want to talk more and more often. It is even quite unusual when both partners mark the same path in their need to exchange. Whether this leads to conflict depends above all on how threatening the partners experience this difference. Because the big problem behind this is, of course: partners who don’t talk to each other can’t resolve their conflicts either.

The distribution of roles is not a matter of gender, but of personality. Above all, previous experiences with losses and fights form the basis for the reaction to an impending conflict: some partners learned early on that any conflict or fight is bad and can lead to the end of the relationship. Therefore, they always strive for harmony and avoid arguments. Sometimes they deepen in frustration until they can no longer control themselves and then become particularly unfair and dismissive. However, this is basically a flight behavior at first, which then turns into an attack when they feel the wall at their back.

On the contrary, the partner who is looking for a conversation is often convinced that everything that bothers him has to come to light and that for every conflict there is a solution, you just have to find it. As fast as possible. So he’s more in some sort of attack mode, even if he wouldn’t describe his behavior as such. This is legitimized because it is known: You have to talk about it!

On the other hand, there is an extremely important finding: Two-thirds of all couple conflicts cannot be resolved through a compromise that can satisfy both partners equally. In the long run, it’s not just rotten compromises that destroy relationship satisfaction, but also talking to bits about such conflicts. Because partners work on each other. They devalue each other. They become more and more convinced that we don’t fit in. This is frustrating and stressful. A withdrawal dynamic often arises, putting a lot of pressure on both partners. One partner is always “attacking”, the other partner is “closing more and more”: close directly.

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