When Your Partner Won't Talk About Their Worries

"There's nothing wrong with me. Leave me alone." When your partner reacts like this and won't tell you what's wrong, it causes a rift in your relationship. What can you do?
When Your Partner Won't Talk About Their Worries
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

“My partner won’t say what they’re worried about, keeps everything to themselves, and doesn’t tell me anything.” Many people have these difficulties in their relationships. Indeed, it’s a fairly common problem that often causes arguments, awkwardness, and even distance between a couple. It seems that not everybody manages, or perhaps even wants, to communicate. This article gives some helpful information and advice for when your partner won’t talk to you about their worries.

When you’ve got a partner who won’t share their worries with you, you’ll find they tend to build an impenetrable wall around themselves, preventing anyone or anything from penetrating it. They’re also often pretty defensive. In fact, if you ask, “What do you think?” or “What are you worried about?”, they just get uncomfortable or even angry.

When you’re faced with these kinds of experiences, the connection between you gets damaged and you feel hurt. When communication fails, so does trust. Without trust, your relationship loses its intimacy and meaning. Consequently, it’s worth learning a bit more about this significant problem.

A couple arguing.

When your partner won’t talk about their worries

“There’s nothing wrong with me. Leave me alone.” This is what you’ll usually hear when you think there’s something worrying your partner. These kinds of responses leave you feeling bewildered and hurt.

It’s common knowledge that communication is key to a good relationship. However, when you fall in love with someone, you might not always get the full package. In other words, a partner with good skills in emotional intelligence, empathy, understanding, and communication. However, why are some people so reluctant to share their worries and realities with their partners? Let’s find out.

People who live their lives on the defensive

One of John Gottman’s most respected theories is that of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In more than four decades of work, he and his team studied more than 3,000 couples. They concluded that one of the biggest problems in a relationship is defensive communication.

Your partner might avoid communicating with you, actively tune out, or even react with contempt to your concerns. These kinds of actions, in effect, really hinder their social adjustment abilities. So why do they act this way? As a matter of fact, they’re insecure. Because they tend to take it for granted that you won’t be able to understand their own reality.

In many cases, they might feel a great deal of accumulated frustration. There might also be internal realities they haven’t yet faced.

Fear of vulnerability, as showing emotions means weakness

Your partner might not tell you about their worries because they’re afraid of feeling vulnerable. Today, in social thinking, they tend to overemphasize the link between vulnerability and fragility. In fact, your partner might feel that talking about their worries strips them bare and leaves them naked and defenseless in the face of a possible attack, either now or in the future.

A lack of education in emotional matters and communication

Generally, communication problems originate in childhood. It’s your family who teaches you life skills like emotional management, confidence, empathy, and conversational skills.

For this reason, a child who grows up in a family where their emotional needs are neglected or there’s no attachment between them and their parents might carry these voids into adulthood. After all, how can they share their thoughts as an adult if they weren’t allowed to as a child?

Lack of confidence, the feeling that others won’t understand them

Another reason why your partner might not share their worries with you is that they assume you won’t be able to share their inner reality. They might feel you just won’t be on the same wavelength as they are.

This highlights another point of concern, that they don’t feel able to trust you.

A couple with their backs to one another.

How can you get your partner to open up?

If there’s too much defensiveness in a relationship, the lack of trust and communication difficulties often cause an unbridgeable gap. You should remember that communication isn’t just about having everyday conversations. In fact, you can’t maintain a relationship with meaningless conversations about the weather or the TV shows you watch, and other superficial matters.

Communication involves deepening your emotions, concerns, and needs. It means opening up to each other, helping each other, understanding each other, and sharing. Psychology agrees that communication is the backbone of any relationship. Therefore, what can you do if it doesn’t happen?

When your partner won’t talk about their worries. What can you do?

Dr. Victor Harris from the University of Florida conducted a study to gather together strategies for improving communication in a relationship. Of course, what we’re talking about here concerns a particular issue that your partner has. However, although it’s essentially “their problem”, you still need to work together to solve it. Here are some strategies you could adopt:

  • Don’t pressure them. Make it clear to them that you’re there whenever they need you, at any time. You want to help them, understand them, and be with them. Love is sharing, not judging or criticizing.
  • Remind them that communicating doesn’t mean weakness in any way. In fact, sharing thoughts with a loved one enriches and strengthens a couple’s bond. Impenetrability weakens and breaks that bond.
  • Find a time when your partner’s more receptive and responsive. Then, start a conversation. However, avoid direct questions.

You might want to say something along these lines, “I’ve noticed that you seem really worried lately. It looks like something’s bothering you. You know you can tell me whatever you want. I love you and I’m with you, no matter what”.

In conclusion, these situations are complicated. In fact, in some cases, they can’t be fixed. Always remember that communication is the cog that makes the relationship wheel turn. Therefore, you should try to improve this intrinsic element of your life and well-being.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Harris, Victor. (2012). 9 Important Communication Skills for Every Relationship. . American Scientist, 91(July-August), 330-335.
  • Rosenberg, M. B. (2003). Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Life. Encinitas US: PuddleDancer.
  • Segrin C. (2014) Communication and Personal Well-Being. In: Michalos A.C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_446
  • Weger, H., Castle, G. R., & Emmett, M. C. (2010). Active Listening in Peer Interviews: The Influence of Message Paraphrasing on Perceptions of Listening Skill. International Journal of Listening, 24(1), 34-49.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.