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What Is Your Silence Saying?

By Terrey L. Hatcher

In relationships, silence isn’t necessarily golden. By not saying anything, you’re saying a lot. Sometimes you communicate your frustration even more by not saying a word.

What’s Her Problem?
For example, there are those times when you’re hanging with your sweetie and all of a sudden you can tell something’s wrong. She clams up, and you don’t know what you did to irritate her. So you ask, “Is something bothering you?”

She responds, “I’m fine.” You’ve heard that before, and you know it’s a red flag. But what does it mean?

It can mean several things. You have to listen to the way she answered you for hints. If she’s speaking in terse, clipped tones, then she’s annoyed or angry. She’s either trying not to rock the boat or she’s so teed off that she’s trying to calm down before she tells you just where you should go and what the matter is.

What can you do? You can stop asking her and show her you care. Cook dinner. Give her a massage. Make her a drink. Sit with your arm around her, and let your actions speak for you. Then she’s likely to open up and share just what’s got her panties in a bunch.

Harvest His Hints
Then there’s the guy version of the mystery silence. He comes home from work and you feel like you’re talking to a wall. He doesn’t want to interact with you. He doesn’t want to explain how his day went. He doesn’t want to...be here? So, you ask, “Is something wrong?”

His response: “No.” That’s it. End of discussion.

That doesn’t give you much to work with, does it? So, in an effort to unearth his feelings, you try to draw him out. “Did something happen at work today?” His response is “uh-uh,” along with a shake of the head and a shrug of the shoulders. Then he leaves the room, and comes back and plops in front of the TV.

At that point, you know something’s wrong. You just don’t know what. You do know that guys sometimes avoid conflict. And they sometimes want you to just leave them the hell alone so they can forget about whatever’s bothering them. For sure they don’t want to be bothered even more by you.

So what can you do? You can let it lie for a bit. Give him some space. After dinner, you might tiptoe back to the topic. You talk a bit about your day, and then gently ask again for an update. Or mention something fun you want to do together later in the week.

If he starts opening up, don’t try to direct the conversation. Let him decide how much to tell you about what’s going on. Then whatever you do, be supportive, not critical.

The Quiet Quest
We all face the communication divide once in a while, especially when we have different communication styles from our partner. But we have to remember that our way is not necessarily the right way. Sometimes showing you care and backing away is the best strategy.

With time and space, your lover’s likely to get over whatever’s casting a shadow between you. Just remember that it’s not always your problem to fix. Sometimes silence really is golden.

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