“Dear Orna and Matthew,
Why won’t he let me in? I’ve been dating my boyfriend for several months and I’m struggling with whether I should continue or not. I’ve been trying to get him to open up to me, but he won’t let me in and I’m not sure if I can take it anymore.
He’s a good guy, but he’s so guarded, and I never really know what’s going on with him. How do I get him to open up to me? I don’t know what he’s thinking because he never tells me what’s going on. I feel like I’m in the dark.
There are many reasons why he won’t let you in and most of them have nothing to do with you. You’ll want to see if you can figure out the cause and determine if it’s his inability to be emotionally authentic or tied to your relationship dynamics. Discovering the root cause of the problem will give you the information you need to decide whether to stay or go.
6 Reasons Why He Won’t Let You In
He’s Not Emotionally Available For A Relationship
He could be emotionally unavailable for any number of reasons – addiction, emotional immaturity, defensiveness, withdrawal, or passivity. Whatever the reason, it’s impossible to create emotional intimacy with a man who isn’t open to it.
You have control over what you think, feel, and do, however, you cannot control what he thinks, feels, or does. Make sure you’re not twisting into a pretzel trying to get him to let you in.
Why won’t he let you in? He’s not available for an emotionally intimate relationship.
He Doesn’t See The Relationship Lasting Long-Term
The bad news is he could just be in it for companionship and convenience. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like you or find you attractive, it means that he enjoys spending time with you but doesn’t see a future with you.
A man who wants a relationship with you will make the effort to move the relationship forward. He’ll plan dates in the future, introduce you to his friends and family, and he’ll be curious about you, so he’ll know how to make you happier. There’s nothing wrong with a convenient relationship as long as you’re both in agreement that’s all it is. Sadly, it seems that you want more, and he may not.
Why won’t he let you in? He likes you but doesn’t see a future with you.
He’s Conflict Avoidant
Many people are uncomfortable with conflict and go to extreme measures to avoid upsetting their partner. They avoid difficult conversations and don’t share what they’re thinking because they’re afraid of being rejected or of causing a disagreement.
Avoiding conflict creates emotional disconnection, it may seem like the relationship is stale. Not speaking up about what’s bothering you will cause you to emotionally withdraw, which makes it difficult for your partner to connect with you. When differences are approached with care and conscious communication you can create a much deeper connection and an emotional bond between the two of you.
Why won’t he let you in? He’s afraid of conflict and withholding his opinions, thoughts, and feelings.
He Feels Judged, Criticized, Or Pressured
It’s common for people to close themselves off if they feel judged or criticized. While you believe you’re being helpful, he’s closing off because he feels like he’s being pressured to be different. He may believe that nothing he does is good enough for you, or may not know how to please you leaving him perplexed about which action to take.
If he feels judged, then he could get defensive or stonewall you, and give you pat answers that don’t reveal what’s really going on with him.
Why won’t he let you in? He doesn’t know how to please you.
He’s Not Looking For Advice
There’s a reason why it’s a cliché that men don’t ask for directions. Call it pride or just a desire to figure it out on their own, many men close off when they hear you giving them advice about how to live their life or take care of themselves. Or he may internalize your advice to mean that you don’t trust him to make the right decisions. He may believe that you perceive him as weak or incapable.
His closing off to your advice could be a symptom of toxic masculinity or insecurity, or he could just bristle at unsolicited advice. If he feels like he’s being told how to live his life, he won’t feel safe to seek your counsel.
Why won’t he let you in? He doesn’t believe that you trust him to take care of things.
He’s Not In Touch With His Emotions
Many men had their feelings invalidated when they were boys. Often being told to “act like a man” and put their feelings aside. Because of this conditioning, they’re not in touch with their emotional life. When you ask a man raised this way how he feels, he will look at you with a blank expression — he literally can’t answer the question.
If he doesn’t know how he feels, then he’s not going to be able to share his feelings with you. Emotional connection requires that you both are emotionally authentic.
Why won’t he let you in? He’s not in touch with his emotions and therefore can’t identify or express his feelings.
Getting past these hurdles is difficult and it’s not up to you to get him to let you in, however, you can create an environment where he feels safe to open up and be vulnerable with you. Many men want to talk about their feelings more, but they need the right environment to be emotionally expressive.
It’s important to find a balance between both of your needs and wants. Make sure that you’re not going into sacrifice for him. Your needs can’t be less important or valuable than his.
How To Get Him To Let You In
It’s not up to you to open him up so he can let you in. Keeping this in mind there are things you can do to let him know it’s safe to open up to you. Ultimately, you’ll find out if he is a match for you long-term or not.
Speak His Language
Women tend to be more comfortable expressing their emotions, but most men aren’t. They’re more connected to their linear, logical brain. In order to speak his language, talk across the brain. Instead of asking him how he’s feeling, share your feelings and ask what he’s thinking.
By being curious and asking about his thoughts you’re giving him the opportunity to open up to you. He may not use the same emotionally intelligent words as you, but it’s still a chance at creating connection.
Acknowledge And Appreciate His Efforts
The fuel a man runs on in a relationship is acknowledgment and appreciation. Rather than treating your boyfriend like a girlfriend and expecting him to reciprocate, simply express your gratitude for him and the things he does for you. This will emotionally bond him because he knows how to please you and increase your happiness.
Encourage him to speak up by expressing gratitude when he shares his feelings with you. The more you let him know that you appreciate his efforts, the more effort he’ll put into it.
Speak Your Truth
Emotional authenticity is the doorway to emotional intimacy. Sharing how you feel is an invitation for him to share his feelings. When you’re authentic you’re inviting him to speak his truth too.
Being authentic isn’t about him or how he is behaving (that’s your opinion). Being authentic means you’re expressing how you feel — that’s it! Be sure to use “I” language and focus your communication only on your emotional state.
Give Him Time To Speak
A recent study shows that women speak approximately 20,000 words a day, compared to men who speak roughly 7,000. Create a trusting environment by listening and give him time to find the right words without interrupting.
Rather than offering advice, be curious and ask if he has some options on how to handle a particular situation. If he shares his feelings with you let him know that you appreciate him letting you in; you can also take the extra step of validating his feelings.
Don’t Rehash The Past
It’s important to clean up any conflicts or disagreements between you. Once you’ve resolved the issue move on as bringing up the past can be demoralizing to him. He needs to know that you’re not keeping score or holding grudges.
No matter your conflicts, you’re doing the dance together and you’ve both made mistakes. Rehashing the past is like picking the scab off a wound, it will never heal and instead put a wedge between you. Say what you need to say and then let it go.
Take Responsibility For Your Part
You’re 100% responsible for your half of the relationship. When you take responsibility for your part, you give him permission to own his. You also let him know that you don’t blame him for what has happened between you.
Responsibility is a powerful way to assure your partner and create certainty in a relationship. The more he knows that he’s not being blamed all the time, the more likely he is to be vulnerable and share his feelings.
Create An Environment Of Trust
When you do your best to practice these tools, you create an environment of trust between you. The goal is not perfection. The goal is to make your best efforts.
None of these steps will guarantee that he’ll become more vulnerable and let you in. Instead, approach these tools as an experiment and see if he has the capability to meet your needs. If he starts to let you in, give him encouragement by appreciating his efforts. If things don’t change between the two of you, you have all the information you need about what he’s capable of.
Relationships have a natural ebb and flow. Knowing the progressive stages that a relationship goes through and how to navigate them will help guide you through any challenges you face together. Get the details in our special report, The 5 Stages of Relationship so you’re prepared for the journey and have the kind of relationship that you know will stand the test of time.