Some women put up emotional barriers at the start of a new relationship, perhaps because they have been hurt by a previous partner or they take a while to feel comfortable opening up and sharing their deepest thoughts, fears and dreams. You can help your partner let down her protective wall, but you must do it with empathy and patience.
Ask your partner the right questions, at the right time. Try to come across as inquisitive and caring, but not forceful. Identify everyday situations where you can encourage your partner to open up a little more, such as after watching an emotional news feature. Ask her how she felt about it. If someone you both know has been going through a particularly difficult time, ask your partner how she would react in the same situation. Don't accuse her of being too private or guarded, and don't get frustrated with her reluctance to open up. This will only make her more self-conscious about the way she is. Be patient and understanding; accept that this is part of her personality.
Be worthy of her trust. Keep private conversations between the two of you. Resist the temptation to reveal something she has told you in confidence to a friend or relative. If she sees you as a gossip, she won't want to tell you anything personal. Trust is the one key element that can make your partner feel really safe in your relationship, says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, in her article "The One Key Element That Can Build Your Relationships" for "Psychology Today." Show that you trust her by sharing your innermost thoughts with her. Ask her what she thinks of your dreams for the future. Demonstrate that you are willing to take a risk to get closer to her, and hopefully she will be more willing to do the same.
React to things she tells you about herself without judgment or ridicule. Even if you are shocked by a secret she has revealed or don't agree with her views on something, be careful how you respond. If you get angry or defensive or make fun of her, she may clam up. Make her feel that she can tell you anything without worrying about how you will react, and she will be more likely to share more in the future.
C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."
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