How to communicate when a woman shuts down emotionally?

when a woman shuts down emotionally

Having a fight in a relationship is normal. People end up saying hurtful things which they don’t mean at times. They often storm out of the house after the fight and usually don’t answer calls or text from their partner. While this might feel like the end of the world for everyone involved, it’s certainly not true.

With time, it gets tougher to communicate in a relationship. Unless people evolve and take efforts, lack of communication leads to arguments and fights. Everyone has a different way of dealing with conflict and stress, originating due to constant fights.

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Often, a man wants to discuss important things after a fight but find it difficult to communicate when a woman shuts down emotionally. Women don’t want to talk to their partner about anything and want to be alone in peace.

Not speaking and remaining silent can further frustrate the partner and further harm the relationship. This process of being silent is known as stonewalling.

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Stonewalling is an incidental reaction to a certain situation. It can also be explained as a long-standing behavioral feature.

When a woman shuts down emotionally

  • Discomfort is discussing feelings
  • Dismissing a partner’s concern
  • Do not respond to the questions
  • Emphasis on non-verbal communication
  • Walks away from discussions

Stonewalling is quite common in every relationship. It can be subtle and one is often not able to even realize. Signs of stonewalling-

  • Partner ignore when you talk
  • Starts doing something between some serious discussion
  • Walks away without an explanation
  • Makes excuses to avoid important conversation
  • Does not respond to the questions
  • Avoids making eye contact

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In such scenarios, stonewalling shows that partner is trying to cope up with a difficult or emotional issue. In these times, women often think of a positive thing to help them calm down and find peace.

When a stonewalling occurs in a relationship, it is important to deal with it with your partner rather than ignoring it as a mood swing.

Whether you have stonewalled your partner, or the partner has stonewalled you, it should not be characterized as a problem. Showing it as a problem will lead to blame game and hide focus from the larger issue at hand.

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To identify the reason for stonewalling, it is advised to go for couple therapy. This help in understanding the trigger which leads to behaviours or practices of stonewalling. Once identified, the couple can work with a therapist to learn a structured approach to communication, to avoid stonewalling.

This might take time in getting used to but eventually, it will become a habit. You and your partner will be able to resolve situations in a much better way rather than fighting over it.

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Why a woman shuts down emotionally or does not want to communicate?

  1. Fear of Rejection
    Everyone is afraid of rejection, but some find it more overwhelming than others. Often, women who have experienced trauma in life fear to put their emotions out in the open again.

    The fear of expressing their feeling and seeing those getting squashed makes it difficult for women to open. This feeling or habit being done over time leads to behaviour of shutting down of emotions.

    Women who have lost someone due to estrangement, divorce or death find it difficult to talk to anyone about it and if nudged, often resort to tears, anger or being silent. This makes it difficult for their loved ones to communicate with them.

    People avoid talking with women on topics which lead to strong emotional reaction and thus, this habit of emotional shut down never gets worked upon.

  2. Avoiding Attachment
    Women, whose needs don’t get reciprocated or met in early years of life, develop a habit of shutting down emotionally. They learn to be on their own and avoid attachment with anyone or anything at the early stage of life.

    Even after growing up, whenever their needs don’t meet, resorting to emotional shutdown becomes habitual to them. To avoid the feeling of the emotional shutdown and further hurting themselves, these women adapt to not attaching themselves with anything.

  3. Feeling Guilty
    Women learn to avoid attachment and not expressing themselves for fear of the needs not being met. Even if they express themselves to their loved ones and don’t get an adequate response, it makes them feel guilty.

    They regret opening and punish themselves for sharing their feelings. If let down, they spiral down emotionally and become more resilient in expressing themselves in future.

    Thus, it is important that whenever a loved one, friend, family or colleague opens about something that they are hesitant initially, one should listen to them patiently and encourage and empathize with them. This might help them in slowly overcoming the childhood scars of avoiding attachment over time.

    Whether it’s a man or woman, it is very difficult to communicate when they are trying to avoid or be on their own. They would defend themselves, invalidate what you are saying or refuse to be a part of the conversation.

    If you try to make them listen to you, hear you or respond to you, they will try to block you further emotionally and physically. This creates a barrier in a relationship, which eventually leads to its failure as people lose faith in overcoming this barrier.

In such scenarios, how to communicate with someone who shuts down and doesn’t want to talk. There are a few ideas that can be helpful-

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how to communicate with someone who shuts down?

  • Don’t be scary
    Pursuing partners can get intense sometimes. This is understandable when you feel frustrated, shut out, unheard and uncared. Everyone wants themselves to get heard but how.

    When you yell your partner, it is natural they will express themselves in some way. You need to be soft-spoken and show your care towards them rather than getting angry. The louder you get the lesser will people hear or understand you. To get better results, take a deep breath and keep your tone low.

  • Be vulnerable
    It is important to keep your anger aside and connect with your partner with feelings of hurt and fear. Tell your partner that you are feeling lonely and miss them, being overwhelmed and need their help.

    You need to show your true feelings rather than fake while communicating with your partner. As soon as you get softer and approachable, they will get ease in connecting with you.

  • Be diplomatic
    Everyone likes to be praised. Focus on the positive things and encourage them on their accomplishments. Use positive comments if don’t like something about your partner. Be a requestor rather than criticiser.

    Many times, this skill looks challenging especially during anger. It is important to choose wise words while communicating with a partner who is upset or sad.

  • Look for solutions
    People get defensive and overwhelmed when you complain about the things you don’t like. To communicate with your partner, be clear in mind what you want and positively ask for that.  If the partner can give you, they would. This will make communication easy and better.

  • Take the support
    A person will shut down, avoid and defend no matter how much kind and gentle you are. This usually happens if negativity has come in your relationship. Even if you change, they would still expect the same.

    If you notice such things, then visit a marriage counselor who will help in detangling these patterns. They would help you how to go forward in the relationship in a healthy way.

    If your partner avoids you or shut down emotionally, use the above ideas to communicate with them and get the relationship back on track.

Why do I shut down when I’m upset is one of the biggest concerns among women. While there is no straightforward answer to this question, emotional shut down can be attributed to life trauma.

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Trauma is one of the biggest culprits that lead to fear, depression and anxiety. People aren’t sure how to react to trauma, leading to shutting down emotionally. During the feeling of the shutdown, it is important to spend alone time to understand and recognize yours as well as your partner needs.

Shutting down will make you feel less threatened. Once the mind gets clear, you will be able to speak directly about your needs and understand your partner needs effectively. Fighting and overcoming your emotions during conflict shows your involvement as a stronger person as well as increase the chances of a healthier relationship with your partner.

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