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How can I help my partner stop being so emotionally distant?

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I feel that my partner is continually emotionally distant. I know that he really loves me, but he is very reserved and mostly just goes with the flow.

He doesn't ever ask me how I'm feeling or ask what he can do to make me feel better if I am upset. He will hug me and listen to me when I am upset, but he never initiates helping me or even asking basic questions about my day. I feel like he just goes through the motions and if I didn't make the effort then we would barely speak.

I have talked to him about it over the past year and he will appear to understand, but then go back to being distant. It's like he can't connect emotionally, even though I will offer ways such as asking me questions, sharing how he feels, etc. Can you offer advice?

This question was submitted by 'Sarah'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Sarah and thank you for writing in.

This must be so difficult for you. You don't say whether this has become a recent trend or whether your partner has always been emotionally distant. If it's the former, then he might have got a little depressed or be worrying about something.

Many men don't naturally want to communicate their problems and 'go quiet' when they have a problem to solve, retiring to their 'caves'. Whilst many (of course, not all) women may feel more naturally inclined to communicate.

But you say he just "goes with the flow" and you don't say that he seems upset or troubled, so I'm guessing this may just be the way he is. It could be that being warm and communicative just doesn't come naturally to him. It may be that he is quite 'left-brained' – very literal, more interested in systematizing and logic than feeling and connection. Does that sound like him?

And some people don't read emotional context too well. It could be that he is just slightly on the autistic spectrum (I may be way off here, as obviously I don't know him). This would mean that he may find it unnatural to express the love he has for you or have to learn 'from the outside' that it's a good thing to do to ask you how you are or how your day went. This website has some interesting things to say about left- and right-brained context blindness or 'caetextia'. If he is just a little to the left of the spectrum (and we are all along it somewhere, of course), then he'd need clear instructions as to how to behave emotionally with you. He gets it for a little while, but you'd need to keep reminding him.

If he's become distant recently and he never used to be like that at all, then the chances are that something is bothering him and you'd need to let him know that you might be able to help him solve any problems he has (which would give him a reason for sharing one with you) if he would only tell you.

I hope my words have helped in some way.

All my best,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - April 20th, 2015 in

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