I am aware that it is not only men who suddenly stop communicating. However, as I have had this happen to me in the past, and quite a few of my female friends have also experienced it, I decided to write an explanation to describe how and why I believe the masculine energy closes off to the feminine energy.
Although I describe this dynamic using the words “men and women,” it can relate to anyone whose energy is predominantly masculine.
One of the reasons that men may stop communicating is because somewhere deep within, there is an inherent belief that talking about feelings is feminine. Not all guys feel comfortable disclosing their innermost emotions, and the reason for this can be partly due to men not having much experience communicating emotionally.
Many women, generally from their teenage years on, have talked in great depth about how emotions and relationships affect them. They have either had friends, colleagues or even family members on hand to help put their own (or other’s) emotions into context.
Men aren’t always fortunate enough to have someone with whom they can openly and safely share their feelings. Therefore, when it comes to communicating with someone they are romantically entangled with, they can become stumped—quite literally blocked—from vulnerably showing how they feel.
Men may worry that if they do disclose their innermost fears, insecurities or attachments, they will then be judged as less masculine, and they may be afraid that their romantic interest will ultimately lose respect for them. Although the likelihood of this is slim, as women generally love conversing about their feelings, it feels so alien to men that they build walls and lock their emotions away just to be sure.
Often, men stay silent simply because to communicate may cause an emotional eruption. When feelings have been contained for such a long period of time, there is a chance that they may explode in an uncontrolled manner when released. This is particularly true if a situation has become tense, or there are underlying unresolved issues, causing frustration or anger to simmer beneath the surface. Men may feel anxious and just decide that it is easier to remain silent than to say something in the heat of the moment they might later regret.
Silence can be a means of taking a little space after a conflict when it is difficult to find the right words. A guy may choose to say nothing at all if he can’t engage in open and honest communication right away. However, prolonged and deliberate silence can cause things to escalate further.
It may be the case that when previously communicating their emotions, the male in question had a painful experience, and their explanation of their feelings was not well received. If they have had a previous dysfunctional relationship, or they have traumatic family history, they may be wary and believe that talking through difficulties will lead to further irreparable problems. Silence may be a way of avoiding what they feel is unnecessary trauma and pain.
Some men withdraw from a relationship and stop communicating as they feel they are getting in too deep. This is particularly true for guys who are terrified of commitment. Cognitive dissonance starts to take place in their minds, and their fear makes up a million and one rational reasons to end the relationship, or to pull back, to prevent them from getting closer and potentially losing their freedom. This can be equally as confusing for the man as it is for the woman as often it is happening at a subconscious level.
For guys who adore their freedom, they may choose to stop interacting if they feel the woman has become too needy for his attention, jealous or clingy. Often this can just be a misunderstanding between the two, particularly if the male is not communicating that he needs and enjoys uninterrupted space, and that there is nothing for the female to be concerned about.
They may also decide to halt the connection if they initially enjoyed the first stages of the relationship, but the chemistry and attraction has worn off. For many, this can feel like a huge rejection. However, it is a natural part of the dating game, and there are no guarantees that anything is going to last permanently. This does not excuse the fact that the guy chooses avoidance instead of acting respectfully by taking a few moments to make his feelings clear.
He may even have picked up the wrong signals and think that the woman is not interested in him, so to save himself the risk or rejection or hurt feelings, he chooses avoidance and creates distance.
Men may also become fearful and resort to using the silent treatment if they feel that they are out of their depth with the person they are involved with. For example, if a guy who is not used to freely talking about emotions dates a girl who is fluent emotionally, he may feel as though he will look like a fool and say all the wrong things as soon as he tries to put what he feels into words. Unfortunately, this is just their pride and ego getting in the way, and likely, a woman will be soft and gentle the moment he becomes vulnerable, but until the guy sees the proof of this, he will retreat and lock his feelings away where they feel more comfortable, familiar and safe.
This can become a “catch-22” situation, as until the guy opens up, he isn’t going to know whether there is a safe space to spill how he feels. Vulnerability and shared “feeling” conversations can take a great deal of courage and also be a major risk for a lot of men. When there is tenderness, patience and no expectation, there is far more chance of the guy opening up.
What many men are often not aware of is that when they don’t communicate, they are fueling an already volatile situation. If something has occurred that has caused the breakdown of expression, keeping hold of it and not allowing the other person the chance to rectify it can cause long-term damage. Although it may be uncomfortable and challenging to clearly explain what is going on, when men fail to offer an insight into what is going on in their minds, this can leave the person they were involved with coming to all kinds of irrational conclusions as to what went so badly wrong that silence is now the chosen solution.
When there is no reasonable or plausible cause for the sudden lack of communication, usually the person on the receiving end of the silence will come to a variety of conclusions to try to justify the reasons and often they are very far from the mark.
There are some who will use silent treatment as a way to manipulate a relationship. If a guy wants to play mind games and “keep a girl keen” they may resort to “push and pull” tactics, meaning the further they pull away the closer the female draws toward him. This can be utterly confusing, because why would someone want someone else to want them purely because they’ve tricked their mind into thinking they do?
Regardless, this is a well-known game in the dating world and sadly, there’s always a chance that the person that is doing the ignoring has a cunning plan up their sleeve.
To the men reading this (or women if they are the ones who have stopped the communication):
A little space after a disagreement can be a healthy way to avoid a heated argument, so both parties can agree to take time out to gather their thoughts.
However, if this is the case, although it may feel awkward, a few explanatory words can make a huge difference. There are so many options for communicating nowadays that there really aren’t any valid excuses not to. Something a simple, “I just need some space to calm down and think about things,” or, “I’m not sure how I feel at the moment, so it’s better if we talk in an hour or two,” can ease all the building tension and is a kind and compassionate way to put things on hold temporarily while you figure your feelings.
If the relationship is over, save the guessing games for the other person, and simply say, “I’m sorry, this isn’t working out for me,” preferably in person—but as a last resort, send the text, end the chapter and gently close the book.
And to the women:
Whatever happens, do not lose your personal power if someone pulls a disappearing act. Resist the temptation and urge to keep communicating when the other person has stopped.
To read more about what to do when he stops communicating, click here.
Author: Alex Myles
Image: Flickr/Hernán Piñera
Editor: Travis May