How to prevent your partner from shutting you out

Sometimes silence isn't always golden.

Sometimes, silence isn't always golden.

Do you get frustrated or upset when your partner clams up and runs to their “cave” to be alone? Is your partner’s silence and desire to be alone affecting your relationship?

The Cave and The Field

Regardless of gender, generation or cultural background, when faced with a challenge some people prefer a quiet space to think, reflect on and to work through the challenge. They go into the metaphorical cave to be alone. Other people like to work through their challenges by talking about them with their partner and getting the other person’s input. They stay in the metaphorical open field and share their challenges with their partner. Some people even alternate between the cave and the field depending on the challenge they face.

Please talk to me

In a relationship there can be challenges when two partners have a different preference. One partner will want to talk about the issue (the partner with a field preference), while the other partner will want to think about the issue on their own (the partner with the cave preference).

The partner with the field preference may feel left out, rejected or hurt because the partner with the cave preference does not open up and talk to them about a problem. As a result, the filed partner may run after their significant other and want to follow them into their cave. This will upset the partner with a cave preference and will have them go deeper into their space.

Another frustration for the partner with a field preference is that they will usually notice when there is something concerning the partner with the cave preference. They will notice this before their partner realises something is concerning them because the partner with the cave preference has not yet had the opportunity to reflect and realise that there is an issue.

To further add to the frustration of the partner with a field preference, when the partner with the cave preference comes out of their cave, the partner with the field preference will want to know all about the issue. However, the partner with the cave preference will have dealt with the issue and will have nothing to say to their partner.

Meeting half way

An easy way to end both partners’ frustration is for both partners to identify and respect the different preferences and then to meet each other half way as follows.

The partner with the field preference needs to allow the partner with the cave preference the space to deal with issues in their way, and give them the time to fulfil their need to think about the challenge on their own first. Avoid “pouncing” on the partner with the cave preference when they come out of their cave. The former needs to respectfully and gently check that the latter is fine about the challenge.

Meanwhile, the partner with the cave preference needs to let the partner with the field preference know that they have a challenge to think about and that they are about to go into their cave so that the other partner avoids worrying, and can respect their need to be alone.
They must at least have an overview of the issue and assure them that all is well when they come out of their cave.

So how do you get your partner out of their cave? Allow them the time and space to reflect on challenges. The sooner they go into their cave, the sooner they have time to think about things and come out afresh. By understanding the differences and respecting each others’ needs, partners of different preferences can get along more easily and develop an even more fulfilling and lasting relationship with each other.


Dr. Vesna Grubacevic is an author, speaker, media commentator, the founder and Performance Transformation Expert® with award-winning company, Qt. She is the creator of breakthrough behavioural change techniques, holds a PhD, a BEc and has over 35 years’ business experience. She is passionate about helping people to improve their relationships and confidence. Her Amazon best-selling book, Stop Sabotaging Your Confidence, has also been gifted to Hollywood and Australian award winners, nominees, hosts and celebrities. For more free resources on improving your relationships, please visit

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