What’s He Not Telling You? Learn to Hear What Isn’t Being Said in Your Relations

What isn't being said in a relationship.Peter Drucker, the well-known business guru, once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”

In other words, you have to know how to read between the lines.

That’s true in any situation where two people interact, and it’s especially true in romantic relationships. Why? Because so much of communication is what the other person isn’t saying.

If you only pay attention to what the man in your life says, you’re missing a lot of what he’s communicating with you!

With practice, you can hone the skill of reading his unspoken thoughts. But how do you practice? By getting feedback.

When you’re in a conversation with the man in your life, notice how he says it. How is he sitting? Is his posture relaxed or tense? What about his tone of voice? What is his facial expression? And don’t stop there.

That was the easy stuff you probably already notice without even trying. But let me challenge you to go further. This is someone you know well. If you use your imagination, you can probably make some fairly accurate guesses about what he’s feeling.

This is the hard part. But if you use my formula for success, you can get feedback that’s guaranteed to hone your skill.

Instead of jumping to conclusions, talk to him about what you read between the lines. And do it without making him feel like you’re psychoanalyzing him. No one likes to be under the microscope!

The easiest way is to just ask questions. For example, “Are you feeling worried about that?”

What isn't being said in a relationshipIf he wants to know why you’re asking, just explain that you imagine that’s how you’d feel. That gives him a no-pressure opportunity to clarify his feelings. And you get a little bit better at reading between the lines. Getting feedback gradually improves your skills for reading the unspoken communication.

It’s important that you approach this with humility, especially at first. You may be wrong. A lot. Don’t let your ego get wrapped up in correctly predicting what’s going on inside his head. Think of this as a learning opportunity that will pay off later.

Over time, you’ll get really good at hearing all of what he’s communicating–what he says, and what he doesn’t say. As that happens, the lines of communication will open even wider. He’ll feel understood on a profound level.

Women who master this skill end up in relationships with men who aren’t afraid to share their thoughts and feelings.

The key is recognizing that you’re already reading between the lines, just like everyone else. Instead of doing it without giving it much thought, make it a habit to do it with intention. Talk to him about what you hear that’s not being said, and learn from the times when your conclusions are both right and wrong.

No one has a crystal ball. You’re not going to become a mind reader. But you can get better at bypassing the male tendency to be less expressive verbally. With practice, you can develop the skill of hearing things that would be easy to miss.

-James


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43 thoughts on “What’s He Not Telling You? Learn to Hear What Isn’t Being Said in Your Relations

  1. Lucy said:

    I can’t see his facial or physical expressions because we have a long distance relationship. We do video chat on Facebook but only when we have the time. Are there other clues?

  2. Linda said:

    I have a boyfriend that will not commit to me. I tell him I care about him and he says, thank you I appreciate that, but, he never tells me he cares about me at all. It is a long distance relationship and when he calls, which is every night, I tell him I miss him.. He says he misses me too. But he never says it first. He has his own business and he works hard and belongs to several lodges and clubs and is busy all the time. He calls me when he gets home at night. With the long distance there is a 2 hour difference in time. When it’s 9:30 his time it’s 11’30 my time. We talk for 15 min. to a half hour. He is very regimented and has to go to bed at 10:00 his time. He is a very nice person and I don’t want to lose him. He makes me feel like he’s slipping away. What can I do? We were old High School friends. We both lost our spouses to cancer. We have dated one day. And have been communicating with texts and phone calls for 2 months. What can I do to make him tell me he misses me , before I tell him?

  3. jabeen said:

    Hi Laura,
    I do understand what sort of issues and confusion you are going through. I have gone through the same issues . Only the difference was I was his wife and he was with his girl friend nearly 10 years on and off. At last he left her and issues between us gone too complicated because he was depressed and emotionally abusing me. The end results is I walk out and need time to think but divorced me.i think first you need to get your self esteem and independence. Once you become positive guys will love you. Start being friend and take it slowly at least one year if they really want you will not force to have sex or leave you. It is your choice what you want.
    jabeen

  4. Laura said:

    Hello James. I am an avid reader of your posts and find them really insightful. But I haven’t found most answers about my last relationship which is why I’m writing today. I met the guy 3 weeks after I separated from my husband of 13 years. He told me straight away he had a wife and 3 kids so I felt safe when we started texting. I was feeling so depressed after 13 years of an emotionally abusive marriage that when someone showed me so much appreciation and interest I just went for it. Soon it turned out he wasn’t happy in his marriage (they’ve been together for nearly 20 years). He said there was no affection between him and his wife for ages but that they “get along well” and are “like flatmates”. We’d text very often, he’d come over twice a week and we’d go out to cafes, or cycling – which is what we both love doing. We had other common interests, too. He was never pushy but we did start having sex after about 4 months. And that was a huge mistake on my part, because soon the sex turned into love, for me. I started caring. For a few months I hoped things might just work themsleves out. He told me twice during our relationship that he was considering moving out, but he never did. He was always very considerate, supported me in going after my goals, had plans for us (but not the kind that I would like to hear about – just going to the cinema, theatre, taking our mutual kids to picnics). Around Easter I started asking him questions – for example, how he was going to explain to his wife if we did take my kids and his to a picnic together? He just said he’d find a way. I honestly don’t understand how that marriage works. I tried breaking up with him. It was always very emotional, about 10 times i wanted to end things but always came back. Until just about a week ago. We hadn’t seen each other for almost 6 weeks and even texts were few and far between because he was on holiday. Then invited me over to where he lives (about 10 miles away from me), showed me the places he usually eats and jogs, then we went for a long cycle. Even drove to the top of his road. I enjoyed myself while with him, as usual. But after getting home I got really upset. First of all, he’d told me to go out and date other guys and 2 minutes later suggested that he would love to come over for a coffee at my place. Then, I thought if someone saw us on that day, it would be worth it if we intended to be together. But why hurt people (especially his wife) if all we want is just a bit of fun together? So I broke it off for good. I still love him though and cry myself to sleep most nights. I feel like I don’t understand guys at all. He told me many times he had genuine feelings for me but couldn’t leave his kids. He wanted to have a relationship while still married? I went along with it for some time, but it just became unbearable. Now I’m scared to date anyone for fear I’m going to end up with another man who does’nt know what he wants. Or maybe it was all my fault all along? Any insight would be much appreciated.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Laura! This is a very in-depth question, perfect for the private consultation service available in the new members area. It’s a bit too long for me to address as a blog comment. I love your involvement with the material I post here, but to get a guaranteed response to your personal questions, please use the private consultation service. It’s better for these kinds of questions.

  5. Kali said:

    Great articles! I have loved your stuff and used the respect principle with great success. My bf responded immediately when I started using it. And I am learning to recognize when I say something that makes him disrespected. It really works!
    But when I try to tell him how I feel about him he changes the subject. He is very uncomfortable hearing what I like about him. I don’t doubt how he feels about me, but I would like communicate better with him. He has been having some issues with his exwife and kids that have caused him to be going through a very difficult time. When he tells me about what bothers him, it seems my responses to him opening up cause him to stop talking. I would like to know how to respond to his emotions without shutting him down.

    • James Bauer said:

      Women like to be supported the way they are used to their girlfriends supporting them. Guys like to be supported the way their guy friends support them. Which is means silence and acceptance as they display whatever emotions emerge. You might try supporting him by saying things along the lines of, “Well I support you, and I know you will make the best decisions.” It’s this kind of (I’ve got your back, man) support that guys seem to be most able to receive without shutting down or feeling embarrassed about having opened up.

      • Kali said:

        I tried this this morning when our conversation went the way it has for a while (trying to define our relationship)… We got to the point where he wants definition of the relationship, then I told him how I feel (using a story I practiced— this is where thing have been going south), then he responded simply, “I feel the same way.” And I felt no withdrawal!!!
        I took a deep breath and didn’t respond. He asked what channel the football game was on (lol)…. Then in about 10 minutes he started talking again and said some very sweet things. He brought up some barriers in our relationship and I responded, “remember when that happened last time and you handled it so well, I know you can do that again.”
        And we are on the same page again… Success! Thank you!!

      • James Bauer said:

        Great! 🙂

  6. Sofi said:

    Hi James: Your articles are always interesting, inspiring and helpful. I can read between the lines sometimes by repeating with my own words what my husband says to clarify things. When I remember to do that, it works well. My husband of two decades and I have different ideas about life but we have worked as a team raising a family. Now that the children are older, it is getting difficult to communicate with him because he is so different as me in the way we see the world. I am practicing respect and appreciation like you recommend and it helps, but sometimes I forget and then I feel bad because I say the wrong things. My husband is a good man, a good provider, a good father, but he is cold with me and gets grouchy often, of course, the world is a dangerous place and he wants to protect his family and I understand and acknowledge that often, but I get tired. How can I keep calm, grounded, cheerful and strong to continue in this adventure that is marriage ?.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Sofi. Do you think he realizes (1) that he has these cold attitude episodes and (2) the negative impact it has on your quality of life?

      If you’re unsure, you might start there. Find out if he even realizes it’s happening. Then give it some time. Don’t try to suggest that he change. If he is the loving, protective kind of provider you believe him to be, he is more likely to change if left to his own methods (rather than when told what he needs to do differently).

      James

  7. BJ said:

    HI
    I have been in a relationship for 5 months. He has calls and texts fm many women says he care about me gave me key to his house I really care for thos man he says his heart is pure with me but often talk to amd text other women sometime in my presence he will eventually tell me who he talked to but I feel it is disrespectful sincr we are in a committed relationship I often spend the nights with him I know he is not cheating but dont know what to think of his relationship with other women

    • James Bauer said:

      Sometimes you need to set boundaries when a person’s behavior threatens the stability of the relationship. That can be true even if he has no intention of pursuing a relationship with any of these women, but you are not willing to stay in a relationship that involves this kind of behavior. If that’s the case, you owe it to him to tell him; give him a chance to change by expressing the fact that this is not okay with you.

      Just be sure you are okay with sticking to the same boundaries for the relationship. Which, it appears would mean you could not have casual conversations with men. Some people feel that is way too strict, while others feel it is necessary. Start an open discussion with him about the pros and cons of cutting off other relationships to protect the one you are in.

  8. Confuse said:

    I have been dating a guy for 3 yrs and have found out within the last year that he still does things for his ex-girlfriend and plus buys her a xmas present and her whole family. But has never bought my family anything. He states they are just friends nothing more. Recently we have discussed this and he has been taking me with him to do stuff for her. But I am still a little concerned about the situation. He swears to me that I am what he wants that I am who he wants to spend the rest of his life with no one else. He tells me he loves me several times a day. He is spending time with me and my kids and we all do stuff together. I have explained I want to be included in his life and If he feels the need to get them a card and stuff this year I want to see it and my name will be included on it and he did not hesitate to say okay. Just would love your thoughts

    • James Bauer said:

      In my opinion, it’s a sign of a good catch. I have worked with several men who have a hard time cutting people out of their life, not because of romantic feelings, but because of loyalty and a genuine desire to take care of others and honor friendships. He seems to have nothing to hide, and a desire to make you his priority. I would not worry about it.

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