Man and woman cooking together as an example of how to get someone to open up

How to Get Someone to Open Up and Grow Your Relationship

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by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Fostering open and meaningful conversations is a key ingredient for building strong relationships. However, getting someone to open up can sometimes feel like trying to crack a code. We want to help you solve your own unique code and discover how to get someone to open up. 

Why someone may be closed off

Many people struggle to open up because it inherently involves being vulnerable and being closed off just seems the safer, easier option. They build walls around themselves to guard their emotional health.  

How to get someone to open up to you is about being vulnerable, admitting your weaknesses and hoping that act isn’t abused. It’s when we drop our defense mechanisms and let someone in – an act of trust and intimacy.  

Those moments of vulnerability become the building blocks of how you build your relationship and life together.   

Showing vulnerability in your relationship is the the key to how to make someone open up to you. It should be built into how you interact until you both feel completely open to discussing your inner selves, dreams, passions, and regrets. This means creating the right environment.  

Creating a safe and trusting environment to get someone to open up 

Here’s some suggestions on how you can create a nurturing and secure environment for your partner. 

  • Build trust in your relationship. Be responsive, kind and reliable when they need you 
  • Develop active listening skills. Don’t just listen to what they’re saying, try to interpret deeper meaning and the emotions behind their words  
  • Don’t be judgmental. You won’t like everything you hear but try to remember that even the bad bits are part of them  
  • Be empathetic. It can be difficult not to mirror your partner’s emotions but to try to counterbalance them with a supportive tone 

These behaviors are important in finding how to get someone to open up because they build a safe space your partner can share. 

Show genuine interest

When figuring out how to be more open in a relationship, the hardest part is breaking down walls. 

  • Be curious and attentive when your partner talks to you, even if it’s nothing important. Engage with what they say and ask follow-up questions
  • Don’t be afraid to ask about their thoughts, feelings and experiences. Bring up a topic and share yours first, before asking what they think 
  • Encouraging self-expression and disclosure, and responding positively, is vital for a deeper perspective. You could offer to try out one of their interests with them 
  • Be patient and give them space. Learn to appreciate when they do open up and accept when they don’t 

Many people don’t accept the need for such deep insight into their lives, perhaps because they’re new or rusty with romantic relationships, so these behaviors help them feel seen and heard. 

How to get someone to open up with empathy and understanding 

Empathy is the bedrock of any good relationship and a key part of how to get someone to open up. 

  • It’s important to validate your partner’s emotions and show you understand and accept them if you want to learn how to get someone to open up to you emotionally. If they come to you with a concern don’t get defensive, but rather look at it from both sides.   
  • Reflecting and empathizing with their perspective shows that you’re not just actively listening but also trying to work alongside them 
  • Avoid being dismissive or using invalidating responses, such as “it could be worse”. These show you’re not open to hearing about their problems  
  • Learn to acknowledge their feelings even if they sometimes sound unreasonable. Try opening with: “I can see this is really important to you.”  

Respect for boundaries

It’s important to acknowledge that when we consider what does intimacy mean in a relationship, it can mean keeping a certain distance. 

  • Respect privacy and personal limits. It’s nice to have an open conversation but you can tell from body language when it’s something they don’t just want to talk about 
  • Allow them to share at their own pace. Give them space and don’t act disappointed if they don’t reciprocate  
  • Don’t pressure or force disclosure. If they don’t like talking about, say, past partners, it may be because of trauma rather than hiding something  
  • Understand their comfort levels when figuring out how to make someone open up to you. Getting to know someone is a big part of a relationship but so is feeling at ease 

Patience and persistence

This is probably the most vital ingredient in how to get someone to open up.  

  • Understand that opening up takes time for some. Everyone has their own pace so just be ready when they do come to you 
  • Being patient and supportive helps build trust, leading to further closeness  
  • Encourage small steps and incremental progress. Try setting specific times for certain conversations – you could even make a date out of it  
  • Celebrate and appreciate their willingness to share. This will activate a reward center in their mind and make it a pleasurable experience 

Building a solid, healthy relationship with people who have problems opening up takes time. Show your persistence and willingness to put in that time.   

Let’s finish off with some tips on how to be more open in a relationship and get the same from your partner.   

How to get someone to open up
in the early stage of dating

Early on you might be trying to figure out how to make someone to open up over text or on dates.  

  • Ask them open-ended questions like: “What’s your favorite place to be?” 
  • A compliment like: “That’s such an interesting perspective”, can help open them up
  • Try not to put them on the spot, like “Where is this going?”. It might scare them off or rush their natural dating pace
  • Let them come to you sometimes. Give them the space to plan and make the first move   

How to get someone to open up in a fresh relationship

As your relationship deepens, you’ll have more time to explore each other’s lives.  

  • Lead by example by sharing about yourself often. For instance, tell them an embarrassing story about yourself to show you’re okay with vulnerability  
  • Give your take on an aspect of their personality. You’ll either be wrong and they may share their version or they’ll appreciate your insight  
  • Make sure you’re receptive to negative emotions early in the relationship so they feel they can share more in future  
  • Never stop asking questions. Give them space but also be curious. From, “How was your day?” to “Tell me about childhood”. Slowly build a foundation for intimacy  

How to get someone to open up is a question of time and love

To build intimacy, vulnerability and openness in your relationship, you’ll need to know your partner deeply.  

It’s about getting past those barriers but also about knowing which ones will take some time to navigate or, perhaps, should even be left alone. 

We hope you can use these tips to achieve closeness and intimacy in your relationship. At eharmony, we believe such relationships come about between compatible partners, which is why we only match you based on your shared values and how well your personalities compliment each other.  

So join for free today and discover why compatibility matters.