Danish asks: Why is it we don’t talk about our problems with each other? The girl whom I love, sometimes I feel that she is in some kind of problem, but she is not sharing it with me because of whatever reason. But sometimes when I’ve asked her again and again she’ll share. She is that type of girl who keeps most of her emotions inside. I want to make her feel light by sharing her problems with me. I want to make her feel that I am there for her in her bad times. So what should I do?
Hi Danish –
This is one of those areas where we dogs have a great advantage over you people. See, when we feel someone’s sad, we can just walk up and lay our head on their lap, and they’ll feel so seen and felt, and hug us and get all their emotions out.
But because you guys are so verbal with each other, you can show this girl the same empathy I do, but she’s suddenly feeling pressured – she has to tell you what’s going on! And for whatever reason, she doesn’t want to do that just now.
So what can you do?
Well, I’ll suggest you do what I’ve heard my human Handsome talk about with other therapists, which is “Meet the Person Where They Are.” If she doesn’t want to tell you what she feels bad about, or even admit that she does, let her have that right.
It’s great that you asked her about her feelings, but if she says she’s fine, then act as if she is. But stay there, be with her, talk with her about other things – all to get her comfortable. What you want is for her to trust you so much, to feel so good with you, that she finds herself starting to open up about whatever’s going on.
So in other words, you show up and see the sadness in her face. You ask if something’s wrong. She says no. You smile, say okay, and you two go out to watch a football game. You talk with her about your week, you tell her some sad things that have happened to you or your friends, you get her to laugh, you ask her about other stuff that isn’t so sad… and then over dinner, you ask “So what else has been going on in your world?” And she suddenly blurts out, “My boss said she might fire me!” or “My mom called me a loser!” or “My best friend is sick and I’m scared it’s serious!”
You see what you did? You respected her wishes by not asking more about what was wrong. You talked about everything else. But doing that got her comfortable enough to tell you what’s up.
Now then, of course there’s the other scenario. Which is that actually she was feeling okay, she just had that look on her face because she’d been trying to figure out a crossword puzzle! And your day is still wonderful, and she appreciates your kindness and fun.
But either way, it comes from you treating her with respect. Meeting her where she is. And allowing her to not feel pressured by you at all.
And if you can do that… you just might find she starts loving you the way you love her really soon!
Best of Luck!