in: Dating & Relationships

Hinting as a Defense Mechanism in Relationships

When issues challenge our sense of security in relationships, we often hide behind defense mechanisms. Hinting is one such mechanism, but doesn’t have to be.

I have witnessed my own self, and many of my female clients who have recently entered into relationships, feeling terrified of revealing aspects of themselves which they have labeled as too emotional. Some meanings we often give this are: I am too much. My partner will think I am crazy. I don’t want to be ‘that’ girl. I will push them away if they see that ugly side of me….these internal stories can go on and on.

As I navigate through my own new relationship, I noticed I would hint at issues in order to avoid conflict. Admittedly, this has been a pattern of mine within intimate relationships for most of my life out of fear of rejection and looking crazy. In retrospect and from a grounded place within myself, I am able to witness this pattern from a more adult perspective. I remember that hinting, as opposed to openly addressing, is a habit of children.

My partner and I recently spent our longest time physically apart since the beginning of our relationship. In addition, he was stepping into one of his busiest work weeks (which I wasn’t aware of), and also had a severe shoulder injury that was causing him a lot of pain. The physical distance alone was different, yet not really enough of a trigger for me. It was that I had never witnessed him super busy at work, and hadn’t yet experienced him feeling pain or dis-ease. I began to drop into story, and my focus went to all that he wasn’t doing, comparing it to how he had been up until that point in the ‘honeymoon phase.’

His texts were more brief, he didn’t reach out as often as he usually did, he sounded distant and preoccupied when we spoke. The meaning I began to give all of this was… he’s losing interest, he’s pulling away, he’s bailing, he’s getting scared.

I began to spiral down the rabbit hole while simultaneously making myself so wrong for ‘being crazy.’  My internal dialogue was not kind and I was feeding negative thoughts to myself often. Over four days, where each time we spoke the feelings were relentlessly building inside of me, I didn’t confront them, terrified of revealing this lunatic inside.

By the fifth day, I ‘let ‘er rip.’ Not in a screaming or unconscious way, (thank God I have learned that never works), but from a more vulnerable place, expressing my fear and what was coming up.

I also began stacking everything top of another; stating this is what was coming up, this is what I do not feel I am getting, this is what I need, and here are some suggestions. After about a seven minute monologue, he was silent. He was so silent that after about 30 seconds I asked if he was still there. Yep, he was, with no place to go. He automatically started to defend himself and let me know that he was unable to respond to all of those things at one time.

Men and women’s brains are wired differently. There is something in everyone’s brain called a corpus callosum—this is a bridge between the right and left hemispheres, and enables us to think and feel simultaneously. Men’s corpus callous is thinner than women’s, which gives women the ability to not only think and feel at the same time more easily, it also means men will act and think more simply and systematically than women. So not only do men operate more simply, they frequently want to fix things when they see a perceived problem, in order to simplify a situation.

When I confronted him with all of this at once, it became overwhelming to him and he felt he couldn’t go anywhere with it.

Not to mention, his wounds surfaced around not being good enough, which is a whole other issue and his own personal work within the relationship. So sticking on the topic of allowing ourselves to be expressive of our feelings within a relationship, he explained to me that he wasn’t able to respond to all of those things at once. He asked me to be more direct. A lightbulb went off instantly.

‘WHAT…?’   I asked him, ‘You mean just come out and say, I am noticing my abandonment stuff come up, babe, and I’m feeling insecure about us.’

‘Yes,’ he stated.

Excited about this revelation, but still feeling fear and uncertainty if I could really do this, I thanked him for letting me know. I explained how the thought of being so transparent scared the shit out of me because I was afraid he would think I was nuts for putting it all out there, especially which may have appeared as coming out of left field. He kindly stated, ‘I would have so much more respect for you if you did.’

I Instantly felt the excitement and wonder build in me. I knew that through learning to step into my fear and show up differently, I could recreate new healthy patterns and support having the thriving and healthy relationship I craved! I asked that he be patient with me because it was a new way of being I was taking on.

This is also an opportunity for him to practice not taking it personally, and my feelings aren’t something for him to fix. It would be an opportunity for him to learn to respect, acknowledge and reflect my feelings. It’s not about him understanding them, nor try to change them. It is an opportunity for him to learn to stand firmly in his own self and to hold space for me, letting my feelings move through me—and I mean ALL of my feelings.

And by the way… if you are a man reading this, THAT is sexy!

Ladies, when we give ourselves permission to feel our uncomfortable feelings and learn to be concise, soft, and direct, there is more potential to remove possible misunderstanding. It is a permission slip we learn to use and remember that we have the right to stand up for ourselves, say what we need and express our feelings, even if our partner doesn’t fully understand. By listening to our hearts and taking the risk to stand our ground—even if our partner gets upset—an opening is revealed for our beautiful, soft, feminine selves to dis-arm a man easily.

We learn to surrender and practice using the glorious gift that is already inside of us, which is naturally designed to get his attention––our feelings. Every word we speak that is genuinely weaved with our feelings, rather than solely hinting at what we mean and feel, causes our words to penetrate deep into a man’s heart.

About the Author

Valerie D'AmbrosioFor over two decades, as The Connection Coach, Valerie has been guiding people to create extraordinary, conscious connection. She believes that ultimate joy is directly correlated to the kinds of relationships you choose to develop and nourish. Her infectious nature encourages people to discover their greatness and play big. Working with Valerie, you will re-haul your relationships with self, health, wealth, intimacy, friendships, and Spirit, in order to create the thriving life you desire. VDA Coaching consists of life coaching, workshops, and retreats around the world. To learn more about Valerie’s work, visit her site:

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