Learning How To Open Up To People

By Sarah Cocchimiglio|Updated September 1, 2022

Not knowing how to open up to people can make someone feel isolated and alone, but by learning to work through this to open up, they will discover that they are not really alone. Certain people have a harder time socializing or opening up than others because they are constantly in fear of people's judgment or they might not be as interested in social interaction as their peers.

These feelings can begin to negatively impact a person’s mental health. Does this sound familiar to you? If you or someone you know has a hard time opening up to others, know that you are not alone and that many people suffer from this problem. If you want things to change, there are ways of learning how to see things differently and become better at social interactions.

Very shy people may suffer from anxiety or low self-esteem. They may feel awkward or uncomfortable in social situations and have difficulty making friends. Not being able to open up to people can make someone look rude or anti-social to those around them, even if that is not their intention. However, that person might just be worrying about what others are thinking. They might be paranoid and think that everyone is judging them or always talking about them behind their back.

open to new people

Do You Feel Awkward In Social Situations -- And You Want To Find Out Why?

How to Open Up to People

If you’re afraid to open up because you think that people don’t like you, it might be more in your head than reality.  According to Kristina Randle, Ph.D. and LCSW, people who believe that everyone else sees them negatively are likely misperceiving reality. Without proof, there is no reason to be so scared that everyone dislikes you, she says.

Before we get into ideas on how to help you open up to other people, here's a word of warning: Remember that you don't need to be an open book to every person that you come in contact with. Also, learning how to give someone space in an important aspect in any relationship. Some people don't need to know anything personal about you, and most people don't need to know everything. There are other people that it can be helpful for you to talk to, and you can choose what you share, and with whom. Knowing the difference is the key to making wise decisions in sharing with others. So how do you learn to identify someone safe and worth opening up to?

Look for similar interests as other people

When you are starting, it can be helpful to find people who have interests or hobbies similar to yours. Joining a club is one example, where people who are shy or awkward might have an easier time meeting like-minded people. They can find and connect with others who have the same likes and can talk about the same things. If you are doing an activity together it gives you an easy conversation starter and you may find that you soon become close friends over shared new experiences.

open yourself up

Don't be afraid to be yourself

It's tempting when you are trying to learn to open up to other people, to try to put on a front and act in a way that you think other people will connect with better. However, this is really just making it more difficult for yourself in the long run, because you are not allowing people to get to know the real you. How can someone decide if they like you and enjoy your company if you're pretending to be someone you're not? Instead, do your best to be your authentic self. Don't say you like things that you don't like or change your personality to blend in with the person you are talking to.

Ask questions

Being a good listener can help you learn to become comfortable talking and opening up to others.If you can get the other person talking about themselves it can give you some time to loosen up in the conversation. It's a great way to learn how to start talking more openly with others when you aren't the one having to do most of the talking. This is also a good, authentic way to get to know someone. People love to talk about themselves.

Asking questions is also a great way to handle a lull in the conversation or to look for ways to connect with the person you are talking to. The more you can learn about them the more areas you might discover you have in common and that may help you feel comfortable talking with them.

Say what you mean

When you are trying to be open with someone about a touchy subject it's easy to try to sugar-coat what you are saying in an effort to make it sound a little nicer, or discount your own thoughts and feelings in an effort not to "rock the boat." Sometimes when you are trying to be open with someone it's about a serious subject and it's important that you treat it as such. While you don't have to attack the other person over the situation, you can approach it in an honest, no-nonsense way that lets them know that you mean business. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still be sensitive to their feelings, but you can still be honest with your thoughts.

Let them know what you're looking for

If you just want to open up to share something with someone else then it's important that you let them know that's what you are trying to do. However, if you want advice from the person then let them know that you want to talk to them about something and would like to hear their opinion when you are finished. By being clear and upfront about what you're trying to do from the start and what your expectations are it will make it easier for the other person to know how to respond. If you need advice, people are usually happy to provide their opinion, you just need to let them know. And don’t force them to share if they’re uncomfortable. But if they are, it may make it easier to share your opinions with them as well.

Find people that you naturally connect with

There are some people who you are going to naturally connect better with than others. These people will be easier to talk to without as much effort. There are others that you will struggle to talk to no matter how hard you try. When you are trying to learn to be open with others make it easier on yourself and your mental health and find someone who's easy to talk to.

Make sure to return the favor

No one wants to have a conversation with someone who is just talking about themselves all the time, so, make sure that you treat the conversation like a two-way street. Give the other person a chance to open up with you as well. And, when they are talking make sure that you listen enthusiastically. If they want advice, then offer advice, but if they just want to talk, simply just be there for them.

learn how to open up

Do You Feel Awkward In Social Situations -- And You Want To Find Out Why?

Talk to a counselor

Talk therapy might help you overcome your fear of opening up to people by addressing negative and unrealistic thought patterns that you have about yourself and others. With the tools learned in counseling, social interactions should slowly become easier as you have positive experiences while communicating and see that people do, in fact, like talking with you.

Unfortunately, if you are the type of person who is fearful when it comes to opening up to others, talking to a counselor or therapist might not be easy for you either. This is where online therapy comes in.

You may feel comfortable interacting with a therapist to address your mental health when you don’t need to sit face to face with them.

There are affordable online services like BetterHelp, where you can chat with a licensed counselor from the comfort and privacy of your own home. It is easy to sign up and get matched with a therapist that suits your needs. With that, you can chat with them via computer or mobile device, through video, text or phone sessions. If you don't feel that your therapist is a perfect fit for you, you can easily switch at any time, without any hard feelings. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Dr. Boring-Bray has been instrumental in my recovery from avoidance and social anxiety. She is both supportive and informative. She has helped me navigate my emotions to have a better understanding and control of them. Anything is possible with a strong therapist and hard work."

a counselor can help you open up

"As someone who struggles with talking to people and emotions, I was extremely hesitant to start counseling let alone do live sessions. I was able to open up immediately on my first session with Jessica. She was patient and calm with me which gave me the sense of trust I was looking for. She has a gentleness in her voice and empathy in her eyes that could put anyone at ease. She asks questions in a way that gives her the info she needs but allows you to open up as well. I'm so thankful I was matched with her and would highly recommend her! Thank you Jessica for being amazing."

Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:

How do you open up to someone emotionally?
Why can't I open up to people?
How do I become less closed?
Why can't I express how I feel?
Why am I so afraid to open up?
What is being emotionless called?
How do I stop shutting down emotionally?
Why can't I connect with people?
How can I become emotionally strong?
Why am I an emotionless person?

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Speak with a Licensed Therapist
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