To Close Someone Out (English Expression)

“To close someone out” (also “to shut someone out”) means to stop connecting with them emotionally. This usually means that you stop talking, stop touching, and/or stop sharing your emotions. You’re still present, but you no longer let that person “inside of you”. As a result of this, that person doesn’t know what you’re thinking and feeling. It’s like they can’t see inside of you, and see the world from your perspective. Thus, you’ve closed them out (of your experience of the world).

Examples of “To Close Someone Out” in TV & Movies

In Season 1, Episode 9 of ‘The Mentalist’.

 

Susan: When Rich came back from the war… He closed me out. He went somewhere else. He wasn’t my husband anymore.

 

In this case, Susan describes how her husband was still a part of her life – he was still living in the same house, sleeping in the same bed as her, and eating the same meals. But, he no longer shared his thoughts and feelings. He closed her out. 

Is It a Common Expression?

YES! In situations like the one described above, this is a common expression. It would be very likely that a native speaker would use these words.

For your reference, here are some examples on the Internet:

 

 

Grammar Notes

  • It’s important to include the word out. “He closed me” doesn’t make sense. You need to say “He closed me out.”

  • You can conjugate this freely by changing the subject, object and verb tense. However, we can’t really talk about a group of people doing the action of shutting out. Above all, it’s important to remember that this expression is about someone who is withholding their own personal thoughts and feelings from someone that they love.
    EXAMPLES
    • “Don’t shut me out!”
    • “I’m worried that my daughter’s going to close me out when she becomes a teenager.”
    • “She was shutting me out until I apologized to her. It doesn’t seem like a very healthy relationship.”

 

Related Terms

Please note that if you want to use an adjective to describe the person who is performing this action, you can say that that person is “closed off” or “shut off from x“.

Mr. A is shutting out Mrs. B. [verb form] = Mr. A is shut off from Mrs. B [adjective form]

Visual representation of "to close someone out". Mr. A closing Mrs. B out. He is closed off, and shutting her out.
Representation of Mr. A closing out Mrs. B. In this scenario, you could say that he’s closed off.

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