My Boyfriend Doesn’t Ask About My Life. Are We Doomed?

My Boyfriend Doesn’t Ask About My Life. Are We Doomed?

Evan,
I have been dating my current boyfriend for almost a year now and things are good between us. We’re exclusive, I don’t doubt that he loves me and sees a future together, and he treats me very well. I really don’t mind his messy piles of clothes on the floor or his ineptitude in the kitchen. I don’t even care that he makes half the money I do. I’m just so thrilled that he’s sensitive, attractive, affectionate, and attentive, and that he chose me! He’s even commented about how happy he is with me because I’m so easy-going. It seems like a match made in heaven and I’m crazy about the guy. Except for one thing. And I just can’t tell if it should be a deal-breaker or not.

My concern is that he never asks me questions about who I am. He wouldn’t know anything about me if I didn’t volunteer it. I’ve always been the type to want to know everything about the person I’m in love with and I ask a million questions. I’ve asked him why he doesn’t have a curiosity about the experiences that have made me who I am or the dreams I have for my life, and his response has been “You tell me everything I need to know, why do I need to ask?” But if he only knew how much he doesn’t know! Some tough subjects just don’t come up over the dinner table. He has acknowledged my concern, but nothing has changed and I know I can’t make him change; but I thought by now we’d be closer emotionally because of the intimate things we know about each other that no one else does (or very few). A perfect example is the time we were discussing guns and I’d told him I’d never owned one because I am a felon. Wouldn’t you want to know about your girlfriend’s criminal history? Not him, apparently, and he still doesn’t.

I’ve never dated anyone before who didn’t ask at least an occasional question and it bothers me. If I start telling a story from my childhood or discussing my day at work, I think “He doesn’t care about this or he would have asked,” and I find myself cutting it short or not even bringing it up in the first place. Things are wonderful in so many other ways but this is beginning to really weigh on me and I’d love your advice from a man’s perspective: Is he a keeper? Is there a way I can naturally pique his curiosity? Can a man really be this poor at communicating? Thanks for your input/feedback. –Holly

I’m with you, Holly.

I don’t get people like this. I, too, am inquisitive, and am perpetually shocked when others are not just less inquisitive, but not remotely curious about me. No, “How’s your business going?” or “What are you working on next?” or “What’s your favorite part of being a father?”

You’re not going to win many friends if you never make anyone else in the world feel interesting.

The crazy thing is – as you’ve already acknowledged when you said your boyfriend is “sensitive, attractive, affectionate, and attentive,” these types of folks aren’t “bad” people.

But they are CLUELESS people who would be well-served to pick up a copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.

You’re not going to win many friends if you never make anyone else in the world feel interesting.

Which only provokes me to ask the obvious question: how did you let a disinterested guy like this become your boyfriend?

Wasn’t it obvious after, oh, I don’t know – Date 1 – that his conversational skills were all about what was going on in his life, at his job, what he saw on TV, his funny stories from college?

If you’re pretty, nice, and accept him as he is, he’s probably gonna be a happy camper.

Didn’t it bother you from the get-go that he couldn’t even feign interest in what makes you tick? Or did it really take a year to dawn upon you that you are pretty much a stranger to your own boyfriend – and that he primarily likes you because you’re pretty and patient?

Maybe I’m a little egocentric, but that shit wouldn’t fly with me. I love the fact that my wife wants to know everything about me – stories of crazy ex-girlfriends, old family photo albums, dusty old screenplays sitting in the back of my closet. The fact that she cares enough to be curious about my past is immeasurably warming and comforting. And even if I’m not as interested in her past as she is in mine, I can still name all of her family members, friends, exes, and co-workers.

Yeah, between us, there aren’t many silences in the Katz household.

As for whether he’s a keeper, whether you can pique his curiosity and if he can really be this poor at communicating, those answers are yes, no, and yes.

This is your boyfriend. He ain’t changing. If you can live with this, because he’s a kind, loyal person with a solid job and strong values, I wouldn’t judge you. Hell, you’ve survived this long and said that things were “good”. And if you bring it up with him and discover that this is as deep as he goes, you wouldn’t be out of line to think you could have a stronger connection with a guy who actually cares what comes out of your mouth.

But the more important overarching lesson to women is this:

Holly’s boyfriend isn’t an anomaly. This is why it’s not nearly as important how many degrees you have, languages you speak, countries you’ve seen or books you’ve read. If you’re pretty, nice, and accept him as he is, he’s probably gonna be a happy camper.

7
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Comments:

  1. 1
    Ileana

    I have 2 things to say:

    1) I agree with what you said in your answer.

    2) Evan, congratulations for baby no. 2! Your last newsletter moved me to tears. It was SO inspirational.  I also loved the fact that you attached a photo of your wife with the little one. You have such a wonderful family!

    Sorry for blurting it out here in the comment section – but i just wanted to declare my ever-lasting admiration and respect for you in front of all the people reading this! You rock!

  2. 3
    Julia

    Wait-you’re a felon? I might not have been sleeping with you for the past year but I certainly want to hear more!

  3. 4
    EA

    I had a boyfriend like this. We are now ‘just friends’ and I am still amazed at how he can go on and on about every thing under the sun … except me or anything about me or even anything I am interested in. I share nothing with him and my whole value to him is if I am nice and friendly and quickly change the subject when he tells me he doesn’t want to talk about something.

    I know that’s why our relationship failed and I’m not sad. It is truly as he deep as he goes.

  4. 5
    Alyssa

    The real litmus test for me would be if he is actually listening to what I’m saying, and can he remember what I’ve told him.  So he doesn’t ask the right questions (which would bug me, too) but at least if he’s interested in hearing what I have to say- I could probably live with it.  I guess it’s the difference between poor communication skills and just plain old not giving a shit.
    Maybe you can give him a really simple request like- ‘It would make me happy if you asked how my day was when I get home’  If he’s willing, I think that would also say a lot about his desire to fulfill little requests that make you feel good- and that’s what would be most important to me.  If that’s too much effort on his part it might not be a good sign.

  5. 6
    Ruby

    The OP wrote,”A perfect example is the time we were discussing guns and I’d told him I’d never owned one because I am a felon. Wouldn’t you want to know about your girlfriend’s criminal history? Not him, apparently, and he still doesn’t.”


    What was his response, “Oh, that’s nice, honey”? That isn’t something you tell just anyone. I’m gobsmacked that he didn’t ask about this! How does he handle it when there are problems or something goes wrong? 
     
    BTW, Evan, hearty congratulations on the birth of your son!

  6. 7
    sarahrahrah!

    EMK, I think you are almost always right on with your advice and I’m very appreciative of your high quality writing.  This post is no exception.  (And a congratulations to the happy, chatty Katz household, too!)

    One of the few priceless pieces of dating advice that was not penned by you was this simple advice:  if you want to know how much a man likes you, pay attention to his interest level in you.  Does he ask you questions?  Is he curious about who you are?  Those are the things you should pay attention to.

    I’ve been with guys who were a little self-focused on first and second dates when they were nervous, but the ones who went on to become good boyfriends — all of them — were people who were curious about me.  

    Granted, I, too, think there are people out there who are not that deep and who just aren’t that curious.  My sense when reading this blog and the regular posters in the comments section is that many of the people are communicators.  I can’t speak for other people’s values, but I can tell you that having lived in a lonely marriage for a long time, it isn’t any fun when your spouse seemingly doesn’t give a crap about you, isn’t interested in anything about you and you aren’t sure if they even know your middle name.  Let me tell you that if it bothers you now, it might really bother you when the gilding wears off a couple of years from now.

    It’s fine to want to marry, but I would encourage people who are thinking about living with an issue like this one to think long and hard about what their future might realistically look like.

  7. 8
    Moe

    I think part of it may be that guys EXPECT women to just start dispensing information, whether they ask or not. They kind of think women like to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, and never stop talking. Problem is there is a lot of women who love to talk….and those who dont. 

    Im one those rare chick who do not talk for the sake of talking. I can grow through days where I can say very little; I mind my own business. I dont really volunteer information unless explicitly asked. 

    What I am guessing is that your man is a ‘listener.’ He expects to listen and cater to you, rather than be explicit in his language and actions. Thats my guess. I find that Doers or action-oriented people are prone to talk more and ask direct questions, whereas shyer or laidback people are more likely to listen and keep to themselves. It just may be a personality/behavior trait.

  8. 9
    Cheeky Gal

    I’ve been living a similar life for 21 years with my husband (and that’s why I’m on this site to see if at the ripe old age of 38 years old I can leave him and find true love). I met my husband when I was just a teenager and he was my first boyfriend (infact my first kiss). Because of my ethnic background and our culture (1/2 Lebanese 1/2 Greek) where men are hesitant to share their emotions and thoughts, I believed that men just couldn’t be deep.
    However, this year, I met a guy who’s 10 years my junior and he knows how to share his deepest thoughts. I was gobsmacked to realise I spent most of my life with someone who I have never connected with. He makes no effort to converse with me but I’m not sure if it’s laziness or just indifference on his part. From your post, it appears your man seems to share a little about himself which is different from my husband (I’m not sure who has it worse lol). This one is so hard. Over the past two decades, I have felt VERY lonely when I see other couples talking (he also doesn’t show physical affection either) but someone once told me not to expect your partner to be your everything and emotional bonding is what girlfriends are for. Some lucky girls have the guys who know how to bond with emotional intimacy.
    Ask yourself if he would make a good life term partner. Will he make a wonderful father. How would he support you when things dont go well in your personal life/work life.
    If I could do my time again, I would pick a more sensitive and attentive male who can articulate his thoughts. With communication you can solve everything.

    1. 9.1
      Freedom Finally

      I think you and I may be twins married to the same guy.

      I’m fresh out and still confused, but learning. Why didn’t I walk, why did I allow this, where was my self esteem?! A friend would have been cut loose. Heck my dog is more interested in where I’ve been in my day… Thanks to Evan’s perspective and a couple other blogs, I’m starting realize that no, this is not, as he said, “just what happens to people in relationships” and that my expectations of affection, intimacy and honest interest were not, “unrealistic, so stop fantasizing.”

      My man was near genius, but dense like a rock when it came to women, friendships or family. If I ever decide I am ready to try a commitment again, (I’m quite gun shy right now, and focusing on my healthy redevelopment), I too would choose a man with a heart stitched on his sleeve. I’m an alpha magnet, but a lil more beta would be a treat!

  9. 10
    Fiona

    I guess the question is Holly, are you happy with someone like this? As someone who does have three degrees, has lived and worked abroad and reads lots of books, I don’t think I would like being with someone who showed no interest in any of it but that’s just me.

  10. 11
    Helen

    Evan, congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your son! I hope you will have a lifetime of happy memories together, and that your son will start sleeping through the night as quickly as possible. ;)

    As to Holly’s questions: For me, at least, she doesn’t give enough information to make a judgment for or against her man. Holly, is this a man who loves to talk about himself, but never lets you get a word in edgewise? Or is he silent all around, so he doesn’t ask questions about you, but then he doesn’t talk much about himself either?

    I would have more tolerance for the latter type. That’s the “strong, silent type,” and it’s nothing to take personally. If you wind up marrying this man, you would have a lifetime to learn about each other. Neither my husband nor I are big talkers, and we don’t have conversations where we keep asking the other person about his background, history, etc. Honestly, if we had to spend time with someone who did that to us, we’d probably feel annoyed, and think the other person was being intrusive.  Then, if someone specifically said to either of us, “Why don’t you ever ask me questions about myself?”, umm… sorry, but we’d probably be even less likely to do so after that.  We’d feel forced to make the type of conversation we don’t usually make, and no one likes to be pressured.

    But if your man is the type who goes on and on about himself and has no interest in you… I’d flee.

  11. 12
    Zoe

    Holly, Ditch the chump. I dated a guy just like yours – kind, affectionate, caring – except he never ever asked about me. I had to leave him. Don’t settle. There are guys out there who can form complete sentences and ask questions. Find someone who suits your own style of relating.

    EMK, I love your site. I’ve been lurking for a few months now and I hope you don’t mind I’m going to steal some of that letter you wrote to your baby for my own son. hugs.

  12. 13
    Goldie

    As someone who’s once been accused of doing pretty much the same thing as Holly’s boyfriend, I’ll have to go against the flow on this one. Personally, I like to talk, but I equally like to listen. I have many cool stories to share, and so do the men that I’ve dated. I have no problem sharing mine, and I love listening to them share theirs — people have told me some pretty amazing stuff about themselves in the past. That said, here’s one thing I do not like. I don’t like it if I’m always the only one talking. I do not like it if, whenever I stop talking, dead silence ensues. I do not like it if the other person would not volunteer anything about themselves and I have to give them the third degree to learn anything about their past, dreams, aspirations etc. I can learn to do it, but do not particularly enjoy it. One of the reasons being, I cannot tell if and when I’ve crossed the line between being interested in the person and being nosy. Everyone has their own boundaries, and if you give me no indication what yours are, then how do I know when I’ve crossed them? If my SO told me that he was a felon and then stopped right there and added nothing else to that info, I guarantee you I’d assume that he does NOT want to talk about it with me — at least, not yet — which is cool because he has a right to his privacy in a question as delicate as that. In that case, i would most definitely not pry. But I would feel really let down if he then turned on me and accused me of being uninterested in him, just because I hadn’t backed him up against the wall and badgered him till he gave up the information! This, BTW, is exactly how I understand Holly’s BF’s statement, “You tell me everything I need to know, why do I need to ask?” In his mind, if she doesn’t tell him something, then she does not want him to know that something at this point. The man is being respectful — which ties in perfectly with Holly referring to him as being “sensitive, affectionate, and attentive”! I cannot believe he’s getting flak for this from Holly, Evan, and just about everyone on this thread! Sheesh.
     
    I’m not even going to go into the “why don’t you ask me about things you don’t know about” piece. How can he ask about something that he doesn’t know exists? it’s illogical. Hey why didn’t anyone on this thread ask me about the movie I saw last night? because you didn’t know I was on this thread, and because you didn’t know I saw a movie last night. Should I be offended? Are you being insensitive to me because of this?

  13. 14
    Joe

    1) …because we all ask our dates whether or not they’re convicted felons, right?
    2) Maybe he doesn’t ask questions because you do all the talking?

  14. 15
    Helen

    Goldie, how was the movie you watched last night? ;)

    No, as you can see, I agreed earlier with both you and Joe (#11). Holly needs to understand that not everyone is a blirter as she apparently is, and that when we don’t ask probing questions, it’s a sign that we respect someone – not that we don’t care.

  15. 16
    Francesca

    My boyfriend also doesn’t actively ask about my past. He does listen and he does remember what I say. He remembers things about my past that I’ve forgotten that I have told him. 

    I also have a feeling that a lot of guys have this. I regularly tell my boyfriend about stuff going on his closest friends/family.

    me: “I hope Mark has grown up and stopped dating that 19 year old”
    him: “wait… what… ”
    me: “its been going on for a month sweetie”
    him: “i should know this” 

  16. 17
    SnowdropExplodes

    I think the explanation is given right here: ‘his response has been “You tell me everything I need to know, why do I need to ask?”’

    Sounds to me like he trusts Holly to tell him everything she wants him to know, and he isn’t going to pry into the things she wants to keep secret.   Maybe he thinks asking about that stuff is rude, or maybe he just doesn’t want to push for stuff that isn’t on offer.   (For example, maybe he thinks Holly doesn’t like to talk about the details of her conviction.)

    One thing that is glaring in its absence from Holly’s account is what interest, if any, she pays to his life?   Does she ask the questions of him that she wishes he would ask her?   Does he talk about himself a lot without being asked?   Does she know as much about him as he does about her, even?

  17. 18
    Freya

    Hi all, I’m a first time responder after sitting back and reading this blog for a year or so.  There have been lots of issues I have wanted to respond to but I guess have always been too lazy to but this one really strikes a chord with me. 
    I’m a 41yo, professional, single girl from Australia who has been dating for a couple of years and I am so with Evan on this one.  I can not tell you how many times I have met a guy in person for the first time (through online dating) and have come away thinking ‘well they know nothing about me because they didn’t ask a thing’.  And no, its not because I sit there talking about myself.  On the contrary I, like one of the other respondents here, have a genuine interest in getting to know someone so I ask lots of questions, I engage and I listen.  I leave plenty of silent moments so that the man has an opportunity to initiate conversation/questions and nothing happens.   I had one date where the guy sat there for 3 hours talking about himself and his career (upon questions from me) and then when he walked me to the cab said ‘oh by the way, what do you do for a living anyway’.  I used to say to my friends that my dates were always so easy, and relaxed but its been pointed out to me that I’m the one making it easy as I drive the conversation and ask the questions.  I’ve realised that this is true so now I pull back from that but I find the dates are then excruciating because then there is no conversation. I find it just so disappointing that some men either just have no interest in getting to know someone at a deeper level or alternatively do not have the necessary skills.
    I really feel for Holly and I’m not sure that I could stay in a relationship like that.  To me that would always feel like things were on the surface.  You want someone to want to dig deeper, want to know you, understand you.  And its fine if some people are not like that but if the fact that they aren’t like that means that you aren’t getting some of your needs met then that is an issue.  For me it is definitely a deal breaker.

  18. 19
    Eva

    Holly,
    You told your boyfriend you’re a convicted felon and he still trusts you??? Hang on to that prince of a man. You may not find another!!

    The fact that he does not ask you about your life is not a lack of interest, it means he respects you!

    Please don’t hurt him!!!

  19. 20
    sarahrahrah!

    Sorry, but I have to call foul here.  

    The dude doesn’t bother to ask how her day was.  That is a lot more problematic than somebody simply trying not to pry or respecting their SO’s boundaries on sensitive issues.  It also makes for a very lonely partnership, imo.

  20. 21
    Stephanie

    Really, this is NOT a matter of communication styles ( as in, how much talk/how often) but of an emotional, intellectual and mental curiosity. I almost guarantee that  Holly’s boyfriend is consistent in that regard.. I would be surprised if she said he is generally a curious, involved and stumulating person BUT he chooses to give her space and not be curious about her. Does he have anyone he really knows in depth? Someone he has a meaningful relationship with that goes beyond “how was your weekend?” types of questions ?

  21. 22
    Zann

    Try as I might, I can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone for a year before finding out they had a felony conviction in their past and then not at least asking “Can you give me more information about that?” That’s not prying or being disrespectful — that’s being smart.

    I don’t think it really matters whether Holly’s guy is too lazy, too self-absorbed, or just too unskilled to inquire about her. What matters is it makes her unhappy. She’s already said she knows she can’t change him, and she’s smart enough to know she should not expect him to behave any differently in the future.  She’s already told him she’d like it if he inquired more, and he’s chosen to keep things as they are. Why would she (or anyone) settle for that just so she can have a happy camper by her side? What about HER happiness?

    Give and take is vital to a relationship, and I don’t think “nice” or “pretty” can ever make up for the kind of caring that’s shown when your partner asks about your life, your dreams, your worries, your day. 

    And I totally agree with Freya’s comments above (welcome Freya!). Nothing is worse than a first encounter with a guy who asks nothing about you…even after you’ve left the window of opportunity wide open for a long, uncomfortable time, and yet he still doesn’t get it that you’re waiting to be asked about. Something, anything. Who was my first grade teacher? Did I ever prefer Ken dolls to Barbies?  Have I ever consulted a psychic or had a perm?  Anything! 
     
    Holly, you deserve better…someone who cares enough to ask.

  22. 23
    Clare

    Hm, this is a tough one. I’m an introvert and I keep my own counsel a lot, and I’m a very private person. I enjoy long periods of silence too, so I like being around people who are comfortable with silence. When people ask endless questions about me and why I do what I do, it can just simply feel overwhelming and a little intrusive. Whilst I have been with guys who have wanted to talk and talk and know everything, and I appreciate that it’s a sign of interest, I ultimately find myself moving away from them.

    All this has meant that I have gravitated towards someone who is also a bit more silent and introverted. It’s just more comfortable.

    *However* when it comes to basic information about me, I do expect him to know this. I would expect him to know basically my hopes, dreams and passions. And if there is an important event in my life, I definitely *do* expect him to take an interest and ask, I would feel very hurt if he didn’t, simply because I am so undemanding in terms of communication the rest of the time.

    I also think it needs to be clarified at what stage of the relationship the not asking questions occurs. If it happens right in the beginning, the first couple of dates, there is no way I would bother with a guy like that. It’s just a turn-off.

    However, if it’s a long relationship and the guy has simply dropped the ball and isn’t asking what’s going on with you, and you are feeling neglected, I would pull back and reign in the effort I was making until he asks what is wrong (which he should, if he cares). At that point I would have a talk with him using “I feel…” statements.

    If it still doesn’t improve, you might find yourselves naturally drifting apart and the relationship ends on its own.

    1. 23.1
      Brad

      I agree with many of you but, in the beginning my boyfriend was very open and honest, laughing and asking probing questions much like other men.  All of a sudden, poof it ended.  Once he planned a huge birthday weekend and told me he loved me POOF it was all over.  I never heard those words again.  He never calls me pet names or show affection one bit.  Any time things between us get “close” he seems to run.  He says nothing has changed but he cannot come up with why things went well in the beginning and not now. 

  23. 24
    Sofka

    I’d agree with Freya about the number of men out there that are like the OP’s boyfriend.  I reckon that women as a whole are not all that much better though and those of us with curiosity are, frustratingly, in the minority.  I met around 80 men over the course of 3 years on match, and I’d say that the majority were majorly lacking in curiosity, although to differing extents – asking no questions at all is at the extreme end of the spectrum.  Maybe around 6 or 7 had the amount I felt I needed to be in a relationship with them and this was after screening of profiles and emails, looking for this trait specifically.  

    Strangely, I found that there were a lot of men who were quite good with questions on the 1st and 2nd dates but then stopped abruptly when they had found out “the basics” – occupation, family background, favourite holiday destinations etc.  One man actually said to me on our 3rd date: “I think I know everything about you now”. 

    And while there were some men who didn’t talk very much themselves, even in response to questions, I’d say most were happy to talk about themselves given the chance and seemed to enjoy another person showing an interest in them.  Like you Freya, I also used to drive the conversation in most cases, and the date thus felt enjoyable and relaxed to the man.  It just made me feel so sad that they couldn’t see that what made them like me was what would make me like them.  Almost all of these men thought our date went fantastically and were always always so surprised when I told them they weren’t right for me.

    I have also had the experience of mentioning something “big” (I wasn’t a felon but it was a big piece of information about my life nonetheless) and not getting any follow up at all.  I actually had to tell the guy “I want to talk about this, and it makes it easier for me if you ask about it”.  He still didn’t ask, and said when I broke up with him over it that “he thought I wouldn’t want to talk about it”, even after me specifically saying that I did.  He never did find out and while he was properly heartbroken by the break up, I just didn’t feel that he had truly loved me for who I really was as he didn’t ever know who I really was.  This was the last time I tried to make a relationship work with someone lacking in curiosity.

    And I just don’t get the people who are saying they are trying to be respectful and not pry; if the OP wasn’t open to talking about the issue, she wouldn’t have brought it up.  The fact that she did suggests she was very keen to talk about it.

  24. 25
    LucyR

    Incidently, has anyone ever succeeded in making a non-curious person more curious?  I used to think that the men I dated could learn to become more curious if they realised how important it was to me, but any time I have tried to raise the subject, I tend to just get a blank or perplexed expression.  I have never successfully converted a non-curious man into a man that is even capable of feigning curiosity.  This is even in circumstances where the man has been crazily in love with me and is aware that the relationship may end if nothing changes.  These men were otherwise intelligent, capable men who had achieved a lot in their lives.  I still can’t figure out why learning to say “What do you think about that”?  or even “do you agree with me?” was such a challenge.  Often these guys were good listeners and would be happy to give input if I volunteered anything.  They just didn’t get that it was the being asked bit that makes me feel loved.

  25. 26
    Ellen

    Freya #18: I can’t tell you how many dates I’ve been on where the man did all, or most, of the talking. In reading this blog, however, I realized men put out their resume big-time on first dates. They are selling themselves. STILL, sensitive men WILL engage YOU in conversation. Period.

    In general I find that Southern men and people in general tend to be VERY good in two-way conversations, in showing real interest in a person’s background,  so it helps I live in the South (Southern hospitality and all that). 

    Goldie- you’re being too logical hun, imo. (Which is your strong suit, but still) Clearly this woman has asked him to ask her more about her life and he still declines. I’m with Evan on this one that he is happy with his sweet, easy gf. Happy with the way things are.

    My ex of 25 years started off well I think, asked me about my day a little, other things maybe, but over time it became all about him. His career (he was self employed) in particular. He was also not super loving in an emotional, touching way (outside the bedroom). My ideas were never quite good enough, he seldom agreed with me on much of anything. THREE times I told him my needs weren’t being met, and I made a point to look very unhappy each time, that it was serious business, and each time he answered “Ellen, I’m no cheerleader”. I eventually let him go in 2008 and am divorced now. Don’t miss him a bit and wish I had done it earlier, frankly, but like a lot of women I put my children’s needs ahead of my own. 

    Ladies, life is too short to never be heard, never given the satisfaction that the man digs learning new things about you. My current bf is just great that way. We tend to delve much more into his interests though, so last weekend I told him it would be just great if he could find something! to like about British Premier Soccer! And maybe my metaphysical interests. I told him guys never openly seem to learn from me or women in general (they resist it, they just do folks!) and I’m quite tired of it and he could learn quite a bit if he listened, asked a lot of questions, etc. (I do have 20 years schooling and am well-travelled but I digress)….He chafed a tiny bit, but I’m pretty sure now he’ll make more of an effort. And he can best be described as a brilliant (IQ & emo intelligence), elegant country boy into NASCAR and who leans right a bit…..Hey, you don’t ask, you don’t get, right? :)

  26. 27
    Ruby

    I also suspect that the felony issue would be different if the genders were reversed. A woman finding out that her boyfriend of a year was a convicted felon would be a pretty big deal, and you can bet she’d probably be upset that he’d waited so long to tell her. But because Holly’s a woman, maybe her boyfriend assumes it’s not a big deal. However, felons face barriers to finding both jobs and housing. Since felonies range from possession of drugs to murder, isn’t that something one’s partner would want to know about?

  27. 28
    Holly

    Hi all, I’m the letter writer. Thanks so much, Evan, for printing and responding! To answer some questions and provide an update: No, it didn’t take a year for it to dawn on me that I’m a stranger to my boyfriend. That took about two weeks! It just took me a year to find the appropriate forum for voicing my concerns. Thank heavens for EMK and his avid, rabid fans!
     
    @Alyssa #5: You make a great point—while he may not ask specific questions, what I do tell him sticks in his head like a steel trap. He’ll bring stuff up I don’t even remember telling him, so I definitely know he gives a shit. He’s clearly shown me through his actions that he cares very much for me, but there are still times when I long for deep, intimate conversation about what makes each of us tick, not just him.

    @Moe #8—I think you’re spot on about him being a more of a “listener.”
     
    @Ruby #6: As I recall, when I told him about being a felon he pretty much just nodded and kept going with whatever it was he was talking about. Quite some time later I brought it up again because I felt it was something he needed to know (whether he wanted to hear it or not). He SAYS he thought I was joking, just trying to get a rise out of him, and he wasn’t going to let me get one over on him which is why he ignored it. Could that be true? Knowing him as I do now, yeah, maybe, probably, possibly not. I’ve decided to let it go and move on. Needless to say, he now knows the whole truth and he’s still by my side, so I take that as another sign he’s a keeper!
     
    @Helen #11: Yes, he’s a talker, but he does let me get a word in edgewise. The difference between us is that when he’s talking, I insert the occasional comment to let him know I’m listening and understanding. When I talk, all I get is silence. He’s good about making eye contact (and not engaging in other distractions), but his total lack of response is what makes me think he couldn’t care less about the topic. I believe he cares about ME, just not the subject at hand.
     
    @Goldie #13: There’s a difference in throwing out some bait to gather information about someone’s interest level and badgering someone into a corner. I do the former, NEVER the latter. And regarding the “why don’t you ask me about things you don’t know about” piece, I’m not expecting him to be a mind reader as you suggest. There’s a BIG difference between asking someone “What’s your favorite movie?” and “Did you make a ham sandwich with cheese and pickles last night?” (I did, by the way.)
     
    @Joe&Helen #14 & #15: Actually, I’m not a blirter. I’m pretty quiet all around which is why I tend to be okay with him yakking on and on about work, family, what car he wants to buy, etc. Perhaps, though, I’ve set him up in a comfortable pattern by NOT blabbering about myself.   
     
    @SnowdropExplodes #17: Yes! I do ask him all kinds of questions about himself, his life, his past, his hopes and dreams, to find out more about him AND in hopes that he’ll turn around and ask me the same back. Sometimes it works, usually not.
     
    And to answer everyone’s question about the felony, that’s between him and me! (But I didn’t kill anyone and no jail time, so really, it couldn’t have been that bad, eh?)
     
    I have mentioned my concerns to him about this in the past and lo and behold, he asked me a question about two weeks ago, all by himself! Ok, so it was about my “favorite position” (go figure–he IS a man, after all!), but at least we’re making progress, right?  ;-) I still think this man is awesome in so many other ways (compared to the handful of duds I’ve dated in the past). If the relationship ultimately fails it will be primarily for other reasons that may come up in the future, but this will likely remain a secondary issue that bubbles up now and then. Hopefully we will find a solution.
     
    Thanks everyone, especially EMK. And while I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this (or knowing you, maybe not), CONGRATULATIONS!

  28. 29
    Fusee

    Evan, this was a great question to pick and as usual a spot-on advice! I’m grateful you keep managing your blog so closely despite having more fun things to do : ) I hope your little guy is growing well, and I wish you, your wife, and your older child lot of happiness together!
     
    @Holly #28: I’m always glad when the letter writer comes back with some follow-up and more information! Thank you! It looks like you have a good relationship… You know, I think we can always find something missing. No one is perfect. With time passing it’s tempting to take what we do have for granted and regret some secondary or tertiary items that might be missing in the relationship. In your situation, there is a whole range between not being the most intense conversationalist and not giving a sh*t. Your boyfriend seems caring, but simply not the most curious in all the little details.
     
    My boyfriend and I asked each other a lot of questions in our first few weeks of dating and then when we talked about how a marriage would look like (finances, children, career, home, etc), but now at 15 months we pretty much know everything essential and interesting there is to know. We now focus on the day-to-day happenings and the future. He could certainly ask me more questions, but since I spontaneously share/ask about what matters, he does not feel much need to do so. Now, if he stopped asking me how my day went and being able to listen to me for a little bit when I relate a couple stories, I’d be worried, but I’m not disappointed that he does not dig deep into the details of my life. That’s for my mom and the female friends!
     
    There are a couple things that I also wish were different or better in my relationship, but then I remember all the essential qualities he already demonstrates, his commitment to our relationship, and then my own imperfections and how accepting he is of them. He definitely accepted things that not everyone would, and I love him more for that as well.
     
    If your boyfriend is so non-judgemental that he accepts your criminal history, I would say that it’s pretty huge (not all men would accept such past), and calls for cutting a little bit of slack in other areas, as long as it’s not major of course.
     
    Good luck in any case!

  29. 30
    Catherine

    Has it occurred to anyone, that a lot of communication is non-verbal? Some people are very analytical and take in a lot about us, not by asking questions, but by listening and observing.

    One of my friends may not ask a lot of direct questions, but he seems to watch people like a hawk and learns a lot about them by doing so. He would go with me to a social function and then comment on things my friends did,  which I had missed or been oblivious to.

    I agree it is enjoyable to be asked questions but I would have to confess I’m a bit self absorbed and not so good at doing it myself!     

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