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.

4
7

Join 5 Million Readers

And the thousands of women I've helped find true love. Sign up for weekly updates for help understanding men.

I hate spam as much as you do, therefore I will never sell, rent, or give away your email address.

Join our conversation (47 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 31
    Sherel

    90% of communication is non-verbal. Drop the 10% and be more effective.

  2. 32
    Rampiance

    I agree with #30 and #31 about non-verbal communications, and thanks, Holly, for dropping in to fill in the gaps.
    I’m a listener with a steel trap for information, like Holly’s boyfriend.
    I prefer to listen to the full context, which means listening to what a person does say and what they don’t say, when and how they say it, and when and how they don’t say it.  I listen for all the tones and microtones and watch for body signals that are obvious and subtle. 
    I have found that I get the most accurate information when I listen this way INSTEAD of firing off questions.  In fact, the more precious the answer is to me, the less pressure I will apply to get the answer: I get least distortion that way because the speaker gets to frame the information exactly how they want to.  Or not.  If they never want to speak to me about it, then that is accurate information also.  Sometimes it takes months or years to learn what I’m burning to know, but I learn exactly what I want to know in the most amazing detail.
    I leave space for the other’s thoughts, and then I learn what thoughts they like to put in that space, and which ones they don’t.  This information about the other’s preferences is very important to me.

  3. 33
    Serena27

    Holly he seems like a really great guy!  I loved reading your follow-up post.

    Maybe at some point you can just mention that you love the eye contact and you feel reassured that he cares about what you have to say when he brings up things you’ve said in the past.  You really feel like he was listening.  You’d just like a little bit of feedback while you are telling a story so you know he’s interested.  When he doesn’t nod or ask follow-up questions (or even the ah, uh huh, hmm noises) you worry you are boring him and stop talking.

    Also, ask him if he stays very silent on purpose so he can concentrate on listening.  Maybe he’s simply super-focused on what you are saying.

    Finally, try playing question games with him.  There are probably lots online that you could find where each couple asks questions.  Sometimes you tally the scores at the end, and sometimes it’s just used as a fun way to get through a road trip.  Since he has the questions in front of him and it’s more formal, he doesn’t have to try to come up with questions.  And since it’s a game there is less pressure (you might want to start with fun questions).  Hopefully he will learn more about you, and maybe he will start to develop the habit of asking you questions. And even if he doesn’t, the question games might make you feel like your needs are being met in that area and you can get back to enjoying all the other great things about him!

  4. 34
    Gina

    Holly,

    The bottom line is can you live with the boyf not asking you questions that show he has a vested interest in getting to know you on a deeper level? If you let him know that it would mean so much to you if he would take the iniative and ask you questions about yourself rather than rely on you to initiate and he makes and effort to do better, then you may decide that you have a keeper. However, if he refuses and you always have to be the one to volunteer information, you may decide that this is a deal breaker and move on. A person can tons of wonderful qualities, but that means nothing in the whole scheme of things if they have ONE particular quality that is a dealbreaker. Only you can decide what that would be.

    Best of luck!

  5. 35
    starthrower

    I broke up with a guy who agreed with me that communication was important but then wouldn’t communicate.  Of course I knew I had been phased out and kicked to the curb, but in my own experience, I think the end of the relationship was his true character, not the beginning.  He didn’t want me, he just wanted someone, and when the novelty wore off, that was it for me.

  6. 36
    Rochelle

    I think I have been somewhat guilty of not showing enough interest by asking questions on some dates. And when I saw the same being done to me often enough, I started to become more aware of it on my end and how it may come off to people.  Agree with EMK “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a great read, and would definitely help anyone who tends to do that.    Anyway Holly, he sounds like a good guy, he might just be a bit introverted.  I think we  tend to be less inquisitive. Good luck.

  7. 37
    sarah P

    Lucy R Post no 27.
    Hi this is my first post. Lucy R confirms my own fears. You cant make a person more curious! I too am about to enter a relationship with a guy I have become friends with over 6 months. Having been so fixed upon getting to this point, now that we have I have let myself ‘check-in’ with the reality of what is.
    He is affectionate, sensitive, caring (I got to know him when he lent me his coat for the weekend on a biking weekend) clever, witty and we have that uncanny sameness going on with our values and beliefs. When I have asked for ‘advice’ he has listened and emailed ideas etc. He listens (and remembers)but rarely asks beyond what I say unless it’s truely bewildering news (quite rankly most of my day to day stuff isnt!).  Our pattern of daily emails, texts etc news. He remembers what I tell him. When I initiate we have in-depth emotional conversations wit my leading the way.
    HE NEVER ASKS ME HOW I AM unless significant (a 150 km bike ride, a minor accident, a major work review did the trick) or checks in in about the daily goings on in my life. I mentioned once that How are you?? makes me feel interesting and needed. He did it for about a week and then …….forgot?!
    Observing him with others, he doesn’t either. I am the opposite. I have a belief that asking others questions and being interested is the glue in any significant relationship. 
    Being an Occupational Therapist where change is everything (and early forties wanting to settle down not settle) I’m not sure my idealistic belief can get him to see why it’s so important and make those changes for me.
     
     
     

  8. 38
    marymary

    Sarah P
    I don’t think he can make this change.   It’s not like leaving the cap off the toothpaste (and MOST people can’t even change that habit!)
    You say he’s sensitive, caring, you talk about emotional things, he listens and advises you but you need him to say “How are you?”  Those words don’t mean anything to me.  To me, they are just filler words to be polite .  I’m british and we are surprised when someone responds with anything other than “I’m fine/well/not too bad”!. 
    This may just be cultural or the way he was brought up. I don’t believe, based on what you said about him “in the round”, that it’s worth worrying about.  If you threw this guy over for someone more curious (and curious doesn’t necessarily mean he cares about you) , you will likely find the new guy comes with something else that you’d like him to change.

  9. 39
    Karl R

    sarah P said: (#37)
    “I mentioned once that How are you?? makes me feel interesting and needed.”
     
    If you ask me “How are you?” it makes me feel like you’re just engaging in a customary formality. I strongly suspect that your boyfriend feels the same way.
     
    If you stopped asking your boyfriend how he was for the next week, he probably wouldn’t notice.
     
    sarah P said: (#37)
    “I have a belief that asking others questions and being interested is the glue in any significant relationship.”
     
    Your boyfriend doesn’t ask others many questions. I can guarantee that he has friends (and probably family) who are the exact same way. He has relationships that have lasted for years (or decades) without this “glue”.
     
    If it actually is the glue that holds relationships together, how do those relationships of his last?
     
    sarah P said: (#37)
    “I’m not sure my idealistic belief can get him to see why it’s so important and make those changes for me.”
     
    What are the chances that I (or your boyfriend) will convince you that your belief is incorrect? What are the chances that you’d make those changes even if we convinced you?
     
    Seriously. What are the chances you’d change to seeing things our way (and behaving accordingly)?
     
    That’s exactly the same chance you have of convincing him to change.
     
    You can’t change him. You might be able to change your expectations.

  10. 40
    judy

    Hi Evan, before I forget, congratulations on your new baby.  Great stuff.  Enjoy – all future four of you.
    On the subject in question, maybe the guy is being discreet? Maybe he doesn’t want to know about his girlfriend’s/fiancé’s past because he trusts her?
    There’s a line to be drawn somewhere between discretion/being nosy and trust. 
    Hm, now I’ve gone off on a tangent but I’m sure there must be some truth there.
     

  11. 41
    sarah P

    Thankyou for your comments. I have to say that the comment on being able to change my own expectations and the comparison to replacing the top on the toothpaste being challenging enough to change resonated….alot!!
    I don’t know how I will get on with being with a lovely man who simply doesn’t see the need to ask me how my night was, or my meeting at work, or my friend’s birthday do, o exchange in further questions when I volunteer information. I can but see what I can do with my own expectations. I have however said I like it a lot on the few times he has asked. So I guess we’ll see how this goes. And If I feel like I need more two way exchange in the same way I exchange with others; time to stop the relationship rather than try and drag it towards something I want and need but he may not.
     

  12. 42
    JoeK

    “Maybe I’m a little egocentric, but that shit wouldn’t fly with me”

    hahahahahahahaha…just too funny, Evan!

    That said, I *do* find this perspective to be incredibly egocentric, bordering on a character flaw. It’s definitely a turn off to me. What you describe as someone expressing curiosity comes across to me as grilling – something that I’ve never felt a need to do. Perhaps this is an Introvert’s perspective…I’m not really sure. But a few of my friends (though not many) share this perspective.

    Very interesting how differently we view this.

  13. 43
    Ally

    I actually just broke off a 4 month relationship due to this reason. More-so it was the lack of meaningful anything.. I asked him questions about his life and maybe 99% of the time, no question was ever asked back. This soon began to bottle up and bother me.

    I also volunteered information about me and would try to engage in deep, stimulating conversations and would be left empty handed. He had an issue talking about his past and problems, and felt they should not be discussed or dealt with. I understood his way of communicating (or lack-of).

    I soon realized that there was nothing wrong with his or my “relationship style” but that I had to face the music and come clean that I didn’t feel I could settle for a lack of compatible traits, especially after voicing my concerns.

    Anyway, Holly I wish you luck in your relationship. Hopefully he will be able to see the importance of curiosity and understanding each other and how it can be satisfying to both of you.

    Evan, i’m with you 100%. I really liked this post as I felt I was going through the same thing. Thanks for the commentary.

  14. 44
    michelle

    Oh my goodness! Holly, your boyfriend sounds identical to mine in every way, even down to recently asking me what position I’d prefer.

    I have been wondering myself whether or not his lack of curiosity into my life should be a deal breaker and so glad I stumbled on your post. He is sooo kind, caring and loving in every way and his actions tells me he loves me, even if his words don’t. I’m not going to ditch him because of this one flaw. I’m in the caring profession which means delving into people’s emotional worlds in depth and I also have girl friends to talk to when I want to communicate a bit of emotional depth myself. I doubt I’d found another sweetie like him who instantly cleans my muddy boots as a surprise or the windscreen of my car, brings me breakfast in bed, puts candles by the bath and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

  15. 45
    lms

    I have a similar fiance. He goes one better and doesn’t remember half of what I tell him.
    Even the MOST important and pressing issues…if he doesn’t want to talk about it he just won’t!
    FYI I am NOT the chatty type. I would like however to have a deeper conversation than, what we did at the gym today. Frustrated!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>