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.

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Comments:

  1. 61
    Zoe

    I was in a year relationship with a man that i realized adter we broke up, but remained friends, that he never ask me any questions about myself. He loved me as long as i went along with the flow and family dysfunction but my needs always came last. After  months of coming behind his adult kids, teenager, a horse for the entitled teen, ex wife n her drama, i realized i came last, with our dogs. When i brought up money and child visitation agreement he said he wasn t going to change anything in his life and forget about compromises! We were engaged and i ran. No matter what age u r a relationship will never work without communication, work and compromises.

  2. 62
    Pookie

    Ok I’m 12 and i have a guy just like that, he never starts the conversation, I always have to.

    I know this is about her but I want to know if I should leave him. We both see a future….i think…..

    😦

    I dunno I guess I just need a few opinions

    Our conversations go like this

    Me “hi sugar how was you day”

    Him “good”

    Me ” what ya doing”

    Him” not much

    And that’s were it ends

    Yep…

  3. 63
    Dre

    Sure, he may be a happy camper, but you may not be. It’s important to have your own interests, hobbies, goals, and endeavors. Maybe you’re “pretty, nice, and accept him…”, but you may also find yourself bored because you didn’t seek your own passions, since according to the author: degrees, personal travel, etc. isn’t as important as being pretty and nice to these non-anomaly guys. (And your looks will change…then what? I guess you’ll still be nice and accepting. Does 2 out of 3 count?) Apparently it’s more important (more important to whom? You? This guy who may or may not work out?) to fawn over his travels, old screenplays, what-have-you, than to be an interesting and nuanced person yourself. I can’t begin to imagine a man being told it’s more important to be “handsome, nice and accepting of you” than it is for them to travel or have passions. Just be nice & perhaps mildly interesting & make nabbing a partner whose happy with pretty, accepting, and boring you your goal. Rubbish. There won’t be many interesting stories to share if you are both nice and attractive, but are lacking in self discovery. And who wants to sit around and stroke someone else’s ego all day only to have them not take an active interest in you.

    Go find a guy who is an anomaly and who finds you fascinating like you find him to be. It may take time, but in the meantime, you can continue your journey of self-discovery, rather than settling down with a guy who simplifies who you are and your complexities, and who also doesn’t understand you or your needs, but thinks he does. Or don’t. It’s your life.

  4. 64
    Tiff

    I wonder if part of it is the fact that Holly is more financially successful than him, and he, consciously or otherwise, feels threatened by her success and fears that any details of her life, her day at work etc. would remind him of that and make him feel even more inadequate.

  5. 65
    Amy

    I have dated a couple men like this and, thankfully, have realized it fairly early on and not continued to date them. What I’m wondering is if you think most women need this deep level of communication/connection with their partner? I think most women do, but I don’t really know. I often wonder how these men, who lack this trait, will ever find a woman who is fine with it and/or who might be the same way.

  6. 66
    kat

    Wow this is kinda comforting and sad! Very grateful for this discussion. The only topic my guy is interested in knowing is about my sexual history. I once asked him if it was a pattern of his to not inquire about his partners and he said he knows he did it to one lover on purpose so he wouldn’t get too immersed emotionally. Maybe that’s his tendency. He is extremely generous, tries to be interested for a day and so loyal. But it is borderline deal breaker for sure when I am pre-menstrual is when I am tempted to call it off. Ayyyeee how can he not be curious about a woman?? This woman!

  7. 67
    Sharon

    Not sure why you’d label him as a keeper when you stated that “that shit wouldn’t fly” with you? Seems contradictory and the overall theme seems to suggest that women should expect less from men than men would accept.

  8. 68
    TheIntrovert

    Found this post looking for answers because I’m in the same boat.  Been with my bf six years.

    its both depressing and relieving  to hear this is a common problem among men and that it’s generally not something that can be changed.  I’ve had a few convos with my bf about this,  but only once framed this as a social skill problem.  By the time I said something about it,  I’d taken the habit very personally and assumed he was doing this on purpose with malicious intent, though he’s shown himself to be attentive and considerate in other ways.  I’ve struggled often with deciding whether to stay.

    I used to be more of a listener than a talker, but my bf also has ADHD so he willl often talk over me or cut me off on the few occasions I do talk at length.  Because I’ve been pleading and fighting to be hear/acknowledged for so long I often feel like I monopolize conversations now when I’m with other people, to compensate for not being heard at home.

    I believe my bf loves me,  and I’ve come to him in tears,  in anger,  and in resignation over this issue.  It gets better for a little while sometimes,  but most of the time he just finds other/new people to talk to instead of trying to ask me about myself.

    Other people don’t mind hearing him go on about himself because it’s that early phase of getting to know a person you just met, or they’re friends so they’re not necessarily looking for reciprocal interest as much as someone to hang out with. This is kind of why I’ve hung on for so long,  because if you ask any of our friends,  none of them ever complain or comment about this dynamic.  I seem to be the only one who has a problem with this or gets bothered by it,  and that led me to believe for a long time I was just being overly sensitive and craving an unhealthy amount of his attention as my bf for some reason I wasn’t aware of yet.

    So I’m partly posting to emphasize for any other partners in my situation…that you can’t rely on the quality of non romantic relationships to measure your expectations here I think.  Because this lack of a social skill doesn’t show itself to be harmful or a dealbreaker unless you’re trying to establish intimacy,  and really the only type of relationship that has to have intimacy universally to be considered successful and fulfilling is a romantic relationship.  That’s why the context of this post was so important, for me at least, because it brought out other folks seeing this problem specifically in the context of a romantic relationship and sharing feedback.

    I’m really glad I found this thread and echo other users who have decided to leave after addressing the problem and seeing no change.  I’m now preparing to leave because I’ve finally accepted that this isn’t something I can live with for the rest of my life.  Like some other posters have said the problem extends beyond chats about your day or interests.  I’ve had very difficult emotional issues with family or work that I’ve navigated completely alone because talking to my bf did not do anything to help me feel supported.  He can’t  step outside of himself or his experiences to adequately offer encouragement or sympathy, and instead would try to fix the issue with limited information from me about the problem, which I just found condescending and terribly arrogant.  After years of this dynamic leaving me feeling unwanted, I’d prefer being alone than trying constantly to give myself to someone that can’t engage with me and make me feel like they are interested in me as an individual.

    Thanks for sharing this letter and response Evan, and congrats on your growing family.

  9. 69
    Jkchen

    I know this article is quite dated, but I looked it up in your article database because it’s very relevant to me now. I’ve been dating a guy for almost two years and he is rarely interested in hearing about my feelings or my day. When I start talking about my day and including commentary about how it went, he starts to get annoyed and classifies it as “complaining.” He thinks all I do is complain. I’m not sure if he’s right, but I do need someone I can vent to freely. I’ve gone through quite a few traumatic experiences in the past three years and he has zero empathy for me, mostly bc he’s had an easy life due to his own failure to challenge himself. He’s not a curious person and he isn’t very deep. He’s a simpleton, and he’s called himself that as well. It’s a very frustrating and lonely relationship with me bc I, too, would prefer to know and share every little thing about our lives with my partner.

     

    Frankly, I’m shocked to read how many women have experienced this same problem with the men they’ve dated. And yet, many of these men end up married! What kind of woman marries these emotionally empty and unavailable men?! How can they stand it?! Anyways, thank you so much, Evan, for your sound advice once again. I appreciate it more than you know and I’ve been reading and following your work for years now.

  10. 70
    Persephoney

    I stayed with him a month before I realized everyday when he got off work he talked solely about his greatness,  talked negatively about everyone else, and when it became my turn to talk he didn’t even acknowledge id just spoken. So while he was at work I packed my bag and left. He called me over to have drinks when he got off work and I thought would be explaining why I left.  He didn’t even ask. But when I interjected a comment on a long drawn out story he was depicting of him being a hero to all of ” those loosers”, he had and full on tantrum and yelled “let me speak!!!”.  I started to get mad for the diarespect when i realized he wasn’t working with a full deck of cards. He was acting like a three year old in a grown man’s body. A full on Narcissist. I explained that I was a guest and apparently we aren’t enjoying one another’s company so I’ll leave now.

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