Here’s my story in brief. I met a wonderful, kind, ethical, generous, loving, honest, attractive man. We had chemistry. Nothing crazy, but it felt nice and comfortable. At the beginning he did all those little things. Texts to say he was thinking of me. Calling me a pet name. Interacting with me on my blog, etc. He took his time with sex and made me feel like I was the center of the universe. He was never really a talkative guy (except about himself) and didn’t really ask me any questions, but we would at least sit and have chats at the beginning. I was always concerned about the amount of emotional intimacy he was capable of having.
When he moved in with me it all went downhill. Slowly it all stopped. I THOUGHT I was trying to communicate to him that I wasn’t getting my needs met. I would say, “it would be really nice if you even asked me how my day was, not because I care about the question, but because it shows you are interested in me”. He would say, “I don’t do small talk”. His love language is touch. I would make an effort to give him a hug while he was shaving or grab his hand in the car and always reciprocated. When I told him, “I understand that your love language is touch, mine is not” he didn’t say anything. Unfortunately at the time I wasn’t sure what mine was and now I know it is quality time.
We did the typical dance. We both knew he was moving and as he pulled away I became more insecure. I tried to pretend everything was o.k. I stopped sharing my feelings. I know I made the mistake of not being vulnerable or open enough. I didn’t feel like he was listening or that he cared. So, I ended things when he moved out of state by saying, “you used to do A, B, C and D. Those things made me feel happy and safe and secure and you don’t do them anymore. I need that. If you want to do those things then give me a call and if not, then we should just stay apart.”
In one of your blogs you stated that we should say something like this: “I really care about you, but I’m not getting my needs met here. This is too inconsistent for me and I need to feel safe.” Is this what I said or was it an ineffective communication?
I’m still conflicted and having second thoughts. Did I end thing prematurely without communicating concisely what my needs were or was my intuition correct and he had no desire to meet my needs? How do you know if HE is the problem or your issues (inability to effectively communicate, some minor insecurities, etc.) are the problem?? I guess, as a woman I always feel the need to try to fix everything and I feel like if I had just done some things differently HE would have reacted differently. But, I’m not sure that is true and that is the struggle. How do you know their TRUE nature without wasting a ton of time?
This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it?
There’s what he’s doing wrong. There’s what you’re doing wrong.
You want to take responsibility for your share of things, but he’s not doing the same thing.
You want to save your relationship, but you’re not sure your partner is willing to do the work.
You feel sick inside because you know he’s pulling away, and the more he pulls away, the more weak, needy and desperate you become.
You break up and when the dust settles you don’t know how much blame to assume.
Your ex-boyfriend — for whatever his charms — was selfish, insensitive, and tone-deaf to his girlfriend’s needs. That’s his personality.
You don’t know what you can learn from this experience.
You don’t trust that you won’t make the same exact mistakes again.
Does that sound about right?
This stuff can make you even sadder and crazier than you already were, which is why, right now, I want to take away all of that confusion forever.
There is a very simple answer to your question and I’m going to give it to you right now.
Is it possible that you can stand to improve your communication? Of course. Anxious people often vacillate between feeling like a doormat/silently seething and blowing up with “protest behavior” at a man’s minor transgression. I can’t tell you whether you did that.
What I can tell you — and, frankly, what any objective third party can tell you — is that your boyfriend failed the most basic of boyfriend tests:
He dismissed your emotional requests. Per relationship expert John Gottman, such requests are called “bids” and couples that “turn towards” their partners’ bids have much stronger relationships. Your boyfriend turned away from your bid.
You asked him to consider your love language. He told you he didn’t do small talk.
You wanted to escalate your intimacy. He chose to move out of state.
And yet, somehow, you’re still beating yourself up inside and trying to take the blame.
Maybe you drove him out of state. Maybe if you were a better girlfriend, he would have wanted to give you quality time and words of affirmation.
He will be that way to his next girlfriend and to his eventual wife as well.
Your ex-boyfriend — for whatever his charms — was selfish, insensitive, and tone-deaf to his girlfriend’s needs. That’s his personality. He will be that way to his next girlfriend and to his eventual wife as well. I can only hope that she reads this column, recognizes herself and gets out before she, too, thinks she’s at fault when her boyfriend isn’t carrying his weight.
This question is the central question of Love U — my comprehensive coaching course that helps women understand men, set healthy boundaries, and create lasting love. When you’re done, you will never again wonder what you did wrong to drive a man away. To the contrary, you’ll feel more confident than you’ve ever been before, and know when it’s time to cut off the guy who fails to make you happy.