How do I get my boyfriend to stop repeating himself endlessly?
July 4, 2012 2:26 PM Subscribe
My wonderful boyfriend gets stuck on one topic of conversation for days at a time and has trouble talking about anything else. How do I kindly get him unstuck next time before he drives me insane?
posted by pineappleheart to human relations (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My boyfriend has the capacity to talk about one single topic longer than anyone I've ever met. Though the topics differ, they are almost always related to specific technical aspects of his job that I don't understand, and I can't contribute to the conversation. I think this constant chatter is a way for him to think out loud and work out his job-related difficulties with the help of a sounding board, but in the meantime, he doesn't realize that he's constantly steering each and every conversation we have around to the same damn topic.
An example of a common topic is whether or not he should buy a new machine for jst his studio. He'll make a decision, then second-guess his decision, then talk about the decision endlessly in twenty- to thirty-minute bursts at regular intervals for up to a week.
I've tried asking questions and learning about the X machine to get involved in the conversation, but he gets annoyed because I don't understand the most technical aspects. I've tried patient and reflective listening, but this fuels the fire even more. I've tried steering the conversation to practical matters we need to discuss, like what we need to pick up at the supermarket, but he gets angry with me for not listening. He does this at dinner, during movies, with friends, and with my parents, and I'm pretty sure it bores and confuses everyone, though everyone's too polite to say so. It certainly bored the bejeesus out of me, and I sometimes go for days without ever getting to tell him about my day or something funny that happened to me because he's stuck in this one place. I've said this to him, but he gets really defensive and upset that I "don't care" about his topic of the week. I get really anxious trying to think of new questions to ask him so he doesn't accuse me of not caring and it's kind of wearying.
It's not like this is a big dealbreaker in our relationship, but I would love it if someone could point out where I'm going wrong in communicating why this is so frustrating for me! I want to do it kindly. I'd love it if the end goal were that our conversations were less one-sided since I'm sure his obsessiveness is an inborn trait and can't be changed, but I'd be happy if I could just make him understand that just because I can't talk about one topic that for several days in a row, it doesn't mean I don't care about him.
Please assume that I've said all of the above to him and am looking for alternate ways to word this. Or if you think I'm a jerk for not being a patient enough girlfriend or appreciating that this is how his decision-making process works, it's alright for you to say that, too. Perspective helps!