Sometimes I can't tell if my boyfriend likes me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (48 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've been dating a guy for several years. He initially asked me out, and I was really happy, because I thought he was cute and neat. From there we started dating pretty regularly-- once or twice a week we'd hang out or do something fun. Eventually we started spending more regular downtime together, and we're both pretty on the level about wanting to be together. For most of our relationship, I let him make the moves, and I never felt like I was smothering him or pursuing him.
In some (most) situations we have great chemistry, but in others I have an impossible time gauging his reactions. I've always been kind of outgoing (for an introvert), but I feel like when we talk, I don't get the kind of response I would get from anyone else who liked spending time with me. Often I'll tell him something-- my thoughts about something we just did, or a story about something that happened during my day (usually one I think is funny)-- and he won't respond. At all. He doesn't say anything, or even make a noise of acknowledgement. At first I was a little mortified each time. Then I started teasing him about it a bit. Then I brought it up as an issue of vulnerability for me. But now I realize that it's still the same as ever, and I don't know if it's ever going to change. I don't feel insulted as much as I feel embarrassed, sometimes blindsided. If I put a lot of energy into the telling of my tale and he doesn't respond with anything (not even a stiff courtesy-laugh), I'm usually privately dumbfounded. I've realized lately that it can really hurt, and deeply undercuts my confidence. I feel sometimes like I'm not the same passionate/energetic person with him, because before I start to tell a story, I begin to feel anxious and preemptively embarrassed. Also, it means there can be a really inconsistent flow to the conversation... and at times I feel that while we talk about his issues in depth because I rely on probing and asking questions, he doesn't do the same (probably out of discomfort?), and so I often end up rambling if I talk about something personal, and feel like I'm not interesting to him.
Is this a thing? I realize we've been dating for awhile and we need to talk about it, but I feel like I've taken a lot of approaches-- joking, telling him seriously that I feel embarrassed, commenting when it happens (by his request)-- and nothing's stuck. Part of me wonders if he does this with everybody or just me. It seems that in groups he doesn't, but I'm also usually there to be the chatty one, so maybe it just doesn't show as much as when he's one-on-one. I find it mildly to substantially withering, depending on the day. (I know you're probably wondering how I can even deal with myself, but I'd say this kind of thing happens only 5-10%-ish of the time-- more than with any other friend I've ever had, but not enough that it derails me constantly.)
We're both more playful than romantic types, but he can be gushy and sweet and I generally feel cared about. Sometimes when I tell him about something like this he seems genuinely surprised-- I think he's overall happy and invested in our relationship, and doesn't realize that it feels unnatural to me. Still... is this a sign that he's maybe not as into me as I am into him? I'm kind of desperate, I feel like he still doesn't feel comfortable being extemporaneous with me after all this time. I'm stumped.
He's not super close to many people-- mostly his family, and he has a couple friends who he regularly talks to, but they're not take-a-bullet-for-my-bro type friends. Contrastingly, I've had a few close friends over time (though I'm not in touch with many right now). We both enjoy socializing in general, though. I feel I should also point out that we're both relatively shy and reserved, though in situations where we're comfortable we tend to get animated. I don't feel like there's a major personality mismatch. The one other relevant detail is that it happens most often when I talk about specific issues that I could see as off-putting-- such as dealing with my mental health stuff, or "internet stuff," or sometimes, women's issues. Sometimes I worry that he likes me on the surface but is put off by some of my weirder stuff, which obviously makes me feel pretty insecure. I've considered that he simply feels uncomfortable, but if my personality makes him uncomfortable I'm not sure what to do (he's never brought it up). Ask him how he feels each time? It does have the tendency to make things feel a little precarious, or to create a sense of distance when we're not together a lot, because I feel like I'm not totally safe being myself.