I love my girlfriend. However, she's not curious, and so we don't have discussions. I don't know what to do about it, as it's rapidly starting to affect my feelings towards her.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (85 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
I've been dating my girlfriend for almost a year (we're both mid-20s), and we've been exclusive for about 8 months. She's wonderful - emotionally supportive, understanding, kind, friendly, and we're incredibly physically/sexually compatible. We're good at communicating our desires and frustrations.
However, there's one frustration that I don't know what to do about -- she's not that curious. I don't mean 'not intellectual', or 'not smart'. I mean that she's not the type of person to ask questions, to try to understand things further, etc. She's interested in listening to me talk about things, and is a receptive listener, but she won't ask me questions, or further engage me in a dialogue or discussion. This makes me feel like I'm forcing my ideas onto another person in a monologue, which I hate, so I end up shutting myself up altogether.
I really like people who are excited about the things they like, and who become super into their own desires and interests. For example, I once met a security guard at a building who started explaining to me his interest in coin collecting, and soon realized that he had a super high degree of knowledge about terminology, history, numismatics, the manufacturing process, the different groups of people involved in authenticating and trading coins, etc. I came away with a great deal of respect for him in the process.
It makes me feel alive, rejuvenated, and utterly happy to be engaged in a really healthy, positive discussion or debate -- about anything. I don't place more or less "value" on information, and I try my hardest to treat all forms of self-inquiry and the pursuit of curiosity equally. And as it turns out, all of my friends are like this, whether they're artists, architects, writers, engineers, fashion designers, etc -- they pursue their own interests, whether those interests may be, and I admire that a lot. One of my favorite friends is someone who is "uneducated" by external standards, but is the most persistent and curious question-asker I know, and it's kind of refreshing and utterly awesome to hang out with them.
However, my girlfriend isn't the happiest hanging out with my friends, since she feels like a discussion-y atmosphere is hostile. (She's mentioned this before.) This means that I'm usually either hanging out with my friends, or with her, but not together, at least not as often as I'd want to. As such, in contrast, it's starting to feel stifling or hard to hang out for extended periods of time with my girlfriend. We get along great, especially when we talk about what we did that day, our own feelings, and when we're physically/sexually active (which is also a large part of our relationship) -- but I feel like I'm unable to have other discussions with her.
For example: I'm finishing up my graduate program, and spent the entirety of the past semester working on a single project. She didn't really ask me any questions about what I was working on during the semester. After I finished, I showed her a 10-minute mini-presentation of my work, and she was happy and excited for me, but that was kind of it. I wasn't asking for professional feedback or critique, but I expected something more beyond a mere "oh, that's great!" -- perhaps, "how do you feel about it?" or "what were you thinking when you did this?"
Or: I mentioned that I was watching a film by an independent filmmaker that I really like, and she said "oh, cool!". She's into film and art - but no questions about what kind of film it was, what I thought, how I felt, etc.
Or: I told her that I was sad about Aaron Swartz, and she asked me, "who's that?", and I gave a 30-second summary, and she said, "oh no, that sucks," and continue doing her own thing.
Or: I just came back from a small trip to a foreign country I had never been to, and I started telling her some of my thoughts; after 10 minutes, she said "oh, that sounds like it was fun!" and switched to a different topic.
Or: I felt upset about something that happened between friends the other day; I explained it to her, and while she asked me a few questions, we rapidly moved onto another topic.
This happens to almost all topics, except for music, and perhaps fashion (or textile arts). As a result, this makes me feel like I'm sharing just a tiny amount off of the surface of my being, because I'm unable to talk about my deeper thoughts and ideas.
Yet what I want is not just to explain my deeper thoughts and ideas to a silent listener, but to arrive there by talking about ideas, topics, things, with mutual questions, and discussions. On my end, I feel like I ask her a lot of details, and I do listen a lot to her. I ask her about details, about her feelings about things, or her thoughts about her own projects, and I do have that discussion with her that is ultimately enlightening and illuminating, for her thoughts. I'm not a selfish talker -- often, quite the opposite.
At the same time, I absolutely understand that it's impossible to change someone (and a little unfair to want to do so), so I can't really demand her to 'become more curious', if this is just how she operates. I also acknowledge that a significant other can't fulfill every aspect of my needs. So I've been thinking of perhaps seeing her less, and trying to see my friends more, because I've been neglecting seeing many of my friends in the process.
I guess my core question is - Not only am I not sure what to do, I'm not sure how to talk about this all with her. I've mentioned this issue in other ways, telling her things like "I want you to ask me more questions", or "I feel like you're not seeing all of me", etc. The discussions that arose out of them worked, but only to a degree.
But if I could bluntly tell her, I would say something like: "I think we have different degrees of curiousity; you're less curious, I'm more curious, and this is something that I really feel affects the way I can talk to you. I feel like I have a lot of immediate thoughts about things and want to engage in curious discussions about things, but I feel like you don't. I don't know what to do about it."
I feel like this would be just inviting strife and discontent, since I feel like I'm discussing inherent personality characteristics, rather than changeable actions. How can I ask someone to change when, for two and a half decades, they've been who they are that way? And this makes me feel like the only answer is to break up, since while I love her and care about her dearly, I don't understand how anything could really change.
Thoughts? Thanks for reading through all this.
TL;DR: I crave and need discussion and debate that stems out of curiosity and excitement; my wonderful girlfriend whom I love doesn't like discussion or debate; I'm not sure what to do, or even how to talk about this with her, since this is an inherent personality trait.