How to deal with someone so direct?
October 3, 2008 7:49 PM   Subscribe

How do I deal with someone so verbal about his needs?

I would like to know how to deal better with a person who is very verbal with his needs. My boyfriend is so communicative with his needs that he goes a bit beyond, I feel, and reminds me when he is not happy with the intimacy. Like, every month to 3 months he will say something if he feels there have been two weeks of blah effort. Lately it's been every week he has something to say even though most of the week we have a good time, I think, at least the vibe I get from him. He knows I have depression and OCD but granted I don't want to use it as an excuse to not put more effort but I do want to know how to deal with a person who will spell out bluntly what he wants and how he feels. Note: He does have consideration and always asks me what I feel but he will try or suggest what I can do to help. I don't know. It seems like his requests for more love is demanding and not in a rude way but in the way that if the vibe doesn't flow for a week, or if I am not excited to have sex more than twice a week, he feels unloved and then has to say something about it. I am having a hard time dealing with someone who insist on being so verbal consistently. Is there anything I can say to make him relax?
posted by InterestedInKnowing to Human Relations (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Can you give some concrete examples of the kinds of things he says? I'm sort of wanting to say that this guy is just a jerk from what I got out of your question, which doesn't really answer what you asked. I think it would help if we knew exactly what he was saying that you are wanting to respond to.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:02 PM on October 3, 2008

If he's a very verbal communicator, it should be well within bounds for you to respond verbally by telling him that his form of communication is distressing you and that you would like to talk about how to remedy that. You can then discuss with him ways for him to communicate with you that would be less stressful for you, and ways for you to let him know if things have ever again gotten to the point where communication between the two of you is overwhelming to you.

The point is that if seems as though your boyfriend is very verbal and open to talking about what's going on in your relationship, you have a great opportunity that many people don't have to respond in kind and let him know how you feel. Don't lash out emotionally; just tell him what you've told us about how you're thinking and feeling and let him know that you'd like to work out strategies for the two of you to both get your needs met from the relationship.
posted by decathecting at 8:39 PM on October 3, 2008

Best answer: This doesn't sound like an issue with verbal communication as much as an issue with expectations of intimacy. If he wasn't verbal with these thoughts, they would either go unsaid or be held back in a resentful way. And neither of those options are healthy for a relationship.

He equates sex and intimacy directly to how he feels - nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But if no sex for two weeks really makes him question the relationship and your love for him, especially knowing your situation, it could be a deeper issue. He request for more sex (not "more love", as you stated) is demanding more of you, right or wrong. But I will say that if he uses statements like "unloved" to describe his feelings, then he's holding you hostage emotionally with his communication - "If you don't have sex with me X times a week, I don't think you truly care for me."

Sex is a deal breaker for many couples. This may just be a rough patch for you or him or both. But if he realistically only equates love directly to sex in your relationship, that isn't a long-term solution.

You need to be direct back to him about your emotional needs, and that sex isn't always an option for you. Explain that you're not using sex as a tool to hurt or reward him, but how it feels for you when you're not in the mood. Perhaps try some non-sexual intimacy, cuddling up without expectations of more.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:41 PM on October 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Is he like this only about sexual matters? Does he frequently criticize you in other matters as well? If so, if he's the kind of person who is going to be perpetually complaining and criticizing you with the expectation that you'll make whatever effort he considers is necessary to keep him happy, then... I'd find a new boyfriend who is better at keeping himself happy.
posted by orange swan at 8:41 PM on October 3, 2008

In our individual minds we have a definition of what a woman is, what a man is, how each should behave sexually. Men are too macho or too wimpy depending on who is judging. Women are too thin or too fat. We have all these beliefs about how a woman should be in order to be beautiful. You have to buy the right clothes, create the right image, so you can be seductive and fit that image. If you don't fit that image of beauty, you grow up believing that you're not worthy, that no one will like you.

We believe so many lies about sex that we sometimes don't enjoy it. We believe the myths. Sex is for animals. Sex is evil. We should be ashamed to have sexual feelings. These rules about sex go completely against nature, and it's just a dream, but we believe it. Your true nature comes out and it doesn't fit with all those rules. You're guilty. You're not what you should be. You are judged. You are victimized. You punish yourself, and it's not fair. This creates wounds in relationships.

The point is that, for whatever reason, you feel what you feel. Perhaps what you feel is not always in sync with what your boyfriend feels. It sounds to me, from your description, like he is perhaps overly needy. The best way to compromise is to communicate. Let him know you feel like you're being judged. Let him know that you aren't always "on." Ask him why he is demanding and inconsiderate. If you are a wallflower and always accede to his wishes, despite your own feelings, you may feel remorse and regret. So my advice is to start talking more. Speak up for yourself. Communication goes both ways. Good luck to you.
posted by netbros at 8:44 PM on October 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Reading this and your other questions, I suspect this is not the man for you.
posted by Maisie Jay at 9:06 PM on October 3, 2008

I think your boyfriend is being reasonable and acting in a healthy manner to express his feelings, but perhaps you are simply not a good match for each other.
posted by Nattie at 10:07 PM on October 3, 2008 [7 favorites]

Just because he wants, doesn't mean you need to provide - you are allowed to have wants too. It sounds like you can pin point the problem but his comments are making you feel pressured to perform. That is not fair on you.

Aside from the advice to communicate - here are a few ideas
- Many men feel like sex is an affirmation of love. Talk with him about this and see if there are other ways you can help him feel connected to you
- If he wants sex when you aren't in the mood, see if the two of you can work out a satisfying alternative (maybe masterbating in your presence or, if you feel up to it, do it for him or with him)
- work on your own expectations of yourself. give yourself permission to not want to have sex sometimes. listen to his comments as a request that you are truly free to respond yes or no. Obviously you may want to say yes sometimes when you are wishy-washy to make him happy but that is a gift that you are giving him - not something that he is able to demand from you.
- let him know that when you have good sex, you would like to hear about that too. Not that you want to be rating every session but "that was nice" or even "wow that was great" should be part of his communication too.
- most couples are somewhat mismatched in sexual desire and need to find a compromise. A twice a week person could be on either side of it - less than a partner who wants it daily or more than one who wants it weekly. Nothing wrong with your level of desire except that it isn't perfect match to the person who happens to be your partner.
posted by metahawk at 10:18 PM on October 3, 2008

oops - first line should read "sounds like you can't pin point the problem.
posted by metahawk at 10:21 PM on October 3, 2008

From your limited description, it sounds like he is just sexually demanding, without putting much effort into into figuring out that this is a partnership, or realizing that his demanding nature is probably accomplishing the opposite of what he wants; it probably pushes you away. His style of sharing his needs making his demands is not the issue. If you want this relationship to work, I'd recommend some couples counseling to try and figure this out, or it will snowball into misery.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:43 PM on October 3, 2008

It good to talk if things aren't flowing emotionally or sexually. If you're discussing how to make thing better between the two of you, that's good. If he's interested in what's working for you or not working for you, that's good too.

If it's more along the lines of "you've really sucked in bed lately and you need to put out more", then that's not so helpful.
posted by 26.2 at 10:57 PM on October 3, 2008

Communicate back.
posted by salvia at 12:02 AM on October 4, 2008

Agreed with others, someone communicating to you is not a problem in and of itself. How you handle it is.
posted by Phyltre at 12:38 AM on October 4, 2008

So the other day, a friend of mine had a problem with his woman; he drank too much, didn't remember what happened, and only knew that she was abrupt when leaving the house that morning.

He was convinced that he had done something wrong, and that the relationship was going to end. Convinced. He hadn't talked to her about it, he didn't remember doing anything bad, and she didn't say he had done anything bad. A combination of insecurity and lack of memory and her behavior that morning was enough for him to be sure he'd thrown the relationship down the toilet.

He fretted over this the entire day, with me, with other folks, by himself, and drove himself crazy. He was afraid to bring it up, or even ask how she was feeling, because he felt it would somehow trigger rejection.

Then the next day, they talked on the phone, and he asked her what was up that morning, and she apologized for being so grumpy; she had been sick, and he had been trying to take good care of her and be nurturing, but was overdoing it because he was drunk and she got annoyed -- but she acknowledged that he'd done nothing wrong, it was just her getting annoyed for a stupid reason and because she was feeling sick.

Now everything's fine again. That was all it was.

So hooray that you have a partner that is communicating with you! The only thing you have to do in order to "deal" with this is communicate back. Don't tell us how you feel about what he's saying, tell him. If you can't muster up the energy or confidence, then you're probably not a good fit for each other; go find someone who will keep their unhappiness and disappointment bottled up inside until it builds into a torrent of frustration and anger, and shatters the relationship apart.

Obviously I don't really want you to do that, but you have to realize that relationships -- good ones -- aren't like they are in movies and television, where there's lots of drama and men are closed up and women share their feelings and the sex is always awesome. They require work, and that work can be boring, or even annoying.

But it's a lot less annoying, to me at least, to deal with someone who's communicating than with someone who refuses to communicate.

Good luck.
posted by davejay at 2:28 AM on October 4, 2008

This sounds like my ex-husband. He needed every interaction to be intense and meaningful and passionate.

God, he was a pain in the ass.

My life got a lot better when I wasn't functioning as a one-stop-Dunkin-Donuts-hey-give-me-a-cup-of-awesome all the time. I always felt inadequate. I'm pretty introverted and spend a lot of time in my head. He and I were really incompatible. He's a friend now and I can hang out with him only for like an hour or so at a time because he totally wears me out.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:13 AM on October 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Judging from the question and others you've posted about this relationship, he's high maintenance and you're low maintenance. This conflicts will always occur and it's going to take work to quell them. This doesn't make either of you bad, just continually mismatched. Hell, your low key ways may be interpreted by him as 'blah effort' while you're just being yourself. In these situation, it's hard to be happy if just being you is cause for conflict.

You'd probably be happier with someone else.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 AM on October 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I took Brandon Blatcher's cue and looked at your other inquiries, and he has a great point about the high maintenance. Either that, or you are completely over-thinking every issue of your relationship. I'd also suggest that you really think about being specific before you post your questions, as this will help you find the answers you need.

That being said, I think you want to know how to keep your boyfriend from pointing out everything that is wrong in bed, because it's wearing you down. It sounds like, rather than trying to communicate, he's criticizing you all the time. Is that right? Is this something that happens EVERY time you make love, or EVERY time you don't make love and he wants to, as you mentioned in your question? Because if so, that would be a DTMFA from me.

If it's something that only happens every once in a while, I would sit him down when you AREN'T anywhere near the bedroom, or anywhere close to having sex, and let him know that you don't want to hear criticisms about your lovemaking until, at least, say, a day after the incident has gone by, so that you can distance yourself from the criticism and view it more objectively. Unless it is something vital (by vital, I mean that, bluntly, he couldn't complete the act because of something you did), he should lay off for a day or so. Let him know that while you want to be a communicative and unselfish lover, his constant criticisms of you immediately after sex feel like rejection.

Also, when he complains about the frequency, ask yourself if he is being reasonable there (doesn't sound like it) or childishly selfish because once or twice you felt too exhausted or unwell to have sex when he wanted to? In other words: is this an ongoing problem where one of you always wants sex more than the other (in which case, get out now rather than continue with a hopeless situation), or just a question of petty spite when he doesn't always get what he wants?
posted by misha at 8:23 AM on October 4, 2008

My life got a lot better when I wasn't functioning as a one-stop-Dunkin-Donuts-hey-give-me-a-cup-of-awesome all the time. I always felt inadequate. I'm pretty introverted and spend a lot of time in my head. He and I were really incompatible. He's a friend now and I can hang out with him only for like an hour or so at a time because he totally wears me out.

Sorry, I hadn't had coffee and managed to not make my own point.

Perhaps you too are incompatible with this person. Some things are not a matter of negotiation or compromise but of compatibility, which I think is what others are saying.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:37 AM on October 4, 2008

...that is some god awful dirty talk.

He said, "Hey, I've noticed you're not really into stuff lately. Is something up with you? - Because I've been putting up with this crap for two weeks now! Every week I explain to how much this is effecting me. I even offer suggestions on you things you could do, so that your problems do not become my problems! This is still just unacceptable."

I mean you could word that anyway you like but once those words cross your lips.. that is what you've just said! I'm stunned, because you do kinda seem to get that you do find it offensive? (Just quietly, what more would you need to qualify as 'rude'?)

Anyway - definitely get a backbone. (The funny thing about that is once you decide you actually don't care if people like you and think you're nice - suddenly they start to.) But mostly a backbone is good for when you need to have some balls. Like now for example. Then you could use those balls to suggest that he "Snap the fuck out of it." Maybe give him a couple of pointers to get him started.

(He himself is a communicator, and a direct one at that. I'm sure he'll be able to appreciate what you're trying to achieve?)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:15 AM on October 5, 2008

Not knowing either one of you or the situation, I can't say for sure, but some of what you said sounded like my relationship with a classic narcissist.

I'd put some serious thought into whether or not that might be the case, and whether or not this relationship is workable in the long-run.
posted by tejolote at 8:24 AM on October 6, 2008

This is turning into one of those pages men can cite when we say "Women really don't want honesty." It sounds like this guy is being straightforward and communicative - he's just not saying what she wants to hear. It's not his manner that needs to be sorted out or "dealt" with but the actual underlying relationship issues.
posted by wackybrit at 7:14 AM on October 15, 2008

Response by poster: Damn, I am realizing he is a controlling person to a minor degree. I think he believes that sex is for him and to fulfill HIS needs. He can keep it cool but will always let me know that he's keeping it cool in which I believe makes him feel he can have the leeway to complain when he feels he is not "loved" enough through sexual intimacy. Hmm. Am I missing something else?
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 7:01 PM on October 17, 2008

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