Conversational Tennis: 30-Love
June 2, 2011 4:11 PM   Subscribe

How to get my boyfriend to engage in more conversations with me?

My boyfriend complains on occasion that we don't talk enough about things that matter. Personally I feel like smacking him every time I hear this, because I'm often trying to initiate conversations with him, he just doesn't catch what I'm throwing. He will answer any question I ask, honestly and succinctly, but without leading on towards further conversation. Either I press him for further details, or I answer my own question (which is apparently his unspoken expectation). I ask questions, he says something, I say something... and repeat. He likes talking, he's just bad at keeping it going.

So I get tired of this, because it's all on me to come up with topics of conversation. I end up feeling like a stereotype - I'm a girl who wants to talk all the time about my feelings, and my guy is somewhat annoyed by it (not true, but this gets inside my head). I've tried asking him to ask me questions too, and he says he can't think of any to ask. I've tried to find out if he's just uncomfortable asking me, and why that is, and he doesn't know. There have been some good conversations where we overcome this problem, but they've been few and far between. In the interim, I still get tired of pushing all the conversation and I give up on it. Then I'm comfortable with us not really talking in-depth for a while, but then it becomes distancing for him, and any headway we've made in feeling connected to eachother starts to regress, and he gets unhappy.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to improve his participation and make this more equal?
posted by lizbunny to Human Relations (39 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
My boyfriend complains on occasion that we don't talk enough about things that matter.

I'm a girl who wants to talk all the time about my feelings, and my guy is somewhat annoyed by it (not true, but this gets inside my head).

See what happens when you put those two sentences closer to each other? When he says you don't talk enough about things that matter, he's saying he wants to talk about something other than your feelings.

So talk with him more about things other than your feelings. He may eventually come around to liking talking about that, too. But probably not.
posted by The World Famous at 4:21 PM on June 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


Hi, I'm your boyfriend. Well, except I'm a chick, and it's my boyfriend who wishes I were more chatty. I'll also answer whatever questions that are asked of me, but that's about it. I'm just not a conversation person. I'll tell stories or whatever, but I have almost zero conversation skills. I also don't have any desire to be more chatty. It's just the way I'm built.

I have to say, though, that if you were doing this to me--trying to goad me into conversations when I don't feel like it--I'd get pretty annoyed pretty fast. I'm sure you'll get lots of great advice here, but don't be surprised if it backfires.
posted by phunniemee at 4:24 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get together with him & his friends and/or family and figure out what they like to talk about.

Get into a debate about a political, moral or cultural issue that you are on opposite sides on (play devil's advocate if you have to).

Go on separate trips with different groups of friends and ask him beforehand to make note of the cool things he sees on his trip that you might like to talk about.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:25 PM on June 2, 2011


Also, the feelings thing? If he answers "How are you?" with 'fine' 9 out of 10 times, expect it to take 5-10 years to have any decent conversations about feelings.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:28 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


What punniemee said. I am like that. I would feel that way.

My boyfriend complains on occasion that we don't talk enough about things that matter.

Did he say those exact words? Because "We don't talk enough about things that matter" is not remotely the same as "Gah! Who cares! It doesn't matter!" even if the latter comes out sounding a lot like the former.

It's entirely possible that the two of you are just not compatible. Perhaps that is a conversation worth having.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:30 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the real issue here, his complaint or yours? Are you asking "how do I deal with my own frustration that we don't talk about feelings?" Or are you asking, "how do I deal with his complaint that we don't talk about what matters?"

My basic answer, though, is couples therapy if this relationship matters to you. I deferred it forever with my boyfriend, but damn if I don't look at all that wasted time and pointless frustration. If you're going to spend $X on couples counseling sessions, why not do it sooner so you go from frustration and annoyance to fulfilling discussions sooner rather than later?
posted by salvia at 4:33 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interviewing 101: When you want someone to speak, stay silent.
posted by jph at 4:33 PM on June 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


My boyfriend complains on occasion that we don't talk enough about things that matter.

Did you ask, "Okay - what would you like to talk about?" or "Okay - what do you think 'matters?'" The answers to those questions might explain part of your conversational problem.
posted by gatorae at 4:43 PM on June 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


It sounds like maybe you're more of an extravert and he's more of an introvert. You will both need to make an effort to accommodate each other, no matter why exactly it is you don't communicate well right now.

Assuming you are in fact more extraverted and he's introverted, there are a crapton of articles about how to communicate better. Here are a few.

Even if the problem isn't really extravert/introvert, reading those articles could be good for getting you to think about how any two people could go about trying to communicate better by accommodating each others communication styles.

Your boyfriend has communicated some desire to improve communications as well, albeit in an unhelpful way. But at least he has communicated that desire. So try to sit down and talk with him about it. Don't blame each other. When I did this with my girlfriend (for the nth time, and it finally worked), I even brought a pen and paper, and took notes, to show her I was serious, and wanted to do my part, not just blame her. She responded well to me showing seriousness, and openness to us both doing our parts. Previously, any attempts to take care of communication problems came up spontaneously for the most part, so neither of us had thought about it beforehand, so we weren't prepared to think and talk seriously about it, and we blamed each other a lot. So, prepare. Have some stuff written down even. Print off articles (an introvert might appreciate that). Make sure it is a good time (you're both in decent moods, you don't have other important plans, etc).
posted by funnyinternetmemereference at 4:49 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


My boyfriend complains on occasion that we don't talk enough about things that matter.

I've caught myself saying the same thing to my SO on occasion. Of course your feelings are important, but while some guys might tread that territory (carefully!) when we're forced to, not all of us are comfortable with that, and we don't talk about "feelings" as a general topic unless there's something extraordinary going on.

We're more interested in talking about our toys, activities, politics, religion, sex or the intersection between sex and any of the non-sexual topics we're interested in. I'm not the only guy who is wired this way. It's just that talk about "feelings" is not something we were taught to expect will lead to enlightenment or entertainment.

Metafilter is a good source of topics for serious discussion that qualify as "things that matter."
posted by Hylas at 4:53 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is precisely why one of my daughters and her boyfriend just broke up.

You need to show him this thread and talk about what you each really mean by "talking".....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:14 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Talking (and listening) about feelings is good, but there are only so many feelings to share per day. Maybe by "things that matter" he means talking about Things, like something funny or something weird you saw that day, or something you read about, or some thing you're looking forward to, or something like that. Balance balance balance.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:17 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you talked to him about this? When he complains that you don't talk enough about things that matter, have you said to him, "You've told me that you feel like there's a problem with our communication, that we don't talk enough about things that matter. I don't want that to happen, and I want to solve our problem. But right now, I feel like I start all the conversations, and I keep them going too. This gets really hard on me all the time. How would you like the conversation to go? If your preferred way of communicating is for me to start the discussion AND for me to keep it going, then it'll be very hard for me to keep every conversation going. Maybe we can try to find some other solution to our problem."

And I agree with BrotherCaine - try to see if you can observe a conversation that is more satisfying for him. Maybe that will show you what he means by "things that matter."
posted by be11e at 5:18 PM on June 2, 2011


Also: what does he talk about with his friends, especially his guy friends? Is there middle ground you can find?
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:19 PM on June 2, 2011


You may wish to take a short Myers-Briggs or Keirsey test with him to see what your personality types are. My guess is that he's an introvert and you are an extrovert.

He works through things/ideas/feelings by thinking about them and then talks about it when he comes to a conclusion whereas you like to work through things/ideas/feelings by talking about them.

If you know what your personality types were it would help you to understand each other's preferred communication styles.
posted by dgeiser13 at 5:27 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't get too hung up on personality type assumptions here. I score straight down the middle on all of those introvert/extrovert and Myers-Briggs-style personality tests. I'm as outgoing and assertive as I am perfectly happy being alone. It bugs the hell out of me when people call me an introvert, and not much of the "caring for your introvert" advice would really work on me. But maybe I'm just cranky, haha. You know your boyfriend better than a personality test does. Like I said above, just tread carefully.
posted by phunniemee at 5:38 PM on June 2, 2011


Maybe he's sick of the questions but still wants to talk about stuff? Conversation doesn't always need to start out with questions. Observations have led to some of the best conversations I've ever had. Make statements about things you've seen or heard or read during the day and see where that goes. And please, find out what he means when he says the two of you don't talk enough about things that matter. Here's where a question would come in handy: "What are things that matter to you? Our relationship? Politics? Something else?" and see where those lead.
posted by cooker girl at 5:45 PM on June 2, 2011


How to get my boyfriend to engage in more conversations with me?

You get a new boyfriend. Sorry, but it had to be said.

I was in a relationship which sounds eerily like yours. I, too, felt tired of doing all the talking. Towards the end of our relationship, I even asked him why he didn't ask me questions about myself.

After a year or so, my ex ended up dumping me because he didn't feel he could make me happy. It was the best outcome for the both of us, looking back. He was introverted and into his own hobbies, and I was extroverted and passionate about other things. If talking to your SO feels like pulling teeth, you owe it to yourself to date a guy who is a great conversationalist, and acts excited to get to know you. From what you've said in your question, you sound a lot like myself. You will be incredulous at first that such a man exists. It will be like night and day. I can't explain what a great feeling it was to connect with a man on that level. It's so much more fun!

I wish you the best with whatever you decide to do. You deserve to be happy (and so does he).
posted by sunnychef88 at 6:09 PM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Woah,
can people please read the question more thoroughly?

The *boyfriend* is the one who is complaining they don't have enough 'conversations' and yet it is the *boyfriend* who neither initiating nor holding up his end of the conversation.

And the boyfriend, whether intentionally or not, is trying to make it... lizbunny's problem.
There's a point where passive starts to feel like passive-aggressive, even when it's not, because fundamentally, if he wants something to change, then it's not up to you to fix it for him. Especially when it's actually impossible to fix it from your end.
If he wants to fix it, there are books on relating better to people, and having good conversations, but basically - turn it around. Tell *him* to initiate conversations, tell *you* what he is up to. It's like a one-way river at the moment.

Does he have problems having conversations with other people? Do you have problems having conversations? Pinpoint the factors that make it easier, and the topics.

I had a 'friend' who was probably far, far worse than your boyfriend. They just seemed to want to hear me talk, because it made them feel like they were having a social interaction, without any of the pressure of well, participating in any way.
They basically never moved the conversation forward, expressed no interests, and gave closed-ended replies. And not just with me. And yet got very anxious or even... irritated? If I didn't keep talking. At first I gave them the benefit of the doubt, for being shy around new people. A year later, we were all figuring that it wasn't something that we could fix.

Anyway, turn it around. Listening without participating is *not* a conversation. Perhaps there's something he could start... summarizing for you? A tv-show, book, event - just to get practice being in the 'drivers seat'.

On the otherhand, sunnychef88 has a point. If a conversational impasse exists for too long, it kind of indicates a communication incompatibility. And you need communication. You really do.
posted by Elysum at 6:26 PM on June 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


When I felt like I'm out of conversation topics with previous partners and I felt like having a "real" conversation, what did *not* work went something like:
- "We should talk"
- "Uh oh"
- "We just haven't talked about anything that isn't, you know, chores and house and bills and dinner"
- "Nope. What do you want to talk about?"
- "Feelings." / "My feelings." / "Our relationship" / "Why we don't ___________ any more" (___ can equal "go out", "see movies", etc.)
(TUNE OUT)

Now, most conversations in my relationship start with:
- "Did you see that thing on Slate about XYZ?" "Oh god, did you see that study that came out about XYZ?" "What's your take on that crazy Ask Metafilter question about the XYZ?"
- If he picks up on a topic, we go with it -- debating, joint complaining, sending each other links, theorizing
- If he doesn't pick up on it, in a "I saw it. It's dumb." or "That study is 7 years old." or "It wasn't as good as Xterico" or something, he'll either follow it up with related information or, if he's not feeling like talking, drop it completely
- We go do things together that give us new things to talk about -- local live interview things, new restaurants or bars we've never been to, movies, indie plays, concerts

Whether or not you DTMFA or not is your business. For me, I find when I've had a good debate over stem cell research, a kvetch about some political thing or a rambling musing about what really is Lars Von Trier's damage, my feelings come out. We demonstrate how we're feeling in the midst of things that "matter" -- maybe not to The Universe or even anyone else on Earth, but that matter to us.

And if you truly don't have any things that matter to both of you, besides the "relationship" and "feelings", it's time to get some -- through going out, observing the world or having a long, direct conversation about what does matter.

Or you can DTMFA and then both of you can find someone who shares what matters with each of you.
posted by Gucky at 7:14 PM on June 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


I feel like there was another thread similar to this recently, where a woman was asking for advice about her quiet boyfriend who, despite not holding up his own end of conversations, always expected her to do it and complained when she let things get quiet.

Then, as now, I think this just sounds like too much work, and no fun for the asker. Yes, in SOME cases, opposites can attract, yin/yang, blah blah. But honestly, if easy flowing conversation is something you value, then go find someone who can hold up his end of it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:43 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I looked at your previous questions and was surprised by how many focused on your relationship with your boyfriend in so many ways- what music to play for him, what gift to buy him, him asking for a break, and now how to have a decent conversation with him. Is this all about the same guy? I'm usually reluctant to jump into the "break up with him" pile, but with all this in mind it doesn't sound like you two are compatible. If you can't even have a decent conversation with him, think about what it is you're really getting out of this relationship. Honestly it doesn't sound like either of you is all that comfortable with the relationship, but can't quite pinpoint what the problem is.

If you still think it's worth all this effort and fretting, next time he complains that you don't talk enough about "things that matter," ask him what sorts of things he wishes you'd talk about.
posted by wondermouse at 8:14 PM on June 2, 2011


Assuming he doesn't want to talk about 'feelings' that much (a safe bet for most guys), and he's introverted and/or generally purpose-oriented with conversation, the way to engage him and inspire what amounts to rambling has to be conversation about stuff he's passionate about. What is that stuff?

This problem sort of confuses me a little because I can't imagine how do you get to know people enough to want to be with them outside talking. I suppose you can do activities together-- say you both enjoy a certain activity. That's something you can discuss, unless it's sports or drinking, I guess. One way to stimulate random conversations is stuff like board games, and more specifically word-games, especially something like Apples to Apples or another word-association game. I mean, the real 'answer' is for you to do things that allow you to get to know each other. Conversation is generally 'that thing', other than, I dunno, being in a team with someone or collaborating in some other way (parenting also works to show you who someone is, but it's a wasteful way to simply figure that out).

Anyway, shared interests and shared values-- if they exist-- provide conversation starters. If they don't exist, then the relationship has deeper problems than smooth conversation can fix. When it comes to rational-type introverts especially-- that is, guys who're withdrawn, rationally/logically-minded and practical-- there's no shortcut to getting them to open up and talk other than sharing some deep interest with them. You have to have that intersection point, something to fall back on. If you really have to *ask* him what 'really matters' to him, he'll probably take that as a bad sign, though feel free to ask (more like, observe and figure it out).

Most rational/introvert guys fit his pattern-- concise, limited and to-the-point responses until and unless you uncover their passion for whatever thing. That kind of guy will not make that easy for you, mostly because they don't know how. I mean, most of those kind of guys end up being lucky if they've got such close friends, let alone a girlfriend (they tend to feel they're unlucky in love, partly 'cause they're just not very good at 'feelings' and therefore relationships fizzle or stagnate). It's generally the case that such a guy doesn't place that high of a value on romantic love, but nevertheless values understanding and shared minds-- which sounds like what you described. They tend to be very awkward, even if it seems they're in-control of themselves and not flustered. You're probably only getting somewhere if they do get flustered or excited or off-kilter somehow.

Anyway, this kind of guy is *work*. Not just on your part as their partner, that is, but on your part as well. Especially while young, they're often especially difficult to get to open up about anything important, lacking experience or self-awareness. One thing I'd recommend is not to a) ask obvious/simple questions 'just to ask' and b) not to talk about feelings (he probably couldn't even if he wanted to, though if you really want him to talk, make sure it's not his feelings about you but something like his childhood pet or Junior High years or something). These kind of guys tend to be surprisingly sentimental, and often do stuff like hold on to tons of photos, or obsessively keep other sorts of records, or fixate on some early childhood stuff. It's not easy to get them to wax sentimental about stuff-- they have to trust you-- but once you find the right approach, they can go on and on. They have tons of stuff bottled up, after all-- they just have a hard time expressing it.

In the end, if communicating with him doesn't come naturally to you, ask yourself if you really want to be bending over backwards learning *again* how to communicate (in his 'language') at the same time he is for the first time! A bit like the blind leading the deaf. Don't start with the deep stuff, if you do. Maybe try talking to his friends/family about his interests or what have you, if you can. When you have those quiet/silent times, put an effort into still being soft-focused on him and looking receptive to listen. Get him drunk, maybe. Sometimes that works pretty well. :) Finally, seriously consider if he's meeting *your* needs.
posted by reenka at 9:31 PM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


The *boyfriend* is the one who is complaining they don't have enough 'conversations' and yet it is the *boyfriend* who neither initiating nor holding up his end of the conversation.

According to the question, he's not complaining that they don't have enough conversations. He's complaining that they "don't talk enough about things that matter." (emphasis mine). If those are his words, he's not complaining about the dearth of conversation but about the subject matter.
posted by The World Famous at 9:34 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you want him to talk then talk about things he's interested in, rather than things you're interested in. He's not likely to be interested in detailed running discussions of your emotional state.
posted by joannemullen at 9:46 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get people who don't ask other people questions - and I don't get people who want to talk about their feelings all the time.

Hence why I tend to not date them.
posted by mleigh at 11:22 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


1- What does he think is important and not important?

(If it is as simple as your feelings are not important to him, then yes, maybe you've got a bad match. But it usually isn't that simple.)

2- How would "talking about your feelings" go? Is it "wow, that movie reminded me of a feeling I had and want to share some of that with you"? Or more like "here is a list of the ways you hurt my feelings for the last six months"?

Because if it is the latter, conversations like that can be very difficult for certain personality types. As in, deeply unsettling and shaking the foundation of what we think is going on. Rightly or wrongly, we sort of expect that Important Things ought to be talked about right away, soon thereafter, or not at all. If we have hurt you, we'd like to know right away so we can change our behavior and make amends. We don't like the idea that you have been suffering a misdeed for all this time while we have been chirping along happily like a jackass thinking everything is great. And it can feel like maybe the holder-backer of the feelings was doing it so that they can increase the emotional impact of the ultimate confrontation.

Anyway, that's one way "feelings" and "important" can intersect in destructive ways.
posted by gjc at 6:40 AM on June 3, 2011


Find a pretext to go for a long car ride. Don't say anything instead of asking leading questions. See what he wants to talk about. It could be that he is only interested in talking about himself. If so I hope he is pretty damn interesting ;)
posted by rdurbin at 6:43 AM on June 3, 2011


I thought of a solution that we're going to try - I've presented him with a challenge: He has to ask me a question every day, and it has to be a meaningful question, not something that can be answered in a sentence.

He thinks it's a great idea. Having this "relationship homework" works for him. He likes having a clear understanding of what is expected of him, and he likes to be challenged and have to work towards something. And it's a mental exercise, which he also enjoys. I'll keep him to task by asking for my question every day.

Last night, for his first question he asked me where my deep love of music stems from, and it kicked off a pretty good conversation.
posted by lizbunny at 6:47 AM on June 3, 2011


I think the problem boiled down to this - I'm asking him tons of questions, so we talk about him a lot and I feel like I'm getting to know him pretty well. But he doesn't ask me questions back, so I don't talk about myself as much, and he's left feeling like he's not connecting as well as he'd like to be. But he doesn't know enough to figure out how to improve things. And I've asked him to ask me questions before, that hasn't worked. Being demanding and definitive about what I want apparently works best with this guy.

Regarding the feelings thing, I was expressing frustration on what constitutes meaningful conversation since I feel like "we're" talking all the time and I'm missing something if he's not happy with it. I'm not inclined to overshare on feelings and make that a primary topic of conversation, because that's not me, and to go that route is also stereotypically irritating. Relationship conflict resolution is a whole other ball of wax that we've got a good handle on.
posted by lizbunny at 7:04 AM on June 3, 2011


This isn't a deal-breaker, just something you haven't found the right tools for yet. "Asking questions" may not be the right tool.

Honestly this seems like textbook Deborah Tannen gender communications. That you feel like you have to be asked a question before you can share a piece of yourself would probably place you in Tannen's feminine frame. Rather than wait to be asked a question, just tell him something. Maybe just taking a walk together and making up stories about the people you see will bring up good conversation.

Or as Lori Hart Ebert paraphrases:
When you ask a guy how his day was, he will likely give one of four answers: Good, Fine, Shitty, Bad.
When you ask a girl: "well, in the morning I... and then... and the funniest thing..."
posted by jander03 at 8:43 AM on June 3, 2011


He doesn't sound like an introvert to me; he sounds not introspective. I bet he'd happily talk about what he thinks about on some or all of the following: politics, religion, movies, books, history, sports.

Keep in mind, if you ask him how he feels about something, it's quite possible that's the first time he's considered that question. I really hate being expected to give an answer on how I feel about something before I've decided how I feel about something.

When something bad happens to be, my thought process is usually "Damnit. What do I have to do in response?". My answer to how I feel about that would be "I didn't like it". If you want a better answer, you'd have to give me some time.

As a side note, I've found that, on occasion, "talking about feelings" can mean "complain about stuff for an hour". Maybe he's dreading that?
posted by spaltavian at 9:51 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


As someone who is not that chatty, he sounds bored and/or depressed.

Bored because your conversations/relationship is routine and no longer stimulating. Nothing you talk about together is interesting or engaging to him.

Depressed because he's bored in the relationship, or is holding a mopey nothing-really-matters mindset. Does he have any hobbies or do interesting things? It's way easier to have an engaging discussion about things you genuinely care about.
posted by Ygduf at 9:57 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It sort of sounds like, instead of meeting him halfway and trying to find common conversational ground that flows naturally between the two of you, you're giving him homework so that you can talk about yourself more often. I suggest you look into other strategies.

The fact that he responds fully and succinctly to your questions about him suggests that he is indeed listening to you, but that this isn't really the way he does repartee.

When you see him engaging in a naturally flowing conversation, whether it's with you or someone else, what does it look like? Where can you meet him halfway?
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind, if you ask him how he feels about something, it's quite possible that's the first time he's considered that question.

I disagree with the base assumption that he hasn't considered his feelings just because he doesn't talk about them explicitly. Some people just plain talk about their feelings qua feelings more often than others. "Still waters run deep" and all. This is especially true for guys (esp. military guys) even more so than for girls.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:29 AM on June 3, 2011


Some people like to talk about their feelings, especially bad ones, because it helps them process the feelings and the bad ones go away faster.

Some people hate talking about their feelings because it just prolongs their misery. They'd rather distract themselves with other things.

Sounds like you are the former and your SO is the latter. My husband and I have a similar dynamic, and I've learned that he'll tell me his feelings in his own time and not a moment before. Meanwhile, talk about other stuff, and if you have nothing to talk about, go see a movie and talk about that.
posted by desjardins at 11:15 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being demanding and definitive about what I want apparently works best with this guy.

Are you willing to handle him this way for the duration of your relationship? That is what you will have to do, and that's okay if you're up for it. I'm was too "nice" (not necessarily a positive character trait - I am easily walked on, wishy-washy, afraid to criticize people, and too accommodating sometimes) to boss my guy around like his mother did to him when he was growing up. The 3-4 hours long conversations we had every day grew tiresome because I don't like being the captain of the relation-ship. You might be just the right personality type for that kind of slightly awkward but very sweet, though. He speaks more loudly with his actions than his words, right?

Be assertive and tell him point blank what you want, in every situation, without expecting him to get creative and assess what would make you happy.

I've tried asking him to ask me questions too, and he says he can't think of any to ask. I've tried to find out if he's just uncomfortable asking me, and why that is, and he doesn't know

He is not as good at reading people as some (hence the slight bit of social awkwardness), and doesn't want to be wrong with his suggestions. When there's no concrete solution to a problem and no data to use to come up with an answer, does he get a bit flustered, or say "maybe yes, maybe no... maybe this answer, maybe that answer"? It's a fine dynamic in a relationship if you are both happy and fulfilled with your roles.

Don't expect to have deep introspective conversations about how you perceive the world and "feel" things, though... philosophical musings and religious ponderings. This type of guy probably isn't wired that way. Your answers are very telling. I hope this doesn't sound presumptuous, but it's my impression from what you said.

P.S. Is your man an engineer?
posted by sunnychef88 at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2011


I think most men use up their quota of useful conversation by 10am each day. By the time you are talking with him he may well be spent. I don't have the figures, but repeated studies show that women talk much more than men and it is a source of regular frustration.

My take on it is that most men would rather talk in order to decide some course of action whereas many women regard talking about feelings as an activity. Both are right, but they are expecting different things out of conversation. This is a broad generalization, but the man is thinking "when are we going to *do* something?" and the woman is thinking "we are *doing* it".
posted by dgran at 11:39 AM on June 3, 2011


This "most men" stuff is BS - I know LOTS of men (including engineers) who will. not. shut. up. (And I am a talker.) If this turns out to be some kind of dealbreaker for you, rest assured that you will be able to find a boyfriend who likes to talk your ear off. If you look at this as a gendered issue, you've condemned yourself to never finding a compatible person (assuming you're hetero). I don't know if your SO can change his stripes, but it's not because he's male.
posted by desjardins at 11:49 AM on June 3, 2011


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