My boyfriend can't be in my life how I would like?
October 24, 2011 10:13 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend can't express himself much at all, should I be concerned?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 7 months now, 8 if you count the month we just casually dated. I'm 19 he's 21 I met him on a dating site randomly and found out we lived down the street from each other and he had sat behind me in a class I took at the local community college. He pursued me strongly, told me he thought I was cute but never got the chance to talk to me in class. In the beginning, if I was slacking on responding to him he would message me again. He did that a few times or asked "did you forget about me?" Frankly, I had already had a few bad experiences with guys from the dating site so I was beginning to hesitate. He seemed different so when he asked me on a date I accepted. I couldn't tell from his pictures how he would really look because they weren't too good but when I met him I was instantly attracted to him.

He was very reserved though and talked very minimally the entire date and this continued for awhile. We had one date a week for a month and he was so scared to even kiss me goodbye or even hug me. I took this as a cue that he was very inexperienced. The entire time we've been dating he's told me I looked nice to my face once and that I was pretty maybe three times. I had to ask him to be more expressive once because he talked to me like a platonic friend and I wasn't feeling that boyfriendish energy from him. You know, that "you're so beautiful I'm so glad we're together" but it's not that I want him to sweet talk me or exaggerate and lie, it's just he's hardly doing anything in the way of that. I wanted to be able to do the same back but I don't find myself in a place to do that when he doesn't reciprocate...

He would text me and say "hello gorgeous" after he supposed that was what I wanted out of him. Really, I just wanted to feel like his girlfriend... He stopped doing that about two months ago. In fact, he also stopped holding my hand in public but the one thing he always did was poke me in some fashion. Or push me, like he did on one of our early dates like a boy would. We have slept together (prompted by me lol) and I by no means think he uses me.

There was a point about 3 months in when I had to tell him I felt like I was at arm's length and the way he was acting was ultimately preventing me from knowing him better and his response was that he was not an open person nor a verbal one. I wanted him to tell me about his life experiences, about his family, etc. To feel connected and valued by him and I was getting "How was your day?" "Class was boring today" or "I saw this movie and didn't like it very much, totally awful compared to the remake" and such.

Of course, you could probably guess what is next; he can't say he loves me. I waited and waited, hoped for awhile that he would pluck up the courage to tell me those three little words and the time wasn't coming so after much thought... I decided to ask him and sat him down to have the first face-to-face talk about "us" that we had ever had. I said I wondered if I was just around to ease his loneliness and wondered why we had been dating as long as we had and he had still not expressed any deeper feeling. I had given hints of my feelings so obvious, I didn't get why he wasn't trying to say he did. I was crying even though I tried not to. He said at first "I don't like to see you like this... I really care about you and enjoy your company....." and there was this long hesitation until he decided to say "I love you, I do love you." He tried for a few days to say it to me in person but it ended up being awkward and I said it once walking out the door and he replied very mumbly and strange. So I just stopped saying it... and so did he. He told me that night he'd only told one girl he loved them and he dated her for 3 months, the girl before me, and she basically cheated, slept with a good friend of his, and she told him she loved him first. He seems to hold some significance of her. He says she planned a vacation for them to the beach and that was his first time seeing the ocean and she told him she loved him but obviously she didn't. He told me it was awkward to be telling me he loved me the first time when I was upset with him. He also claims he was waiting for me to say it first so as not to appear "clingy"?

So that bothers me... makes me feel a bit unloved and unimportant. To be frank, he seems to have trouble expressing much of anything besides anger and happiness. I have previously posted talking about how he flunked his first year of college and now goes to community college to start over. During this time, he moved back home with his dad. His parents have never been married, never lived together even when he was a baby. He was raised by his father most of his life who was heavily involved in the air force. Consequently, there seems to be some sort of breakdown in their relationship that seems to be hurting my bf more than he lets me know but I know it's there. He had been kicked out by his dad once for a year to live with his mom and now it's happened again. My boyfriend worked a lot and went to school and eventually got sick of his job and ended up quitting. His gpa started at a 4.0 and went down to a 3.1 so his dad started to get mad. I was barely around but then I had my number blocked by him so I couldn't text him. He had a curfew of 10. I don't think forcing him to do those things helps him at all and my boyfriend has been studying more than ever at his mom's. He did find another job but the weird part is, the day he found out he got the job, he went over to see his dad and his dad kicked him out. Told him he couldn't even come over. It was over an argument about sorting laundry. It didn't seem right, it seemed abusive. I feel like something's been going on between them for years and personally, I believe this whole situation was perpetuated by his dad. My boyfriend told me he's been to counseling. He feels guilty but I wonder if maybe my bf just isn't the right fit for college and his dad pushed him into it.

Anyways, they told my bf to leave the house so they could let some company stay in his room and it was for a week... which turned into a month. They went on vacation without him and everything. It was the toughest month in our relationship. All he did was lay on the couch alone for days. I had been working 40 hour weeks so he ended up missing me for once... I was unblocked during that time and then when school came back around his phone is now set to stop operating at 9 and my bf devotes most of his time to reading and studying as opposed to video games or tv shows. He seems to be learning what he should be doing.

I couldn't go on seeing him once every week and a half and started to ask if I could come see him at his mom's so now we're averaging at about 2-3 times per week. I almost feel like the third time is too much for him it seems... I saw him two days in a row one week and then worked until 6 on the next day and wanted to go do something with him but he said he stayed up all night so he could go to bed early and have a normal sleep schedule. He had been sleeping until 2 in the afternoon and he had slept through one of his classes and recognized he was repeating the defeating patterns he had at the more expensive college that made him fail. Basically, I wish he would text me more... I don't get a "good morning" or "I was just thinking of you, hope you're having a good day" when we have busy schedules (especially mine; work right after school four days a week plus weekends) and I know it seems to him to be easier just to skip a day talking when he knows I'm working closing shift on my job with not much time to chat... I know he has a lot going on but please don't say DTMFA, I know I want him in my life and he is nowhere near close to being a jerk but he feels so out of reach sometimes. He is more eager to talk to his best friend than me most days and more excited to see him... which I'm sure he helps him blow off steam because his bff is in a similar situation but I wonder why he isn't so eager to be around me. He tells me he's just been studying a lot and I know his focus is mostly on that but I'm struggling trying not to take it personally. I struggle with depression and I believe he does as well. I want to encourage him to get help because this is an unhealthy cycle of life and his dad isn't helping he is harming him even more. I guess what bothers me is why he doesn't want to see me more than like once a week or why he chooses to be a bit sporadic on contacting me even though I know he's just home by himself. When I do see him, he is happy to see me, physically affectionate, cuddly, all that minus the verbalizing. I understand that could just be how he is... any thoughts? He probably just can't devote that much time to me right now and I should realize that but for some reason I keep dwelling. I do have anxiety that practically tortures me... I just get so scared if I let him figure his stuff out and stand back that he'll just disappear from my life. That would kill me... He's never given any indication he'd do it but my fears keep coming back in my mind. HELP! lol
posted by Chelsaroo650 to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can't change him. We can't change him. There is no special way to talk to him to make him a different person. If you're willing to live with it--and it seems like you are--then it will be completely up to him to change (or not).

I personally would not be able to handle dating someone who either needed so much parental involvement or allowed so much unnecessary parental interference, but again, it's not something you can change. Either he will or he won't.

I'm a bit at a loss about what you want from us here.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

IMO, I think this relationship is probably doomed, but I don't think you should break up. He's got shitty role models for relationships from his parents. He's young. He's inexperienced.

He might eventually going to be a good boyfriend for someone, but I have a feeling that you're just going to end up being 'a learning experience' for him.

You're young. You can afford to waste some time with a guy that's probably not going to be be 'the one'. If you're enjoying your time with him, enjoy it. But don't sacrifice too much of yourself trying to fix this guy, imo.
posted by empath at 10:26 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

I understand that could just be how he is.

You just answered your own question.

You've seen what it's like to be in a relationship with him. You seem to be hoping this isn't the real him and there's some other person underneath who might emerge someday. That's really unlikely. And you're not going to make it significantly more likely by asking him nicely one more time.

In everything you've written, I see almost nothing positive in your description of him except you find him physically attractive and he's affectionate (in a non-verbal way). Other than that, I'm not sure why it would be so terrible if this relationship didn't work out for you at the age of 19. Why would you want to foreclose other opportunities and stay with him when you know, from 8 months of first-hand experience, that he doesn't connect with you?

I'm not sure how the details about his family are relevant.
posted by John Cohen at 10:26 AM on October 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

He is extremely young and, as you surmised, inexperienced. You have two choices

1) Decide that you love him enough to be the one that teaches him how to love (everyone needs someone like that if they don't get it from their parents)

2) Decide that teaching him things he should have already learned is not your job, life is too short for that, etc - MOVE ON

Only you can make that decision. It is very difficult.
posted by spicynuts at 10:28 AM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am so sorry. You clearly adore him but right now you're just not compatible with each other. Perhaps some day you can have a wonderful relationship that satisfies you both, but not right now. If you prefer this relationship to seeking another that meets all of your needs, then that's fine. If not, then you'll need to move on, either by being open to other possibilities until they appear, drifting away or making a clean break.
posted by carmicha at 10:30 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

It sounds as though you want a kind of relationship that is different from the kind of relationship he wants. That doesn't mean that either of you is wrong, or that you need to teach him to be more like you, or that either of you has some underlying issue. It just means that you're different, and likely incompatible.

Maybe I'm sympathetic because I'm more like him. I would feel stifled if someone texted me multiple times a day just to say hi, or got upset if I didn't want to hang out three days in a row. I'd be panicked if someone told me they loved me after we'd only been dating a few months (yes, 7 months is a very short time to date, in my book) and expected me to say it back, much less feel it back. I just don't move that fast, and I just don't want that kind of relationship.

If you don't want to dump him, don't dump him. But don't pathologize the differences between his personality and yours. The wall of text about his family and school and his ex-girlfriend feels to me to be an attempt to say, "there must be something wrong with him, and if he fixes what's wrong with him, he'll act the way I think he should act." There's nothing wrong with him (at least, not anything that is the root cause of his personality and that can be changed to mold him into your ideal mate). If you want to be with him, you need to stop thinking of him as someone broken who needs to change. Anything else is not healthy or happy for either one of you.
posted by decathecting at 10:36 AM on October 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

Sounds like he's a person who instinctively withdraws in times of stress. This will never ever ever change, in my experience it's hardwired into the person. You, on the other hand, probably seek support from him and others when you've had a bad day, and you need to know he's on your side and that he cares for you, not just in action but in words. Not knowing this just creates more stress in your life.

It took me a long time to realize that withdrawing is just a different stress response and isn't personal, and I eventually made peace with it, but I wouldn't put forth the effort if I were 19 and knew what I know now. Seek someone more compatible.
posted by desjardins at 10:37 AM on October 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

If you don't like dating the person he is now, you shouldn't date him. You can't date the person someone will be when you find a way to "change" them, because there's a more-than-likely chance that the change will never happen.
posted by xingcat at 10:39 AM on October 24, 2011

"1) Decide that you love him enough to be the one that teaches him how to love (everyone needs someone like that if they don't get it from their parents)"

Please note that Hollywood has done us all great disservice by imbedding the myth that this is possible into our collective consciousness. If you continue in this relationship with this hope in mind you'll only end up a rube.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:46 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Remember this good answer? It isn't any less good now. That said...

You write that you have anxieties and struggle with depression and understand that should realize that he's just not able to be what you want, but for some reason you keep dwelling. "I do have anxiety that practically tortures me..." you say. And you're scared if you let him figure his stuff out and stand back that he'll just disappear from your life and you think it would kill you, though he's never given any indication he'd do it, but you fears keep coming back in you mind, and you want help - yet end with a lol?

Do you think he could be trying to keep a healthy distance from your instability because he has enough on his plate? That instead of your rescuing him, that he might feel you need help, and he doesn't want to be the one to do it?

I'll agree with others - you are young, both of you. And this is probably not the relationship that you will grow old and gray with. He is not a project, he's a person. You may be more independent than he is - but you are also needy in a way that he might not be able to cope with; and while you are probably lovely in a whole bunch of ways, you have stuff to work on too, and it's not about him.

I don't see why you are trying to rescue him when you might benefit more from asking "How can I find someone who can be in my life the way I'd like?" instead of trying to fix this one guy. Is he really the best that you can do? If you really think so, I'm sorry - as you'll keep hearing, nobody can help him but himself, and that's if he even agrees that he wants what you want. It doesn't sound like he does.
posted by peagood at 10:47 AM on October 24, 2011

As I started reading your story, my first instinct was to tell you to cut him some slack. A lot of people are very uncomfortable being complimented about their physical appearance in person. In fact, a lot of women (or in my experience, gay men) find men who consistently do that creepy and even insulting. It's a fine line, and for future reference with guys, you should keep that in mind and consider that a guy who is dating you finds you attractive because he keeps spending time with you. On this issue, people are usually not very complicated.

But you've made it clear what you want and he's obviously way on the other side of that fine line, and more importantly, way off the target you've clearly explained is what you want out of a relationship. You don't sound like you think your expectations are too much -- and there are guys out there who comfortable behaving this way in relationships (some, as I've said, even overshoot the target); his expectations of how one should behave are different. And though you are the more experienced partner, that doesn't necessarily mean that he's in the wrong -- just that, as others have already noted, you may be irreconcilably incompatible.

I wouldn't tell anyone to settle, but, and please don't find this patronizing, really wouldn't tell a 19 year old to do so. Fish, sea, etc. Part of dating -- even (relatively) long term relationships -- is finding out what you want, what you'll do for someone else, what you can compromise on, and what's a deal breaker. You've learned about your deal breakers, it seems. If I were you, I'd break the deal. Breaking up with someone you still love is one of the hardest things you can do, but sometimes it's the best thing for your future.

But since you've asked us not to tell you to dump him, then all you can do is decide this isn't a deal breaker, that you don't mind feeling that he's holding you at arm's length, isn't giving you what you want from your partner, and that all of your (super valid complaints and criticisms) aren't really that important, and become a different person who is okay with being in that kind of relationship. That's how a relationship works. If you choose to stay with someone who won't give you what you want, then you have to not want that thing. If that's enough for you, then there you go. But if it's not, then you know what you have to do. I think I've made it clear what my opinion is, but in all sincerity, either way, good luck.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:03 AM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Honestly, the way you describe his saying "I love you" sounds like the situation my ex put me in, where I had to either say I loved him or admit that I didn't and end the relationship. I cared deeply but wasnt' ready to call it love, yet cared enough to want to continue the relationship. I didn't lie, I just said it sooner than I wanted to... and ended up resenting him for trapping me into making the relationship more serious than I wanted it to be that soon.

And by "that soon" I mean that we had been together for about 6 months at that point.

Not everyone falls in love right away, some of us have been through the type of bad experience that make a person want to take their time and be sure of the words before they're said, because once they come into a relationship things change whether you're ready or not.

My current boyfriend told me this weekend that he's falling for me, but luckily he understands me well enough to know that I'm not going to say those words until I know I mean them, and he doesn't take it personally. Neither of us are looking for someone to marry and have kids with, so we're both content to enjoy the relationship as it progresses, and wait to see how far it goes without trying to force it in any specific direction.

It sounds like your boyfriend is dealing with *a lot* right now. Pushing him for more when you already know he's not comfortable is going to eventually cause damage to your relationship. Relax on the pressure a bit and just enjoy the time you get with him.
posted by myShanon at 11:04 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Well, I came on here to ask a question about a city.... but, this caught my eye, as I can empathize with your situation. It's a confusing one, a frustrating one, particularly if you are a person who has no problem/insecurity telling a significant other how you feel. )

The person you are dating is YOUNG. Most men in their early twenties are still boys, though they look like men. Many of them don't realize that relationships need to be proactive until about 30 it seems (though, of course, there are outliers... that I haven't met, yet). Also, many of them think they are mature because they "think" about things, or because they've had girlfriends before. However, being able to act, and shamelessly, is a truer measure of maturity.

SO, if you have talked to this person already about his inability to demonstrate affection, particularly verbally, you may want to consider WHY he has not changed. You can only have a conversation so many times... I think another conversation might be in order. (Also, frustrating, if you are the only one starting relationship-conversations.) This conversations should bluntly acknowledge 1) that you've talked about this already, 2) he needs to decide why he's in the relationship, 3) he needs to figure out for himself why he is incapable of expressing himself, 4) it is hurtful (have you told him that already?). To be honest, if you haven't gotten a bit rough with him yet, this might be the time. It kind of sounds like he needs a come-to-Jesus conversation.

Never stop showing your affection, though. I am aware that sometimes it gets kind of awkward because you do not feel like you are in an environment where your affection is welcomed, accepted, and reciprocated. Personally, I end up feeling kind of silly. But if you stop giving him your affection, and he cannot produce much affection, then the relationship ends up with nobody trying and an endless cycle of boredom and lack of enthusiasm. But.... do not mistake my comment as saying that you should "lead by example." That's for parents and children, not two adults.

Sorry dear, I know this is frustrating and, often, hurtful. Do what you have to do for yourself. He isn't going to do it for you. It's much harder to deal with a situation like this when struggling with depression/anxiety. Consider that if the relationship is worsening your anxiety, maybe it's not the one for you. Your mental health is more important than a man who can't remember to tell you he loves you.
posted by terezaakarenin at 11:10 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Please note that Hollywood has done us all great disservice by imbedding the myth that this is possible into our collective consciousness. If you continue in this relationship with this hope in mind you'll only end up a rube.

I kind of thought I was making that point subtly, but now I see the paranthetical probably negates what I was trying to get at.
posted by spicynuts at 11:13 AM on October 24, 2011

I'm wondering....were you neglected as a child? Maybe the kid of alcoholics? Were you taught early on that all you can expect from people are crumbs of affection? In the world of psychoanalysis, if you're taught early on that you don't deserve love, then you purposely seek relationships that frustrate you and don't fulfill you because you're repeating patterns from childhood.

If that rings true, ask yourself if you really love him or you love the feeling of not being loved.
posted by amodelcitizen at 11:14 AM on October 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

On the one hand you have a very mature writing style. On the other hand, you sound really really self-centered - not on purpose! - but there it is.


Do you have any idea how shitty his life feels from the inside? At a time when he should be self-sufficient and getting ready to graduate college, he has a cell phone that is monitored as if he were a 12 year old, he's been lied to, and he's been shown in no uncertain terms that (a) he's incapable and (b) he's rejected.

This person has A LOT to sort out. On his own. He doesn't have the emotional or intellectual capacity to deal with a girlfriend, or possibly any friends at all. This person is struggling, running on fumes, doing the absolute best that he can!

You sound impossibly selfish to want any attention or energy from him at all.


This myopic perspective from you was present in both of your questions. I'm not sure if I answered the last question, and if I did what I might have said back then.


The unvarnished truth here is that this person does not have ANYTHING to give you. Stop adding to his misery by continuing to ask. Please.

I agree you should move on and find someone who can participate fully in a relationship with you.


That is all.
posted by jbenben at 11:27 AM on October 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

It sounds like you need a lot of reassurance from him to feel secure and loved. And, since you asked a near-identical question last week (I clicked on peagood's link above and thought I was still in the same thread), it sounds like you need a lot of reassurance in general. I don't doubt that this is stressing you out something fierce.

When you need that much reassurance from someone, it's hard to get enough of it to feel completely at ease. It never feels like enough. And you can't force it from them: it feels inauthentic, and it wears them out.

It's easier to build yourself up to the point where you won't need that much reassurance. To the point where you can let people go, and if they wander off, it hurts but you move on. That takes work, too (and time, and possibly therapy), but it's still much easier to do than to try and squeeze all that validation from someone else. And it will make your relationships a lot healthier in the long run.

Your first priority is you. Before you worry about him, or what you want from him, figure out what you can do to make yourself feel better, healthier, more relaxed. He might not be in your life in a year, but you will be.

Neither of you is wrong or right in this. You'd both do well to meet somewhere in the middle, where he volunteers a little more affection and you rely a little less on receiving it, but that will take time. You might not get it right until the next relationship, or the one after that. One day you will get it right, though, and you will be surprised at how much easier it feels.

I won't tell you to DTMFA, but I do think this relationship is more trouble than it's worth.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:36 AM on October 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

Chelsaroo650, I am sorry you are still having troubles with your boyfriend, but honestly you just asked this same question on the 16th!

So if you have decided to stay with him and try to make it work, you really haven't given change much time yet.

You've also really muddied up this question up with WAY too much detail. It's still just this: "I feel neglected by my boyfriend because he doesn't give me all the attention I want."

Look, your boyfriend has some serious family issues, and you are astute enough to have figured that out. He's depressed and overwhelmed and he's not coping well. He is feeling so stressed about everything in his life that he has to vent to his best friend. And you know why?

Because you are desperate for him to give you constant validation in the form of compliments, etc., which he has shown you that he is not comfortable with expressing, that you are adding more stress to his life.

And YOU do THAT because you have no other interests or close friends in your life, so you are stuck in this sad, self-obsessed narrative.

The two of you are just feeding off of each other's problems. You seem to have mistaken drama for true love--I don't see how either of you can think this is working.

But you don't want to break up.

So your choices are these: either you keep getting depressed, expecting your boyfriend to be someone he isn't, or you get that validation you need from someone, or something, else in your life (which is why everyone suggested that you get some hobbies and make some more friends the first time you asked this).

But there is such desperation in your question that I am worried about both of you spiraling into depression, repeating this cycle over and over and making each other miserable in the process.

So here's an even better idea: you and your boyfriend should BOTH be going to therapy or counseling--he can see if his college can help with this--so you can find out why you keep doing this to yourselves.

Please, please do this.

Because that would honestly be more helpful than writing the same question here every week.
posted by misha at 11:47 AM on October 24, 2011 [12 favorites]

This guy is still a kid. You both are so very young, and you're not aware of it at all. One quality that remains true for all young people is that they're selfish. I think both of you are selfish, and that's ok for where you are in your life.

Having said that, I will also say that it would be better for both of you if you broke up. I know this isn't what you want to hear, and he probably needs support of some kind, but relationship support isn't what he needs. You need someone who can give you their full attention - and wants to. Your boyfriend might not want to, and even if he did, he doesn't have anything left of himself to give in a relationship.

Take this as a learning experience and move on. If you can pull off the post-break-up friendship later on, that might help him somewhat. I know you care about him, and want the best for him. This might be the way to make that happen.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 11:50 AM on October 24, 2011

I've dated guys who were like yours in various ways. Generally you can work on it a bit with them, but you're not going to see a complete change into what you want from them. Far from it. I hope you can accept that, because that's how he is.

But here are some things that have helped me get through to them:
1. Regarding compliments - ask him if he ever thinks to himself "wow she looks beautiful today". Tell him when he thinks that, he should say it to you, not just think it to himself, because you like knowing that he's thinking that.
2. Be encouraging. When he does something you like, tell him how good it makes you feel. (I get spooned more now!)
3. Don't turn the discussion into how he's failing at being a boyfriend, he will pull away more.
4. If you want to hold his hand or arm, take it. If you want him to kiss you on the neck, ask for it. Make it fun:)
5. He doesn't open up to you easily in person on his own? Practice asking each other questions. My bf has to ask me a question every day (I ask him for it) and it's been pretty good for getting us comfortable talking to each other about anything.

He's still not replying to my texts often, or showering me with declarations of love and affection as much as I'd like, but I pay attention to how he does show his love, and I let him know I see that. It's encouraging to him:)
posted by lizbunny at 11:51 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

please don't say DTMFA, I know I want him in my life

So build a realistic relationship based on the love you have for each other. This may not end up being the long-term romantic relationship that you had been counting on, but that's perfectly fine. Better to make real use of what you actually have than ruin it (or yourself) by forcing conformity with specific needs/wants that it can't satisfy.
posted by hermitosis at 12:09 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I wondered if I was just around to ease his loneliness and wondered why we had been dating as long as we had

I think you're on to something here. I'd even take it a step further and wonder if the reason you don't want anyone to tell you to DTMFA is because neither of you wants to be alone. The reality is that it's much better to be alone than it is to be with a partner who is not meeting your needs. You clearly have feelings for him, but you are not going to change him. I'm sorry.
posted by Mrs.Spiffy at 12:11 PM on October 24, 2011

This is basically the exact same question you asked last week, so those answers are all going to be equally applicable.

From reading your questions, my overwhelming sense is that you are in love with the idea of having a boyfriend, rather than in love with this particular man. No matter how disappointed he makes you, you will try anything to "fix" him, because you desperately, overwhelmingly want to be in a relationship, ANY relationship.

This is a recipe for deep unhappiness on both your parts. You are 19 and are far too young to be trying to force a square peg into a round hole in this way.

Move on. You'll both be happier in the long run.
posted by modernnomad at 12:24 PM on October 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

Oops! Missed this in your question:

" I know he has a lot going on but please don't say DTMFA"

Ok. Got it.

Here is the thing. Two things, really....

- The only relationship you can have with him is one where you 300% back off and are simply happy if he contacts you or sees you at all. No pressure. No guilt.

Can you give him this gift? Because like I said, he's got nothing in reserve right now. Just being social one too many days in a row is too much for this guy! Give him the gift of being pleasant and happy with no no no pressure.

- If he can't do well in school and work, he isn't "together" enough to be dating anyone right now.

Give him space to sort himself out. See my first point, above

See the bigger picture, not your little corner of the picture.

(Normally I counsel against sublimating your own needs for someone else's benefit, but hell, you seem pretty excited to throw your emotional well-being under a bus... So have at it. Experience is the best teacher. You'll both be fine, either way.)
posted by jbenben at 12:35 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're quite young, but plenty old enough for this advice: people change as they age, and so he might begin to share more -- or you to desire sharing less -- but at your age, you should be looking for someone who is the person you want now, and he should be doing the same. You can't provoke that change in him -- assuming it is possible that he will change eventually -- beyond expressing your own feelings in the matter and deciding for yourself whether you're happy to wait for something that may or may not come.
posted by davejay at 12:46 PM on October 24, 2011

I just read your response to another question here, where you are giving them the advice that people are giving you here. That tells me you are not seeing something in this relationship that everyone responding to you sees. That might be the place to start figuring things out.
posted by Vaike at 12:51 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

The reality is that it's much better to be alone than it is to be with a partner who is not meeting your needs.

Also, this advice from above is true, but I want to expand on it a bit, as it can seem otherwise at times.

When you are alone, and you are a complete person, a whole, self-sufficient person, then being alone is much, much better than being with a partner who is not meeting your needs.

However, when you are alone, and you are an incomplete person -- a person who doesn't know what they want or need, who doesn't have hobbies and interests and friends, who feels as if their life has no direction, who doesn't have a core "them" that they're in touch with -- then being alone sucks, and so being with anyone, even a partner who meets their needs, seems like an improvement.

And it is! For a while. But then as you realize you're better off without them logically, you take steps in that direction, and the suckiness of being alone as an incomplete person starts coming up again...and you think (incorrectly) that this suckiness is you being worse off without the person. But you are not! It is a red herring, as that suckiness has nothing to do with them. Fundamentally, they were just distracting you from your own suckiness.

So the true path of growth (and way to better relationships, and just a better life in general) is to accept the suckiness in the short term, get through it, then start changing those things about your own life that you don't like. Become a whole and complete person, on your own, and on your own terms. This is a life's journey, and you'll do well to select partners who exist well in that life you're carving out, rather than partners who distract you from living the life you need to life.

After all, that's what relationship drama is: a distraction. So the advice above is effectively saying that you need to stop using an incompatible boyfriend to distract yourself from your real problems. Move away from him, let it hurt, let it sting, then become a better person on your own. Then you'll be much better off, both out of that relationship and in the better relationships that are on the horizon for you.
posted by davejay at 12:53 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

small correction: "...being with anyone, even a partner who doesn't meet their needs..."
posted by davejay at 12:54 PM on October 24, 2011

His life is crap and you're entirely focused on what you want and how you can't get it from him. This guy has nothing left to give and yet you keep trying to wring tiny final drips of satisfaction out of him.

I feel badly for both you you. Him because his life totally sucks, he's barely holding it together, and you're on a preconceived time-line and trying to force some sort of "normal" relationship out of him.

I feel badly for you because I do think you love him, and think about him a lot, but you're not willing to face the truth - he is not able to give you the relationship you want.

You don't want to be told to dump him. Um, okay. Have you considered seeing him 1-2x per week and also dating other people? This would give you a chance to still see him, but also have more fun going out and socializing.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:59 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your mileage may vary, but this is exactly how I acted with the girls I dated until I came out of the closet.
posted by hermitosis at 1:06 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

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