Is my partner of 6 months checking out of the relationship? Or lazy?
March 28, 2015 7:27 PM   Subscribe

We're both in our mid-thirties. He still wants to hang out at least 3 nights a week. I always sleep over since his place has privacy and he pays for more things to balance out the driving. He used to be more enthusiastic about planning dates. We'd try new places to eat at and on our last date, we went dancing. The rest of the week, we still grabbed a quick meal and talked. For weeks now, he has only wanted to order takeout and watch movies. We only started the movies/takeout during a time that he had a cold for 2 weeks and the weather was subzero. It was supposed to be temporary. Now it's all the time, whether it's out of laziness or habit, or whatever. He'll go out if I ask, but it seems like he's only doing it for me.

He still texts me frequently, asks about my day, shares his, compliments me, etc. But occasionally, he randomly ignores a text or disappears mid-convo, only to be seen on group chat (for a gps based phone game we play). He never used to do that.

We still make eachother laugh and horse around but the pillow talks have stopped because he pulls out his phone. He even does this during movies sometimes. He tells me what he's doing(looking at shirts, going on group chat) I'm not sure how to bring it up. I want him to WANT to talk to me. He'll talk if I initiate conversations, but he doesn't initiate them himself like he used to. He seems to prefer texting. If I cuddle with him, he puts his phone away immediately at least.

Also, he never seemed interested in learning more about me other than things like music/movies/what I like in bed. He never seems curious about my life goals, dreams or anything deep. I talked about planning a day trip. He said he'd love that. But he wouldn't brainstorm with me, just said,"Everything you suggested sounds great, I have no preferences." Meh, right?

He does want to go out after we wake up on Sat or Sun. He will spend most of the day with me. But we missed last weekend for the first time in months, partly because I was going to a coffee festival. He passed on it even though he loves coffee and knew how excited I was to go. And this weekend, he said he can't see me until Sunday night because he has a lot of casenotes to catch up on and some errands. He even turned down my suggestion to go for a run and that takes what, an hour? He knows I'll be out of town next weekend. We haven't seen each other since Tuesday. On Thursday he tried to see me last min (at midnight ) but I told him I had just had beers with roommates and that I wish he had invited me earlier. He did say,"I do enjoy you on weekends! So much! Just hadn't been convenient, it's not you at all. If I didn't have to get this done by Mon, I would love to waste the morning away cuddling with you" I said in surprise,"Last weekend too? I thought it was just me who couldn't hang" He said,"So you need to spend every weekend with me? Not sure what you're asking for." I said,"No reason, I had other plans last weekend after all."

It seems strange to me. He's writing casenotes all weekend long? Really? And saying weekends with me haven't been "convenient"? Is this the beginning of the end, or what?
posted by lohachata to Human Relations (35 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is now your fourth question about this guy! It doesn't seem like previous advice has been helpful, and it doesn't seem like he's really changed in ways that would be helpful to you remaining in a relationship with him. I'd say the beginning of the end started a while back, and you should finish it by breaking up with him.
posted by rtha at 7:35 PM on March 28, 2015 [33 favorites]

You have now asked four questions about your boyfriend's attachment pattern. His distancing behaviors are driving you nuts. I don't blame you for being anxious and questioning the relationship. He seems avoidant, and not a good match for you. I don't think you're happy in the relationship because he doesn't meet your needs. I think it's time for you to cut your losses. This is still a new relationship. You guys should be in the honeymoon period. I think you have given this plenty of time and it's time to let him go and deal with his issues. It sounds like he has a lot.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:35 PM on March 28, 2015 [12 favorites]

Your relationship is too new to be feeling this bad about him. If it's not fun in the beginning, there's no chance of fun in the harder times. I think it may be time to let things go.
posted by xingcat at 7:38 PM on March 28, 2015 [9 favorites]

Cut your losses. He is not only boring the crap out of you, but waving red flags.

He's being defensive and hyperbolic with his,"You need to spend every weekend with me?" Seems like he's one of those guys who always thinks women are trying to steal their autonomy instead of seeing it as wanting to spend time having fun. And those guys aren't really real relationship material because they equate intimacy with women as threats to their independence. Then they make you feel bad for having pretty normal human needs and they train you to never ask for anything and walk on eggshells around them, and be grateful for the crumbs they throw at you. He's not going to let this relationship grow in a healthy way.

Don't let him manipulate you into one of those girlfriends. Trust me.

Also, he's boring you and not bringing many interesting experiences to your life. He's boring as hell.
posted by discopolo at 7:42 PM on March 28, 2015 [54 favorites]

The beginning of the end was two months in, if not earlier. It should be clear by now that he's not going to give you the relationship you want. If this were your only question about this guy, my answer would be different, but this is part of a pattern that hasn't gotten better.

Either stay in this relationship and be constantly dissatisfied and second-guessing things, or leave and give yourself the chance to be happy and secure without him. There is no third option.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:43 PM on March 28, 2015 [7 favorites]

I think you already know what to do. There's nothing good about this relationship. Time to move on and find someone who can't WAIT to see you every weekend.
posted by Guinevere at 7:49 PM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

You two have different relationship needs. It's not a case of either of you being right or wrong or good or bad. He likes to be in one kind of relationship, you like to be in another kind. You are mismatched. This will never work. Call it off.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:50 PM on March 28, 2015 [7 favorites]

Btw, these behaviors and the way he challenged your asking a pretty innocent question are likely why he's still single at 38.
posted by discopolo at 7:50 PM on March 28, 2015 [21 favorites]

Best answer: i think it might be helpful for you to read back through your questions. every time you talk like there was a pattern of closeness that has been suddenly interrupted - except, if anything has been a pattern, it's been him not giving you as much time/attention as you want. it comes off like you're having one relationship in your head and one in real life, except when you reflect on your issues you draw from the one in your head - the one where he hasn't been disappointing you the entire time.
posted by nadawi at 8:05 PM on March 28, 2015 [26 favorites]

You've been telling us that he seemed checked out since December so I think it's fair to say that yes he is checked out and it's not temporary.
posted by bleep at 8:09 PM on March 28, 2015 [6 favorites]

It's easy to play the blame game, but honestly neither of you seems very happy. Sometimes two people are incompatible even if they enjoy each other - he can't give you what you need and you can't give him what he needs. Things don't need to be terrible to walk away - sometimes it just isn't right.
posted by Aranquis at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also, he never seemed interested in learning more about me other than things like music/movies/what I like in bed. He never seems curious about my life goals, dreams or anything deep.

I haven't read your other Asks about this guy, but I think this is pretty telling. If you have been together for 6 months, spend a lot of time together on a regular basis, and he doesn't seem like he's interested in getting to actually know you, this relationship is probably not worth the effort.

It sounds like you're conveniently filling the "girlfriend" role in his life. For lack of more graceful phrasing, are you okay with just being some else's "warm body"? It sounds like you wish you had a more emotionally intimate relationship with him, but from what you've wrote, you're not going to get it. He plays with his phone all the time, doesn't really seem that interested in who you are on a personal level, and doesn't prioritize seeing you as much as you do him. From what you're saying, it sounds like he's "phoning in" your relationship.

In any case, you don't seem happy with this relationship -- it sounds like it's been a lot of anxiety with little reward. You can either keep wondering why he's doing what he's doing or if he's ever going to give you what you need, or you can just be done with this situation. Wishful thinking is a powerful thing, but from what you've just wrote (and from the fact that you've asked four different questions about him already) you're not going to have the relationship you want with this person.

You need to do what you have to to make yourself happy.
posted by sevenofspades at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

I can't even read this to discern whether the issue is more likely to be an anxiety issue on your part (I remember some of your past questions were worrying that you hadn't heard back from him in 2 days, early on) or a resistance to intimacy on his part. Your relationship styles are not compatible.

But occasionally, he randomly ignores a text or disappears mid-convo, only to be seen on group chat (for a gps based phone game we play). He never used to do that.

He totally did. I remember you mentioning group chat in a previous question.
posted by salvia at 8:28 PM on March 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm seriously wondering if my recent break up in August and the months leading up to it have caused me to go insane. I mean look at these posts. I don't know if I mentioned it previously, but I was in a 10 year relationship that turned abusive during the 9th year. It's almost as if I'm trying to repeat the last year of that relationship with this guy. It's time to suck it up and pay the 20 bucks/session for a therapist. I'm looking up my insurance's listings as I speak. And uh...I say this in jest, but maybe the mods should consider banning me if I continue posting about this guy.
posted by lohachata at 8:40 PM on March 28, 2015 [33 favorites]

Look, there's no magic answer for you here.

You're going to keep posting what is basically the same question- "this guy I'm dating is sometimes weird and distant with me and keeps sending me mixed messages, how does he really feel about me?" -about once a month as long as you're with him. Each time, MeFi will tell you we don't really know the guy and can't read his mind but you're clearly unhappy. And you'll end up staying with him, hoping he'll change, until you come back to ask the next question.

I'm going to tell you how this guy feels about you: sort of okay. He probably doesn't hate you. He's probably not evil. Maybe he'll change and get a little bit better sometimes. But is he crazy about you? Fuck no, he's not. So just decide if you deserve that, can find it, and want to start looking for it now. Instead of trying to spin straw into gold.
posted by quincunx at 8:46 PM on March 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

It sounds like your boyfriend might have an avoidant attachment style, and you may have an anxious one because his attachment style is triggering your own anxiety. I dated a guy like this--the closer we became, the more he pulled away. Reading the book Attached and understanding my own needs in my attachment style with an excellent therapist made a huge difference for me in identifying the pattern.
posted by so much modern time at 8:48 PM on March 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hey, if it took this fourth question to get you to realize that this pattern isn't working for you, and it's the push you need to go discuss this with a therapist, then I think this was totally worth it!

The thing is, it takes time to get over a relationship, especially one that lasted a decade, even more so when that relationship was abusive.

It seems like this current relationship started only a few short months after your other one ended, so my recommendation would be to cut ties with this guy because it is clearly not working for all the reasons cited above, and then I think you should spend some time working on yourself. Go to therapy, hang out with friends, cultivate your own interests, and get on more even ground, and then you'll be in much better shape to go out and find a relationship that makes your life better, not worse.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:49 PM on March 28, 2015 [16 favorites]

Okay, also, I'm going to do a little armchair psychoanalyzing for a moment, because looking back over your earlier questions, I wonder if you feel like you need a reason to break up with someone other than, "They're just not meeting my needs." Because even though ostensibly your other questions are about whether he's just not that into you, the subtext (or even just the text) makes it seem like he's simply not showing up to the relationship in a way that is fulfilling to you. Maybe he isn't that into you/this relationship, or maybe this is just how he is in relationships even when he's fully invested in them. Either way, it's clearly not enough for you, and it wouldn't be enough for me either.

Alternatively, or maybe even additionally, I wonder if there is some element of, your last relationship ended up being really terrible, so even though from the outside we can see this relationship is totally not working, it's harder for you to see it because you're like, "Well, he's better than the last guy!"

Either way, I do think you'll benefit a lot from finding a therapist who will help you work through this, and having the insight to see that there are some patterns here that you need to resolve is a great insight to start with. Good luck!
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:57 PM on March 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was in a similar situation about a month ago (down to length of time, ages of people involved and repetitive issues) and one day I just woke up and knew that I needed to leave and I cried all day and braced myself and when I finally left it was nowhere near as scary as I thought it'd be. YOU'LL BE FINE. It's only been a month and while there is still healing to do, I already look back and marvel at how I lost myself for a while there. It won't take you long to be the same way!
posted by nvly at 9:41 PM on March 28, 2015 [6 favorites]

Perhaps you're the one who is really unavailable?

I think therapy sounds like a great idea. It sounds like you don't have good communication skills, i.e. you don't know how to ask for things, you don't talk about your feelings and you fear confrontation.

Also, nobody is there to see what your relationship is really like, but your post reads like a laundry list of problems. You are keeping score on your partner. You are catastrophizing. Your keen insight conceals the fact that you sound utterly dominated by your partners relatively benign, mid-30's behavior. Taking peoples emotional temperature, or trying to decipher every blowing wind of a relationship looking for hidden meaning, are textbook symptoms of codependency.

This is a life-long learning experience for some of us. Self-help, self-love, self-care makes for better relationships.
posted by phaedon at 9:43 PM on March 28, 2015 [6 favorites]

Based on your question history, I hate to say it, but this guy doesn't seem that into you, or he's just a selfish jerk. Neither is a good situation for you. It sounds like this guy is willing to take the companionship when he wants it, but your needs don't really matter to him. I suspect maybe they don't matter because this isn't a serious thing for him with a future. I would tell him you don't feel like things are working out because you're looking for something with long-term/marriage potential and you'd rather not waste your time.

In response to a previous comment, I just want to let you know that your expectations for what you'd like out of a relationship are perfectly reasonable and it definitely does not sound like you're catastrophizing this guy/relationship to me. It simply isn't working, and maybe the real problem is you don't realize that you deserve to be with someone who seems genuinely interested in you as a person, not you as a companion when it's convenient.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:55 PM on March 28, 2015 [6 favorites]

From the comments, if you're even still reading....

"Look, if this were your only question about this guy, my answer would be different, but..."

My answer is that a disinterest in you is something that crops up in successful relationships almost never, or maybe after 10 years or so. At 6 months? DTMFA.

"Look, there's no magic answer for you here."


Very seriously, you need to internalize that people who treat you badly are not showing you love or friendship - walk away quickly without malice, guilt, or shame. Use the "social contract" that everything has to be mutually fulfilling to be Good. You don't get into territory where you wave off so much icky behavior until years down the road with someone and True Trust is developed. Before that, it's OK to only spend time, effort, and emotion on folks and things that give back positive vibes to you.

What you describe is an inability to discern what's Good For You from What's Bad For You.

ProTip: if it makes you feel badly more than once in short order, Run From It.

It never gets better in new relationships of any sort. Therapy is good idea for you, I guarantee this is not the only area of your life where this is happening. It is a process to disentangle yourself from this type of dynamic. START TODAY.

Best to you! It's an amazing journey and you'll be so so much better off soon enough! Don't wait!!
posted by jbenben at 12:58 AM on March 29, 2015 [9 favorites]

"You want to spend every weekend with me?!"
"With that attitude, uh, not anymore, no. See ya."
posted by Jubey at 2:01 AM on March 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm worried about your update. As someone who's been there, please, please don't take on therapy to fix the relationship. This is the wrong partner for you. Don't try to fix yourself for him: he's just some dude.

You can only find someone who's great for you after you get out of this relationship. It can't transform. Not this guy.
posted by lokta at 2:56 AM on March 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Therapy to fix this relationship = no
Therapy to figure out how not to get into bad patterns and repeat them, and to unpack the trauma from your abusive relationship = yes! And it's really great that you can see that now. Talking it out always helps!
posted by bleep at 2:58 AM on March 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

More from me...

When I was in your situation a month ago, it was almost like I couldn't fathom breaking it off. I don't know what it was, but people seemed to so callously be able to tell me I deserved better or I needed to DTMFA. But it felt IMPOSSIBLE. Like it wasn't even an option. I totally totally know what it feels like to get all these answers saying *what* you need to do but they all seem to miss the point or something. I read every possible ask.mefi on "when to break up" "how do you know to break up" etc. and all of captain awkward and baggage reclaim and it still didn't make sense. Like there was something in my brain/heart blocking me from seeing what was so obvious to everyone else. And it was like these people couldn't possibly understand.

I really believe when you know, you know. So one day it hit me that it was time. And once I decided, everything just fell into place. Don't get me wrong, it was still horrific and I cried so much. But once I did it it surprised me how easy/doable it was. And how my world didn't fall apart. And day by day I think less and less of him and more and more of myself. Which I lost because I was so busy trying to figure him out all the time. And it didn't take long for the spell to wear off and I could see what everyone else could see.

So long story short. You just have to wait for that moment when you know. You WILL get that clarity. and then just trust me that there is only good things after that. even if you cannot see/feel/understand that right now.
posted by nvly at 3:12 AM on March 29, 2015 [9 favorites]

Shades of an old relationship of mine, although yours sounds more interesting than mine was. Similar pattern: I always went to his place and he didn't take much of an interest in me other than SHINY PRETTY NEW BABE. There was an emotional connection which I could see in his eyes sometimes but his actions didn't manifest that at all. Ultimately it was demoralizing.

Short story: I ended it after a few months, got sick of trundling over to his place all the time and simply being bored/feeling like I was Pluto orbiting the glorious Sun. It hurt but I'm glad I cut bait early.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:02 AM on March 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Some of you misunderstood. I'm NOT going to therapy to fix the relationship. Nope! I meant for me.
posted by lohachata at 6:26 AM on March 29, 2015 [19 favorites]

Apologies! Best of luck, you'll be wonderful.
posted by lokta at 6:34 AM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Now that I've read your updates about the fact that you were in an abusive relationship, it sounds like maybe you're not ready to date just yet. It takes a long time to recover, and it's very triggering to date before you are ready.

I would imagine that if your ex only seemed abusive during the last year, you may feel extremely betrayed and like you are living in a mindfuck of a universe where you can't trust anyone. Therapy will definitely help with this. Let me know if you are interested in other resources such as books and online support groups.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 6:52 AM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

you sound utterly dominated by your partners relatively benign, mid-30's behavior. Taking peoples emotional temperature, or trying to decipher every blowing wind of a relationship looking for hidden meaning, are textbook symptoms of codependency.

Worth repeating.
posted by salvia at 8:44 AM on March 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just FYI it doesn't sound like he's necessarily less committed to you or this relationship, especially since the last status update he gave you less than two weeks ago was that he saw you two as being in a relationship. In fact you may finally be experiencing what it's really like to be in a long term relationship with him. It may be he doesn't necessarily enjoy all the things he was doing in order to get you involved on the relationship. The point is it doesn't matter how he feels about the relationship if you're not actually happy. I would voice your concerns not in terms of how he feels about you but rather in terms of what you need in a relationship. Because honestly it's nice and all when people always want to talk to you but after years in a healthy relationship there are going to be times when you don't really want to talk with your partner in that moment but do it anyway because that's what they need. So if he's not the sort of person who can give you what you need when you need it then you should break up with them, for that reason.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:50 AM on March 29, 2015

Hey, I did want to add: don't get into the habit of blaming yourself or thinking you're clingy or your discomfort is entirely your fault because his approach to the relationship triggers your anxiety. Respect yourself by listening to your gut, by noticing your discomfort. Don't let easy promises and having him say what you want to hear let you fall into not believing yourself or pathologizing yourself. You're not crazy or overanxious or damaged or anything. You're learning to listen to yourself.

And i tend to worry about women who try to chalk up anxious reactions to boyfriends' neglect as being their own fault. Unhealthy guys who have negotiated their way through the world by being subtly manipulative often hold the threat of calling their girlfriends clingy and crazy over their heads as a way to dismiss their neglect and lack of participation in a relationship while still enjoying the benefits of all your emotional labor. This simultaneously makes you vulnerable to their gaslighting and then you find yourself rationalizing their bad behavior all on your own.

I hope your therapist helps you to believe in your gut and yourself, and help you remember that your needs and comfort are not negotiable, that you're just going to have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the guy it works with. And when you find him, he won't cause you anxiety and you'll feel secure without any question.

It just takes being able to listen to yourself and chucking relationships that aren't a good fit sooner rather than later. You do it enough times and you'll see that you get to be the decider and at the helm of your life---and it feels really good.
posted by discopolo at 1:09 PM on March 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think it's great you're going to check out a therapist to deal with some of your feelings around this and your previous relationship. And if this guy isn't making you happy, of course you should end it!

I will say that I feel like your post describes my (overall very happy) relationship in a lot of ways -- it has been a ROUGH winter where we are, and we've found it hard to break the pattern of "Being outside is gross, let's hibernate in the apartment indefinitely." Certainly we're not talking ALL the time when we're together, and frequently hang out in the same space doing our own thing on phones/computers/books/etc. And, while spending time together is great, we definitely don't feel the need to spend every single weekend day together -- of course life is going to get in the way sometimes, be it errands, work, or other obligations. If the pattern you guys are in feels not-awesome to you, then I think it's absolutely your right to break things off. But I will just say that not being 100% engaged in every moment with the other person is not NECESSARILY a sign of being checked out/not interested in the relationship/ could also just be him doing his thing sometimes and doing things with you other times, which I think is not a bad thing as a general thing.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:54 PM on March 29, 2015

Your questions about this guy follow a familiar pattern I see in AskMe relationship questions - long questions, full of details, all about the other person.

"They did this, and they said that, and they didn't do this other thing, and they went to the place and then they said this one thing. So MeFi, what does it all mean!!????"

And that is always the wrong question. All this damn tea-leaf reading is a waste of time. The correct question is "What do YOU want?"

How do YOU want to be treated? What is the model of a relationship that YOU would find fulfilling? What are your needs and are they being met?

It's okay for you to have needs! It's okay for you to want a relationship to be emotionally fulfilling to you! I personally would guess that right now you need to not be in a relationship that triggers so much insecurity for you, but that's just my opinion.

In any case, please spend less time charting this man's every thought and action, and spend much more time on determining what you want and need from your life.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:25 PM on March 29, 2015 [9 favorites]

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