I need some wind in my sails, but is this a reasonable expectation?
July 21, 2017 7:04 AM   Subscribe

I realised that my partner does nothing for my ego. Which leads to the conclusion that I need a partner to do something for my ego. So. Is this a relationship problem or my problem?

I (hetero male mid 30s) have been trying to put my finger on some vague misgivings about my relationship to my girlfriend (same age). For months, there’s been a nagging sense of demotivation and disinterest about the relationship, and I think I’ve finally understood it.

What I eventually saw was that every prior relationship I’ve had, and I’ve had a good number, had this mutual ego-boosting dynamic that my present relationship is lacking. I’ve only now consciously recognised this dynamic, and it’s only now that I realise that I expect it and struggle without it.

I’m deeply passionate about my work and derive a sense of identity from it. On top of that, I read widely and am intellectually and culturally omnivorous. This is also a fair description of all my previous partners. Those relationships were all marked by a thrilling feeling of “I know you think I’m awesome, and you know that I think you’re awesome.” We were always in different academic/professional fields, and were always sufficiently fascinated by the other that we would enthusiastically wade into the other’s intellectual life as much as was reasonable, so we could debrief, discuss, share victories and frustrations, and generally soak up a little of the other’s world. It’s only now that I realise how much this dynamic put wind in my sails and made me feel loved.

I approached the relationship with the present partner like I’ve approached my previous ones. She is also an intellectually and culturally active person in a profession that consumes her, which is far from mine but I find fascinating. So as I fell in love, I enthusiastically dove into her hobbies and her professional interests, and she adored me for this, and said so. She will talk extensively about these things, and I feel motivated to be an engaged and active audience, and to learn and see the world through her eyes. So I am never bored with her.

However, we are only ever on her turf. She does not reciprocate - she says she finds my pursuits and interests to be outside of her world and not particularly interesting to her. I’ve told her that this makes me sad and a little resentful, and she does say that she regrets that she can’t be an audience or sounding board for me, and every once in a while says that she would like to try, but is obviously only slightly motivated, by guilt. The few times she’s tried to humor me, I really felt like I was torturing an unwilling student, despite all efforts to make what I was saying relatable - and I’m good at making complex topics engaging to lay audiences, I enjoy it! But after quite a few difficult and unpleasant attempts, I’ve simply given up, and she hasn’t noticed that months have gone by without topics from “my world” coming up.

The end result of all this is that I feel bottled up and neglected. I want to share my mental life with my partner, but I can’t. I don’t get the feeling that she’s ever impressed by me or proud of me, at least along those dimensions where my own pride in myself lies. And outside of those, I honestly don’t know if she is impressed or proud of me at all - I do know that she loves me but somehow that seems incomplete or unsatisfying. I’m conflicted. On the one hand, this seems like incompatibility. On the other, I ask myself if there’s a compromise to be found, but how does one overcome “I am simply uninterested?” And finally, I ask myself if there’s something unhealthy in wanting my partner to be proud of me or impressed by me. I do feel that she loves me, shouldn’t that be enough? Is my problem with my partner, or have I stumbled onto a weakness in my own psyche that I should work on? Because outside of this, the relationship does have a lot going for it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Your partner should be your biggest fan. This does not sound like a good dynamic. Even if the stuff you like legit does bore her, people in a mutually giving relationship should respect and enjoy each other's enthusiasm for the things their partner cares about.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:19 AM on July 21, 2017 [22 favorites]

It’s only now that I realize how much this dynamic put wind in my sails and made me feel loved.
She does not reciprocate...
The end result of all this is that I feel bottled up and neglected.

Well, dere's your problem right dere.

She can try and try and try, but she's just phoning it in, which isn't good for either of you.
It's too much work for her, and it's too much work for you.
This isn't anyone's "fault", you're just poorly matched.

I truly believe that you should find someone who supplies this dynamic enthusiastically and loves the heck out of you and is your biggest cheerleader.

Time to move on, my friend.
Time to move on.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 7:22 AM on July 21, 2017 [10 favorites]

I think it's an incompatibility. You need her to be interested in your things and she's not. She knows what you need and isn't providing it, because she doesn't feel like it (and is selfish) or because she just really isn't interested (and you guys aren't a good fit). Either way, it sounds like you know what you need in a partnership, and you've talked to her about it and nothing changed. I think this isn't the relationship for you.

I'm sorry. That really sucks.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:23 AM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

1. I do think it's an incompatibility.
2. She's tried to compromise but found herself unable.
3. There's nothing wrong with wanting what you describe.

It's a reasonable expectation to want your life partner to be interested in listening to you talk about the things that are most important to you. Note I didn't say she should herself be interested in the things that are most important to you - I said she should be interested in listening to you talk about them, because it matters to you. Not being able to talk about the things that matter most to you with your life partner - that just seems like a bad match to me.

My partner is very passionate about a certain topic which doesn't naturally interest me. It will never naturally interest me. But it makes up a big part of who he is, and listening to him talk about something he really loves...well, I enjoy it, and I learn a few things, and he feels like I value his passions (which I do). I appreciate his interests even if they're not mine. I don't think your partner feels the same. I'm sorry.
posted by yawper at 7:24 AM on July 21, 2017 [7 favorites]

My wife doesn't really understand or care about my professional pursuits (community development and economics) or a number of my personal ones (weightlifting and woodworking) - we will talk about it from time to time, and she's come to a couple of events or observed projects, but it is just not a subject matter that makes her want to learn more.

My wife is effusive at milestones about how she is proud of the work I do and the passion I have for it. I don't doubt her respect to me - it would, quite frankly, baffle me at the notion of a person "loving" someone without pride and respect for them. She is a respected person who could have chosen quite a number of people, and she chose me. I trust there are reasons for that.

Here's a basic question - have you, in these months of internalizing what she must be feeling or thinking, actually asked her whether she's proud of you and respects you? If she's said so, and you just don't believe her because she can't get 'into' your work, then this is less about her and more about you. If she honest to god never asks you about your work or says anything supportive that leads you to believe she actually respects you, then you need to stop thinking and start talking to her about what you need.
posted by notorious medium at 7:26 AM on July 21, 2017 [30 favorites]

Does she feel like you are endlessly complaining about work stuff?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:32 AM on July 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would find being in a relationship with someone who needs the level of external affirmation that you need to be absolutely exhausting. I recognize that needing that kind of affirmation isn't wrong, but it would be a base level incompatibility for me. It sounds like your girlfriend might be the same. Probably a quick split is best.
posted by scantee at 7:39 AM on July 21, 2017 [46 favorites]

It's great that you are self-aware enough to realize that you desire a partner who boosts your ego. To answer your question if this is a weakness in yourself, it's not a weakness; people are just fundamentally different and need different things. Some people have minimal to zero interest in sharing their intellectual and professional pursuits with their partner and don't need their partners professional admiration to feel loved and happy. My spouse happens to be in this category. Other people enjoy sharing their professional achievements with their partner and like knowing their spouse admires their intelligence and accomplishments. Nothing wrong with that.

I'll be honest, I was in the role of your partner in a previous relationship. The situation was slightly different since this was a hobby (we had similar careers and I clearly admired him in that realm) but I was not a fan of his hobby. I did not expect it would create problems since I had no issues with him practicing and discussing the hobby with his friends and without me. But, later I realized that it really bothered him that I did not admire and look up to him in this hobby like I did with our professional activities; although I loved and respected him and was proud of him.

I do think it's a likely incompatibility. Your partner can love you and respect you without sharing your interests in basketweaving or existentialism or whatever. But it's possible that if your partner does not share this interest, you will always be questioning your relationship and seeking someone else who does.
posted by seesom at 7:40 AM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's unfair to resent her for not being what you want her to be; she's being herself and she's being honest with you about it.

There's no good guy / bad guy here, there's just an incompatibility. Part ways amicably while you still can.
posted by vignettist at 8:21 AM on July 21, 2017 [6 favorites]

I really think that notorious medium's has it above in the 'basic question' -- I think calls for incompatibility are a little premature until we have more detail about this answer. Because I can certainly related to having 'bottled up' feelings or impressions that are far from the truth, and there's just a communication issue between the two parties that isn't delivering what one of the side wants. Can you elaborate on it?
posted by knownassociate at 8:32 AM on July 21, 2017

I think there are maybe two separate pieces worth considering separately.

#1 -- The end result of all this is that I feel bottled up and neglected. I want to share my mental life with my partner, but I can’t.

#2 -- I don’t get the feeling that she’s ever impressed by me or proud of me, at least along those dimensions where my own pride in myself lies. And outside of those, I honestly don’t know if she is impressed or proud of me at all - I do know that she loves me but somehow that seems incomplete or unsatisfying.

#2 seems like it might be a misunderstanding, like it might be cleared up by learning more about why she's chosen to be with you. To the extent that it stems from #1, it also seems like it might fade over time. (I'm almost 40, and in the last 5 years, my identity has decoupled quite a bit from my professional and intellectual activities. Someone could find my work boring and I would not take it personally at all, unlike 5 years ago.)

I think it's quite possible that #1 may endure. If you were like "everything else is perfect except for this," I would probably try to reassure you that as (if) you guys built a life together, you'd have a bunch of stuff to talk about related to that shared life. (Mortgage refinancing! That thing your cats or kid did. An incredible trip you're planning. Etc.) But this might always feel like something is missing. And you sound intensely unhappy about this. I don't think it would be imprudent to have this be a relationship-ending dealbreaker. Sorry.
posted by salvia at 8:37 AM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's an incompatibility on both sides, I think. You prefer to share your thoughts about your work with your partner; and she prefers not to be involved in discussions in which she has no spontaneous interest. Neither of these are universal stances, but they do represent a fundamental incompatibility here.

I think you'll be so much happier with someone you can share your work with. And it doesn't have to be someone in your field necessarily (in fact that can engender its own complications when your partner is a competitor.) Just someone who respects and understands it enough to be able to enjoy a conversation about it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:38 AM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

While I agree this is a mismatch of a sort, I don't know if a) this is a thing that can be expected to manifest in the same way in every relationship b) if you're mis-reading her disinterest as a judgement of you when that's not what she's doing.

I would say at least have the discussion with her about whether she actually is proud/impressed rather than ending a relationship because you guess she isn't. If this is just a difference in communication styles or presentation, and is fixable with a slight adjustment of how you talk about these things, that seems preferable to ending it.

A lot of times people are a little bit intimidated by things they don't understand well, especially if they do understand lots of other things well, and it might be that her fear of being "unsmart" in the face of your stuff is affecting the way she acts about it, along with guilt knowing that she's not doing it the way you like. It may screw up her ability to read your cues that a cheerable event has occurred. That's fixable. You may have to change your expectations and find another vector for really detailed discussion of your work, but that too is fixable.

But if it is a hard requirement for you that you be given that particular sort of attention and involvement in your work, and that's more important to you than the things that do work in this relationship, mid-30s is the time to fish or cut bait.

I agree, like others have said though, that life has a way of changing your priorities over time - especially if the two of you anticipate starting a family if you stay together - and what if five years from now your professional fulfillment is very different from how it manifests now and this was the hill you died on, would you regret it?
posted by Lyn Never at 8:46 AM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can't demand that an adult get all into your topics and projects. I kind of applaud your girlfriend for just saying, "This is what I can do." But it's all in the attitude, right? My partner and I have different jobs and different ways of spending our "downtime." We respect each other's lives and express an interest in milestones and progress. We are both kind of sad that more of our interests don't intersect because that would be nice but as fully formed adults, you get to decide how to spend your free time. And some of your free time you might not want to give up to acting as cheering section for your partner. But you can be supportive and interested when those topics come up. Maybe dial back your jumping in on her stuff. Maybe you're sucking up all that togetherness time with your "love language"? Dial it back a little bit and pay attention to the kinds of support she does give you. If your partner can't look up for their phone while you discuss something troubling or awesome at work, that's one thing. If they are, "Hey that sounds rough." or "That sounds awesome, let's get a beer!" then they aren't ignoring you but neither are they getting into it. If the attitude is more ignoring or dismissal, that's troubling, I think. But it's unreasonable to demand that someone get as into your activities and interests as you are. If you must have that, you should look for someone who is way into that stuff by nature.
posted by amanda at 8:50 AM on July 21, 2017 [6 favorites]

You guys sound incompatible.

It also sounds like she is getting a lot of encouragement and support out of this relationship. What exactly are you getting?
posted by FakeFreyja at 9:03 AM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

I read the title and description of your question thinking you would be an asshole, but to be honest, your desires and frustrations sound perfectly reasonable. It's completely normal to want a partner to be interested in you and your inner world -- what I find odd is that you've persisted in a relationship so long with someone who was quite literally "not that into you".

Going forward, you should be clear with yourself that one of the things you (and I would wager most people) need for a fruitful, happy relationship is mutual interest. Attraction isn't enough and a lop-sided "I'm into your stuff but you're not into mine" dynamic isn't sustainable. It's quite unloving to yourself and masochistic to subject yourself to being with someone who isn't fascinated with you and curious about things you're into.

Like others have said, I don't think your girlfriend is the "bad guy" here -- it's simply that you two have different and incompatible interests. Think of relationships as a venn diagram -- it's expected that you will each have things you're into that are unique to you -- but for a relationship to work, you're going to have enough overlapping interests in the middle.. otherwise, what the hell are you even doing together?

Have a conversation about this if you wish but kindly break up, move on and make "sufficient mutual interest" one of your minimum requirements for moving forward in a relationship.
posted by Gray Skies at 9:13 AM on July 21, 2017 [14 favorites]

I want to share my mental life with my partner, but I can’t.

This is a big problem, and like salvia commented above, I'm actually not sure at all it's the same thing as you feeling like you need someone to prop up your ego. Being able to know your partner's mind and to be known by them is a specific kind of intimacy. Sharing with each other this way is something that it seems like you need in a relationship, and which your current SO is not reciprocating.

If and when I've found myself in the kind of relationship you're describing, where my partner just did not have the capacity or interest in knowing what was going on in my mental life, I would be going crazy-- not because they weren't giving me an ego boost by validating the awesomeness of my ideas, but because I was absolutely overwhelmed by the sense they had absolutely no idea who I actually was as a person. Worse, it felt like they didn't care who I was-- as long as I continued to be nice and accomodating to them I could be anyone at all, a nice robot or blowup doll. It felt like being turned into a pod person.

I worry I'm on the verge of sapiosexual douchebaggery here, but the kind of creative jamming and sharing of ideas you're talking about is it's own kind of intimate activity and interpersonal communion. It's a way of interacting with your partners that you need in a relationship. If you came here saying, "my partner is willing to recieve sexual pleasure from me, but doesn't want to ever reciprocate. I guess I am a big ol' egomaniac who needs my partner to make me feel sexually desirable. Is that kind of ego need even reasonable?" you would be getting told the same thing-- at best you two are incompatible; at worst you are in an unbalanced relationship where you are providing support to your partner and not getting it in return. I might be missing something, and maybe you do need a partner who will also be an ego cheerleader, but it sounds like your current SO just does not practice the kind of intimate bonding you need in a relationship.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 9:20 AM on July 21, 2017 [26 favorites]

I'm married to someone who doesn't share my interests and we get get along ok, but there's always this underlying dull, gnawing ache. I think that your concerns and expectations are perfectly valid and reasonable. It's not so much that she should be fascinated by the same things you're interested in, but she should have some appreciation for the fact that these things are meaningful to YOU, her partner. It doesn't take any effort at all for her to engage you and ask "What do you like about ____?" Or "What are some developments that you're looking forward to in your field?" The "YOU" in these questions is what is important here. I think that it's reasonable to expect our partners to be supportive and encouraging and at least mildly interested in the things that we're deeply passionate about.
posted by Ostara at 9:29 AM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

OK. More about the ego thing. Im curious about the ego feedback loop you're talking about in your previous relationships. Let's say you had a partner who did not have any social status markers of intellectual success at all, like, a garbage collector or a welder or a childcare worker or cocktail waitress with a high school diploma, someone who you in no way could hold up their CV and say "look how impressive this person is, and they think I'm awesome, it must be true!" But they are intelligent, curious and knowledgeable about the world and their field, and they have those mutal fascination conversations with you. They want to hear everything you want to say about your field because they love the way your mind works, and you want to hear everything they have to say about their field and interests because you love the way THEIR mind works. Does this sound satisfying to you? Is part of what you need someone who is intellectually omnivorous and a credentialed academic for this feedback loop to work? For a partner's pride in you to matter, or for you to feel that pride in them? Or is it just someone who also wants to share themself with you in that way?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

God. I have repeatedly had this experience ... but from a flipped gender perspective. It's rather astonishing to hear a guy talk about having this problem. It's an alienating experience, and can incite resentment, self-doubt, and frustration. I'd say this is a difference in values and self-absorption, and a long-term relationship with someone of this kind can be destructive. I agree with those who think you can find a better match. We look to our "made" families to cheerlead us a little. If not them, then who?
posted by Violet Blue at 10:27 AM on July 21, 2017 [14 favorites]

I have this problem but a stranger one, which is I have a partner that shares almost all of my interests but is far more likely to either actively engage in them by himself or with his friends that he knew before we met, thus pushing me into a separate box where I cannot ever truly connect with him but watch him connect with everyone else. Although he claims it stems from not knowing me, he doesn't make an effort to do so, and it causes more than a substantial amount of insecurity in me and a lot of arguments as a result. That being said, I am like you. I don't see the point in having a relationship unless there are shared interests and actively engaging in said interests toward either a common goal or just a parallel evolution. I can just do everything I enjoy on my own until I die, but the point of a partner, in my opinion, is to inspire me to keep evolving and to feel as though I have someone who admires and wants me to be the best I can be. Some people have different needs from different people, some feel just having someone who will spend time with them and care about them and satisfy them sexually is enough. Some people require a more agentic, intellectual connection and ecosystem to feel loved and thriving. It's ok that you need more of the later, but you can't make someone become that way, no matter how much they may actually care about and like you. You're not getting your needs met and you're just going to continue to be frustrated and hurt and your partner won't be able to do anything about it.
posted by Young Kullervo at 10:34 AM on July 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you're just incompatible. But you were also incompatible with "a good number" of exes who did provide this particular thing. So it is worth considering whether it is this thing in particular that has you eyeing the door.
posted by headnsouth at 10:40 AM on July 21, 2017 [5 favorites]

Do you want to have kids together? If so, how does she feel about your kid skills when you're with other people's kids? For many people, children become a sort of hobby and parenting skills become a major source of pride.

If you are compatible in your feelings about how to raise kids and you want kids, is it possible that child-rearing could be a shared interest that puts wind in your sails?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:54 PM on July 21, 2017

I'm not sure if what you're talking about is needing an "ego boost". It sounds more like your partner just isn't interested in your life and you're used to being engaged with people with whom you share a mutual interest in each other's lives. Not being able to share your mental life with your partner is a different thing than not feeling that they're proud of you/ impressed by you.

Feeling that ego stroking thing is great and can be super fun for both parties but I think the lack of it might be a red herring here. It sounds like you're kind of isolated in your relationship. If you can't talk about your work, your hobbies, your interests, your thoughts and experiences, what *do* you talk about? Just her stuff?

You have the option to simply stop making the effort to be so invested in her turf. How would you feel about that? Where would it leave you? Would you have anything to talk about? Conversation is usually supposed to be a reciprocal activity. Maybe try withholding some of that effort, not maliciously, but just as an experiment, and see where things go.

If you can't share your internal self with someone and feel bottled up and repressed I don't personally see the point of dating them. Isn't love seeking to know another and be known?
posted by windykites at 1:39 PM on July 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think you should find a close friend in your field who can do the exciting fun "sharing work with each other and cheerleading each other" stuff. That's one of those roles in your life that doesn't have to be fulfilled by a partner.

If your partner completely shuts down when you talk about your feelings and experiences at all, like if you talk about how you had a nice day and ate a delicious sandwich and went for a walk in town, or if you talk about how that one guy at work is driving you nuts, then you have a gap in emotional labor in your relationship and that's more of a serious problem.
posted by capricorn at 1:49 PM on July 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't think this is about 'ego' at all. I think you simply don't feel listened to. I have definitely been in relationships like this and it totally sucks, because I will happily listen to them tell me all about whatever their thing is and then later realize that they have no interest in doing the same for me. I want to know more about them, but they don't want to know more about me.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:04 PM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

If your partner is in an "all consuming" field, as you say, maybe she just doesn't have any bandwidth left at the end of a day to take on the details of **an entire other consuming profession**.

I mean, in my own relationship my partner and I both have pretty complex, wonk-y, detail heavy careers and at the end of the day, sheesh, there's only so much brainpower left. As a result, I think we do have to work harder, often, in making sure that we express enthusiasm and admiration for each other as people, and that we recognize the broad strokes. When I have hit a massive work deadline and it's all wrapped up, he celebrates with me, and vice-versa. We encourage each other, and recognize each other's strengths. But we just have finite energy, and no natural interest in each others' specific professions.

All this to say, your partner isn't necessarily disinterested in YOU just because she cannot bring herself to take on your job as her hobby. She just might not be able to do that.

For what it's worth, though, if you need a partner who can do that, who wants to do that, that's okay! It isn't a weakness in your psyche, it's just a thing you need in a relationship. And you've clearly found it many times before, so you will again, no doubt.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I definitely feel your pain. My ex (ex for other reasons) and I have different fields and come from very different backgrounds. He wasn't all that interested in the details of my work and upbringing, while I made a real study of his. It was OK for me because I loved him anyway and he did other things to make me feel valued.
posted by 8603 at 2:54 PM on July 21, 2017

Do you remember that old Madonna song What It Feels Like for a Girl? That popped into my head immediately on reading this question. I feel like the dynamic you describe is often gendered and frequently runs the other way, with the female partner taking an interest in the male partner’s stuff and not getting any reciprocal interest back. So first of all, kudos to you for taking a real interest your partner’s intellectual life. That's a fantastic quality to have.

Maybe counterintuitively, I also have to give your partner kudos for resisting something women are pretty heavily socialized to do—feigning interest in your interests just to prop you up. Of course, if she were genuinely interested, that would be preferable for both of you.

To be clear, it’s crap to feel like the cheerleader / supporting character in someone else’s life, regardless of the genders involved, and I agree with others that this may be an incompatibility. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a partner to care about the things you care about, or at least, to care enough about you to take an interest by proxy. Not all couples need that from each other, but it’s a pretty normal and non-problematic thing to want. I don’t think it’s something you need to “work on” or try to fix in yourself.

The desire for admiration is a related but separate issue, I think. You aren’t obligated to work on that either, but it might improve your life if you were better able to know your own worth without that level of external validation. A partner with an egalitarian bent might not perform admiration in the way you’d like, even if she loved you and engaged with your interests, and if you can’t feel loved without feeling looked up to, you might be missing out on some otherwise good partners for you. But if you don’t want to explore doing without that – well, you’ve found the relationship dynamic that makes you happy more than once before; it’s fine to seek that again with someone else. I doubt you’ll get it from your current partner, though. It sounds like she’s been careful to be honest with you about how she’s able to interact with your interests.
posted by Radish at 7:19 PM on July 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

you can both talk about her work, but you can't talk about your work. but what else is there to talk about -- is there anything else? do you have a steady stream of things to talk about that aren't either of your 'passions' or working life? I understand the thing you're alluding to that isn't there, but do you feel sympatico the rest of the time -- out to lunch, watching a movie together, grocery shopping, gardening -- can you chat all the time about daily physical life and both feel interested and equal and never bored? if you have that but take it for granted, don't, and if you don't have it, you are right to be unsatisfied.

Wanting someone to not just love you but really care about and be fascinated with the minutiae of your field is the kind of thing I would say is unrealistic, except that you've had it with all your other girlfriends. so, clearly it is realistic for you! same with needing to date someone who has a career or even a passion, not just a job -- it's only a problem if you want it and can't have it, and you know you can have it. it seems overreactive to leave someone because they aren't interested in one single topic, but if that topic is your whole life and all you want to talk about, there you go.

also -- will she just not humor you enough by sitting and listening, or does it upset you so much to be humored that you don't want that from her if it's "fake?" I wouldn't tell a woman she had to learn to let her boyfriend bore her because it's one of the womanly arts, but letting your lover talk at you while you smile and listen with half an ear and read your emails or make dinner or whatever is a genuinely intimate and friendly thing to do. you don't have to be satisfied with it if it's not what you want, but if she offers this to you it's not a worthless gift.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:49 PM on July 21, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'm not sure that you are describing wanting a partner to puff up your ego, so much as wanting a partner who is interested in your life and your thoughts.

At one point I dated someone who always wanted to talk about their interests, and didn't make a secret of finding my interests boring and "I don't care about X". I like learning new things, and they initially had a number of topics unfamiliar to me to share, so I didn't notice this dynamic right away.

I broke up with them after going on a camping trip where I'd hoped we could at least enjoy nature together, but they wouldn't stop talking about how each beautiful place we visited reminded them of a completely unrelated thing they wanted to talk at me about.

It's not wrong to want a partner who is interested in you and would like to hear more about you once in a while. That could be a person who finds your differences interesting, or someone who shares common interests.

Please don't have children with someone hoping that the children can be a common interest and keep your relationship going.
posted by yohko at 12:23 AM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

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