Anyway to get boyfriend back?
August 21, 2017 6:52 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend of a year said he's started to feel unsure about the relationship but doesn't want to breakup as he hopes the feeling is a phase. He's said it's built up overtime and is likely a product of chasing my insecurities. We live together and he goes through happy/unhappy about the relationship. I asked him several times if he wanted to breakup and he said no. I'm worried that he's rounded that corner. Also,

Also, he recently we out of town and has only contacted me to let me know he made it there safely.The last time he went away he called and text me every day. We are used to seeing each other every day. Is this a bad sign? What should I do
posted by bluecorn to Human Relations (24 answers total)
 
That's so nice that he blamed his feelings on you and your insecurities. For the record, mature individuals worth being in a longterm intimate relationship with know they are responsible for their own emotions. They also manage expectations and don't leave you hanging and anxious by going silent. "I need to process some things and won't be in touch" is a perfectly fine thing to say.

We can't tell you what to do. In my opinion, even if you are the worst person on earth to live with (you're not) this person is dumping all of the blame AND the emotional work onto you + they have disappeared leaving you powerless and exacerbating any feelings of distress or insecurity.

What would you tell a sibling or best friend to do in such circumstances? Do that.


PS - Also, therapy or some deep soul searching. Relationships take communication skills, discernment, and self-work. It's OK if this relationship doesn't work out. Focus on yourself. The next time someone tells you your insecurities are problematic and disappears, I want you to be clear about your boundaries and the dynamic. (hint: fuck them.)
posted by jbenben at 7:14 AM on August 21, 2017 [24 favorites]


I asked him several times if he wanted to breakup and he said no.

Okay, but you should break up with him. He's not receptive to communicating or trying to work anything out, he's blaming his issues on you, and then he went silent. There's no positive future in this relationship.

You don't need to live in a world of confusion and anxiety created by your partner--you two should be Team Us and work together. What you're describing is NOT Team Us; it's Team You and Team I Don't Know What I Want.

Give him his walking papers.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:21 AM on August 21, 2017 [44 favorites]


I asked him several times if he wanted to breakup and he said no.

Throughout the entire last year of our relationship I asked my college boyfriend if he wanted to break up. He always said no, usually with lots of tears, and I wouldn't ask again for a few weeks. And then one day he went out of town and unceremoniously dumped me via voicemail. I should have ended it when I wanted to and saved myself months and months of unhappiness being with someone who didn't care about me. Live and learn. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This guy's got one foot out the door. You should break up with him on your terms. If he says he's not "ready" to break up yet, tough shit. You can make this call for yourself, you don't need his input.
posted by phunniemee at 7:35 AM on August 21, 2017 [37 favorites]


It sounds like you're still in the stage that you want to go backward to how things were rather than look forward, and most people have to figure their way through this themselves; advice from us isn't going to be very welcome.

But: You can't make a relationship successful through sheer force of will. You can't hold up his end of the deal for him, or make him want to work harder.

The first year of a relationship should be for both parties to decide if they want to go for the long haul. There's many factors involved, including simply being ready to go for the long haul, which is going to have to do with maturity, career, the relationship models they grew up with, all kinds of stuff. Also, it's just a question of "is everybody really feeling this relationship" and it sounds like the answer is no for him and you don't actually say why you want to stay with him.

But all it takes is one no. You can't go forward with one yes and one no.

It's a process of elimination, the early relationship phase. It sounds like this one has been eliminated until there's not much left. Something to consider, in the future, is not moving in with someone unless there's an actual agreement about the state and goals of the relationship.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:44 AM on August 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I agree that you should absolutely realize he's being really dickish and immature by stringing you along like this and blaming it nebulously on your "insecurities." That's not something a mature person does in relationships. What a mature person does in a healthy relationship is communicate problems effectively. They sit down with you and describe and explain their emotions, and ask for what they need. You then can add your input and agree or disagree with them and work towards giving them what they need while still getting what you need. If this doesn't work, you talk it out again. Etc.

There is nothing mature, respectful, or smart about saying "Eh, I kind of don't like you anymore because I'm tired of dealing with you. Not sure if I want to leave you or not. I'll let you know." That's just cruel, stupid, selfish and entitled. He's not even trying to work anything out or compromise in any way and doesn't seem to care about your feelings.

I agree that you should probably just dump him. Pull the plug for him. That said, that's not the question you asked, so I will also try to answer the question you asked (knowing that almost no one just dumps their partner easily based off of MeFi advice, even when they really should...)

So here's the answer to your question (how do I get him back/more interested): People want what they can't have. Reverse psychology is real and works. Some people think of this as manipulative or playing games, but I tend to think of it as just basic human psychology and fair game to use in long monogamous relationships.

What you do is act distant. Get new friends, new hobbies, new hair, new clothes, new makeup. Buy nice things for yourself. Be more selfish. Go out more without him. Be less responsive to calls or texts. Etc. It's pretty simple, the hard part is making yourself do it and following through. IME with dating dudes through my 20s, this tends to work super well and suddenly make them jealous/needy because a lot of dudes tend to have huge double standards in hetero relationships.

Really you should just dump your boyfriend. That's the right advice. But if you're not going to listen to that advice for whatever reason, you should try hard to take care of yourself and go out and have a good time without him. Either way, this can only benefit you. Either he suddenly realizes he could lose you and gets his act together, or he doesn't care and breaks up with you-but you have a head start going out and making more friends on your own.

Good luck.
posted by stockpuppet at 7:47 AM on August 21, 2017 [14 favorites]


He's said he feels like what we have is worth fighting for. He left on Friday and he text me Friday and Saturday but I didn't hear from him at all on Sunday. He's had to constantly reassure me our whole relationship. It was a weekly thing where I was asking him if he loved me ect and I was constantly talking about the relationship. Before he left I told him that I respect whatever he decides but I would like the opportunity to show him that things can improve to which he said ok. My thing is wouldn't it have been better to breakup with me before he left as I could've moved out and on over the weekend.
posted by bluecorn at 7:47 AM on August 21, 2017


He's had to constantly reassure me our whole relationship. It was a weekly thing where I was asking him if he loved me ect and I was constantly talking about the relationship.

In all honesty, I would suggest you let this relationship go and move on to work on this. Anxious attachment is a trait very few people can tolerate in a relationship.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:01 AM on August 21, 2017 [30 favorites]


I agree with DarlingBri and suggest you read "Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love" by Sue Johnson. It might be really helpful dealing with anxiety around relationships and the patterns that reinforce those anxieties.
posted by mcduff at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also read Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried and What You Can Do About it by Leslie Becker-Phelps.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 8:15 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


You have given him all the power in the relationship. Anxious attachment is exactly correct. It doesn't bring out the best in him, and it's certainly not the best you have to offer. Work on being the best you and understanding that whoever is with you is lucky to have you. Sounds like he wants to be with you. Why not believe him, and focus your attention on having fun, having a great relationship, instead of fearing his departure?
posted by theora55 at 8:54 AM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


He's said he feels like what we have is worth fighting for.

And he's shown he thinks that what you have is not worth a phone call.

When people show you who they are, believe them.
posted by flabdablet at 10:17 AM on August 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


It was a weekly thing where I was asking him if he loved me ect and I was constantly talking about the relationship.

And you've shown him that when he reassures you, it doesn't mean anything because you'll keep coming back to ask the same question over and over again. It sure doesn't sound like you ever experience reassurance and relief when he has responded to you in the past -- which is something you need to either examine (is he actually not a good fit for a boyfriend?) or own (are your insecurities undermining the happiness in your relationships? is asking "do you love me" repeatedly really getting your needsmet ?).

I don't think there's enough information here to assert that he's "blaming" his feelings on your insecurities. It sounds like when you ask someone the same question repeatedly for a year, it communicates that you are very insecure about the relationship and that you don't believe what your partner has to say because you've already decided the relationship is insecure. It might be insecure for legitimate reasons, sure, but that's not clear in your post. Even if you breakup with this boyfriend, this sounds like something that will come up in future relationships again for you. Please take others advice here and use this as an opportunity to understand your own anxious attachment style, so that rather than be a slave to it, you can cultivate a relationship with the happiness and reassurance you're already working so hard to secure. Good luck!


he recently we out of town and has only contacted me to let me know he made it there safely
-- IME/IMO, this is not outside the realm of normal communication in a relationship, particularly if partner was out of town for work purposes.

posted by human ecologist at 10:36 AM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's not that unusual for someone to believe that an SO's annoying traits are the cause when feelings have changed. He's become impatient with your insecurities so he assumes that's the problem. I don't think it's fair to put him down for that, though I don't believe it's the real reason.

Focus on what you want, and ask for it. If you aren't getting what you want, ask yourself if you'd want to stay with him even if you knew nothing would change for the better.

You might think about this: all your asking "Do you love me" really didn't make you feel more secure. In future relationships, don't ask that. Instead, figure out what makes you feel loved and ask for those things. If your SO won't do them, you have your answer. Also, find out what makes them feel loved, and do those things, and that will also help you feel love.
posted by wryly at 10:38 AM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


He's too cowardly to break up with you & is trying to push you to break up with him so he can keep his personal narrative that it's not his fault & you're the bad guy.

Were you asking him if he loved you because he wasn't telling you this during the week? Or was this in addition to that?

If he really does want to fight for the relationship I would suggest couples therapy, it sounds like you both have different communication styles at the least and need to work on those. His reaction to this will tell you what you need to know about how much he is willing to fight for the relationship. You may be too needy like he says or you just seem too needy for someone with his personality/preferences/commitment to the relationship level.
posted by wwax at 10:57 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


He would tell me and I would ask him if he's sure. I did ask him if he was trying to get me to breakup with him because we could just call it and he said no that's not what he wants. He's said he's felt like this before in a relationship broke up with the girl and realized that that isn't what he wanted after so he wants to wait
posted by bluecorn at 11:22 AM on August 21, 2017


He's been gone since Friday and Sunday was the only day he hasn't reached out
posted by bluecorn at 11:23 AM on August 21, 2017


OP, anxious attachment is something many people can deal with in a relationship, as I think 25% of the population is wired that way. 25% is also avoidantly attached. That's half the population who is insecure. Yes, half of people are better at dealing with insecure partners than the other half of people. I doubt you want to date literally half the population.

He's said he's felt like this before in a relationship broke up with the girl and realized that that isn't what he wanted after so he wants to wait

Aw, that's sweet! What a sweet guy.
posted by benadryl at 2:20 PM on August 21, 2017


The anxious among us spend a lot of time thinking about what our partner wants. Why they're distant, whether they still love us, whether they're losing interest, whether they're going to break up with us. To answer this question, we analyse who texted first, how many times, how long between, whether he held our hand in the street, whether he kissed us goodnight. We ask him outright 'are you sure you still love me?' And he doesn't like this, it makes him exasperated and it doesn't make us feel better.

What we forget to do is ask ourselves what we want. Do we want this distant, uncertain, anxiety-inducing mess where we have to keep seeking reassurance? Or do we want a partner who makes it known that we're loved and cherished, without ever having to ask?

Your worth is not determined by whether he starts being nice to you again. You don't have to wait for him to decide anything.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 2:41 PM on August 21, 2017 [11 favorites]


As the Australian ex-pat writer Clive James said on the fiftieth anniversary of TV: We haven't had fifty years of television. We've had one year of television, fifty times.

What I have found in my relationships is that the first moments and the first year lays down all the territory that will define the dynamics, solace, arguments, issues [and unraveling] of the relationship. Here you have vacillation and blame - on your insecurities no less! - abandonment and passive aggression. You will always have these adding to the issue you allegedly have of 'insecurity' - an issue that might go away if you weren't being on the receiving end of a vacillating, half-arsed un-romantic dynamic from your partner.
posted by honey-barbara at 10:44 PM on August 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


People want what they can't have. Reverse psychology is real and works. Some people think of this as manipulative or playing games, but I tend to think of it as just basic human psychology and fair game to use in long monogamous relationships.

... except for some people, like myself, this is a relationship-killer and I've dumped more than one girlfriend over it. I'm not sure you should try this. (When someone has had to deal with an abusive/manipulative parent, their partner can be a kind of safe haven from the shit they had to deal with growing up. But when their partner starts doing the same thing, it damages a part of the relationship that was really valuable to them. Be really careful.)

What I'm worried about is that he's tired of your insecurities. Your partner should ideally be your biggest cheerleader when it comes to stuff you're insecure about - and they should encourage you and help you work through stuff.

Seconding also everyone who's suggested examining your own attachment style. I think your life might be easier if you can work through things and get to the point where you can take yes for an answer - it sounds like this guy probably does love you, but you've added some amount of uncertainty into the relationship and now he's feeling that as well. If I was him I'd appreciate you saying "I understand some of the repeat questions probably weren't helpful, I think I need to work on some attachment issues." He should probably say he wants to help you through that stuff and be supportive - otherwise consider whether he cares about you enough for you to keep him.
posted by iffthen at 12:38 AM on August 22, 2017


He's said he's tried everything in regards to helping me with my insecurities and now he doesn't want to enable them anymore
posted by bluecorn at 5:56 AM on August 22, 2017


Cool well you should just literally move on with your life. It's very likely that if you just ignore him for a week - blank everything, leave him with no way to reach you, just say you are moving on and end any kind of feedback after that - he will be whipped and come back. That's big talk about the enablement of insecurities. Go check out what else is out there, believe in yourself OP.
posted by benadryl at 8:20 AM on August 22, 2017


So he's called me twice and reached out to me through social media. I've made sure that I've been active with my own life while he's been gone and he's seen this. I'll definitely look into those books. This is my first serious relationship so I have a lot to learn. He was a little dry on the phone but he ended the call with I love you and told me his plans for the evening. Maybe we just needed space as we spend 99% of our free time together. Regardless of what happens I'm going to continue to live my life and do things separate from my relationship. I actually feel good because I was losing myself to the relationship
posted by bluecorn at 6:16 PM on August 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


He's had to constantly reassure me our whole relationship. It was a weekly thing where I was asking him if he loved me ect and I was constantly talking about the relationship.

You know why he constantly has to reassure you about your relationship? Because, as you said, "we live together and he goes through happy/unhappy about the relationship." Which would make anyone insecure! You're living with the threat of imminent breakup if you somehow cross some invisible line -- and in the meantime, you're not allowed to rely on him for any kind of emotional support. I'd bet money he was doing things, even if not saying them, to cause you to feel this way even before he was overtly threatening to break up with you.

Some people here have diagnosed you with an anxious attachment style, which may be true -- here's the thing if it is. People with anxious attachment styles become more secure in the right relationship, not less.

Please, please break up with him. I promise you can find someone you like just as much who will not make you feel constantly insecure, anxious and unhappy.
posted by mrmurbles at 10:33 PM on August 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


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