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Thread: my boyfriend says he 'doesn't know how to be romantic'

  1. #1
    sjsjsj
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    my boyfriend says he 'doesn't know how to be romantic'

    hi! okay, to be quick about it: my boyfriend and i are both young and we've been together for 7 months. in those seven months, we've grown so incredibly close. i have some problems, like relationship substantiation ocd (a theme of purely obsessional ocd) and generalized anxiety disorder and depression. this causes me to be a perfectionist, which does cause some tension in the relationship because he's way too easygoing and that attitude becomes nerve-wrecking to me during some crucial times!

    anyway, recently i've become obsessed with the fact we're not the type of couple who do little surprises or gestures for each other. i mean, once i filled his backpack with his favorite candy and he always does chivalrous things like pulling out the chair, opening the door for me, etc, which is thoughtful and i love. and i do get the 'i love you!!' text message at least once a day. but, for instance, he got my mom flowers on her birthday and he's never gotten me flowers, ever. my christmas gift was a silver necklace HIS mom bought because he doesn't know how to pick out gifts.

    i brought this up with him and he told me i'm his first gf and he really doesn't know how to be romantic. he hasn't got that sort of creativity i do for this sort of thing (i'm always creative in my gifts for him--far out creative), and besides, he really DOES NOT KNOW. and i keep thinking that if he really were in love with me, he'd just magically know these things and further, would feel it were important to do little gestures here and there. i don't think it even crossed his mind before i brought it up. is it normal for guys to be this clueless??

    he's asked me to teach him but teaching your boyfriend how to be romantic...doesn't that take the romance out of it?

    he's an incredible boyfriend, i know i'm so blessed to have him in my life, but i would just love to get some flowers or whatever at SOME point before the 'honeymoon' period is over! am i making too big a deal out of this?

  2. #2
    Cognitive_Canine
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    He's not going to magically know how to do these things.

    I'd try and be romantic to him and encourage him to go with the flow. He'll get the hang of it.

  3. #3
    tastytoothpaste

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjsjsj [Register to see the link]
    and i keep thinking that if he really were in love with me, he'd just magically know these things and further, would feel it were important to do little gestures here and there.
    How often do we do this kind of stuff? I was having this exact conversation with two of my guy friends today. One of them is dating a girl who gets upset about the very thing you're upset about. The thing is, we cannot just expect a guy to know what we want or what we need. We can't just wait around for him to figure it out on his own, because he's not going to. You're going to have to teach him how you want to be treated. You can do this by showing him in little special ways how much you care. He might start returning the favor. And if worse comes to worse, a simple, "hey sweetie, can you plan a special date for us one night?" should do the trick. It's these small requests that sweetly guide him to treating the way you want to be treated.

    HOWEVER, know that in doing this, it's not his own creativity. If you need a guy who will do the small sweet things without you having to ask, this is not the guy for you. So either be able to verbalize and show through example what you need and be okay with the fact that he doesn't do it on his own, or find yourself a hopeless romantic.

  4. #4
    IGlareOften

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    Okay. Listen....men are idiots. No offense to you guys out there. The reason you are so creative..is you're a woman. Women are, inherently, more thoughtful in these situations. We are loving and caring, by nature. Men are, by nature, the providers. It sounds to me like you are trying to make him into something he's not. If you are his first girlfriend..he really doesn't know how to be romantic. How do you think most men learn this stuff? Trial and error from past relationships. He doesn't have that luxury. Therefore, it's up to you to either be VERY clear with him..and TELL him how you'd like things to be...or just deal. But, you can't expect him to magically read your mind and know what you want. That's unfair and very immature.

    From the sound of it..he is attentive and loving. Ask any woman and they'll tell you that "I love you" texts and pulling out chairs is not a normal practice for boyfriends. Being jealous of how he treats your mom is ridiculous. It's nice that he buys her flowers. And it WAS very thoughtful of him to ask his mom for help on the gift. Men TRULY don't know women very well. He wanted advice so he could get you something nice. Take it as that.
    To summarize: teach him or shush. But you can't expect water out of a dry well. He doesn't know until you tell him or teach him.

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    Cognitive_Canine
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    That's generalizing quite a lot and I'm going to have to disagree with you. He's not a dog to be trained.

  6. #6
    sjsjsj
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    Cognitive Canine - that's my exact issue, i don't want to 'train him' to do anything. i don't want it to feel like that. which is why i really don't know how to approach this subject. i don't even know if this really is so important to me, because my ocd has a tendency to make me perceive trivial things as a lot more important than they really are.

    the rocd is based on an 'ideal' of a relationship i've developed my entire life. which is what causes my perfectionistic tendencies. this is one of the (few and far between) flaws in our relationship and i think i can get over it and can be okay with it being me who's the over the top, crazy creative one setting up a bunch of date ideas and gift ideas and fun plans, and him being the person that goes along with it (he's quite good at never complaining about my tendencies!). but is that an acceptable relationship model? it strays from my ideal, which is what makes me obsessively worried. and like i said, this may not actually even be as big an issue for me... this is so confusing.

    in any case, he has a way of becoming more comfortable with doing things for me as time goes by, and seems to adopt some of my tendencies and add his own twists, so i'm pretty sure that could happen over time with this romantic gesture deal. i'm just concerned because i don't want it to be me changing who he is (a big relationship no no) or me 'training him'.

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    Cognitive_Canine
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    Think about it as teaching him your language. By treating him the way you want to be treated, you'll slowly become in tune with how you both express love.

    And you need to take it easy with the 'ideal relationship' thing. It won't work so try and do some stress releasing exercises and have some fun.

  8. #8
    tastytoothpaste

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjsjsj [Register to see the link]
    i don't want to 'train him' to do anything. i don't want it to feel like that.
    People are either romantic and spontaneous or they're not. He's not. It's just a personality trait, and it's not in the cards for him. You're going to either have to tell him how you want to be treated, or accept that he won't be the one to buy flowers just because. A man will never be everything you want. Never. The perfect man does not exist. But it sounds like you've got a good thing going, so cut him a break. He treats you the best way he knows how.

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    Cognitive_Canine
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern [Register to see the link]
    People are either romantic and spontaneous or they're not. He's not. It's just a personality trait, and it's not in the cards for him. You're going to either have to tell him how you want to be treated, or accept that he won't be the one to buy flowers just because. A man will never be everything you want. Never. The perfect man does not exist. But it sounds like you've got a good thing going, so cut him a break. He treats you the best way he knows how.
    I would normally agree with you but she said they were young. If they are in their teens or early 20's, he'll probably change quite a lot.

    There is still much hope for this one.

  10. #10
    tastytoothpaste

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cognitive_Canine [Register to see the link]
    I would normally agree with you but she said they were young. If they are in their teens or early 20's, he'll probably change quite a lot.

    There is still much hope for this one.
    heh, that's true. I had forgotten that they're young. Even early 20s though, I'd say that if you wouldn't be happy if he NEVER changed, then he's not what you want, so cut him loose. I don't think that's really the case for teenagers though. Those guys are still going to change a lot. And this guy does sound like he's got so much to offer, so I'd hate to watch the OP write him off as not good enough because he's not spontaneous and romantic enough for her.

    The thing is, sjsjsj, he has asked you to teach him to be better at being the romantic boyfriend. You can't expect to get something out of this that he simply doesn't know how to do. He's not a hopeless romantic. Many guys are not. The way I see it, you can do one of three things--
    1. Teach him through words and by example how you want to be treated.
    2. Accept that he's just not the romantic type, and learn to love and be satisfied with the "I love you" texts.
    3. Cut him loose.

    Sjsjsj, I also think that after you date more guys, it'll become more and more apparent that NO MAN will be exactly what you want, and you might look back and realize that the fact that he's not as romantic as you'd like him to be isn't so bad. If that's the biggest of your problems, you've got one of the best guys out there.

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