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Thread: He shuts down

  1. #1
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    He shuts down

    Hello,

    I've been with my current bf for about 6 months (known him for 3 years, were hooking up for a year). Lately we've been having this issue where he shuts down anytime our conversations get deeper. E.g. I asked him what he thought about his career/or family and he refused to answer. This has been ongoing for the entirety of the relationship. I was fine with it before because I thought in time he would start opening up, so I never pushed.

    However, lately I was just thinking about how we don't have meaningful conversations anymore (we used to at first) and asked him if we could hang out and just talk about anything. <I was also having a rough day and wanted to be able to talk to him about it. >

    He said he was uncomfortable and thought I was trying to force the emotions out of him. I pulled back and told him that's not what I wanted. I just wanted to be able to talk openly and freely and have him feel the same way, but didn't know how to make it happen. He stopped responding to me and has now not talked to me in two days.

    I'm not really sure where to go from here...

    For reference, he will shut down any conversation that has to do with feelings, family, the future (even when its not about us), the past, his goals, my goals, career, etc. How do I make this work? The fact that he wont talk to me about anything makes me feel disconnected.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    This should be a dealbreaker for you, as you regularly experience frustration versus satisfaction in the relationship. I know how you feel, because I dated someone similar to him for a year. He got angry when I asked him if his son was going to the prom. I was just trying to make conversation and his anger was unwarranted. I asked if he had any vacation destinations on his bucket list. He said he can't even think about what he's going to be doing this weekend let alone sometime in the future. Yes, speaking to him became less and less satisfying and more like walking on eggshells, never knowing what topic would set him off. I apparently had low self esteem at the time, because he's the one who broke up with me. He did me a favor, since I met my future husband 10 months later and and there is only one topic I have to avoid with him. Everything else is free rein.

    Instead of trying to change someone, which usually never happens, realize he has the right to be who he is, but you also have the right to say, "This isn't working for me." And move on. That's what I suggest.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Try to be a bit more straight forward and less rhetorical/philosophical or pick his brain/interrogate. If you had a bad day, just say so. He's jumping back because if all this vagueness. Why would you even ask this kind of question?

    He's right, you are being too probing and invasive and pushy. Never treat someone as if they are on the witness stand simply for your amusement. Ask real questions that you want real answers to. Learn to communicate appropriately. If you are bored, make sure you have a large social circle of friends who want to debate, pontificate or whatever but stop invading his privacy.
    Originally Posted by pettypink
    I asked him what he thought about his career/or family and he refused to answer.

    asked him if we could hang out and just talk about anything. <I was also having a rough day and wanted to be able to talk to him about it. >

    He said he was uncomfortable and thought I was trying to force the emotions out of him.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member j.man's Avatar
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    However, lately I was just thinking about how we don't have meaningful conversations anymore (we used to at first) and asked him if we could hang out and just talk about anything. <I was also having a rough day and wanted to be able to talk to him about it. >
    My eyes would have been rolling into next Saturday. If you want to vent, just vent. Assuming we're talking exceptional stresses that day which go above what your typical partner is responsibly coping with internally themselves and not how your boss told you to do something in a harsher tone, a loving partner knows they're gonna have to lend a shoulder and an ear on occasion. However, overindulging in the privilege gets emotionally exhausting for the listener quick.

    You mention that you two had meaningful conversations earlier into things, and if the topics you listed are what you consider "meaningful," it sounds like a lot of the source material is pretty much already out of the way. Everything you listed sounds like your standard icebreaker. That's not to say the topics won't or shouldn't ever come up again, but for a lot of people, those kinds of things aren't something they just bring up to bring up. Unless he's getting a promotion, getting canned, or something he considers more universally amusing happened, it's very likely he's not going to be talking about work. And if your idea of shooting the **** is to talk about distant career aspirations, how the copier never gets fixed, or how much of a jerk Tom from IT is, he's probably not going to find the conversation enthralling. Not saying you're wrong, just what's obvious.

    A big part of compatibility is being able to have conversations you both enjoy without having to regularly reach into your back pocket for a random first-date topic. Or, if that's what you really want to spend time talking about, you gotta find a guy who likewise enjoys talking about those things. Though I will say you'll probably have an easier time getting your fix venting or aimlessly musing with a circle of girlfriends than finding a guy who fits that bill. Ultimately, that's up to you to determine the importance.

    I can't tell you whether you're on the more extreme end of wanting to babble or if this guy really is a breathing gray rock when it comes to any sort of conversation. It could very well be the latter. Regardless, without having any insight as to how your conversations go or whether they go at all with other topics of conversation, if the honeymoon period has expired and you're at a loss, it's typically a good sign it's time to bounce. Not saying you have to dump the guy, but it's as good a time as any to do a no-BS assessment if you're feeling like you're dredging along.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Sounds like in six months the two of you haven't grown any closer together and in fact, are actively drifting apart. So probably time to waive the white flag and move on. You can't change who he is and you can't change who you are and what you need and neither one of you is wrong or broken. You just aren't compatible. The point of dating is not to keep trying to force things to work, but to discover whether you are or are not compatible and when you find that you aren't, you move on to greener pastures. The faster you do that, the better for you. Don't keep trying to pound a square peg...., free yourself to find a guy who actually matches you better and leave him free to find a girl who matches him better as well.

  7. #6
    Gold Member maew's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by pettypink
    Hello, I've been with my current bf for about 6 months (known him for 3 years, were hooking up for a year).
    How did you transition from friends hooking up to BF / GF? Sounds like he enjoys the hooking up but doesn't want an emotional connection or a future with you.

    You can't force him to open up to you if he doesn't want to... he has to do it of his own free will.

    That being said... relationships are built on communication and since you guys don't really have any emotional connection, he will probably fade away eventually if you decide to stick around and keep pushing... the other alternative is that you can stand up for yourself and say you don't want a relationship with someone that isn't willing to open up to you.

  8. #7
    Silver Member thisisrichey's Avatar
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    My first question is: how did you transition from fwb/casual to bf/gf? Is it possible it wasn't so clear and he is still in fwb/casual mode and thus would explain why any attempts at "getting deeper" to "bring out emotions in him" is being rebuked? That is very possible explanation #1.
    Observation here is: anytime anybody feels they're being "pushed" into something - they will rebel. So the best course here is to dial it back. I might even say, instead of making the focus about trying to get him to out more personal things, just start doing it yourself about you and see if eventually he starts repsonding in kind.

    But i think it all goes back to Q1. It appears that he is still in fwb/casual mode while you want more - thus i think you guys need to clear the air and get on the same page about what you really are (not just what YOU want or think... but what and where HE is at too).

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    Thank you all - your advice puts a lot into perspective and I realize I can't push him into anything.
    While I do think maybe there are a few ways we are incompatible, I don't want to break up without having a conversation about this.

    We switched from FWB when he ended the FWB because I wanted more and was looking to date seriously. Again, while I was slightly hurt, I was still ready to move on.
    He then came back and asked me to be his girlfriend while promising me he would go to therapy (which he hasn't done).

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear you broke up before. It sounds like he's confused about what he wants or if he want to be with you. Unfortunately that's not an ideal position for you to be in. Why does he need therapy? How old is he?
    Originally Posted by pettypink
    We switched from FWB when he ended the FWB because I wanted more and was looking to date seriously. He then came back and asked me to be his girlfriend while promising me he would go to therapy (which he hasn't done).

  11. #10
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    I also don't think it's fair to try to lure someone into a chatty casual conversation when your real motive is to vent. Maybe he's had that experience before with you. I think the problem is you feel insecure because even though he missed you and changed his mind about wanting more than a casual sex arrangement you don't really believe him - you think he mostly didn't want to give up the sex and his heart is not really in it. And if you truly were "friends" before than presumably you had great conversations -isn't that a big part of friendship too? I think he's not sure he wants to be with you the way you want and you're sensing that and getting more needy/clingy. And so begins the uncomfortable cycle.

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