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Boyfriend is stand-off-ish to my family


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My boyfriend (26M) and I (25F) have been together for almost 3 years. We live together. When we first met, he asked to meet my parents almost immediately. Since then, my dad has passed away. My mom is a lot to handle. She has some undiagnosed intellectual/emotional disorders. With that being said, we are both mental health/behavioral health professionals with graduate level degrees. When my mom is around, he doesn’t speak. He will say hello to her but rarely anything more. He doesn’t visit her with me. She has mentioned feeling uncomfortable around him to me and I make up excuses, constantly. Well, this past weekend was my cousin’s graduation party, out of state. I asked him months ago if he would go with me and he said that he would. I was excited, as he has never really spent much time with my mom’s side of the family, as I do not see them frequently. My mom rode in the car with us. He was, of course, dead silent. While out there, he didn’t speak a word to anyone. He just sat there. When someone would try to start a conversation, he would typically give only very short answers. I did ask him if he was okay and he said that he was “bored”. I thanked him multiple times for going with me and all I really got was “uh-huh”. Well, last night, I saw a text between him and his dad (who he idolizes) that was sent on Saturday. He basically said that he felt like he was in Hell and could have been with his dad or fishing instead. I didn’t tell him that I saw it. We frequently use one another’s phones so it’s not like he was hiding it either. Seeing that hurt because my family was welcoming to him, and I constantly go out of my way for his family. I spoil his niece and nephew as if they are my own. I visit his dad and sisters, and have bought them gifts for various holidays/celebrations. I definitely think that we value different things. He is not close with his extended family and doesn’t really communicate with anyone aside from his dad and sisters. He truly only cares for his dad and niece. His dad is very similar, having an uncaring attitude most of the time. I like to think that my boyfriend is more caring than his father though. I can understand being uncomfortable around people that you don’t know, but he didn’t even try. I am at a point where I am ready to think about marriage and settling down. After all, it has been almost 3 years. However, I am now wondering if I should be questioning things. I have overall been very happy in this relationship. We have never really fought about anything. I have some other smaller concerns though. I do tend to spend more on him than he does on me. I almost always pay when we go places and most of the things in our house were purchased by me. I do 98% of the housework as well, including picking up the things that he leaves sitting out. I feel like a bother just asking him to let out the dog. I have put up with these things, but it was the text regarding spending time with my family that truly upset me. As I said, I think we were raised very differently. I was raised to value family and to respect others. It sounds like his childhood did not involve many rules or structure. My thoughts right now are to ask about the weekend in this way: “I know you were miserable with my family over the weekend, and I was just wondering what I could have done to make it better for you? Part of being in a relationship is getting to know one another's families and I just wanted to know if I did something wrong or if something happened that made you feel uncomfortable." I don't want to start throwing around accusations or anything. I think his response to that will determine my next steps and mindset. For a counselor, he is certainly terrible at communicating at times. How would you approach this situation?

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6 minutes ago, doglover24 said:

I have some other smaller concerns though. I do tend to spend more on him than he does on me. I almost always pay when we go places and most of the things in our house were purchased by me. I do 98% of the housework as well, including picking up the things that he leaves sitting out. I feel like a bother just asking him to let out the dog. I have put up with these things

I think the answers lie in your own post, OP. Don't you think?

Time to step out of the shrinking violet role and the people pleaser role. 

8 minutes ago, doglover24 said:

I am at a point where I am ready to think about marriage and settling down.

Think hard and long before you take this step OP.

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, doglover24 said:

  "I just wanted to know if I did something wrong or if something happened that made you feel uncomfortable."

Sorry this is happening. You have a lot of complaints about him.

Unfortunately you seem annoyed at him for your being a martyr and doormat. But that's what you are doing to yourself.

Start there. Stop overinvesting and resenting it.

Agree your family views are too diverse. He is not as close to family as you are.

But to be accommodating he went along, even if he would rather not have

He can confide in his own family that it was boring and he did this for you. That's ok.

He doesn't have to like your family. All he has to do is respect your relationship with them and he did.

Instead of this odd passive aggressive innuendo, (which attempts to hide that you saw his private communication), get to the point. Be clear.

He hasn't mentioned marriage after 3 years so it's unclear why you are thinking about that with him.

Stop and reflect if you are compatible. It doesn't seem like it.

Edited by Wiseman2
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The way he speaks to you suggests he's disengaged and disconnected. I'm referring to the "Uh-huh" comment. There was no reason to cause a greater divide blabbering to his father about your family. This is a lot of immature talk coming from a man who doesn't know how to handle his own family affairs. He would rather complain about it to someone else. For that reason, I'd seriously reconsider whether he's the right person for you. 

You are 100% engaged and present in your home together but his comments show that he's pulling away and uncertain about you. Rethink the future with him. The parts about your family may be a very small slice of the pie. He isn't as invested in this relationship or open with you. That's a dealbreaker.

I would not go down the sympathy route of his lacking other relationships or lack of siblings. Just evaluate what is and is not.

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Why are bending over backwards for this guy?

Sounds like if you say anything you'll have to face the truth.  This guy does not care. people know what they do.  

He knows it's rude.  He knows you do all the work. And why would he lift a finger or change?  You watch your every step, put in the extra... 

dump him.

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He could have social anxiety. Given everything your family is dealing with I would be uncomfortable too.

- Are you putting him in low stress situations?

Ex: are you talking behind his back with family? Are you putting him in a room where he's already been discussed. People can sense energy and the vibe. If there's preconceived emotions about him he'll definitely be able to sense it and will definitely feel uncomfortable. Are you discussing all your relationship issues with the same people he's supposed to like/feel comfortable around? Vice versa ... Are you venting about how horrible your family is WITH him? Have you told him stories about a painful traumatic childhood?

- Are you meeting in neutral spaces/low stress outings? 

Ex: if you guys went to lunch with your family and met up at the restaurant in your own vehicles, the interaction would be neutral. He could seek comfort in the fact that he's in control and can remove himself if things get too uncomfortable. 

- Are you forcing him to meet them in THEIR home?

Ex; imagine being uncomfortable or nervous and having to meet the person in their own personal space. Not only does he have to worry about them liking him, he's also in an uncomfortable environment. He has to convince them while he's standing in their home. 

Edited by rchubn
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Hey, OP. I am going to list problems you have identified in your relationship:

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(1) When my mom [and her family] is around, he doesn’t speak. He will say hello to her [/ them] but rarely anything more. He doesn’t visit her [/ them] with me. She has mentioned feeling uncomfortable around him to me and I make up excuses, constantly.

This is a red flag. He is being cold and rude to your loved ones. I do not think you should "put up" with that. I do not think you should be nice, understanding, or passive about how he is acting around your family (your proposed message / statement to him seems too nice, understanding, and passive in light of his unacceptable behavior). If I were in your situation, I would sit down with him and do two things. First, I would try to figure out what reasons underlie his behaviors toward your family. Second, I would tell him that your family is no longer negotiable. He either makes an active effort to refrain from actively being dismissive of them, or he will be actively putting the relationship in jeopardy.

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(2) I almost always pay when we go places and most of the things in our house were purchased by me

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(3) I do 98% of the housework as well, including picking up the things that he leaves sitting out.

These are less serious problems which you can likely sort out with direct communication. Ask to talk. Say you feel concerned because you feel you are paying for a vast majority of the meals and think he should be paying for them around half of the time - is he open to that. Additionally, you feel concerned because you feel you have been doing a lot of the regular upkeep chores. You'd like him to contribute by managing chores XYZ. Can he do that?

(Of course, if one of you is a homemaker, then that person would naturally be doing more of the chores. Additionally, if one person works long hours and the other only part-time, it would make sense that the part-time person do a little more. I am assuming that those situations do not presently apply).

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Additional Note: I feel like a bother just asking him to let out the dog. I have put up with these things

To me, this shows a lack of confidence or difficulty communicating needs on your part. Do you think you have difficulty communicating in your relationship? If so, why? 

Edited by Pleasedonot5
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Stand-offish/cold/stone faced. Is that how he controls his feelings? never expresses himself? This is how he copes with things, by avoidance? Maybe you should rethink about marrying this man.

Put your foot down, and tell him to grow up...his behavior is rude and childish. As ya you better bring up that conversation he had with his dad. harboring such hate like that is a warning to you about his personality.

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