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Afraid of getting bored


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I'm 24 and in a relationship with a guy who's 27. I love him very, very much. We have managed to get it all in -- we have the shared values, the shared lifestyle aspirations, the shared goals, the comfort levels, the trust. It's good enough to have made us decide to move in together soon and buy a house together (this is the most we want to formalize the relationship, so it's as good as getting married).


But I am having niggling doubts about it. The problem is just that though we communicate well enough on relationship issues and on daily routine stuff, and we can share intimate emotional details with each other, I just don't find the intellectual stimulation I enjoy present in the relationship. I love a good conversation; I love it when people share their opinions and bring up topics of discussion. Self-expression really, really gets me off. And he just has a hard time with self-expression.


I've brought this up twice in the last few months, and both times, it's been a wrenching, miserable conversation. He says he loves me, he accepts me the way I am, he loves listening to me talk or enjoying any form of expression I may choose to employ. I love him -- but I find it very hard to deal with the fact that he is so reluctant to share his opinions. He will share them if I bring up a topic and specifically ask him about it; otherwise he just won't. And it drives me bats. I am very, very afraid that I am getting bored.


He has not had the happiest childhood and was once extremely shy and not at all confident. I am very proud of the fact that he is, despite the past, a very mature, kind man. He says that he really has to work on talking to me, something I can understand. It is a fact on record that I barely talked to anyone until I was 17 and I've had my own self-esteem issues in the past and still. I know how tough it is to risk expressing oneself, no matter how comfortable one is with the audience -- of one or many, whatever the case may be. But he also feels he is intellectually inferior to me -- something I really don't agree with. He knows a lot about stuff I don't know anything about, as I've told him very often. Unfortunately, he also doesn't really have any hobbies that he can talk about, so drawing him out on that point is difficult. He says he cares about a couple of activitioes -- but they're stuff he never really brings up and hasn't cared to talk about to me for a couple of months now.


I have that conversational, intellectual chemistry with a few of my friends and cannot say how wonderful it is and how much I enjoy it. With my boyfriend, it's just been there once, at length, for one wonderful day when we talked and talked and talked and he loosened up enough to just laugh and share and tell me what he thought. And how I wish it were there all the time -- if it were there even HALF of the time I would have no doubts about this at all because I'd know we'd have a stimulating relationship even in the future, as we share ourselves and our thoughts and grow.


The two discussions we've had on this point have ended in a stalemate. He says he is satisfied with the conversations we have and they're among the best he's ever had with anyone. He also feels I'm focussing on the negative. It's impossible for me to explain that intellectually, he just isn't stimulating me and that I've had much more stimulating relationships with other people so I know this isn't working for me the way it could.


And then there's also the fact that for me, sex is a lot about the intellectual. Right now we have a comfortable sex life. But I am, again, afraid that boredom could set in and ruin that as well.


I just don't know what to do. I don't want to give up on this at all and throw away what we have together. I love him and don't want to hurt him or make him feel even more insecure. I want to be patient and hope that it will help him share himself with me more. But I am already feeling restless and am not sure what to do next or how to communicate with him better.


Please help.

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I don't know, Ellie. Maybe I am expecting too much. I did forget to mention that we're currently in a long-distance relationship, so the lack of interesting conversation hits even harder.


I know what you mean about having friends for different needs. I share different interests with different friends. In this case, it's just starting to feel that he isn't interested enough in anything much and doesn't have that fertile intellectual life that I would like to get glimpses of.


Maybe it's an unreal expectation. But it's been pretty important to me in the past and I would love to have it with him -- that capacity to talk about anything and everything, to have him tell me about stuff enthusiastically and openly and with passion, instead of my leading the conversation around and us just talking about mundane daily routine stuff. I have hobbies and interests beyond work and family in order to get out of the routine. And talking to people about theirs gets it even further out of the routine.

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I have had communication issues before although not quite that one (because if I don't find the man intellectually stimulating it doesn't get much past the second or third date). I used to "expect" the conversation to flow the way it did with my best girlfriends until I realized that a man like that would probably have effeminate qualities that would turn me off (nothing wrong with effeminate qualities, just doesn't do it for me in a romantic relationship!). I have adjusted my expectations somewhat and am glad I did.


However, now that I am in a relationship where the conversation flows, where it is intellectually stimulating, and where we can talk for hours and never run out of things to say (at least not 95% of the time), I am glad I did not settle for being generally dissatisfied with communication as I was in certain previous relationships. We've been dating for a bit over a year, know each other for 12 years.


So, my advice is be hard on yourself as to whether you think your expectations of who he needs to be in your life are realistic and then, accept your own conclusions. If you need that intellectual stimulation, more power to you. However, accept the good with the bad - chances are that a man who intellectually stimulates you might at times be "too" opinionated - so be prepared to deal with that. I would stop talking to him about it - he is right - you need to accept him as he is and while he might out of his love for you try to change somewhat he might end up feeling too awkward or self-conscious and that won't be a good vibe for either of you.


Hope this was a bit helpful.

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Ellie, we talk everyday on the phone, two or three times, and try to chat online as well. It certainly isn't the ideal way to spend time with each other. We get "together time" only about once a month or less. I had an accident that's kept me confined to the house for three months, so our last really good private time when we could just hang around and be together has been nearly four months ago. We've met since then, but haven't had an opportunity to just "be" around each other -- we've had to go on short, very public dates instead. I do think this has strained communication a bit, because we've not been in a position for private, quiet, limitless time to just get used to being around each other and open up.


I probably won't see him face-to-face again for another month.


Batya, good for you, that intellectual chemistry is just so much fun. I have been thinking on similar lines about the flowing conversation -- it so happens that this happens for me mostly with female friends and with gay male friends! Bf has a more reserved conversation style, but I really should be just subtly working to make my conversation style more comfortable for him and draw him out a little, slowly. Until I've made that effort, there's no point my taking a decision on this. You're also right -- talking about it isn't helping at all.


He opens up (or has opened up) when we've been spending time in person, when we've been doing something fun, and when we've been hanging around enough for that deeply intimate, comfortable feeling to steal over us. The situation isn't helping now. We are trying to spend a month together soon, so I should reserve judgment until then.


Your views have been most useful. Thanks so very much.

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Hmmm- do you think maybe what attracted you initially - that sort of masculine reserved style - is what is not working now that the initial excitement has faded and you are looking for the day to day communication more than the "head over heels" feeling? I strongly agree with you that yes, even in couples where the conversation seems to "flow" there are times - maybe even much of the time - when you both need to adapt your communication styles to suit the other person. For example, when my bf is very busy or tired and he nevertheless wants to hear a story I want to share, I give it to him in sound-bite version (I also offer to wait for later but sometimes he really does want to hear it then) - rather than the longer version given the situation.


One more question - is what you are feeling when he doesn't give an opinion that he doesn't "care" enough about what you care about?


Good luclk!!

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hehehehe! No, the masculine reserved style was not what attracted me at first. We were just buddies to begin with but really fond of each other and both of us secretly thought the other would make a great partner. Then there was a sudden series of events that catalyzed us into realizing we were actually in love. very heady stuff.


I think we do the day to day practical conversation perfectly! I just find it mundane sometimes. I wish we'd talk about more abstract topics, about hobbies and interests. Something unrelated to everyday life and what's just the essential news bulletins and news analysis. That's the problem here.


as for the not giving opinions, yes, I do think he doesn't care about the same things I care about. And I wish he'd talk about what he cares about, at least! But then, keep in mind, these are hobbies and interests, not day to day stuff and personal issues. Those he is very, very good about discussing.

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I do think he doesn't care about the same things I care about. And I wish he'd talk about what he cares about, at least! But then, keep in mind, these are hobbies and interests, not day to day stuff and personal issues.


Is he maybe afraid of boring you by talking about things that you don't know much about? Have you shown an interest in his hobbies? (I'm not talking doing massive research and becoming an expert on a subject, but more of a...trying to understand them.) I don't care much about sports, for example, but my ex did...and while I wouldn't be caught dead watching the SuperBowl, I'd ask him very basic questions about the games, etc. He actually enjoyed explaining some things to little ignorant me.


How do you usually go about trying to get him to talk about things?

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