shxnamaria asks: I’ve been in a relationship for the past 6 months and he’s an amazing guy. It’s just that I’m the super popular party-going kind and he’s the exact opposite; a studious quiet introvert who’s prone to intense bouts of self-loathing. We each have had a failed relationship before this and that in fact brought us closer to each other. I had a boyfriend for 2.5 years and we broke up cause things were getting rough at home and also it was gonna end up being a long distance one. In his case, he was obsessed with a girl for a whole year only to realize that she was just using him to get over her on and off “slut phase.” I wear my heart on my sleeve and I love expressing my emotions regardless of who’s watching me or wherever I am. The fact that he chooses to push me away just cause “people are watching” hurts me. A lot in fact. And when I ask him for a kiss or a hug he makes up reasons to get over it. We live in a place where there’s 0 probability to get some much needed alone time, and all I’m asking if for a few stolen pecks, and he thinks that the physicality is the only driving force in our relationship. And he’s the kind of person who gets committed to a lot of things at the same time and leaves me hanging in the middle of nowhere. He doesn’t talk to me or spend time with me like he used to do. He calls me inconsiderate and selfish for asking for some time with him. I mean it’s reached a point where he doesn’t call or text me without me doing it first. He’s also ready to jump at it when I suggest a break. Like he’s been waiting for it for a long time. He’s also this kinda person who can shut me up with his arguments. I don’t know what to do. I just am stuck in a ditch. Should I take a break or just leave him and go? Or adjust with all this and live with a heavy heart?
Hi shxnamaria –
I can relate to both sides in this case, at least on the Public Displays of Affection issue. I am an extremely enthusiastic in my affection, and love to jump on people and lick them all sorts of times when they don’t want me to. On the other hand, I know what it’s like to be at the dog park, trying to look all independent and tough, and my human Handsome lifts me up in the air and starts kissing my nose and… well, it’s both irritating and humiliating. (Especially because I just loooove his kisses, and that makes it SO hard to look cool!)
So what to do about it?
Well, have you ever heard of the concept of Love Languages? A human named Gary Chapman wrote a very popular book a few years ago, with the idea that different people express love in different ways, and so when we love someone it’s really important for us to show it to them in ways that work for them, while also letting them know how to express their love to us. So you needed this boy to find ways to show you love by acting it out (as you say, just “a few stolen pecks” would be enough), but you also needed to find out what his “love language” is – in other words, what you could do that would feel like love to him.
Now that part’s great, and actually fun. For example, a person who needs to be told they’re loved in words a lot can help their special person get more verbally expressive, while learning to show their love by actions (say, giving flowers) in ways they’re not used to, which that other person needs to feel loved. And on my side, Handsome has learned to give me lots of tummy rubs and treats, while I’ve learned that he really appreciates me sitting still when he asks me to. While we both really love cuddling – no one needed to be taught that one!
But… and yes, there’s a ‘but’ here… You might have noticed that when I talked about you and your boyfriend, I ended some words in “-ed.” I have to admit that the way he’s acting, I wonder if this relationship is actually over. He sounds like he’s very irritated with the things you ask, and looking for a way out.
Now I’m not sure there’s not a chance of flames getting re-lit, but I am thinking that, for right now, a break is a good idea. Let him feel what it’s like to not hear from you for a while. And see if he misses you.
But if he does – if you guys try taking a break and think you’d like to try making things work – then I really suggest trying to figure out his love language. What is it he wants his girlfriend to do? What makes him feel loved, cared for, heard? It might be very simple, and he might be totally aware of it. Or if not, maybe you might check out Dr. Chapman’s book (he’s got tons of them now; you could find the one that’s right for you two) and see if that helps.
But right now I can say for sure – you deserve better than you’re getting.
There’s a great book – I suppose it’s the best book ever written about dogs – called The Call of the Wild, by Jack London. And in it there’s a beautiful part describing the communication between a man and a dog where the man shows his affection by petting the dog, but so softly that the dog can’t really feel it enough for it to feel good, and the dog shows his love by chewing on the man’s hand, so much that it hurts a little. But both can tell that the other is doing this to say they love them, so they both like it.
And that’s great. But you’re a human, in a relationship with a human. So you can tell each other what you want, and need. And you deserve to have those needs met.
So that’s my best suggestion, shxnamaria. Try giving each other some space, and then try giving each other what you each really want and need. And if that all works – wow could you be in the great great situation you two good people should be enjoying!
All my best,