Emotionally distant

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Inky 8 months ago.

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    My boyfriend and I have been feeling emotionally distant with each other. I know many factors that probably led to this.

    1. We have been in a on and off relationship with each other.
    2. He is focusing school and studying, so we don’t really have much time to spend together (once a week).
    3. When we do spend time together, we would have sex and then he sleeps because he’s exhausted and tired from school and work.
    4. I realized he has Avoidant-type attachment while I have Anxious-Preoccupied attachment.

    We hardly ever talk to each other anymore when we are not seeing one another. When we do, I feel like I don’t know what he’s thinking. I would ask him and he would tell me that his mind is blank.

    The only time I feel close with him is when we have sex, and at times I can’t help but think he only wants to stay with me for it. I know it is hard to make this relationship work, but is there any way or advice for us to be emotionally connected?



    Dear Annie:

    At this point, the nature of your relationship is that the two of you meet about once a week and have sex. Following the sex, he sleeps (“we would have sex and then he sleeps”). There is very little talking between the two of you (“We hardly ever talk to each other), not between the meetings and not after the sex.

    You “don’t know what he’s thinking”. When you ask him what he is thinking, he tells you “that his mind is blank”.

    You wrote: “The only time I feel close with him is when we have sex”-

    – well, the relationship clearly is a sexual relationship, it is about getting together and having sex about once a week. I don’t know what the relationship used to be like, but now, this is what it is.

    You asked: “is there any way or advice for us to be emotionally connected?”- my advice is that you remove the sexual component from the relationship, that is tell him just that, no more sex between the two of you (and follow through!)

    See then what is left, see then if there really was nothing else for him, no  other motivation to be with you. It is important to you, isn’t it, to know if his only motivation to be in contact with you is sexual?





    This reminds me of a relationship that I was in, except I was they busy guy. I was also usually very busy with school and work at that time, and I was often very tired when I was finished with my responsibilities. Sometimes, I was too tired to go out when Carla wanted to get out and have fun.

    She  also saw me as emotionally distant. She would say, “you’re here, but you’re not here.” Like yours, our relationship was also largely physical and conversations were sparse. Like your boyfriend, I also felt my mind was blank when I was able to spend time with Carla. Like you, she misinterpreted my silence as disinterest and avoidance.

    However, my interpretation of the relationship was very different. I felt that being near Carla gave me a sense of peace and calm. Being around her allowed me turn off my mind from all the agitation and noise from the stress of grad-school and work. I felt centered around her such that I was able to relax and re-energize. She made me feel grounded, like I was connected to the earth. Away from her, I felt like the stresses of the world around me were blowing me about like a leaf on the wind.

    I wish I would have told her those things, but I was too close to it all to be able to verbalize those inner sensations. Also, I was much younger then and unfamiliar with those experiences.

    Like you, Carla became upset at my dearth of communication. I felt that she was helping me a lot by just being there; but when she would become upset, it pushed me further way. The more she tried to fix us and control the situation, the more things fell apart. She saw my silence and calm as a mistreatment of her. I saw my quiet as an appreciation of her positive effect on me and as a sign of our success despite the difficulties of life. I did my best to explain, but it didn’t work.

    I think you can initiate conversations with your boyfriend by beginning of topics of interest to him. You can gently probe areas of discussion by being specific. Questions like, “how do you feel?” are too general and vague. “What are you thinking about,” is also too broad.

    I remember once asking a different girlfriend how her day was. She lit up like a Christmas light and rapid fire answers so fast I couldn’t keep up with what she was saying. Later when she was done, she asked me how my day was, and I couldn’t think of anything to say. The question which was very easy for her was massively difficult for me. Sometimes, the male brain needs to focus on specifics in order to be able to respond. So, perhaps to initiate discussion, you could present specifics. Also, you could talk about your feelings with short summaries and give him a chance to respond. Also, ask him for advice. We men enjoy being useful and helpful.

    good luck




    Hi Annie,

    I wouldn’t necessarily cut out all sex, but I would mix it up.

    One night you have your period/cramps. A couple weeks later you surprise him by taking him to a game. A few weeks after that you invite people over so he has to be at least a little bit charming, then go to bed (no sex). A month after that take him out to dinner but then say you’re not in the mood you just want to cuddle.

    Basically throw in some normal couple stuff and see what happens.

    It sounds like he is super comfortable with you. Maybe too comfortable?



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