Relationship Questions and Answers

Communicating Openly



Question

I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 12 months, and the relationship has been great! He treats me like a queen, and he’s really good for me, I really love the person that I’ve become since being with him — he’s a really great guy. But there’s one conundrum: I fell in love with him, and he doesn’t feel the same way. I told him how I felt back in August, and he couldn’t say it back. He said that he needed time. I’m really confused because he shows me that he cares and he displays love, but the fact that I haven’t heard it verbally throws me off. Now, I don’t want to pressure him into feeling something that’s not there, but I would like to know how he feels about me (if there are any feelings). I know that I should ask him, but how do I ask him without sounding like I’m pressuring him into feeling the same way? Our Anniversary is coming up in January, and I honestly don’t know why he’s with me (besides my looks and personality). In addition, my boyfriend has an extremely hard time expressing himself to me. The communication is one way. I’m ALWAYS the one calling him out on something that he did to upset me, but he never reciprocates. I know that I make mistakes, and I know there were times that I may have did something wrong, but he never communicates how he feels, he just brushes it off and I know for a fact that that’s not healthy for a relationship. I would like him to call me out sometimes, I don’t want to feel as though I can get away with anything. How do I get him to feel comfortable with openly communicating with me? I try so hard to lead by example, because expressing my feelings is hard for me too, but he claims that that’s just his personality.

Answer

Thank you for sharing your situation. People often have different communication styles in relationships as well as different ways of behaving in general. The key is to find a style that works for both of you.

One of the most positive ways to encourage someone to talk is to give them the time and space to do it. When he talks about anything make sure you listen without interruptions, opinions, advice, rebuttals or any type of negative reaction. When you do that you’ll be showing him that what he says really matters. Ask him open-ended questions that allow him to explore who he is and don’t worry if he doesn’t share a lot at first.

If you consistently show him it’s safe to talk, by listening to him without interruptions, he will gradually speak more. You’ll also likely learn more about his feelings for you. Many people don’t speak a lot because they were never allowed to growing up or in other relationships. It takes time and practice to build up the ability to talk freely. You can help greatly by listening to him and giving his words importance.

Don’t forget to praise him when he talks, tell him how much you appreciate what he says. As you practice more, you’ll both be developing a communication style where you each talk and listen to the other. You also get to set a positive example of how to do it.