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BF; Treats me beautifully but doesn't 'do' emotions or emotional talk

(202 Posts)
goodcompany2 Tue 26-May-15 12:34:30

He's been a great work friend for years, then a stop start casual date for a few months then a 'proper' out in the open boyfriend for 9 months. He treats me respectfully, thoughtfully, kind and is very affectionate. Our sex life is the best ever and we both have been around the block a few times so know a good thing when we find it. There shouldn't be any problems, we don't argue, respect personal space, share expenses, have same sense of humour and personal values. Yet I am driving myself nuts with wondering how to cope with his lack of verbal emotions.

I fessed up to being smitten after a few months and then to loving him a few months back. He has been honest from start & reckons he's never been in love (has ex wife/GF's and kids) so he doesn't say it back. If pushed/cornered he will say stuff like what would you prefer someone who treats you 'like a princess' or someone who just says it? He's right I feel cherished on a daily basis but want to have conversation about 'us', the future, hopes and ambitions etc but he lives for the moment and avoids such talk politely or just resorts to joking.

Think I need to get some perspective please.

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LadyBlaBlah Tue 26-May-15 12:44:53

Does he say he doesn't love his kids?

NowSissyThatWalk Tue 26-May-15 12:47:31

Hmmm...It all sounds a little 'skimming the surface' kind of stuff.

I should imagine it must be lovely to have someone treat you nicely and I'm happy for you smile

However I can't help thinking that this will only start to annoy you more, and I wouldn't blame you. You've been together for 9 months but from what you've said it's like you're still right at the start.
Relationships develop, they intensify. I think after a while the 'princess' thing will start to wear a bit thin and you'll yearn for something more, as anyone would.

It's very sad that he doesn't think he's ever been in love - Do you know what his childhood was like? Was he shown love and affection?

Offred Tue 26-May-15 12:53:05

erm... I think my answer would be I'd prefer someone who loves me. I wouldn't like a man who referred to me as a princess to be treated in a certain way but wasn't capable of love. I don't think you need to get perspective on this. I think he does. Another human being will not tolerate a relationship where they are taking all the emotional risks and being stonewalled for very long. I find it hard to believe he has never been in love if he was married and has gfs and if that is actually true he's absolutely the kind of cold and calculating person anyone should avoid being in a relationship with. It seems way more likely to me that actually he just is afraid of being vulnerable and he is turning it into your problem. In any case there is a problem with his behaviour towards you no matter how cherished you feel. Is it really that much nicer to be with someone who actually doesn't cherish you but does a good job of pretending to than with someone who doesn't and doesn't pretend to?

Mide7 Tue 26-May-15 12:54:06

Actions speak louder than words. I understand it's frustrating for you but i agree with what he's said. Him treating you well and not saying it is better than the other way round.

Although not as good as treating you both and also saying it

Inexperiencedchick Tue 26-May-15 12:56:35

I agree with him. Don't push and enjoy every moment of your time together.
Had someone in my life who would say things that weren't true and I lost any trust to him...
Actions speak louder than words!

Better to be treated as he treats you instead of being with someone who just talks beautifully...

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe2726 Tue 26-May-15 13:02:51

I think you may need to come to terms with the fact that he doesn't feel that way about you. He treats you nicely and he's good to you (presumably it's the other way around too?) but he doesn't want to vocalise his feelings, for whatever reason.

He's free not to do that. You're free to act as you see fit. I wouldn't keep asking him to tell you; a response would be hollow as it wouldn't be coming from him. It's also very irritating when somebody pressurises for a response (however well meant). Don't do it. He will either tell you in his own time - or he won't.

Offred Tue 26-May-15 13:11:02

Just strikes me as a 'well I don't hit you like your ex did' argument to me.

You aren't happy with a relationship where the behaviour is at odds with the verbal expressions and tbh who would be?

He's imposing his version of how the relationship should be on you by avoiding conversations and 'joking'. I just think if he knows what you want from a relationship and so do you and this relationship is not providing it and he is stonewalling you over the issue then the relationship isn't worth pursuing.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship where someone treats you respectfully AND loves you. You're not being a crazy hysterical woman by expecting that 9 months in either....

Offred Tue 26-May-15 13:14:20

and I think a man who treats you like this but won't entertain discussion of feelings and says he has never loved anyone despite having been married with children is just another version of the man who says a load of lovely things he has no intention of doing. Both are selfish and controlling IMO.

You, of course, don't have to stay with him if this is what he offers; total control, not providing for what you need and making you feel mad for trying to talk about it.

Offred Tue 26-May-15 13:16:45

And it is hardly respectful to stonewall you and treat you as though he loves you whilst basically telling you he doesn't and doesn't ever expect to.

shovetheholly Tue 26-May-15 13:22:03

I understand why this upsets you (I would be upset too), but I think there's an elephant in the room: why is he like this with emotions? It's not very normal is it? What on earth has happened to him that he's incapable of feeling love? Or of planning for the future?

My guess is that this runs deep. Does he come from a very buttoned-up family, where things are never verbalised?

goodcompany2 Tue 26-May-15 13:30:28

Gosh. Lots of stuff there. I don't ask him about feelings now, we had the conversations and I don't push it now once he explained himself. I used to tease him that he seems 'emotionally constipated'. He's never cried, can't watch films that are too intense or full of suspense, won't watch the news because it's full of people doing awful things to each other. Yet he will put himself for friends, colleagues, family way above what is expected.

I've met the parents, kids, friends and he's hoping we'll holiday together this year. When we're out we holds hands, he opens doors and is attentive. He isn't stonewalling, he believes he doesn't feel love etc although he feels strong affection. May be a language thing, male/female thing who knows. I don't feel insecure as such just don't know how to feel like we'll move forward if we can't communicate emotionally.
We each have our own homes and I don't not want to live together. Although I would like to maybe do so once kids grown up (at least 6 years away lol).

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Poofus Tue 26-May-15 13:34:40

Did he have an upbringing that was upsetting or abusive? I used to feel a bit like him, and that was the reason why. Quite a lot of therapy later, I feel much more OK with my emotions.

Quitelikely Tue 26-May-15 13:35:46

Strange. I'm struggling to believe he never told his ex wife he loved her.....and she had his children?

Maybe he doesn't love you and doesn't want to hurt your feelings by saying so outright.

DrMorbius Tue 26-May-15 13:37:02

OP what do you mean by he is very affectionate ? How does he demonstrate this?

Treating someone respectfully and with kindness is a learned behaviour.

Does he "love" his kids? Although that is only a minor and not very accurate indicator. He may lack empathy in general but still love his kids.

goodcompany2 Tue 26-May-15 13:37:08

Actually he mentioned that his father's favourite phrase to him as a kid was 'be a man'. Family very buttoned up. Marriage was to a girlfriend he got pregnant. Wasn't a good marriage. It was very sexless and he was very unfaithful. He was the sole financial provider as she didn't want to work and his family also thought he should be the provider. Don't know much about his marriage. He has been very honest about how terrible a husband he was and uncritical of wife. Weirdly they lived together for 16 + years. He left 7 years ago and has yet to sort out the divorce. She seems disinterested in whether they divorce or not. He walked away from the house as an asset and does pay maintenance.

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shovetheholly Tue 26-May-15 13:44:17

I think in that description you have the kernel of the answer you're looking for as to why he's like this. It can be incredibly difficult - even frightening - for men who have been told that they're not allowed to have feelings to experience them. To love someone is to take an incredible risk - to open yourself up emotionally - and that can be something that is simply too difficult for those who have been taught that such openness is counter to their gender role. Paternal bullying leaves an appalling legacy, and there is not really a strong cultural sense of the damage that it does to young boys.

There can also be a lot of self-blame and guilt for things that go 'wrong' with relationships, which can get in the way. I suspect this may be at the route of his failure to progress the divorce.

He really ought to see a counsellor, because this isn't sustainable. You can't go through life walling yourself off emotionally, or blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong.

goodcompany2 Tue 26-May-15 13:47:43

Affectionate; hand holding, cuddling, hair stroking, offering to fetch carry etc, walks on outside of pavement always. We rarely sit without some sort of physical contact being maintained. I mention a favourite food, chocolate etc and he gets it. He is honest, he has said he doesn't do love - so not trying to spare my feelings. I tend to go with multiple choice conversations to help him have the vocabulary if he struggles and it adds humour to take pressure off lol.
e.g. I am wondering whether.
a) you don't love me
b) you love me but don't like saying it
c) you sometimes love but you don't love me but it may happen
d) you sometimes love but sorry it's not going to happen with me

I got option e) I just don't think I do love but I am very fond of you and really enjoy your company!! I live in the present and have no plans to end it .

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overmydeadbody Tue 26-May-15 13:52:07

Maybe he doesn't know what love actually is and is confusing "feeling in love" with actually loving someone.

He might not feel 'in love' with you, but that is just a feeling and is not real love anyway.

Real love is actually an action, not a feeling, and from his actions it sounds like he does love you, but he doesn't know that that is love and he just thinks it is a feeling.

Because clearly from the way he treats you, his children and his friends, he does love you all, and acts in a loving way.

I'd say this is a semantic problem.

goodcompany2 Tue 26-May-15 13:56:57

shovetheholly - re the divorce that is a possibility. Would explain it. He was in a relationship for a few years prior to us getting together and his lack of divorce became an issue. For me it's not, yet, it would be if I wanted moving in together but I don't. We work together and date, that's enough. Plus he is pleasant and kind to my kids but he could no more live in a noisy household of kids and music than I could learn to fly.
Most our our couple time is kid free at his and it's great. Like forgetting I have responsibilities, being spoilt and having great sex.
Sometimes I wonder if he has too much empathy that he prefers to shut down emotions?

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5hell Tue 26-May-15 14:03:04

does he make you feel like he loves you? i think that's what matters really. yes it's lovely when someones sayd "i love you", but it's not everything - me and dh rarely say it but we both know it's true.

he may has some issues relating to emotions, or past experiences, but it's still fairly early days in you relationship in some wys, so he may well open up to you about that in time, and then you can have more deep and meaningful, future-planning type conversations.

for now, enjoy what sounds like a lovely realtionship, have fun together and give him some time to open up.

goodcompany2 Tue 26-May-15 14:04:40

overmydeadbody - like that. Maybe re-evaluating love as a verb/action instead of a 'feeling' may make it less threatening.

Still would be nice to have the odd conversation about what our long term aspirations may be regarding the relationship should we continue to feel great about each other.

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DrMorbius Tue 26-May-15 14:05:03

goodcompany2 - it's a question of what is love? Big question I know, but people have different ways of feeling, understanding, articulating love.

If for example you say a man who does all he can to make your life better - loves you. Then sounds like your partner loves you. He just may not have "learned to demonstrate/articulate" in the traditional ways it is usually displayed.

goodcompany2 Tue 26-May-15 14:16:48

5hell - you're right. I know I need to stop analysing but I am a verbal person. Chat and witter non stop at times. When I told him a few months back that I needed to process the fact that a relationship with him meant I would never hear that he loved me and was unsure whether I could buy into that. He was really quiet (read upset I think) that he was unable to meet my needs for verbal stuff. He offered me the chance to end it and said had I considered it? I said I had but was trying to reconcile his words and his actions and really didn't want to end it over my urges to talk about feelings. On every other area of our friendship and relationship we are so in tune just the verbalising of feelings. I think I was on the verge of throwing away a great guy rather than compromise. Realistically one person can't meet all my needs and his great qualities are just so damn great.

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goodcompany2 Tue 26-May-15 14:31:32

shovetheholly-may I ask whether you are a guy or a girl? U seem v insightful, parental bullying, not thought of it that way. His dad is an extremely difficult character.

DrMorbius - my life is enriched by this man so I guess that answers everything really. He goes the extra mile every time to make me happy.

5hell - thank u, it's hard to slow down due to the pre-existing friendship and work proximity but it's excellent advice. Just enjoy the journey - not my forte but should be more so.

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