On-Again, Off-Again Boyfriend
Q: I have been dating a man nearly a year, though I knew him even before his last relationship. We began dating sporadically and then several days a week. A couple of months ago we stopped going out on weekends. When I question him about the change, he simply says he has things to do or is tired. Furthermore, he has denied it has been that long since we have gone out on a weekend. His phone calls on the weekends are few and far between. When we get together during the week, we enjoy one another's company very much. He is warm, compassionate and extremely passionate when we are together. This leaves me very confused and with mixed feelings. Recently, when I told him the message he was sending me was quite clear, he responded very angrily and defensively. This too passed.
He never makes plans in advance but rather calls last minute if at all. Lately, I for the most part initiate the get-togethers. There are times when I call that I feel as though I am bothering him, and there are times he will call and be extremely talkative. I take advantage of the latter. He can be spiteful and not call if he made the last call. I wonder if he's playing a game. He denies this or will simply pacify me by agreeing with me. I don't get very far when I try to address these issues. Any suggestions? -- Lacey, 51
Dr. Susan: The message your so-called boyfriend is sending you is actually quite clear, if you know how to read it. It's merely this: He is satisfied being with you when he feels like it, not when you feel like getting together. What that means in reality is that you don't have a genuine, two-way, equal-partner relationship. He's telling you by his actions that if you want to enjoy his company, take it when you can get it, i.e., when he's in the mood. And don't rock the boat by pestering him for more (that's him speaking, not me). I wouldn't exactly say he's playing games, but I don't blame you for feeling as though he is. I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that he goes out with someone else, or even a variety of women, on the weekends. He's not telling you the whole truth because he doesn't want to. Don't judge his level of commitment by how passionate he is when he's with you. That's probably only a physical thing with no deeper meaning. . You're not teenagers, so I'd suggest deciding how many more months you want to invest in this relationship. It sounds as though it's on its way downhill, and it's unlikely to reverse course suddenly.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.