Post # 1
My Boyfriend and I have been together for 8 months now. Things have been taking their usual course of things. We have met each other’s friends, he has told his dad and sister about me, and even told me that someday he wishes to propose.
There is this one thing about him that I cannot handle well. Whenever he is upset, he clams up and does not want to talk about it. This has happened previously too. He lives with his parents (because he works in the same city and in India, it is not a big deal) and tries to spend the weekends with them. Any small altercation or arguement that he has at home impacts him to an extent that he does not want to get out of the house and stay in his room all day. I usually try to let him be. But I honestly think that if he tries to talk about it, he will be able to put all his time to better things. Whenever he “Resets”, he apologizes for being a “self centered” person. I really love this man and he loves me too. But I don’t know how to find a solution to this. What worries me is what if such spells become more frequent and prolonged in the future?
We are both in our late twenties; he is 29 and I am 28. We both have decent jobs. I don’t know if the things that he gets upset about are really this big or he just plays them big in his head? What is the point of apologizing if one does not make an attempt at not doing those things again. All I want him to do is to make him talk to me about the things that are bothering him, and not sound like his mom at the same time. This situation upsets me, but at the same time, I don’t want to tell him that it is impacting me to such an extent.
Has anybody dealt with such a situation before? Any suggestions?
Post # 2
People handle conflict in different ways. Some like to deal with it head on, some like to have some space to resolve things in their own head before discussing it with the other person. Neither way is wrong, just different. However in your boyfriend’s case, it doesn’t sound like he wants to deal with it at all and totally shuts down. This could be more than ‘internalizing’ if he’s spending entire days in his room, I would be concerned about anxiety &/ or depression.
Post # 3
I agree, that spending the entire day in his room, due to an upset over a conflict may be indicating a bigger issue. I can slightly relate to you though, as my Fiance comes from a combative family and handles conflict the same way. Rather than talking about it or expressing his feelings he would rather become quiet and internalize things. At first, I would always bother him to talk about it which I feel like just makes things worse in the end.
Some people like to handle conflict differently than others and would prefer quiet time by themselves to decompress. I would say that you are handling this in an appropriate way by allowing him to talk if he wants, or to take some quiet time for himself. In the case of my Fiance, as our relationships progressed, he became more talkative about these things, mainly because I could understand what upset him without him explicitly expressing it. Your relationship is still fairly new, so maybe he just needs time to feel comfortable, but then again, maybe this is how he copes best.
Post # 4
I internalize during conflict. My husband knows and understands this, and allows me to go to another room for awhile, and decompress. I think through things a little slower, rationalize, and come to a point where I can have a reasonable conversation with the issue at hand. However, my husband does force me to address the issue with him after I am done. This way, the issue is discussed and hopefully rectified without any additional conflict or underlying issues.
Perhaps your boyfriend is processing his own way. However, if it’s an all day internalizing for a small issue, I’d definitely make sure to discuss with him, or look at speaking with a counselor of some sort. Apologizing for being “self-centered” every time does sound like a deeper issue for something completely different perhaps.
Post # 5
It sounds like anxiety. He could be ruminating about an argument and feeling worse and worse until it resolves in his head. If he’s willing to get checked by a doctor he could improve his quality of life tenfold. I would rather not say why i know this but, I do know that it sounds familiar to me.
Post # 6
maybe not what you want to hear but from someone who has been with someone like this for over a decade it is very unlikely that this will ever change – this is how he deals with issues (assuming the in bed for a day over a minor issue is a bit overstated) and unless he really wants to totally change who he is as a person there is nothing that you can say or do to change that. If you badger him or force him to talk it will just get worse….
Post # 7
DH used to do this a lot. He dealt with conflict by shutting down. (As other PPs suggested, DH does have depression; I don’t know if that played a role or not.)
Two things helped – First, I brought it up one time when he wasn’t upset about something and explained that I felt like he was shutting me out and that, while I understood that was his way of coping, I need to be able to talk things over with him (this was regarding disagreements betwenen use, not his family).
Second, therapy helped. He did get better at it after we had the above conversation, but he’s been seeing a therapist for his depression and she has been working with him on expressing his feelings (good and bad) and I have noticed a real change, so it’s working.
Post # 8
Unless your BF is open to therapy and he himself really wants to do whatever he can to change, this is who he is and will be. You will NEVER be able to change him. It does NOT matter if YOU believe talking about issues would make things better, he does not see it the same way as you do (otherwise he would be talking about issues rather than shutting down completely). If you decide to get married to him, you need to accept that he will do the exact same thing to you if he’s stressed out or if you guys have a fight — he will shutdown and disappear on you. Which ultimately means when he goes into his shutdown mode, YOU will have to carry all of the burden and make sure things are taken care of until he’s “reset”/ready. This will be hard on you!
Post # 9
Thank you for your suggestions. I could let him be if he wants that but isn’t it important in a relationship to talk about things? I know people are different, but he seems so cold and distant and I feel like I do not matter at all. If not anything else, it just causes frustration.
Post # 10
I spent way too many years in my 20s with emotionally distant/shut down men, excusing it as “this is just how men are” and “maybe one day he will open up more”. Nope. It is sooo not worth it. Healthy, two-way communication is crucial to a healthy relationship. You should most certainly not be left feeling like you “do not matter at all” because he refuses to talk.
The only solution is that he makes a committed effort to work on his coping methods and communication skills with counseling/therapy and demonstrates change. Otherwise, I think you really need to evaluate whether you are prepared to live a lifetime with this. If you feel left out only eight months in…during the honeymoon period….I fear that you will only find this worsens and you feel even more alone as time goes on.
Post # 11
I dated a guy who was just like that. We were together for a few years. It was like he would shut down after conflict. Sometimes I didn’t even know why he did it. Out of no where he would just shut down and shut me out. I always tried to talk about it, and occasionally but very rarely, I’d find out the reason he shut down (assuming it wasn’t an argument between us, which obviously I knew about; many times it was work issues or family and I was left confused).
The most I’d get was the reason why he was upset. There was never a discussion, or any resolution to the conflict. Our serious conversations were me talking, and him being silent. It’s not like he was giving me the silent treatment. He just literally couldn’t communicate! Everything was so internal with him. Which I mean, I understand and can somewhat relate, but relationships need communication!
Normally after a couple days of him being a grumpy, silent, internal person, it was like he would reset. And I would be so excited that my boyfriend was back and happy and normal, I would just move on like the past few days hadn’t happened.
So basically, we never resolved any issues. And after a few years, that caught up to us. I couldn’t stand it anymore, and he was over me as well. So we broke up, and I met my wonderful, communicative husband. DH has never shut down on me for even a second.
Accept that your BF will never change. Let’s say you get married and have kids. How will you handle him retreating and being quiet and internal for days when he is a dad? When you’re living together and he is acting like that?
If it is something you can handle, then by all means, stay with him! Personally, I could not stand it. I need to communicate openly with the person I’m with, and without him shutting down on me.
Good luck, Bee
Post # 12
He has in the past accepted that he sometimes goes through these phases and he knows that it is not healthy. He once even mentioned that he could go see a counsellor. I think it would a good idea and it is nothing that should be frowned upon. I can handle his situtation only if the relationship does not take a hit. What we have is special and great and for some reason, he is unable to understand the co-relation between his state of mind and the relationship’s health.