Ask the Therapist: My boyfriend stopped communicating

I am a 21 year old girl and I’m a student.  My boyfriend is 23 and is also a student and we’ve been together for nearly 6 months now. I am his first ever relationship and he lives with his parents.

At the beginning we were always talking to one another, all day and sometimes all night. But when we got in a relationship he started talking less and less.

He always had something to do and had to go, but we still talked for reasonable amount of time I was not very happy that we talked less and less because it made me feel like he did that just to conquer me and when that was done, there was no more need to communicate that much. But I did not say anything because I did not want to be too demanding.  He is a very shy guy and is very respectful and devoted towards his family and so am I.

But recently his sister, who lives abroad, has come with her husband and kids and they are staying at his place. We went from talking during the day and at night before going to bed, to a, “Hi, what’s up?” in the morning and “Bye, goodnight,” before bed.

He has completely ditched me.He says he cannot use his phone too often in front of his sister or else she’ll doubt something. I am very happy that his sister came because I know how excited he was but I cannot bear that he is doing this to me.  His sister is here for 2 months and I’m trying to be patient.

I don’t want to ruin his time by annoying him with relationship matters but it is not fair that he’s nor more got time for me.

What should I do ?

Lisa’s thoughts…

You are both young and like you said, this is his first relationship.  And it sounds like there are family considerations in the mix as well.  And by the way, you do have a right to “bother” him with relationship matters if things are not working in a way that feels right.

The good thing is that you started out communicating well and you were happy.  Now the challenge is to be able to communicate your concerns and needs to him now that things seemed to have shifted.  And hopefully he is able to hear your concerns without being defensive but with openness to solutions.  I suggest you tell him how you feel in a kind, loving way.  You miss how you used to talk and are wondering why things are different.  It’s easy to personalize these types of things but perhaps his change in behavior has nothing to do with you!

This is why approaching him openly and from an “I feel” rather than blame place is ideal.

If he is not open to you, is still defensive or doesn’t seem to have the skills to communicate back,  you might have a problem.  It can take time to learn good relationship communication skills.  And it’s through relationships that people learn.

It appears he still has very strong family influence.  And to better understand where he’s coming from, you won’t know unless you try.  You will then at least be able to make a decision as to whether this relationship is still one you want to be in.

As far as on your end of things, you might consider what is a reasonable amount of time to speak to a boyfriend daily.  Early on, you talked a lot, through the night etc.  But this isn’t necessarily something that is easy to maintain and perhaps you can considering adjusting your expectations to something more realistic to maintain?

Lastly, if he is truly “ditching” you and just doesn’t seem interested, maybe he’s not.  Then you ask yourself, “Why am I still here?”

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Lisa’s responses are not to be considered “therapy” but rather educational; her thoughts are based on the limited information available. Please seek a local individual, couples or family therapist if it is therapy that you seek.

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Lisa is offering Online Therapy and Counseling services to individuals seeking help with their marriage or relationships.  California residents only to adhere to state licensing laws.