Author: "Being a Man in a Woman's World"
"Am I being self-centered or is my boyfriend just uninteresting?"
Dear Dr. Neder,I recently started dating a guy. I am 21 and he's 22. We've been together for about 2 months now and it's going really well, but a lot of the time I feel like he is contributing to the relationship a lot more than I am and I don't really know how to fix this.
The thing is, I am a lot more talkative than he is, so conversation tends to be geared towards my interests a lot of the time. But the same is true of activities we do together...he gets involved in stuff I like more than I do in stuff that he likes.
The thing is that he seems to have very limited interests. (well, he likes a lot of stuff, but nothing is personally his OWN. See, he only recently has decided to expand his horizons by getting away from his past obsession with video games...his personal choice by the way).
It seems like I have a lot more interests and hobbies than he does, and I'm involved in a lot more things than he is. But after two months one would think I would know a lot more about my boyfriend and what types of things he is interested in.
I fear that I am being self-centered in the relationship and focusing on my interests a lot more than his. But I don't know how to change this since it's almost like he doesn't have any interests to talk about or get involved in.
Any ideas? Really appreciate your help. Thanks so much.
What an incredibly great question this is. I'm so proud of you for asking - even KNOWING to ask. I sure hope this guy knows how lucky he is being with you. Unfortunately, very, very few modern women even think about these things. All I have to say is: "WOW!"
As you've said, you're far more talkative than he is. This tends to be women's downfall. Instead, of talking to him ABOUT him, you talk to him about all the things YOU know - primarily yourself. This is natural since we're all interested in ourselves and the things in our lives, but if you really want to build a huge connection with someone you have to break out of that pattern and learn to focus on that other person.
The other problem you face is simply this: most men aren't good about talking about themselves; their feelings, their needs, etc.
The good news is that there are some very simple answers to this.
First, let me say that most women assume that men should just tell them what's going on - and NEVER, EVER even bother to ask. Then, they write to me complaining that their guys are shallow or hiding something. Women need to understand that neither of these are likely. It's far, FAR more likely that the woman just never bothered to find out!
Here's what you need to do:
First of all, plan that over the next few weeks, you're going to try to NOT talk about anything about yourself other than some current events of particular interest and relevance to him. For instance, you can talk about your day, but keep it down to 2 minutes (yes, I know, that's VERY difficult for most women!) and then say, "Ok, enough about me. I want to hear about YOUR day now."
At first, he's going to be surprised - whether he shows it or not. He's probably going to give you some short, simplistic answers because we guys usually don't believe that you want to know (and most of you don't!) You have to be persistent here. Don't let him get away with these summaries. Ask him SPECIFIC questions about his day like what he did, how he feels about it, etc.
In addition, you want to make it easy for him. Understand that most guys lack the wiring you girls have to turn your emotions into words. This isn't natural for most guys. We don't connect them well and thus, have to work very hard in order to express emotional ideas. That doesn't mean we can't or that we don't necessarily want to, it's just that it's very difficult for us. So, help him along here. Make it easy by asking, "So, when that guy at work said that, were you angry?" A simple question like this allows him to say "yes" or "no". Based on his answer you can say, "Yeah, I'd feel that way too." [then, right back to him] "Are you going to follow it up, or do you think it'd be better to drop it?"
You see, you're going to have to listen - really listen - to him here, but what do you think the value of that's going to be? Answer: it's going to be HUGE. You may be the very first girl to EVER find out about him! The point about this is that you're using your own communication skills to draw him out - rather than to just express yourself and your interests. See how powerful that can be?
On to his interests, you can do the same thing here. You can say, "Let's get together this weekend and go do whatever it is that you want to do.
The problem is that he's going to have a hard time coming up with something. That's pretty common! You're going to have to help him along here too.
Maybe he'd like to take a bike ride or go see something in town that he hasn't seen but was interested in. Maybe a museum or sports event or something. This will tell you at least one of his interests. Another tool that works really well is what I call a "couples hobby". This is something that NEITHER of you has ever tried before but that sounds fun and interesting to you both.
There are 1001 different fun things you can try and this is a great time to begin building your connection by finding just one or two of them. Make it a game to find this thing between you. Bottom line: you're going to discover some really incredible things about this guy - and he about you - all because YOU asked this question!
Good on you for it!
Dr. Dennis Neder
Have a love, relationship or man/woman question? I answer all email. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for answers.
For more information about my book, "Being a Man in a Woman's World", visit: www.beingaman.com
Copyright (c) 2007-2009 Dr. Dennis W. Neder All rights reserved.
Dr. Dennis W. Neder
Author of: Being a Man in a Woman's World
Dedicated to advancing the arts and sciences of relationships.
Start having the relationships YOU deserve!
Got a love, relationship or man/woman question? I answer all letters. You can write to me at email@example.com for answers. For more information about my book, "Being a Man in a Woman's World", visit: www.remingtonpublications.com