“Ladies, the right man for you will pursue you. Actively. He won’t leave you wondering whether he’s into you or not.”
~ Mandy Hale
In my practice, I often work with women who are confused and frustrated if their male partners are not strong communicators of feelings.
It can be extremely painful for a woman to want more intimate communication with a man, especially if she thought they were on the same page initially with regards to the relationship.
As a therapist, I stay very curious when working with a woman who wants more emotional intimacy from a relationship than the man does.
I listen for whether the male counterpart may have a history in other relationships of distancing, difficulty with communicating emotions, and avoidance of commitment. I also explore whether the woman may have a history of trauma that may make her more sensitive and reactive to perceived rejection or abandonment.
I encourage women to notice the relational patterns they find themselves in.
- Do they seem to attract emotionally distant men or often stay in relationships in which they feel deprived of emotional intimacy?
In such relationships, the woman often feels she has to be patient, lower her expectations and accept much less than she desires in order to stay in the relationship. Or great conflict may be sparked if she fights for greater closeness.
It is no easy decision as to whether to stay with an emotionally distant man.
One option is for the woman to take a step back and reflect on the experience of wanting more than the male.
- What ultimately will be gained by pursuing a man who does not want the same things?
On the other hand, in therapy we may question her assumption that the man wants less closeness.
It may be that he does want closeness, but has an equal need for space. Or, like many men, he wants closeness but lacks the emotional skills for identifying and expressing feelings.
If the woman complains or nags about the lack of emotional intimacy, he may experience painful feelings of inadequacy or deep fears of losing autonomy. He may react by withdrawing or defending himself, to protect himself or avoid further fights.
The more the male partner distances and avoids intimacy or commitment, the more the female may feel rejected and abandoned.
Her strong bids for connection, in the form of angry protests, may meet with further dismissal and defensiveness because the man does not feel good enough or accepted.
This pattern or dance can start very early in a relationship, beyond the couples’ awareness. It can ultimately create a negative feedback loop and terrible self-fulfilling prophecy, causing the very rejection and abandonment the woman wants to avoid.
I ask my female clients to try to dialogue calmly and vulnerably with their partners about their need for more emotional communication, avoiding complaints or criticisms.
- Is the male partner willing to have and open dialogue if she is being more vulnerable?
- Is he open to recognizing how his distancing is affecting his partner?
- Is he willing to consider individual or couple’s therapy to develop insight into his intimacy/commitment fears, and to expand his emotional communication skills?
- In other words, is he willing to fight for the relationship by venturing into the unfamiliar and perhaps threatening territory of emotions?
Ultimately, all women deserve to find partners who can respond to their need for love and closeness in the relationship.
Jennifer Rubolino, EdD, LMHC – www.drjenniferrubolino.com
You want more from your relationship, but your partner seems to feel differently. You want closeness and intimacy, security and commitment. You want someone you can turn to for support. He is as good as unavailable.
Unavailability like this often comes from emotional absence, which can take different forms.
Your partner might consistently dodge serious conversations, and not just about the relationship. Maybe you had a hard day at work you want to tell him about, but he directs the conversation to what you’ll do on the weekend.
Another form of emotional absence is the wishy-washy, noncommittal type.
You want to know if he’s coming to your work Christmas party with you, and he never gives you a solid yes or no. Even more frustrating is when you want more from the relationship, and he won’t tell you whether he’s ready to take the next step.
Finally, his emotional absence might look like letting you do all the work in the relationship.
It feels like you’re the one making plans, celebrating anniversaries, and making romantic gestures—and where is he?
At this point, you’re questioning if your relationship can last like this, but losing your connection with him is scary. It’s like hanging over an abyss of unknowns, and that makes you anxious, then frustrated, and finally angry.
What you’re missing is intimacy, the glue that holds the relationship together.
Even if you don’t lose your relationship, with the lack of intimacy your relationship will have conflict and may even lead to affairs.
Feeling you want more from the relationship than your partner is not a situation that will resolve itself. It requires action and will result in either a stronger relationship, or its demise.
It’s not easy to lose even a bad relationship, if that’s what happens.
But you might get resentful that you wasted your prime years with him, and maybe even lost a chance to have children. For some, this can later lead to depression.
Take charge of the situation by opening up with him, no matter how much he tries to deflect the conversation. Share how you feel about the relationship.
You have to take this risk, be vulnerable, and share your true needs. Vulnerability and emotional connection builds intimacy and strengthens relationships.
If it feels too hard for you to have this conversation, you can seek couples counseling. And if he refuses to go with you, seek counseling yourself. It will help you understand what’s missing or help say what you need in a way your partner can hear (e.g., talking to a counselor first can help you have hard conversations later without getting caught up in the emotion or anger of it).
Counseling can help you grieve the relationship you imagined and lost. It can also help you see yourself and your partner anew.
Know that when you want more from the relationship than your partner, something has to change. And, often, that change has to start with your action.
Irena Milentijevic, PsyD – www.drirena.com
To develop a deep, meaningful connection or bond with your partner, focus on fostering greater intimacy on all levels – emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical and experiential.
You and your partner must work together as a team and collaborate with one another toward the goal of greater intimacy. It takes time, willingness and committed effort on both your parts.
Talk openly & honestly with your partner about your desire for greater intimacy.
Express your thoughts and feelings assertively, and listen to what he has to say. You will begin to build greater intimacy, safety and trust in the relationship simply by engaging in this kind of intentional communication, which involves actively listening to one another, validating each other’s perspectives, and really trying to understand how the other feels and where they are coming from.
Be authentic with your partner.
Have the courage to be vulnerable, and prove to him that you are trustworthy, that it is safe for him to be vulnerable with you. Be truly interested in him, in getting to know who he is at the most essential level. Schedule quality time together, and use the time to become more deeply acquainted and connect on a more profound level.
Plan a weekly date night and go on a walk, have a quiet meal, share your thoughts, fears, goals, memories, and ask him to share his. Hold hands. Cuddle. Be fully present and enjoy each other’s company. With your words and actions, communicate how well you really do know him. Learn and speak his ‘love language.’
Gary Chapman (1992) identified different ways that people give and receive love.
He called these the 5 Love Languages, which include Acts of Service, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch and Receiving Gifts. If you are speaking different love languages, then you each may be expressing love in ways that the other isn’t receiving.
Though your partner may be showing you affection, you may feel that it is lacking or absent because there is a “miscommunication.” Identify the top one or two love languages for you and your partner, and discuss ways that you can best show your love, affection and caring for one another.
Read a book or take a course together on relationship building.
I recommend Dr. Sue Johnson’s books, Hold Me Tight and Love Sense. She also offers an online program to help couples strengthen their connection and increase intimacy. Consider working with a couples therapist to help you through this process.
If you are willing to put in the work, but your partner isn’t, consider whether this is the right person for you.
Ask yourself if this is what you want or deserve, or whether this is even sustainable long-term. Be honest with yourself, even if it is painful.
Reach out to trusted loved ones on whom you can rely for honest and supportive feedback. It might help to consult an individual therapist for an outside perspective and additional support, in case you do make the decision to end the relationship.
Kelly Norris, MA, LPC, CCTP – www.kellynorriscounseling.com
When you have feelings for another person, it is always good to feel that they expect the same from the relationship that you do.
But sometimes that’s not the case, sometimes, one of you has stronger feelings or bigger expectations than the other one.
I’m sure you’ve heard that it is better to not expect anything from others, but I think that is just not possible. We, as humans, will always have expectations, the thing is,
- Are those expectations realistic? or
- Are we expecting something that the other person can’t or won’t give?
Wanting more from a relationship than he does is having unrealistic expectations about what he is able or willing to give, or just about what he wants.
Some people tend to idealize the other person or the relationship from the beginning, creating something that is not rooted in reality and that happens mostly because of lack of communication.
You are so excited to start a new relationship with someone you really like that you forget to check if the other person is on the same page, or if the other person wants the same things from the relationship.
This leads you to assume what you need to create a fantasy, you create your ideal relationship in your mind without even asking the other person.
To avoid all this, it is important to communicate openly and honestly since the beginning of the relationship, stating the kind of relationship you want and asking your partner what they want.
That way you will be able to understand if your expectations are realistic or not and you won’t find yourself wanting more at the point when you already developed feelings and it is harder to accept that it is not the relationship for you.
Communicating openly and honest with each other, allows the two of you to make decisions about building the relationship or not, in a situation that feels fair for everyone involved.
Nonetheless, at some point, you might find yourself wanting more from the relationship than he does, just because your feelings can’t be forced, sometimes you develop feelings without warning and they are very hard to stop.
Once again, having an open and honest communication with your partner, you are respecting your feelings and giving them the freedom to decide about that.
It is very important to be very clear about the agreements you want to get to and the things you are willing to accept and what things you won’t accept, before you talk to your partner.
When you are feeling that you want more from the relationship than he does, you need to:
- Avoid assuming
- Check reality and expectations
- Be clear to yourself about your wants and needs
- Be clear about what you will and won’t accept, and
- Communicate all that to them in order to make agreements and move forward in your relationship.
Viviana Vethencourt, MS, LMHC– www.sstherapyandconsulting.com
Communication is the foundation of a lasting relationship.
In the early days, we put on our best face. Sometimes we are more agreeable than honest, hoping that with time, things will develop as we want. Expecting that as you get to know each other, trust and intimacy will grow.
As time passes, discussing your individual and couples’ goals becomes imperative, including your expectations – marriage or just friendship, family, school, career, profession.
These goals depend on age, financial circumstances, family background, family obligations( expected or perceived).
It should come as no surprise whether you both want the same things, if these desires and expectations are talked about.
IF NOT, an honest and clear conversation is needed. If you are not feeling( and yes your intuition is important) and you are not hearing what you hope to, then it’s time to re-evaluate.. both your feelings for each other and your future plans.
Here are some things to consider:
- Goals for career, school, family
- Our relationship with our family and friends
- Our obligations( perceived or expected) to our families of origin
- The relation we would like with each other’s family
- Past relationships or marriages
- Children from past relationships
- If and when we want children, how many
- Our finances: savings, debts, what we like to spend on, do we believe in budgets
- Where we would we like to live, rural city or suburb
- Our health
- Our hobbies
- Our religious beliefs
- Our ideas about sex and intimacy
- Any other topic that’s important to you
When these things are discussed early in the relationship and continue to be updated, you will have a good idea if you are compatible.
Sexual attraction is wonderful, but won’t last if you’re not happy together.
If time passes and there is no progress toward these goals, then it’s time to reevaluate and find out the problems.
Always be open to understanding and resolving without anger, guilt, threats.
It’s difficult for some men to be open with their feelings including their fears.
If either one of you have come from a background where you have seen divorce, been involved in violence, seen a parent(s) in multiple relationships, been neglected as a child, or experienced deprivation, or have had a parent who abused alcohol or drugs, are a veteran, your perception of marriage and family may be distorted.
Consider counseling. I have seen the the best suited couples stopped cold in their tracks by past traumas.
As your relationship matures, you should see progress toward realizing your dreams.
If there is no resolution, or plans for counseling, consider moving on. YOU CANNOT CHANGE HIM. Unless you are willing to live in a relationship that is different than what you want, don’t waste your years.
You are complete as the woman you are. Have faith in yourself and your goals. A relationship is only wonderful if it makes you happy.
Rosalyn J Norensberg, MSW, LCSW, LMFT – www.coralspringstherapist.com
If you want more from your relationship and are uncomfortable that certain aspects are not satisfying you, things need to change.
- Can you talk to your partner about this?
- Are you concerned that if you say something, it will be misconstrued to mean more than it really is, and push your boyfriend away?
As an important, valuable, person your opinion, comments, thoughts, likes and dislikes and relationship goals are to be respected and acknowledged.
Healthy relationships do that without undermining the other person and without using the information to sabotage what already exists.
How can you convey your concerns by sharing what’s important to you:
- That you are looking for someone who is more committed to the relationship, more loving and involved.
- That you want someone stronger, more thoughtful, understanding and accepting and that you are looking for a future together, not just a companion or lover.
This does not portray you as being needy, dependent, desperate or clingy.
Nor does it show you to be insecure, confused or shallow.
Rather, it presents you as an independent woman who knows what makes you happy and what you deserve to have in your life.
If your boyfriend is not capable or willing to meet these terms, if his goals are different than yours, or if he’s not sure what he wants, you have two choices.
You can stay and hope he’ll come around eventually, or you can leave and find that guy who gives you all you want and then some.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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