I’ve heard that the best foundation for any relationship is a friendship, and recently I’ve found myself falling (rather hard) in love with a close friend of mine.
We’ve known each other for well over 10 years and I can honestly say that over those years we’ve shared everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING!! I suppose that’s where my issue is springing from.
First, let me say that I am 27 years old, and this is my first actual relationship. He is 32 years old and divorced.
Since the start of our friendship I’ve always been his outlet. I can even recall giving him relationship advice to just be the person he is with me, and women will love him. His response was always that he just couldn’t talk to them the same way that he talked to me. Well, fast-forward to the present, and now that our relationship has changed our communication has as well.
As friends he would call me several times throughout the day (60% of the time just because), and now it’s been reduced to once (only if I fail to call him during my lunch break). We would text each other funny pictures or anything that reminded us of one another throughout the day as well. But, now he doesn’t do that at all nor does he respond to the ones that I send him.
When we’re together he seems distracted and distant. I’ve told myself that there is either someone else, the excitement for him is gone, or both. Although I feel this way I must add that our life is very much intertwined with one another. We wake up and go to sleep together (whether it’s at his house or mine), and spend all of our free time together, but I just don’t know. I could just be being emotional, but you never really know.
There has also been a change in our intimacy. It’s to the point where it was once so exciting to him to now it seems like a chore to him (I literally find myself having to take it). He has no confidence what so ever about our intimate life (granted he knows my past sexual experiences were a bit more creative). However, I’ve never had this kind of mental and emotional connection with those in my past. So, even though our intimacy is a bit tamer than I’m use to overall it’s more satisfying. He doesn’t believe this.
I’ve become extremely frustrated with questioning our relationship and what’s going through his mind. I’ve brought the issue up to him several times and he just says that it’s nothing for me to worry about, and that he just has a lot going on, which I can admit he does. He works between 75-80 hours a week and has recently found himself in a situation where he is the sole provider for his elderly father which has placed several of the things we had planned on the back burner.
Because I know what he’s dealing with I try not to stress the issue and became yet another “issue” that he has to deal with. But, what I can’t seem to get through to him, or anyone else that I talk to about this, is that I’m not used to him not communicating with me. This man would call me to talk about anything from a -ish that he took to expressing to how hurt and emotional he was about finding out that his former girlfriend had cheated on him.
One of the things that really brought me to accept the change in our relationship was the fact that he always told me everything, there were no secrets. Now, I feel like there may be some secrets. About two weeks ago I even went as far as telling him that I wanted my friend back, and that this relationship business wasn’t working. He then became emotional and responded to me that he just wants to make me happy and that it’s not me and he just doesn’t know how to communicate with me now.
I’m trying to be patient, but one thing I do know is that time waits for no man, and I don’t want to look back at this situation and consider it to be wasted time. My career is currently flourishing and would love it if I could say the same thing about my love life. – The Communication Is Gone
Dear Ms. The Communication Is Gone,
Welp, when a man stops communicating with his woman, then one of three things can possibly be the reason:
- He’s cheating;
- He has a lot going on with his life, and he truly doesn’t know how to manage all that is going on with him, so he internalizes it and shuts down;
- He’s not sure about the relationship and he’s processing it to see if this is something he really wants to invest in.
And, honestly, we don’t know what’s going on with your man. Hell, he could have been diagnosed with a medical condition and he doesn’t know how to share this with you, or anyone else. Or, maybe the burden of taking care of his father has become too much and he is considering placing him in an elderly nursing home. Maybe he learned that his father doesn’t have that much longer to live. Perhaps something is going on with his ex-wife, and if they have children, then something could be going on with his children. Who knows what’s happening.
So, in order to get him to talk to you, and communicate like he used to with you, is to simply wait until he is ready. You can’t force him, or make him do something he either doesn’t want to do, or he probably doesn’t know how to share it with you. Yes, you were once friends, and he shared everything with you, but your relationship became complicated once you began dating and became intimate. That space of friendship is no longer there for him. He has shifted into partner, boyfriend, and “Let me take care of my woman.”
Now, notice the last line I wrote. He has to take care of you and make you happy. You mentioned in your letter that when you confronted him and told him that you just want your friend back, he responded and told you that he just wants to make sure you’re happy, and that he doesn’t know how to communicate with you now. You’ve become another “something” he has to tend to. Notice that you also stated he’s also taking care of his elderly father, and has to ensure his happiness as well. So, he’s taking care of two people he truly cares about, and instead of you being a friend, you are now another person he has to take care of, and ensure your happiness. Perhaps that has become burdensome for him, and he doesn’t know how to differentiate between you being his woman and friend. As I said earlier, he no longer sees you as a friend, but his woman, girlfriend, and someone he has to take care of.
I suggest and would recommend couples therapy, and allow him the space to share openly and honestly about what’s going on with him. I’m sure there are some things he is dealing with internally and is attempting to work them out on his own. He’s in his head about everything that’s going on from working up to 80 hours a week, taking care of his elderly father, and then having to deal with a hundred and one questions from you. Uhm, sweetie, he has not time or interest in being intimate with you, or anyone else. He’s tired emotionally, mentally, and physically. Perhaps he needs a vacation where he can just relax and enjoy himself.
Again, we don’t know and we can speculate all we want about why he has shut down. So, get into therapy, and allow him the space and opportunity to communicate in that space which is non-threatening, and non-judgmental. He’s told you that nothing is going on and you have nothing to worry about. If you want to invest in him and the relationship, then get into therapy, plan a vacation for the two of you, and allow him the time to come around and open up to you again. But, it’s going to require patience. – Terrance Dean
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