How do you keep a boyfriend happy? Is it the same as keeping a girlfriend happy? Well, some of the basic rules of good relationships are the same, like treating each other with respect and being considerate of his or her feelings. But there are some areas that men tend to think of quite differently. The 2 big ones are: talking about feelings, and the ideal amount of dependence versus independence.
In this post, I’ll discuss the dreaded “Oh no, do we have to talk about feelings?” These suggestions would be useful in any relationship, with your parents, your children or your friends, but are especially critical with a boyfriend.
When you need to talk about your feelings or ask about his, make certain it’s not a time when he’s feeling pressured or rushed. If he’s about to watch his favorite game, he’ll feel even more unhappy about the discussion if you’re making him miss some of it to humor you. I take advantage of a long drive to check in with my husband about his future plans and his feelings.
Some men appreciate getting an advance warning that you want to talk, and being given a chance to pick the time when he can be prepared to open up and talk. Others may flake out or put it off if given their choice. It’s definitely worth a try to ask, “When this weekend (or today) would be a good time for you and me to talk about some concerns I have?”
When you have his attention, don’t attack him. “You always…” is guaranteed to put him on the defensive. Plan ahead of time another way to say it, putting it all in terms of how you feel, using the word “I.” So instead of “you never have time for me” you could say “I feel left out.” Instead of ‘you ignore my opinions” you could try “I feel like my opinions are not being considered.” If he won’t let you finish, ask for two minutes without interruption, and then give him the same.
After you voice your concerns, you must stop talking and listen to his response. Really listen. Give him the courtesy that you’d like in return. Some men don’t speak right away, preferring to consider their response before speaking. Honor that by waiting patiently.
If one or both of you gets too angry or defensive, or if you feel like you’re stuck with no way to improve things, suggest you give it a rest and return to these issues at another time with a fresh perspective. If the discussion moves in a positive direction, with both parties listening and trying to understand the other, that’s great! Keep working together to sort things out and make mutually agreed-on improvements.
Next post I’ll address the issue of too much clinging!