Talking It Out

Dear Miss U,

How to open up on the phone when he says I’m not expressing my feelings?

From Suzie

Dear Suzie,

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest. The first things to consider are: Are you expressing your feelings? Do you feel like you are holding back? At the end of the conversation are there things you wish you’d been able to say? Or do you think he’s looking for something that just isn’t there?

Some people just aren’t emotionally gushy people. Sometimes feelings are plain and simple, they aren’t these big mysterious things and simple words sum them up nicely – we don’t always feel like we need to elaborate. For example, it drives me crazy when my significant other, Mr. E, responds “I’m fine” or “good” when I ask “How are you?” because I’m looking for more than that. I want to know if he’s content/bored/excited/having a great day/thinking about some issue or another etc. “Fine” and “good” don’t tell me any of that, but a lot of the time he isn’t thinking or feeling anything. He’s just… there.

Additionally, in his mind I’ve asked for a snapshot of his current state of being in an informal way one hundred other people have also asked that same day without any real desire to know what’s actually going on with him. To remedy this, I need to be asking a more specific question. Maybe your partner also needs to find the right questions to help draw you out of your shell. It could simply be that he is not conveying to you that he’s expecting an in-depth response or he’s not providing you with a safe atmosphere wherein you feel comfortable being vulnerable.

Maybe in your case you know what you want to say, but you just can’t make yourself say it? Perhaps you are afraid of appearing foolish, needy, or scaring him off? Or maybe your reticence is a self-protection mechanism, you’re afraid that if you open up to him something you say will later be used against you? If this is the case, it’s a good idea to start by telling him that. This is a new relationship, and it’s perfectly fine if you want to open up slowly, rather than revealing your innermost feelings before you’re ready. You might also benefit from having an easy word you can utter to let him know you’re trying to say something but can’t get it out, which will let him know that he needs to be patient and give you the time to work up to saying whatever needs to be said rather than moving on to the next topic.

Other than that, it takes practice. Pay attention to what you’re thinking and feeling, and how much of that is coming out vocally, then give yourself a bit of a push if there’s something you want to say but are holding back. Just blurt it out! It will get easier with time and as you build trust between you.

Dear Miss U,

My boyfriend and I want to close our LDR after I finish my college. Because he has more chances to get a better job in his country we have been talking about me moving to his country.

Now that I will finish my college this year makes me think more about our future. I am very happy that finally we are gonna be together. Then, I don’t really like the country where I’m living in now because I’ve moved in here 8 years ago with my family. But on the other hand I’m very worried. I don’t know where to start planning. Moving to another country means leaving my family. Of course we are going to see each other but there is going to be over 7000km between us. My parents are also not happy about that even though they are happy that I have found someone I love. But each time I start talking about it with them, my mother starts to cry and my dad looks so sad that my heart just tears apart.

Moreover there’s no job for me (I want to work as an interpreter) in the town where he lives because the town is small, but he would like to stay there. And I’d like to study the graduate program at the university but all universities with this major are so far away. I don’t want to move in his country and have an LDR again. When it’s going to happen I’ll feel all alone over there and I don’t think I’m going to make it. I can’t ask my parents for advice because they start being sad and don’t want to face the fact I’m going to leave and it’s not making it easier for me seeing them like that. I don’t know what to do, I feel lost, even though we are closing our LDR.

– Worried

Dear Worried,

The one thing relationships take an awful lot of is compromise. He can’t expect you to leave everything behind and move over there for him; yet not give up anything himself. That’s selfish and just plain wrong. Talk to him again about moving to a city where you could study and have the career you’ve worked hard to achieve. You wouldn’t necessarily have to live terribly far from his home town or even in the city itself, depending on transportation. You could live in the outer suburbs and commute. There are always options. Look for an option you can both live with.

I strongly urge you not to move to him and close the distance without at least one other thing there that you desire; be it a job, university, social organization, other friends, a church… something other than him. Because if you’re there just for him in a tiny town with no opportunities, a career that’s going nowhere, no friends of your own and your family far away, you will likely become miserable and then you’ll resent him Resentment is poison to relationships. You need to live not only for him, but also yourself. I hope he is mature enough that you can help him understand why this is so important.

Your parents’ reactions are sad, and I know they must be painful for you, but they are not out of the ordinary. They love you, and a huge part of their world – the thing they dedicated the last two decades of their lives to – is about to move far away. They likely feel just as lost as you do. It’s great that they aren’t trying to hold you back, and you should let them know that you appreciate them. Talk with them about keeping the lines of communication open, and about how you’ll budget aside money so you can visit them after the move. Let them know they will still be a big part of your life. There’s not a lot more that you can do other than to be happy and successful, and make them proud.

As for planning, research comes before planning. Learn as much as you can about his country, culture, jobs, wages, cost of living, transport etc. Talk about what’s best for both of you and for your relationship. Work out your long term goals, mid-term goals and short term goals; then planning becomes a bridge between now and success.

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