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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question

TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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My long distance boyfriend of nine months has been stressed

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My long distance boyfriend of nine months has been stressed a lot lately. He won't tell me why, but it's very obvious. He's normally flirty and funny, but when stressed he's quiet, serious, and short tempered. I figured he'd get past whatever was upsetting him before, but it's repeating and lasting weeks at a time. He tells me not to worry and that he's fine, but everyone can tell he's lying. I've tried cheering him up so many ways and times, but it doesn't work. He can't tell me not to worry, I just do. You can't NOT worry about someone you care about. Some people have said he's being selfish and mistreating me by doing this and I don't want to agree or disagree. I sort of feel that he is in a way though because his mood does effect me too. He's told me now "leave me alone please" and it's really bothering me. I want him to be happy and I can give him space if he needs it, but being like this for months at a time is ridiculous and he won't tell me ANYTHING. What am I supposed to do?
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It can be very difficult and even upsetting when your boyfriend will not share what is going on with him. You know something is wrong because of how he is acting, but he refuses to share so you end up feeling on the outside of your own relationship. This makes it hard to be close to him because this issue is between you with no way to resolve it.

Your boyfriend could be withholding what is wrong from you for several reasons. One, he feels overwhelmed by whatever it is bothering him and he does not feel ready to share what is going on. Two, he knows what is going on but is not talking to you because you really want him to. Three, he has done something that makes him feel guilty or upset and he won't share it in fear of hurting you and/or the relationship.

The best way to handle what your boyfriend is doing is by doing two things. First, talk with him about how his silence is making you feel. Let him know that if he wants to be in a relationship, he needs to address anything that comes between you both. If he does not, that is putting himself first which is going to hurt your relationship. Secondly, tell him that you care about him and want to be there for him but that this issue has to be dealt with in some form or another. If he feels he cannot share with you, then he needs to find someone to share with (someone appropriate like a friend, family member or even pastor/counselor). Once he does share whatever it is with another person, he needs to find a way to share with you, maybe even along with the other person he has already talked to if that helps. This gives him a way to express his feelings and address any issue he is fearful of hurting you with.

You can also give him a deadline, especially if he will not listen to any of the ideas you have to resolve this. That is not a great choice, but if he refuses to share, he is not putting your needs first in the relationship which is a bad sign. So try everything else first and use a deadline as a last resort. It might help him see how serious this issue is to you and to your relationship.

I hope this has helped you,

TherapistMaryAnn and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you very much for the positive rating and bonus! I appreciate it.

My best to you and your boyfriend,

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