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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I am widowed for 12 years recently have been dating a guy for

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I am widowed for 12 years recently have been dating a guy for 10 months. I'm very expressive and one day I said "Bye, luv you". He texted me the next day and went into a whole explanation of why he did not answer me back. Doesn't come from a demonstrative family, can't express himself well in words, I'm very slow about these things, the whole nine yards. I wasn't even looking for an "I love you then". Of course, that made me uncomfortable so I watched myself for months. When we were dating about 6 months I told him I wasn't feeling like he cared for me and again the whole reasons why. He said he didn't know if he could ever be as expressive as I wanted him to be and he couldn't say how he feels because he has been hurt so badly in the past that he doesn't know how he feels right now. I've continued to see him because honestly I did fall for him and now I know that I do really love him. He does nice things for me, texts me every day and I know I am a part of his life. However he has yet to tell me he cares for me, doesn't call me any pet names, has not introduced me to his family (although he says he's told them about me) and I feel like I'm in a box and he just takes me out to play with 3 or 4 times a month. Yes, the relationship is sexual. We are not children (in our 50's) but I haven't dated since I was a teenager and never experienced anything like this before.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It sounds like this relationship is a little suspicious. It is very odd that he controls your relationship to the point of not allowing you to meet his family, withholding his verbal expression of his feelings, and seems to also control the communication level you have with each other.


You stated that there is no one else involved in this man's life. But all of the indicators are there. It is very typical that a man who is cheating does not allow his girlfriend to meet his family. It also would explain his tight control on how much he sees you. But if you are sure there is no one else, then this sounds like an issue of personal control for him.


Even if the control problem is caused by his childhood and family issues, he is letting it affect your relationship. He should take responsibility for how this affecting you and the relationship and he is not. He is allowing this to interfere in how you feel and how you both interact. It's causing problems now and will continue to cause problems unless he addresses it.


Solving this problem depends on how you want to proceed. You have several options.


One, you can accept how he is. This will be the hardest route for you. You will have to be ok with his control of the relationship. He will call the shots and you will need to accept it. But for some people, this works.


Two, you can talk with him about it. Tell him you find the control problem hurts you and that you want to work it out. Use "I" statements. Do not accuse or blame. As long as you keep your voice and tone neutral and caring, he should be ok with listening to you. He may not agree, but he should stay calm about it. Suggest you both talk about what works for the relationship and come to an agreement about changing the situation to give you more say so in how you both interact.


Three, you can suggest he talk with a therapist about his inability to express himself. Again, explain how you feel in a non threatening manner and tell him you want your relationship to work, but you need more expression of emotions once in a while. Let him know you want the relationship to grow but this problem is interfering.


Four, you can end the relationship. This would be a hard choice, but it is an option.


Either way, keep in mind that if this issue bothers you now, it is not going to get better with time unless he sees there is a problem and willingly addresses it. Be supportive but firm with him about fixing this issue. You deserve a good relationship just like he does.


I hope this helps you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

The "hurt" is from a bad marriage. He is divorced 8 years, but they are still arguing over the property settlement. There was an attempt to reconcile about 2 years ago, which did not work. He has a 17 year old daughter and that keeps the turmoil fresh as he deals with child support and other issues with her.

As far as a therapist goes, he told me they went to marriage counseling and parenting classes while he was married but she wouldn't do what the therapist said.

What do you mean about using I statements? How should I approach the conversation?

Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 6 years ago.

I understand he may be hurt about his previous relationship, but he needs to work on separating that relationship from the one he has from you. If he lets them overlap, you will be dealing with his former marriage issues right in the middle of your relationship.


Maybe he could see a therapist on his own to address this problem. Therapy with his ex wife was about their relationship. It was not about the issues he is having now.


When I suggested you use I statements, I meant whenever you say how you feel, do not say "you do this, and you do that". Instead, present your feelings like, "I feel hurt when you do this, or I feel excluded when you do that". That way, you own the feelings you are discussing and he doesn't feel responsible and therefore defensive about how you feel.



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