Girlfriend's Lost Interest?
Q: My girlfriend and I have been together for about six months now and it seems to be going pretty good, but I have noticed that she has been more quiet lately and not talking as much as she used to. When she is around friends and especially this one guy who she is real good friends with, she will talk and be all fun and games. However, once she's just with me, all the sudden she will become silent. Most of the time when I ask her a question such as "how are you?" or "how has your day been so far?", pretty much the only kind of answer I get is "ok, fine, or pretty good." And even those minimal responses are in a low tone of voice, not a cheery one. I have asked her if something is wrong, but she just says there's really nothing to talk about. Yet around her real good friend, she will start to talk again, and they will laugh about little inside jokes they have. Once he leaves everything goes back to what it was earlier. I have tried getting close to her, asking her different kinds of questions, giving her a massage to see if I can get some kind of response, but nothing works. What do you think I can do to make her more lively like she used to be? Or do you think this is a sign of her getting bored with me? Could it be just a phase she may be going through? -- Paul, 21
Dr. Susan: Nearly all intimate relationships go through a so-called honeymoon period that lasts between six months and two years. After that, some degree of reality -- and disillusionment -- sets in, and only then can two people begin to seriously work on being a couple. I hate to tell you this, but I doubt that what your girlfriend is going through is just a phase that she'll outgrow on her own. Even with your constant urging, massages, and efforts to engage her attention, it's unlikely she'll suddenly go back to the way she was. I see some pretty broad signs that she's simply lost interest. And when this other guy is around, she lights up, gets perky, shares inside jokes, all the fun things she used to do with you. Well, that's pretty clear. I'm not saying she's in love with him, or she'd probably have the sense to hide her sudden switch in behavior. Maybe she herself doesn't know what's going on yet. But her actions speak loud and clear.
What worries me the most about all this is that you're clearly in distress and she isn't responding to that. She doesn't have the sensitivity to sit down and talk with you when you ask her to. "There's nothing to talk about" is an inadequate and selfish answer, when it's so obvious that something's changed and you're miserable about it. She owes you the honesty of opening up about what she's feeling. If and when she does, be prepared to hear the truth, whatever it is. It's not going to be easy to face that your relationship might have lost too much of its steam and need to end so you can both move on to something better. Sticking with the status quo is always tempting, because no one wants to invite intense pain into their life. This way, though, you only prolong your confusion and suffering.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.