His Girl Won't Talk
Q: I've been in a relationship for four years and my mate seems to forget to be there for me. If something goes wrong, she gets mad and ignores the situation. I would rather deal with it and talk it out. I'm good to her, so I expect to feel like I'm number one in her life and not play second fiddle to American Idol. It frustrates me so much to have to keep all these feelings in for an extended time. When she won't talk with me, I usually end up striking out in some hurting fashion. Also, although we have sex, I want certain things sexually which she refuses. I never had this problem with her when we were dating. I never even had to ask. -- Jack, 30
Dr. Susan: Your girlfriend hasn't exactly "forgotten" to be there for you. Rather, she's taking you for granted and figures she doesn't have to face uncomfortable problems. But whatever way you're approaching her to get issues off your chest isn't working. Letting matters build to where you're hollering hurtful things is guaranteed to make the situation worse.
I'd suggest you have a serious heart-to-heart talk -- make an appointment with her for this, not when her favorite shows are on -- and let her know that you're really frustrated at the way the two of you communicate. And that you value this relationship a lot and would hate to see it go down the tubes from neglect. Do NOT keep your feelings bottled up, but don't expect her to drop everything the moment you're in the mood to talk. Above all, make it feel safe for her to discuss sensitive topics. In other words, don't criticize her at all, just let her know you'd like to find some way to get your needs met as well as hers.
As for the sex, I'm not surprised it's changed over the past four years. It always does. Whatever behavior you say you're missing, ask her why she won't do it anymore. Sometimes these things are deal-breakers (though I'd never phrase it that way!). If you can reach her in a non-defensive mood, you may make some progress. Find out what she's afraid will happen if you talk. And realize that each time you lash out in anger, you make it less likely she'll want to talk the next time.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
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.