Dear Dr. Love:I have been together with my bf for two years. But he never has much to say to me. He says everytime he talks to me he feels pressured and irritated. He’s not very interested in talking to me because he has nothing to talk about with me, he says.I know a person’s voice can affect another ‘s mood. But I have tried talking to him nicely and happily. When I think things are fine, he still tells me that he feels frustrated when he talks to me.What am I supposed to do?
You want your boyfriend to talk to you. He hasn’t much to say. I suspect that he feels pressured and irritated because he senses that you want him to talk more with you. He knows what you want and he knows that he’s failing you.You are locked in a vicious cycle that seems to be turning into a power struggle. The more you press him, the more he shuts down, and the more you press him the more irritated and shut-down he becomes.In order to break the cycle, take the pressure off of him. There are a few ways to accomplish this. One way is for you to talk a blue streak and give him no space to speak. The result of this tactic will be to take the pressure off of him to speak.You can also try giving him a positive message rather than a critique. Instead of telling him that he isn’t talking to you the way you want, praise any effort he makes to speak to you. Tell him that he did a great job, that he made the perfect comment, said just the right thing.In other words, break the cycle of his sense of failure by telling him that he’s doing fine. When he feels praised he will want to continue speaking because it yields him a good feeling to do so.I am very interested to hear back from you on how either or both of these techniques work for you.