Adapted from a recent online discussion.
If boyfriend seems disengaged around your pals, call him on it
Madison, Wis.: My boyfriend is super blah around my friends and family, but turns up the charm around his groups. People say he seems "unengaged" — I got this from my mom, sister and two of my good friends. I chalked it up to nerves at first, but we're going on two years now — and when I ask, he just says relationships need to happen naturally.
I'm starting to feel like he really couldn't care less about developing friendships with my crowd. Aside from saying, "Just fake it," what can I do?
Carolyn: So many variables here. Are your friends and family local, or do you see them just through occasional visits? What about his? And if your good friends are local, are they integrated into your life, or are they people you just see on your own occasionally, like once-a-month lunches? How about his friends?
As a result of his detachment, do you see your friends less than you'd like? Or do you share friends with him that you prefer, meaning any distance from old friends originates with you?
Is he otherwise solicitous of you, or do you sometimes feel you're close to him only because you make it convenient for him to be?
I'm trying to see whether you're with someone for whom your life (beyond him) holds little interest — or whether you have a good relationship and he just doesn't click well with people from your "past." It's weird to refer to family that way, but I hope you get what I mean — people you've outgrown. To explain what his blahs say about him, it matters what your friends and family mean to you.
Madison again: I'd say he's attentive in most other respects. He doesn't keep me from my friends — but I sometimes have to decide if I want to go to gatherings alone, or stay home with my fella. Everyone is local, but I've grown distant from my old group. His friends are around a lot — I've incorporated myself into his life.
And I enjoy it, but I'm resentful that it doesn't go both ways. The only result of his detachment is that my crowd gets the impression that he's not into me, or excited to be with me.
I just don't feel like he's made any effort to determine if he clicks with them. He just looks bored and I feel like the girlfriend who keeps talking about how great her boyfriend is, and everyone else is not convinced.
Carolyn: Some relationships need to happen naturally — love and friendships, for example. But those loves and friendships bring us into the company of each other's loved ones. With these people, we either try, or we give a thoughtful reason not to — we don't detach and "look bored."
He seems to like this deal, where you accommodate and he doesn't. And, he seems rude: He insults your family and friends, embarrasses you, and justifies both with a pseudo-philosophical excuse for not trying.
Does that sound about right?
Either way, you can't ignore your resentment. Call him out, whole truth. See what his answer says about him, then decide if he's who you want.