I’ve got a communication situation that I’m hoping you can give me some advice on. I’m poly, happily married and have been dating my boyfriend for three months. My boyfriend is sweet, smart, cute and we have a lot of fun together. I feel comfortable and safe when I’m with him (which does not happen with people often for me). As a part of being together, he’s also been really beneficial to me by naturally being someone who seeks variety in activities- he’s introduced me to indoor rock climbing, wants to try trapeze, etc. I have a tendency to settle in a rut so being with him challenges me to go out and try new things and step outside of the comfort zone I’ve built around myself. I very much appreciate that about him (and have told him so).
Thing is, he doesn’t seem to have much emotional intelligence, in the way of having self-awareness of what he says and does and how it impacts people. I understand that it comes from a place of being clueless rather than being intentionally mean- I have a lifetime of dealing with a dad and sister the exact same way. I also know, though, from that life experience that my being an emotion centered person can sometimes cause hurt feelings on my end during interactions and my strategy so far in dealing with this type of personality has been either to try to calmly call them on mistakes or let stuff go.
I’m naturally a word person (written page better than spoken) and my boyfriend can often say things or use words that leave me confused or going “WTH?” For example, upon introducing me to his dad and stepmom, he told them that he had “acquired” a girlfriend. His dad questioned him on using “acquired” and mentioned that I was a person, not a piece of furniture that my boyfriend bought. I said I agreed. His response was that he figured it was understood what he meant.
I heard through the friend grapevine that his last relationship ended largely because of his lack of awareness of the impact of what he was saying, though I don’t know any details. I see his lack of emotional intelligence also manifesting in a lack of stepping up to responsibility in his house, leaving his roommates to take up the slack, and in how he can be very impulsive and not think of the bigger picture outside of himself. This week he has been very busy and so communication has been sporadic and initiated by me (we mainly talk via IM). At one point I said that that I missed talking with him. I also said that I understood he was busy, and looked forward to seeing him later this week. His response? “Thanks!” I get that he might not have understood that I was hoping for some positive words reciprocated (my roommate calls him Captain Clueless) and that IM as a communication device is flawed, but it left me feeling sad. He doesn’t often say nice things to me; I think the biggest compliment he’s paid me so far was when I mentioned to him that he was important to me, he said “You are the person I’m currently the most comfortable with”. Though, so far he’s done what he said he would do and has been consistent in his actions, so that has to count more, right?
The thing is, when things like this happen it triggers the insecurities I have around being wanted and my mind takes the bad and runs with it- I question whether he cares, if I’m just convenient, if he’s starting to find me boring, etc . I’ve gotten better about reeling my mind back in but until I do and can counter myself with reality (that I can’t control anything, that he’ll either want to be with me or not and I’ll find out either way), I’m miserable. I do, however, realize that it’s my own shit and that it’s mine to deal with. I go to therapy, and over three years but most actively in the past year and a half I have been working on myself and confronting inner demons. Through poly dating I have encountered people who ghosted on me, played with my emotions, and used me as a life-sized sex toy (same stuff you get in the non-poly dating world, as well, I know). Dealing with each situation has been a painful but necessary lesson and I’ve grown as a result. I realize that the work I’m doing is a life-long process, but it still sucks.
I’m hesitant to say anything and ask for reassurance because I don’t want to come off as needy; I also don’t want to be asking for what he can’t give since that doesn’t seem fair. I also don’t want every conversation we have to include how he’s said something wrong. However, I’m questioning whether I chose the wrong person for a relationship, and if I matter to him. I’d greatly appreciate any insight you had as to how I can communicate with him better about what I need and any insight into how we can communicate better in general. I apologize for this being so long and thank you for your time.
Work in Progress