Bf doesn't know how to receive


#1

I’m having trouble with my bf who is extremely uncomfortable getting presents, compliments or any sort of praise. Last night I made this comment to him “Can you tell I’m incredibly in love with you?” And all he said was, stop, I’m not that great, it makes me uncomfortable. Then I said, “would you rather I not be incredibly in love with you?” and he said, “no, I’m just humble and modest”

Truth be told is that I felt bad because I felt like he rejected my love. We haven’t been very close lately and this was a way of me getting closer to him. I wanted him to reciprocate and tell me just how much I meant to him. Instead it ended up in a huge fight.

It just makes me feel bad anytime he rejects anything from me. He doesn’t feel worthy of it. I get the feeling that we are both wrong in this case but I don’t know what the ideal is. I know that God deserves all the glory and praise. But what does a man that I love deserve? How much is enough, how much is too much?

Thank you.


#2

It sounds like you had hopes of getting something in return when you told him how much you love him. Sometimes the better thing to do (and much less disappointing) is to give freely and without expectation.

I’m sure you ARE incredibly in love with him, but you still said it at least in part to get something in return from him–validation of how HE feels about YOU.

Maybe you would be better off simply telling him you need some validation about how he feels? Explain what you said here, that you want to develop more closeness and express affection more often.

Maybe you can also tell him that in the future, he doesn’t need to say anything in return when you offer him how much you love him. Explain it is a gift and you would like him to receive it just with a smile.


#3

Thank you Abby:

It sounds like you had hopes of getting something in return when you told him how much you love him. Sometimes the better thing to do (and much less disappointing) is to give freely and without expectation.

I had two hopes. I wanted him to accept my love (which he didn’t and it hurt) and I wanted to give him an opportunity to express his love for me (which he didn’t and it hurt).

*Maybe you would be better off simply telling him you need some validation about how he feels? Explain what you said here, that you want to develop more closeness and express affection more often. *

Within the context of the fight that ensued after my loving outburst… I did finally tell him that I wanted validation. I told him that I was feeling extremely insecure in our relationship because he’s been having doubts about us. He’s chosen to give it a try but he’s not really doing anything to fix our problems. I just miss the closeness that we used to have.

Maybe you can also tell him that in the future, he doesn’t need to say anything in return when you offer him how much you love him. Explain it is a gift and you would like him to receive it just with a smile.

This is an ongoing problem. I bought him a Christmas and birtday presents last year and he hasn’t opened them. I send him loving emails that go unanswered. He can never take a compliment when I tell him how handsome he is or how smart he is or how good he makes me feel. I tell him, just say “yes” but he won’t. He can accept gifts from family and friends (very reluctantly and without heart) but at least he does it out of politeness. Not with me though. I’m so frustrated with all this. He keeps saying he’s just being humble but I think humility has nothing to do with this. I just can’t explain to him the difference between what he’s doing and what humility really is.

Anyway… I guess I know what my problem is. He doesn’t give freely to me. He never got me any presents for Christmans, valentines, or birthday. He never emails me or calls me. He Messages me, but that is it. I should add, our relationship is long distance so we don’t even get to see eachother. Without going into a lot of background, he’s going through some really rough times and is very overwhelmed so this makes things even more difficult.

As I was saying, if he were to give freely, I would be free to give without expecting anything in return because I am “already” fulfilled and if not, I’ll get it later… I just never do get it. I am aware that I"‘m in an extremely difficult relationship with someone who can’t give what he doesnt’ have. I’m in this because I have faith that he’ll get through things (graduate, and overcome his issues) I know the person he is inside and I love him deeply (like I said :slight_smile: )

Thanks for your time.


#4

I read somewhere that when a woman says “I love you” it’s woman-speak for “now you say it”.


#5

It sounds like your bf and my fiance; and you and me; may have a few things in common. Definitely try to get him to a priest or counselor to work through whatever is making him feel unworthy of you. People’s self-image does not deteriorate to the point that they cannot receive compliments just because of nothing.

Our men can get so down on themselves sometimes, for various reasons. I have finally gotten to the root of some of my fiance’s issues, and received some great help from his brother to encourage him to see a deacon friend of theirs who used to be a youth minister. He was getting great counsel from a priest when we first started dating, but the priest was transferred and he never reached a resolution for his issues. With some help from me :frowning: , he’s fallen back into some of his poor outlooks and attitudes, which really gets him feeling down on himself.

One word of caution, though: giving people like you and I who tend to see the best in people can often ignore signs that the person “inside” is too far within their shell to be a good candidate for a relationship that is headed toward marriage. There were a lot of great things about my ex and still are, but not enough great things to make him marriage material.

Best of luck in your relationship. Feel free to PM me anytime, but I’m probably only a step ahead of you. :thumbsup:


#6

What are these signs you speak of?

Am I crazy for wanting to be with him? does that make me desperate?


#7

Wow, that sounds much more deep-seated than failing to return one “I love you.” I can understand your distress, then.

How does he explain away his behavior? The total lack of affection, acknowledgement, interest, etc? Just that he has doubts? Can you two work on things so he has less doubts?

And can I ask why you are accepting that (the lack of affection or acknowledgement) for yourself? You deserve so much more.


#8

I try to avoid comparisons between my fiance and my ex, but here is one that illustrates these signs.

My ex and I would often fix and eat dinner together, and it almost always involved a disagreement. I would try to put it behind me and apologize for my part so we could enjoy a pleasant dinner. He never ever, not even once even accepted the slightest bit of blame. Even if I called him out on something, “I’m sorry, I was just feeling defensive because of that remark you made about such and such,” it always came back to "Well, YOU did THIS first… but it’s ok, I forgive you for it, and oh by the way you should be so grateful that I can look past your faults and love you anyway."
And he really, truly believed it! :eek: Sad part is, he had me believing it, too! :frowning:

My fiance is far from perfect. He struggles with depression and anxiety among other things, and at times it has had a negative impact on the way he behaves toward me and how much attention I get from him. He never ceases to apologize for his failings, and (unless he’s in a funk) reminds me that he is constantly working to be the man I want I need 100% of the time instead of just 90 or 95 or whatever % of the time. He even apologizes when I started the argument! Another thing that really stands out about my fiance is that he is willing to admit when he has a problem, and with some prodding if necessary, is willing to get the help he needs to work through it.

The fact of the matter is, though, that I really just knew deep, deep down that my ex just wasn’t right for me. With a little work, I’m sure he’ll make someone very happy, just not me, Thank God! There were a lot of things holding me back from ending the relationship, but I was really blessed with a God-given opportunity to do so, and I haven’t regretted it for a single moment, even in the darkest moments of lonliness and despair.

Only you can discern (with your bf, of course) if God is calling you to remain in a relationship, or change your relationship.


#9

Men are silly.

The huz (who has no problem with applause in his professional setting and, in fact, pouts when he receives what he feels to be an insufficient amount) is just now learning to take a compliment or a gift in real life.

The old way:

Penny: Huz, here is a gift that I picked out for you after stewing about the issue for weeks and trying to find you the perfect thing.

Huz: Gee. Thanks. You shouldn’t go to all that trouble for me.

The new way:

Penny: Huz (etc.)

Huz: Thanks, love. Did you keep the receipt?

Some people just don’t know how to take a compliment or receive a gift. I always liked the story about Jesus and the perfume, and I think it teaches us how to respond to things like this. He didn’t say, “Don’t waste your money on me.” He didn’t say, “Woman, I am busy. Knock it off.” He said, “Thanks.”

I try to resist the urge to give advice about relationships on this board because I’ve never met any of the people involved. This one bothers me, though, and the thing that jumps out at me is the statement that he never opened any of your presents.

Who doesn’t open presents? That seems to me (note: NOT a certified counselor or in any way professionally qualified to offer an opinion, so this advice is worth exactly the amount you paid for it) to say that he doesn’t want them. The fact that he doesn’t get you any presents or, really, do anything you need in the relationship, says one of two things: Either (1) he doesn’t understand the give-and-take in a relationship because he can’t or (2) he understands but doesn’t want to engage in them.

(2) is a big hint that maybe this isn’t going to work out well.

(1) … Not sure what to do about (1). If nothing else, it’s a sign that you’ve God’s plenty of work to do to get this guy up to the point where he can give you what you need in a relationship. It is, after all, a two-way street.

Two questions, then. First: Is it even possible? If not, walk away. Second, if it is possible, is he worth the effort? Nobody’s perfect, but it sounds like his imperfections run up against your needs in a really unfortunate way.

And I don’t mean to imply that there’s one single thing wrong with you, Andrea. People need to be loved, and they need that love to be shown. We all need it shown in different ways. (Note to Huz: Rubies. BIG ONES.) If he can’t show you the love you need and are entitled to, maybe you need to let go and find somebody who can.

Or maybe you need to just hang on and hope a better person emerges once he gets through all the things that are bothering him right now. But it seems to me that, if he felt the way you feel about him, you’d be a blessing and not another problem.

But what do I know?


#10

Penny has stated a lot of what I’ve been stewing over while working around my apt.
You need to decide whether to wait it out and see if his outlook and behavior change after the unrelated biggies are out of the way (graduation et al that you speak of).
If it wasn’t for the unopened presents thing, he’d be quite like my fiance, and I’d be all for waiting it out. That part really gets me. Not everyone is a gracious gift giver or receiver, but unopened presents is new to me, and it’s pretty pathetic that he hasn’t reciprocated, doesn’t call, doesn’t email, etc… and has expressed doubts to you.
You’re going to have to do some self-searching and figure out what you need and want in a relationship and eventually in a husband, and then figure out if your current boyfriend is actively finding ways to be that man.
It has been my experience that if I have to ask, “Could I be overlooking some red flag…?” then I probably am. At the same time, though, realize that Satan wants us to have nothing to do with the mate God has chosen for us, and will create pseudo-red flags to trick us. That’s where a solid prayer life together and counsel from a great priest are indispensible. I’m extremely fortunate to have incredible spiritual affirmation of my relationship with my fiance despite troubles that have come up during our engagement.


#11

You guys have asked me some questions that take longer to answer than I have time this second (I’m packing to go on a trip tomorrow) So I’ll have to get back to you tomorrow or the next.

I would however like to talk about these unopened gifts.

These are some of the answers he’s given me when asked about it:

  • Those things were meant for a different person… I’m not that person anymore.

  • I don’t want anything, I’m humble. If you want to give, give to the poor, they need it more.

  • I’ll open them when the time is right… when? God will decide…

I’ve made a couple of jokes about getting him something this Christmas and he begs me to not get him anything. He doesn’t want anything.

At first it hurt really bad that he didn’t even open them. Almost a year later I’ve come to terms with it and have accepted that about him. I dont’ mind him not caring about material things, but what about my loving words and affection? He’s rejecting that too, and it’s based on the same notion he has of being humble. I actually think it has more to do with the fact that he struggles with the fact that he never had a mother’s love. She would tell him from early on that she wishes she had never had him, why doesn’t he just leave.

So I offer a third explanation as to the why… (3) He knows he has to, he just doesn’t know how. Furthermore, it is a painful thing for him this question of love. He needs it and feels it but does not know how to give or receive. Having said that, he has been know to be very loving, affectionate and giving. That is what I love about him. It’s just that there have been some misunderstandings between us that have hurt him badly and it has pushed all the wrong buttons. He’s scared of ending up with a situation very much like what he’s been living with at home. He always says statements like “If you cared about me, you wouldn’t do this” “how can someone that loves me say this to me?” I always answer with “I do care, I’m not perfect… why do you demand perfection from me?”

Honestly I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s just very confused and lost. He says things and does things that lead me to believe that. He also agrees and has come to the same conclusion.

I have advised him to go to confession and then to mass. He never does either. I always speak to him about God and tell him what he needs to know. He always listens but nothing ever changes. He’s putting working on his issues on the back burner because he’s just so gung ho on graduating. He sees that as his ticket to salvation - to get away from an unloving home. He can’t unless he can graduate and get a job. I keep reminding him that his ticket to salvation is Jesus. To let him take some of the burden to let him take the driver’s seat. Please pray for us so that he can receive the Grace to seek the Kingdom of God first.

Peace.


#12

[quote=Andrea22]Honestly I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s just very confused and lost. He says things and does things that lead me to believe that. He also agrees and has come to the same conclusion.
[/quote]

I’m going to say this, and then I’m going to keep my big mouth shut, at least for a little while.

If he is confused and lost, can you save him? I don’t know him or you, but there are some people who are broken beyond fixing. An example that hits close to home for me is the kids who are left in orphanages with little or no human contact for too long. Something just gets unwired, and all the love in the world can’t fix it. They’re broken.

I would encourage you alone to talk with a responsible third party about this, like a counselor who’s experienced in relationships.

This is going to sound cruel, but you didn’t break him. You have no obligation to fix him. You’ve made no commitments to him. It may be that the only way he’s going to get fixed is if he does it himself. It might be that he can’t be fixed at all. “Guys with issues” who put things on the back burner “for now…?” Sister, a lot of them can always find something else to do instead.

It might be that the process of fixing him is going to involve years and years of heartbreak and effort. So, ask yourself three real hard questions and talk them over with somebody who’s wise and honest.

  1. Can this guy be fixed, with “fixed” meaning taught to give and receive love in a way that gives you what you need?

  2. If so, can I fix him?

  3. If I can fix him, how much time and effort is going to be involved and is he worth it?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then cut your losses because this is only going to lead to more pain and sorrow.

I feel for you. Look out for what you need.


#13

My immediate reaction is that he is using that to manipulate those around him. It isn’t humilty that prompts this, but a false humilty. True humility at it’s base will cause one to recognize that one is loved and loveable.

In short; the guy has a kink in his system of self worth and how to relate to others. He should get quickly to some professional counseling.

And Heaven help you if you think you can change him. You are in for a very unhappy part of your life if you kid yourself into that mental trap.


#14

I’ve actually given this much thought (obviously :slight_smile: )

On the questions you asked:

Can he be changed? I believe that it is possible for him to do it with God’s grace and the right people around him to show him what love really is.

Can I change him? No, no one can change others, they can only change themselves. However, I can influence him. I pray to God that if it is his will, I will allow myself to be used as an instrument of his grace in my bf’s life. Sometimes I offer wisdom, other times, encouraging words, other times the straight truth, and other times just my love and support. And always my patience and loyalty.

As far as the timing is concerned. I am fully aware that this can take years at least a decade for a significant change. Yet I also look at the short term. I take it day by day and each day I ask myself if I can go on one more day. And I’ve been doing that for the past year. In theory I will give this another year max and I will see if how far along we are, i.e. by then he will have graduated and hopefully have made plans to move closer to me. I do not plan on having a long distance relationship forever you know :wink:

In the meantime though, I do want to help him out with his issues, I want to guide him to the truth and I want to offer him light vs. the darkness that he’s living in right now.

Like what is this humility business? I really do think he has the wrong idea on what that is and I would like to show him what real humility looks like. If anyone can elaborate on their thoughts on this or if they know of any scripture that would help that would be greatly apppreciated.


#15

I’d really suggest you both read “The Five Love Languages” (www.fivelovelanguages.com) - on the web site, there is a version of the book for singles.


#16

I forgot to add:

Is he worth it? Most definitely. When things are good, he makes me feel so loved, more so than anyone has ever made me feel. I gain strength from him as does he from me (when things are good though… :frowning: lately they haven’t been… that’s why I’m in such a funk)

Like with my birthday when he forgot… I did not sit back (stewing) and wait for days until he remembered (if he ever did) I didn’t want to set him up like that. As soon as I talked to him I told him it was my birthday. He said to me “happy birthday beautiful” we were online so he sent me a little hug… It did make me smile. See he can even make something as simple as wishing me a happy b-day so special and make my heart melt. Of course at the end of the day when we talked again he was super upset. He said that he had let me down because he had gotten wrapped up in his schoolwork and he thought I deserved better… It was harsh because he was so upset he was gonna give me an out, he just said that things were not working out. I just told him that I understood and that I was not upset with him and that I forgave him. I told him of an example of another time when I forgot mother’s day because I was caught up in work… didn’t mean I didn’t love my mom, but I eventually did make it up to her. I just let him know that he wasn’t a horrible person and that he could always make it up to me another time when he could. And that was that… we didn’t break up that day.


#17

Gut reaction: He’s simply not ready to face his issues, and you deserve someone who is.
My fiance was the same way with his previous girlfriend- just not ready to face some of his issues. Even if they had been right for eachother, the relationship had to end in order for him to realize the changes he needed to make. Thankfully, I am reaping the benefits of this! :wink:

It doesn’t make him a bad person; it doesn’t mean you’re desperate to want him to be that person since you’ve seen it before. What it does mean is that he’s not really in the proper mental state to be in a relationship. He needs to get help and then try again rather than subject you to serious hurt feelings while neglecting his very critical problems.


#18

I think it is time for some guy insight here.

You say he forgot you birthday. He didn’t forget. This is what a guy does when he doesn’t care.

He hasn’t opened presents from you. This goes beyond not caring. He is saying I don’t want your presents.

When you say you love him and he say, "“stop, I’m not that great” he is saying two thing:

  1. I don’t love you.
  2. I’m really am not that great.

You are sending him emails that he doesn’t read. He is saying I don’t care about you enough to read what you write me.

Andrea, there are many men out there who would love to have a prize like you. You clearly are thoughtful and caring. He is giving all the guy signs that he does not want to be with you. He is purposely driving you away. You would be wise to accomodate him and find someone else who appreciates what you have to offer.


#19

Reading these, I have to agree with Semper J above - have you considered that he may be trying to tell you something - your BF says he is not the guy he used to be, maybe that is true, maybe he is the guy who has moved on.

You say you have a long-distance relationship, maybe it is time to step back and re-evaluate the relationship. Perhaps he is trying to “let you down easy” or maybe he just does not have the guts to tell you that he is seeing someone else.

If he is Catholic, perhaps he is feeling a call to the Priesthood.

Sounds like he does not want to hurt you, he just hopes you will “get the message”. Step back for awhile…


#20

[quote=Andrea22]I forgot to add:

Is he worth it? Most definitely. When things are good, he makes me feel so loved, more so than anyone has ever made me feel. I gain strength from him as does he from me (when things are good though… :frowning: lately they haven’t been… that’s why I’m in such a funk)

Like with my birthday when he forgot… I did not sit back (stewing) and wait for days until he remembered (if he ever did) I didn’t want to set him up like that. As soon as I talked to him I told him it was my birthday. He said to me “happy birthday beautiful” we were online so he sent me a little hug… It did make me smile. See he can even make something as simple as wishing me a happy b-day so special and make my heart melt. Of course at the end of the day when we talked again he was super upset. He said that he had let me down because he had gotten wrapped up in his schoolwork and he thought I deserved better… It was harsh because he was so upset he was gonna give me an out, he just said that things were not working out. I just told him that I understood and that I was not upset with him and that I forgave him. I told him of an example of another time when I forgot mother’s day because I was caught up in work… didn’t mean I didn’t love my mom, but I eventually did make it up to her. I just let him know that he wasn’t a horrible person and that he could always make it up to me another time when he could. And that was that… we didn’t break up that day.
[/quote]

I might be off base, but it sounds as if he just laid a very expertly played guilt trip on you. Instead of the subject being your bday, he has brought it around to his own self. And you, warm person that you are, rushed in to save him.

I know that I am being harsh but I don’t see this man as insecure so much as being a very good manipulator.


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