Wed | Sep 28, 2016

Silent nights

Published:Tuesday | March 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Q. I have been in a relationship for five years and I am unhappy. At first, I thought my boyfriend was quiet and mannerly but I am realising he is secretive and I wonder if I really know him. After three years of dating, he asked me to move in with him. I thought it was a sign he wanted to get married, share his life and secrets with me in a lifelong relationship. However, to my surprise, I do most of the talking and my fiancé gives me the silent treatment. He does not respect my need for more interaction. It is like pulling teeth to get information from him and to draw him out of his shell. I still know very little about his family and friends. He does not share about his past relationship(s). He constantly tells me not to worry about issues. I am three years older than him. Why is he so secretive and what should I do?

A.
There is a time to be silent in order to concentrate on a particular task when at work, if it is required. In a world given to noise and busyness, many persons do not spend time in silence, meditation and contemplation. Even in a relationship, there is need for space for silence. However, your boyfriend's silence is a mystery to you and affecting you negatively.

You feel that it shows lack of respect, and possibly you feel that he does not care. Sometimes, it is not that he does not care but that he might be a poor communicator or not a confident person. Perhaps he gets further withdrawn because he is feeling pressured into something he considers not comfortable or competent in doing.

Assure him

Some Jamaican men have the concept that to be a man is to handle all the problems and not to worry their partners with stuff. Furthermore, some men are led to believe women cannot handle problems properly. For whatever reason, he does not see any benefit in sharing his thoughts with you. Therefore, you need to assure him you can handle his thoughts capable of processing his feelings with respect, even when he disagrees with you. Ensure when you disagree with him you are not disagreeable or disrespectful.

Past experiences in his formative years could be affecting his lack of communication. Perhaps he was not respected by family members for independence of thought and sharing his honest feelings. Sometimes when you are with him you should not talk and let your presence be reassuring and respectful.

It could be he is afraid to express emotive feelings. In fact, many Jamaican men feel they should not cry ? even at funerals. It could be he is bottling up his hurts, disappointments and even joys. You need to help him understand it is okay to be emotional. Try to create an ambience in which he could express emotions without it being judged. When he expresses his emotions, please let him do it his way. When you ask questions, ensure the majority are about how he feels.

Possible embarrassment

Your boyfriend might not want to talk about former relationships out of respect for those ladies, and that should make you comfortable knowing he will not discuss you if the relationship does not work. However, on the other hand, he could be ashamed of things that happened in past relationships. He might feel you would be ashamed of him if he shared those secrets with you.

Finally, you need to concentrate on his strengths and try to talk about things he is passionate about.

The difference of three years is not an issue related to his perceived secretive ways. However, if you try all these initiatives, and he still will not open up, then it means he's too secretive for you.

Contact the counsellor at editor@gleanerjm.com.