In the four months I’ve been seeing my BF, he’s posted books I’ve given him on Facebook, raving about them without mentioning/thanking me. He’s posted photos from our NYC weekend and cropped me out of them. I once texted him a quote from our favourite comedian, which he promptly put on Instagram without asking/citing the source. I tweeted an article he liked and instead of retweeting me, he went to the original source and tweeted it himself sans context. When I asked him why he does this, he floundered, got annoyed and finally said that social media is silly and why do I care so much about what he puts on it? I let it go, but I still feel uneasy that he’s actively edited me out of these posts, particularly because they’re about things I gave him or things we experienced together. I feel like something weird is going on: is he trying to appear single online? Is he stealing my cultural interests instead of sharing them with me? I dunno, and I can’t find out unless he stops being defensive and actually talks to me. How do I get him to open up about this? Or am I really being silly as per his rebuttal?
I try to read all of these questions as though I’m getting coffee with a girlfriend and she’s voicing her relationship concerns. This keeps me from filtering my response to being too safe or politically correct. In your case, this visualization was absolutely necessary because frankly, if you were my friend and told me your boyfriend was doing these things, I would tell you that ABSOLUTELY something weird is going on.
Some of the examples of his shady-seeming behaviour could just be chalked up to his being hesitant to advertise the relationship online. Four months isn’t long and everyone moves at a different rate when it comes to announcing their relationships. But actively going out of his way to eliminate evidence of your existence is a red flag, especially his posting photos of a trip you two took together only to crop you out of them. (Also, stealing your tweet instead of simply retweeting is just plain strange. If he considers social media so silly, what does it matter if he retweets you?)
You call him your boyfriend so I assume you’re in some sort of exclusive relationship and he’s not just some guy you’re casually seeing. But based on what you’ve told me, he’s behaving like the latter. In general, I personally would only want to date someone who was positively pumped to be dating me. (I imagine most women feel the same way.) Now, I don’t know what he’s like in real life, but if he is excited to be with you, it’s not evidenced by his online presence. Real life trumps online life any day of the week, but let’s be honest; we’re attached at the hip to our phones and many social accounts. For that reason I’d be wary. I’m not saying to walk, but keep your eyes open. As an outsider it does indeed seem like he could be trying to appear single.
My biggest issue is his reaction to your simple question of why he does this. He should have been sensitive to your concerns instead of getting defensive and belittling them by churlishly asking why you care so much. If you broach the subject again, rather than asking why he does these things, which can sound pointed or critical, just be honest about how his actions make you feel. After all, this is less about what he’s doing and more about the effect what he’s doing has on you, his girlfriend.
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for nearly a year. We met through mutual friends, have very similar personalities, and despite living in different cities have committed to seeing each other every weekend. I’m the kind of person who knows exactly how I’m feeling at any moment and do not waste my time on relationships I’m iffy about. I’d rather be single than date someone I have lukewarm feelings for. So I knew I loved him pretty soon into our relationship and told him about 3 months in. He was naturally a little freaked out and did not return the sentiment. He later pressed me on what I meant by that and when I told him my feelings he responded that he felt the same way but was uncomfortable saying those three little words. To him “I love you” is something you only say to one person in your life and he refuses to budge on that. I know he truly does care about me and feels what I feel, but I can’t help but be bothered that he can’t say the words. Should I wait around until he’s ready or is this a sign that he never will be?
I truly believe a year is enough time to know whether or not you love someone. Based on how self-assured, perceptive, and decisive you seem to be, I have a hunch your man does share your feelings since I doubt you’d stick around if you thought he didn’t.
You’ve established your boyfriend has a mental block with those three little words, so I’m afraid this comes down to you and how important hearing them is to you. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to hear those words as a result of some ultimatum anyway, so this is something you’re going to have to either accept as part of him or be willing to walk away from. If you can objectively say your boyfriend is committed to you, treats you lovingly, and the only thing missing from your relationship is his uttering “I love you,” it’s hard to call that a deal-breaker.
What I would want to ensure—and you have to ask yourself this—is that it’s not some power tactic. “I love you” shouldn’t be a carrot dangled just out of reach; those words are as much (if not more) for the benefit of our partner as they are for ourselves. We say them because, in addition to expressing how we feel, they make our partner feel good. So, if you’ve expressed how much it would mean to you to hear them, it’s an exercise of show and tell: if he’s not telling you he loves you when he knows it’s important to you, he’d damn well better be showing you.
Have a question for Sharleen? Email your queries to email@example.com with Ask Sharleen in the subject, tweet us @FLAREfashion or post on our Facebook page using #AskSharleen. Then, look for her reply in our September issue!