How Can I Get Closer To Him?

We’re each only responsible for our half of any relationship… and when one person puts in much more than their half it can easily create resentment, disappointment and frustration.

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Q I’ve been seeing a guy for a few months who I really like and want a future with – but he keeps me at arms length and I still don’t feel special or ‘wanted’ by him.
I’ve tried talking to him about it and he says he does like me a lot but he’s taking his time and not rushing into anything as he’s been hurt before. So have I – several times!
I just want to know if I’m wasting my time with him and if he’ll ever let me get close to him. We only have a friendly kiss and haven’t even had sex after dating for a few months – although he does say that he fancies me. I’m so confused and disappointed. He is very busy with a stressful job and so we don’t spend much time together either. What shall I do?

A You say that you want a future with him? What are your reasons for wanting him instead of someone else?
I’m wondering about a few things here.
Do you have a history of being attracted to unavailable men and of trying to get them to want and commit to you?
Do these feelings of being unwanted, kept at arms length and feeling confused and disappointed by a man have echoes from your past?

Without asking him I can only guess at the reasons for his behaviour. Perhaps he really is taking his time to build some solid foundations with you – but that would usually include affection and sexual intimacy.
He might not be sure if you are right for him (yet); maybe he’s keeping his options open.

He might have a problem with emotional attachments (you could sensitively find out who he is emotionally close to, and how he behaves with them).

Maybe he has a sexual dysfunction, or anxiety around intimacy that he doesn’t feel safe sharing with you (yet).
I say ‘yet’ because he may open up later… but on the other hand he may not, and what you have now with him might be all you’ll ever get. Could you settle for that?

As for stress – that is a big energy drain and can get in the way of someone being emotionally and physically available for a relationship.

I've read that relationships need between 10-15 hours of one-to-one time every week (that's with no TV or computer games!) to build and grow. Do you get this much 'quality' time together? Does he even have this much time free to spend with you? How does he prefer to spend his free time instead of being with you and developing your relationship?

What is your own ‘energy’ level like when you’re with him? Is there a mismatch between you? Are you the one doing all the work and making all the moves?

We’re each only responsible for our half of any relationship… and when one person puts in much more than their half it can easily create resentment, disappointment and frustration.

I would suggest that you have a calm chat with him – maybe opening it up with something that doesn’t get his alarm bells ringing about ‘the relationship conversation’ that many men seem to dread!

If you’re coming from a place of being curious and asking him to help you to understand and become clear, this is more likely to bear fruit than an outward questioning – which he might see as too emotionally challenging.

It is very important that when you are talking about this, that you are touching him gently on the forearm or hand - to make a better ‘connection’ with your words too. Make sure you have privacy and aren’t distracted.

Be focused upon finding out ...

  • what he thinks a good relationship looks and feels like
  • whether he knows any couples who do have a ‘good relationship’
  • what it is that they do to make it good
  • whether he wants this for himself too
  • maybe (if you’re really on a roll and he’s opening up to you) – what he wants with you and how he hopes your relationship will develop.

Please be sure to ask yourself these questions first. It may reveal that you have very different hopes and expectations to him and although you may get on well that might not mean that you have the same future in sight.

If you find that he doesn't want what you want, will you then settle for that – and if so will your heart keep yearning for a deeper intimate emotional and physical connection with your man?

You may have to choose whether to stay outside gently knocking for his door to be opened to you, or to find another door that will welcome you in.

Maxine Harley (MSc Integrative Psychotherapy)

MIND HEALER & MENTOR - if you discover that childhood conditioning and trauma is getting in the way of having an emotionally and physically intimate relationship, you'll find some FREE RESOURCES from my website

Maxine Harley