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Puzzled by boyfriend’s withdrawal

Neil Rosenthal

Dear Neil: I recently started seeing someone, and things were great. We talked to each other three times a week and saw each other twice a week. But over the last two weeks he has become detached and removed, and has seldom called. I have found evidence of him sleeping with someone else. What should I do? Confront him or just walk away?

– Feeling Rejected in Wellington, New Zealand



Dear New Zealand: If you just walk away, you will never know if your guess is right about him being with someone else. You’re likely to wonder what happened and whether the relationship could have been saved.

Talk to him. Tell him you are confused and hurt by his recent withdrawal, and that you have reason to believe that he has been with someone else. Then ask him to come clean and address what’s been going on, and what he’s been thinking and feeling about you and his relationship with you.



Most of the time, you’ll know if he is telling you the truth. But even if you can’t tell, it’s wiser to attempt to address what is going on than to just end a relationship and wonder why.

Dear Neil: How do I start a conversation with a lady I am very attracted to but I’ve only talked to once? I get tongue-tied when I try to talk to her. What can I do to overcome this problem?



– Tongue-Tied in Nigeria

Dear Nigeria: Ask her questions about herself. Where is she from? How is she liking school? What classes interest her the most? What are her plans after she finishes school? What music does she like? What does she like to do in her free time?

You could comment on what she’s wearing if you like it (most of us like to hear that we have good taste and that we look great in our clothes). Also, you could tell her a little about you. What interests you? What are your goals and ambitions? What do you want to get really good at doing?

Of course, you could also invite her to go out with you somewhere – for lunch, a walk, a dance or whatever else appeals to you.

Dear Neil: I’d really appreciate your advice. A younger sister of mine says I am negative about her. I think I am protecting myself from her emotional onslaughts and hostility, which I find quite heavy. I am 60 now, and quite tired emotionally. My way of coping is silence and my music.

– Protecting Myself in New Zealand

Dear New Zealand: Your way of coping is through withdrawal and distance, and that’s what your sister is reacting to. Take this opportunity to figure out what kind of relationship with your sister you’d like. In order to do that, you’re going to have to figure out why you’re withdrawn and distant with her, and what you would need in order to warm up to her.

After you figure it out, tell her.

Neil Rosenthal, a licensed marriage and family therapist, will be co-facilitating a single’s river canoe weekend titled “How People Connect” on June 25-27, and a couple’s river canoe weekend titled “Adding Romance and Spark To Your Relationship” on Aug 6-8. For more information, call (303)

449-6578. Rosenthal can be reached at (303) 758-8777 or by e-mail at his Web site http://www.heartrelationships.com


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