He Loves Me- He Loves Me Not
You had the most romantic date the other night. You went to a nice restaurant, where you laughed, held hands and shared good conversation. Afterwards, you went back to your place and enjoyed what seemed like a night of intimate connecting. It all felt so right and was a welcome relief after all the recent stress in your lives and your relationship. But it has been several days and he hasn't responded to your emails or phone calls. What is going on?
This scenario replays frequently among the single and dating crowd and I receive a lot of email asking, "What gives?" The overwhelming numbers of people asking me this are female, but I do receive correspondence from confused guys as well. The short answer goes something like; "I can understand why you are confused; he is giving you a mixed message by (not) saying one thing and doing another. It is this mixed communication that gives rise to so much angst and to all those emails asking me to translate and interpret so they can know what is REALLY being said and what to do about it
Becoming a good communicator requires many different skills that involve both speaking and listening. In order to truly hear someone, it is necessary to listen to not only what they say, but also what they don't say. Non-verbal body language communicates about 73% of every message that we send to another person. When you really think about it, words can really get in the way- if you let them. Anyone can learn to be a more effective communicator, but it does take patience, along with some focused and consistent effort. In order to help you get started, the following tips will provide you with some basic guidelines and tools to assist you when it feels as though you are speaking in different tongues.
*Pay attention to your instincts and that little voice that alerts you to something being off. This feeling is usually brought about by subtle changes in behavior, tone of voice, level of physical contact, posture and eye contact and verbal sharing. Too often these go ignored and/or are written off as due to a bad day or stressful life events. While this is certainly possible, if the behavior change seems sudden or continues over a period of time- something has changed in your relationship.
* Don't ignore a sudden and persistent change in frequency and/or quality in your communication. If you have been dating someone who usually emails once or twice a day and calls several times a week- and this suddenly drops to no contact for a couple of days, without explanation- something has shifted in your relationship. If these kinds of shifts occur slowly, make sense in the context of what is going on in his/her life and you have talked about them- there is probably no need to raise the alarm.
* If he suddenly announces that he will be very tied up for the next few weeks (as he rushes out the door) - and gives no real explanation for his unavailability- something is probably up. If this is coupled with body language that says, "stay back,"- he will probably be tied up a lot longer than two or three weeks.
* If he is telling you how much he likes/loves you and how much he'd like to see you- but never has time, due to other commitments- he doesn't really want to see you that much. We make time for the things we want to do and that are important to us. No matter how busy we are- we are never too busy to pursue the people and things we care about.
* If she begins spending a lot of time on the computer, gets a lot of phone calls and goes into another room to answer, and/or has many unexplained absences from the usual routine and places- something is up. Again, look for a pattern of behavior. Everyone has an off day or a problem they may have difficulty sharing, however, the situation should not persist without a clear and logical explanation.
If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who begins to demonstrate the above behaviors, it will be important to address it directly with them if you hope to get to the truth. A good way to do this is to point out the changes you have observed and ask an open-ended question such as, "Is there something we need to talk about." If your significant other avoids, puts off or minimizes the issue after you have raised it for more than a few days, you may need to ask for a specific time that the two of you can sit down together and talk about what is going on. If this request is met with silence, this is also an answer- though not the one you want to hear.
The key to handling communication problems such as these is to never ignore or try to explain away your feelings- and don't delay in addressing them, hoping they will disappear on their own.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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