Today I help a reader whose boyfriend has pulled away from her and says she’s angry all the time.
My bf and I really don’t have that spark anymore? We don’t like we used to now it’s more like awkward silences on the phone. He’s seemed to have lost interest in me. He says I get angry all the time.
I really need help.
I’m really sorry you’re going through this rough patch with your boyfriend.
You don’t say much about how long you’ve been together or if there are other circumstances between you, but I’ll work with what you shared.
Luckily you can turn this around— I help women do it every day with coaching.
And, for those of you reading this, I’m going to speak in generalities about dynamics between men and women. I know that sometimes people have different circumstances and realize that every relationship is different.
I want to be clear that I’m not blaming the woman or placing any responsibility solely on the woman in this scenario. If your boyfriend was here, asking me for advice, I would tell him how to turn things around without needing you to change first.
With that out of the way, this particular cycle is common and there are two places to start with bringing the spark back between you and your boyfriend.
Worrying about a relationship and trying to “fix it” is exhausting business for women. We’re the first ones to know when things feel “off” and it feels horrible.
We start neglecting ourselves in favor of frenzied, relationship strategizing.
First, let’s talk about how to get your own groove back.
I want you to think back to how you were in the beginning of your relationship right before you two made it official.
Most likely, you were pretty into your own life as most single people are.
You were focused on your own goals, life, plan and whatever else you had going on.
You were most likely relatively carefree about heavy topics like “the future.”
Maybe you really, really liked your boyfriend back then, but you probably didn’t feel any big attachment to an outcome with him.
He was just some guy you were getting to know.
Remember how light and carefree you acted then?
Whatever was going on with him didn’t feel particularly urgent or life-changing like it does now, when your nest is threatened.
You might have been excited about him but you weren’t drawn and tired and sick of his crap and feeling unloved. If he walked out, you might have been sad for a weekend but it wouldn’t have felt terrible to lose him.
Which is why it’s time to hit the pause button on worrying about whether this relationship is going to fall down around your ears and get really selfish about making yourself happy.
This particular attitude is magical, mysterious catnip for men, and unfortunately it’s impossible to fake or I would bottle that shit and sell it for gazillions of dollars. We would all splash around in this bliss together… anyway, I digress.
Since I can’t make a lotion out of this happy attitude, it’s time to do the next best thing, which is use my Simple Self Love Success Formula.
Here it is:
1. Quit doing or giving when it doesn’t feel good.
This especially includes things that put you out, sap your energy or cause you to overextend yourself.
From now on, if doing something makes you feel bad, quit it cold turkey or find an alternative solution that doesn’t make you feel like crap.
You possess capital assets by virtue of being woman that are valuable no matter what you’re doing, so rest assured once and for all that you deserve to be here and your value doesn’t rest upon your contribution to this or any relationship.
Give up any martyr-y self sacrifice bullshit attitudes where you tell yourself that love is suffering or love is pain or love is making his lunch for the 2,574th time even though he never says thank you and complains about the carrots you lovingly woke up 2 hours before work to slice for him.
Cut that crap out.
No more “LOOK WHAT I DID FOR YOU” martyrdom or getting angry when he doesn’t seem to care about whatever it is you have chosen to do for him.
2. Make a list of things that bring YOU joy and nourish YOUR spirit.
You are important and worth careful, loving cherishing. To really believe in your value and live that reality every day, it starts directly with the way you treat yourself.
Now, I get frustrated and roll my eyes when people say sanctimoniously, “you can’t have a good loving relationship if you don’t love yourself first” since I see plenty of normal, screwed-up human beings all the time having great relationships who definitely don’t have the self love thing completely nailed.
Now, some of you will say, “but I LOVE MAKING HIM HAPPY, IT GIVES ME JOY.”
The more you resist putting yourself first, the more you need it.
And… as far as he’s concerned, cool. Put your eyes back on your own paper. You can bring him joy later when you’re smiling after doing things that make YOU happy, independently of whatever he’s up to.
3. Create a daily habit of doing at least one thing from your list, come hell or high water.
Systemize the whole thing by doing your joyous action whether you feel like it or not.
As you solidify creating daily joy into a habit, it creates a ripple effect that both makes you happier and will rub off in the rest of your life.
This formula is really simple, but not always easy in practice since we all live busy lives and rush around without taking time out to care for ourselves.
Also, do whatever else makes you feel joyful— even if it doesn’t fit into the simple self love success formula.
Why men withdraw from angry women (who are probably actually sad).
Struggling to get a complacent man’s attention and cherishing usually makes us feel sad, resentful and tired.
And, I certainly don’t blame you! It feels awful to feel like you’re last on your man’s priority list. To us, what we want in a happy romantic relationship seems super simple.
To a woman, romance is more like the gas in the car. Keep putting in small, daily, thoughtful effort and everything keeps running smoothly.
When a man views romance like it’s essentially only necessary a few times a year or once the car has actually broken down, we end up with a lot of fundamental misunderstandings about who really cares about whom.
And, once we understand how men and women love differently, how we naturally handle relationships makes a little more sense.
Once a man falls in love and deeply cares about a woman, he loves her. It’s pretty solid.
She made it through the hedge maze and won his heart.
Even if she runs off, gets eaten by a lion, or dies, he’ll probably sweetly remember the way her eyes crinkled when she smiled at him for the next 100 years.
He might not have an active relationship with her or he might fall in love with more than one woman over his lifetime, but men care about women in a relatively solid way that doesn’t usually change much unless they are disrespected or betrayed.
Women love fiercely also, but our love requires a different type of nourishing and reciprocation to stay solid.
Depending on the dynamics between the two of you, your man might be either trying desperately to make you happy and not feeling like he’s getting anywhere OR he’s completely given up on trying to make you happy and has withdrawn because he feels hopeless about pleasing you.
When this pullback happens, it’s often a side effect of a fundamental miscommunication.
Women tend to express our feelings early and often— both about things that have nothing to do with him and things that have everything to do with him.
Sometimes we just want to be heard, listened to and experienced— and other times fixing our complaints is directly within his wheelhouse— for example, if want him to quit depositing his dirty socks on the bed.
Often, men do NOT see a difference between our general venting and confrontation. Either one seems to require an action step from him.
Unless your man is very skilled at evaluating his natural reactions and then mindfully translating that into either just listening or doing actions that you actually want (which is a tall order for any human being), he might be unsure about what you want from him when he sees you are not happy but can’t fix it.
Since you said that he told you he thinks you’re always angry, this says to me that he’s not sure how to make you happy because his efforts (no matter what they were or whether you wanted them or not) didn’t seem to provide lasting positive effects from his perspective.
Every time he man hears a complaint from a woman about ANYTHING, his first instinct is to jump into action and do something to fix the problem— with the underlying goal of making her happy by fixing the problem that is making her unhappy.
Whether you were actually happy or sad or whatever emotional state you were really in— or it’s real causes— doesn’t matter.
Luckily, changing this spiral can start directly with you.
In order to get something different from him, you’re going to have to BE different around him.
That’s why my first suggestion was to get back to what makes YOU happy.
First, being happy is really what you’re after in the first place!
Second, genuinely happy people are irresistible.
In order for him to start willingly coming back toward you, you’re going to have to make yourself happy and show him lots of respect for a while before he notices and then responds lovingly by coming out of hiding.
When you’re happy with or without his acting any certain way, it gives you the space to get back to pre-upset you, who was flirty and sweet. It also takes the pressure off him to try and find some kind of solution to your unhappiness, which makes him feel guilty.
Now, if this dynamic has been a problem between you for awhile, it’s not going to get fixed overnight. You won’t turn the relationship around by discussing this, you’ll turn it around by BEING different, which takes some time.
But, don’t worry. Men watch women like hawks, whether we notice it or not.
Once you change things up, lighten things up and get back to being who he fell in love with, you’ll be irresistible to him and everyone else.