‘If I need help with something in my flat or driving somewhere, he would help me out in a moment but emotionally I find him vague and unsure‘ (Picture: Neil Webb/ Metro.co.uk)
Welcome back to The Sex Column, our weekly series that helps out people navigating the world of love, dating, and relationships.
Last time, the experts advised a woman who was struggling to cope with her husband’s bipolar disorder.
Today, we’re helping a dater who has been in a relationship for six months but isn’t sure if it’s working out.
He’s always happy to help her out around the house or drive her places, but she feels that the emotional connection might not be there.
She knows communication is an issue, but she’s not sure if it’s his fault or hers.
What should she do?
‘I’ve been in a relationship for six months and although I care about him, there are some issues.
‘He’s gentle, clever and reliable – physically.
‘If I need help with something in my flat or driving somewhere, he would help me out in a moment but emotionally I find him vague and unsure and I still don’t know him on a deeper level.
‘He struggles to say how he’s feeling, which is also an issue of mine that I’ve been working on.
‘So I guess this is my stuff too?
‘I went on holiday recently and I didn’t really miss him but we had lovely sex when I got back so I’m really unsure.’
What the experts say…
People communicate in such different ways.
‘Your boyfriend wouldn’t be the first man to show affection using a junior hacksaw and some mole grips,’ says James McConnachie.
So perhaps you’re communicating non-verbally but need a deeper sense of trust before you’re able to open up emotionally.
‘It certainly sounds as if there’s potential for a really good connection if you’re having great sex with him,’ says Rupert Smith.
For some people, early experiences within the family leave them with such distrust of intimate relationships that it takes a while to accept that their adult life can be different.
‘It seems that it’s easier for both of you to interact on a more superficial level, like holidays with friends, helping with chores and lifts, while anything more meaningful can’t be held on to or considered,’ Smith adds.
He clearly appreciates you and missed you while you were away. He also appears to be someone who is helpful, cooperative and kind. ‘But handymen and taxi drivers are easy to get,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘An exciting, loving and compatible life-long partner is somewhat harder to find.’
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A strong new relationship – and at six months yours is still new – is not built on feelings and communication alone, it is also built on shared values and aspirations.
‘So is communication really the issue here? Or is it more about common goals and purpose? Do you need “driving somewhere” in his car? Or do you need more of a co-pilot?’ asks McConnachie.
At six months, you are also ready for difficult conversations and if you’ve been exploring your communication skills you might know of conversation openers that will help you share how you’re feeling.
‘You could start by writing down a list of questions or issues based on how you’re struggling with his vagueness and emotional uncertainty,’ says Smith.
You should also ask if you are contributing to this issue and the answer is yes, you are. Relationships succeed or fail based on both people and perhaps your relationship history has made you keen to have someone rather than no one.
‘Your boyfriend deserves to be loved rather than tolerated so if you continue to feel dissatisfied, consider letting him go,’ says Rudkin.
‘This will also give you a greater chance of finding someone who ticks all your boxes, rather than some.’
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychology
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