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Question
Posted by: dw | 2011/05/16

re: no reciprocation

Hi Doc. Referring to my post 922 - my bf is away for 3 months but this problem was evident when he was here in SA with me. He has work on his mind all the time and when I talk it doesnt seem that he is listening. I will talk about some issue, say politics just to have some kind of conversation and brain stimulation, but it will be a brief, sometimes like a sentance and then he will say something about work again and expect me to be interested. It is all about him. How can I keep on being supportive to him when he is not being supportive to me.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

OK. It does happen that one spouse gets into a stressful high-pressure job which provides all the "mental stimulation" they want and rather a lot more ( too much such stimulation ) and the other spouse very reasonably would like some adult conversation and just doesn't get it. Talking to the cat or gold-fish is just no substitute. Most of us, like you, see intelligent adult conversation with our spouse / companion as a central part of what a relationship is.
Its not simply an issue of being supportive or not supportive, though. One can't strictly keep score. He may see himself as working hard so as to benefit both of you, and is consumed by the intricacies of his work. Try to see you listening to his work concerns not as something tedious to get over before he listens to yours, but as also something for you ; an opportunity to learn more about what makes him tick, what enthuses him, what worries him. If it's for the relationship, then it's for both of you.
Of course this isn't entirely satisfying for you ; and he'd think it odd if you expected him to be interested in a blow-by-blow account of your sourse and studies. Most of us over-estimate how fascinating our own work is and assume everyone else will find it as interesting and important as we do. But whereas you with additional psychological insight can appreciate these dimensions, he probably doesn't.
Can you seek to negotiate with him, that within a conversation / call, some time is agreed to be spent on you giving your news and issues, and him listening and making sufficient intelligent responses to show he genuinely was listening - and then an equal chunk of time for him to tell about his concerns, while you listen. And some time for shared inetrests and concerns ?

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/05/16

OK. It does happen that one spouse gets into a stressful high-pressure job which provides all the "mental stimulation" they want and rather a lot more ( too much such stimulation ) and the other spouse very reasonably would like some adult conversation and just doesn't get it. Talking to the cat or gold-fish is just no substitute. Most of us, like you, see intelligent adult conversation with our spouse / companion as a central part of what a relationship is.
Its not simply an issue of being supportive or not supportive, though. One can't strictly keep score. He may see himself as working hard so as to benefit both of you, and is consumed by the intricacies of his work. Try to see you listening to his work concerns not as something tedious to get over before he listens to yours, but as also something for you ; an opportunity to learn more about what makes him tick, what enthuses him, what worries him. If it's for the relationship, then it's for both of you.
Of course this isn't entirely satisfying for you ; and he'd think it odd if you expected him to be interested in a blow-by-blow account of your sourse and studies. Most of us over-estimate how fascinating our own work is and assume everyone else will find it as interesting and important as we do. But whereas you with additional psychological insight can appreciate these dimensions, he probably doesn't.
Can you seek to negotiate with him, that within a conversation / call, some time is agreed to be spent on you giving your news and issues, and him listening and making sufficient intelligent responses to show he genuinely was listening - and then an equal chunk of time for him to tell about his concerns, while you listen. And some time for shared inetrests and concerns ?

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