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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: My Partner Has Changed a Lot

September 3, 2022

Dear Stavroula,

For six months now I have been living with my boyfriend – we have decided to marry soon. My problem is that since we moved in together he has changed his behavior. He doesn’t want us to go out together anymore – he prefers to spend hours in front of the TV or playing online games, and when we do go out all he wants to do is go out to eat, which I don’t enjoy at all.

He avoids meeting our friends, who are mostly my friends, with various excuses, while before he seemed to like them a lot. And the worst thing is that every time I decide to go out with my friends, he makes fun of me, gets angry, and then doesn’t talk to me, saying that everyone should have their personal space and time.

I knew I was more social than him, and I liked the fact that he wanted us to spend a lot of time together, but I never imagined that he would want to be cooped up in a house watching TV all the time and that he would want me to do the same. I feel very disappointed – I was looking forward to living together. I hope this is a phase that will somehow pass. What do you advise me to do?

Yanna,

Dear Yanna,

Very often, when someone first meets a person, who for some reason attracts him, he feels a strong need to show them how well they match. Thus he can become highly adaptive to what the other person – who has become the center of his universe – says, wants, or chooses in an effort (which may not be done entirely consciously) to prove that the two have a lot in common.

In this phase even if no lies are told, one’s ‘truth’ can be falsified to match the other’s ‘truth’. Indeed, each tries to present his best self in such a way that it matches the best self of the other. Thus, although neither may consciously intend to, there is a chance that one may deceive the other.

After all, very often romantic attraction can distort the way one sees things. At the beginning of a relationship it is very common to feel attracted to someone who has different characteristics than oneself and then try to ‘fit in’ with them. However, in the course of the relationship, when the love has subsided, he feels the need to return to the self he is more ‘at home’ with, as a result of which he gets bored of behaviors that he previously found attractive.

Maybe something similar happened in your case. You chose to be with a less social person and showed him that you wanted to spend time alone with him and he ‘put on’ a more social self to fit in better with your lifestyle.

What you can do now is on the one hand to have an honest conversation with your partner, in which you will communicate to him – in a calm way and without blaming him – what is causing difficulties for you in your relationship, what you are feeling, and what you need in order to be content. Of course, you should encourage him to do the same. Find out what things you really love to do together and what things each needs to do alone.

Ask him to explain why he is upset that you choose to do something without him and how he can better handle it.

If the conversation doesn’t go anywhere, then there may be a need to reevaluate your relationship and why you’ve chosen to be with this person, as well as whether a long life with him is what you want in life with a husband.

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