Hard to talk to my boyfriend about boundaries bc he'll take it as his fault

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Hard to talk to my boyfriend about boundaries bc he'll take it as his fault

Unread post by dependantdragon »

So, I've posted here before, I know I've mentioned my boyfriend more than once. I love him a lot, and care about him, but I often feel guilty because he's always saying how much he loves me and that I'm "perfect", while on my end, I feel... there's several things I would like to change.

Firstly, that: he's very adamant about expressing affection, and I want him to feel like he can be free to express that, but also, it makes me feel... like I don't love him as much as he seems to love me. Which makes me feel guilty, because I do love him, and want to love him the way he deserves.

Second, boundaries, part one. I've been good at establishing my boundaries I think, but I can't even remember one time that he told me that I had crossed a boundary, or asked me to change something I was doing, or anything like that. I can remember a few times that I did something that seemed to upset him, but the person who pointed that out... was me. I would say something like, I need him to tell me when I do something that makes him feel bad, and he'd be like, okay, but I don't think that's ever actually amounted to anything. I'm autistic (he is too), so I can't rely on me being the one to notice that I've gone too far; I need him to tell me when I do something that makes him uncomfortable. Which I've expressed to him before, but while he says he will, nothing seems to change.

Third, boundaries, part two. Often when I establish boundaries, he tends to... not exactly overreact, but act really guilty about it. Earnestly apologize, etc. It's to the point where I hesitate on saying "Could you please not do that" or the like because when he reacts with so much guilt, I feel guilty, too. But holding off on saying that stuff just makes me more uncomfortable, sometimes building up to where I end up inappropriately expressing my frustration at him (i.e. through passive aggressiveness).

Fourth: This is going to sound bad, but, it's something he's open about to me, so... I'm pretty intelligent; I used to get really good grades at school before my mental health took a nosedive, I've been learning how to code for fun, I'm better with a computer than most of my friends, etc. My boyfriend is... not. I love him and accept this part of him, but sometimes he's so dense that I get frustrated, and then I feel bad about being frustrated because it's not like he's doing it on purpose! But it's hard to be patient and explain things to him, especially things I've explained at least once before. I wouldn't make a good teacher I don't think, haha.

Finally: As you can see, there's a lot of stuff here I'd like to be able to talk to him about, but, in vein of my third point, I feel like no matter how I express to him these things, he'll take it as a failing on his end. And like I said, it's hard to do that, because he'll act guilty and then I'll feel guilty and nothing will really change. I love him and I want to make this work, I just don't know how.
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Re: Hard to talk to my boyfriend about boundaries bc he'll take it as his fault

Unread post by Amanda B »

Hi dependantdragon,

I’ll first say it’s great to hear how intentional you’re being about your relationship. It sounds like you and your boyfriend have an immense amount of respect for one another. I’ll try my best to answer your questions here in the order you presented them.

First, everyone has different ways of showing and receiving affection. There is no right way to love or be loved. It’s understandably frustrating when this doesn’t match up in a relationship, but isn’t that part of the fun? It can be exciting to get to know how people respond differently to affection. While it sounds like the two of you are already intentional with communicating about these things, consider this a strength in the relationship and a fun opportunity to explore.

Second, your boyfriend may not have taken the time to think through boundaries and desires as much as you have. While something may seem to bother him, he may not have the words or capacity to process just how much it bothered him in the moment. I know for me personally, sometimes it takes a while to fully process a situation and determine if and how much it bothered me. So, a useful conversation to start with may include asking him how much he’s thought of all this. It sounds like you’ve discussed specific communication needs, like asking him to let you know when something is bothering him. This is a great step. I’d reverse the communication to asking him about what typically bothers him, how certain things feel when they happen, and how he’s comfortable communicating when things don’t feel right. It may be helpful to create a dialogue where he can think through these things.

Third, this sounds like a frustrating position to be in, but it also sounds like the line of communication between you is strong. I’d start by mentioning how his reactions to your boundaries makes you feel. It could help to discuss why he doesn’t need to feel so guilty. You could emphasize how comfortable he’s made you, and that’s why you feel safe expressing these things. This could turn the situation into a more positive, learning conversation rather than how he seems to be interpreting it, in a more critical way.

Fourth, people have all sorts of types of intelligence. It may be the case that the two of you have strengths in different areas, and that’s okay. I understand it may feel frustrating to explain yourself multiple times, but it may just be something that this person you’ve expressed a lot of love for needs.

It sounds like a productive conversation is on the horizon for your relationship. As I said above, I think the biggest thing to emphasize is how comfortable he’s made you feel, and how much respect you have for one another. How do you feel going into this conversation?
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