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He needs his alone time

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  September 2, 2009 10:00 AM

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Alone again ... naturally ...

(And remember to chat at 1 p.m.)

Q: Hi Meredith, I have been reading your column for a few months now, and, as I am wondering if any of your other readers experience this problem, thought I would write in and get your opinion.

I am very much in love with my boyfriend of almost a year and a half. We see each other a few times a week and usually have a good time, but sometimes when we've been hanging out a lot he begins to withdraw from me, to shut down emotionally.

I read in a book last year that many -- in fact, practically all --guys do this sometimes, and that they usually emerge from their "alone time" ready to be social and receptive to the world around them once again. (No need to name the book; if you've read it, you know which one I'm talking about.) He seemed to think that he was the only weirdo who needed to "get away" from people on occasion, so I think he thought that there was something wrong with him.

The problem is, a couple of months ago I started a new job that is actually more compatible with his work hours. Last year I was working evenings and only got to see him on weekends or the occasional very late evening. Now I'm working days and have a lot more evenings free (though will still work many), and I don't know what to do about the fact that I want to spend far more time with him than he wants to spend with me.

We've discussed it once or twice, and he doesn't know why he needs to be alone sometimes, he only knows that he does and he says that I shouldn't take it personally. He feels guilty about his need to be alone and I think he thinks it hurts me more than it actually does. I do understand his need to be alone, know that I shouldn't take it personally and generally don't, but I really do spend a great deal of time alone or with other friends wishing I could be with him.

I should add that although we are both 30, this is only his third relationship and it is my first. I am highly invested in this relationship, want to help him (or in any case, want him to help himself), and want us both to stop feeling guilty (he because he needs to be alone and me because I need to be with him). We recently spent a week together on vacation and at his brother's wedding, during which time he was actually very present (no withdrawing), and we had a terrific time. When he is emotionally present he is a wonderful person. When he retreats into his cave he is still a wonderful person, but confused and confusing.

I have managed to draw him out of his cave in a couple of situations when I finally voiced my feelings about it, but I don't like behaving in a way that seems manipulative even if I'm not actually being manipulative (or at least am not trying to be).

The questions I have are as follows: do other men do this too? If so, do they know why? Do you, Meredith, know why? Do any of you have any advice about what I can do to help the situation? Are there any clever compromises that can be worked out here? What can I do, short of exercising and making plans with other friends and family (which I do anyway), to not feel so lonely when he is not being emotionally responsive?

Because I was single for so long, I learned how to keep myself occupied, but also because I was single for so long, I threw myself into this relationship with my whole self and now can't seem to remember how I used to enjoy myself when I was single. I also want to know: if, when he's alone, what he does is watch TV or play computer games, then why is that different from his doing the exact same thing when I'm around?

– Dating a (Nice) Caveman, Winchester

A: DANC, here's my confession: I am a cavewoman. I am actually sitting in my cave right now. I am wearing my cave uniform (elastic pants) and eating my cave food (bag of Skittles).

This isn’t a man thing. I need my cave time whether I’m in a romantic relationship or not. I consider myself a very social person. When I leave my cave, I’m excited to see other people. But without my cave time, I get moody and weird. I can’t say why my cave environment would change if another person was around, even if that person remained silent, but it would.

We cave people don’t mean to offend those who love us. We just need to clear our heads.

I don’t know what your cave man does in his cave. From what you’ve said, he’s not depressed or antisocial – he’s just in need of space.

You ask about compromises. Here’s what I think:

He can compromise by softening his behavior during his emotional withdrawals. As a cave person, I can tell you that it’s possible -- it just takes practice. He should also be more empathetic about the fact that you’re basically arranging your social schedule around his cave time. He could -- and should -- go out of his way to make sure you’re not stuck trying to anticipate his moods. This shouldn’t be a guessing game for you.

You can compromise by giving up on an answer. You may never understand why he needs alone time. Some people like constant companionship, some don’t.

My guess is that your need to understand his cave time reflects a concern that his need for space will prevent him from ever being able to live with you at some point. If that’s what this is about – if you fear that his cave time means he’ll never be able to offer more than the status quo – you should let him know. That's actually a very valid fear -- and it will make more sense to him than your inability to accept his alone time. If he hasn't considered that issue on his own, he should.

I can’t read his mind, but I can tell you that we cave people do want love. We like attention and crave companionship. We just want you out of our faces sometimes so we can eat our Skittles in peace. If we’re being selfish about our needs -- if you fear we’ll never be able to share our lives with you -- just tell us. It's our duty to be honest and to explain ourselves as best we can.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to watch television by myself.

Readers? Is his cave time selfish? Is she expecting too much? Can cavepeople ever cohabitate with non cavepeople? Share here. Twitter here.

– Meredith

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187 comments so far...
  1. I completely agree with Meredith. Everyone NEEDS to be alone sometimes. I personally do not understand people that are together 24/7. It's great to enjoy someone's company so much, but if I didnt get to just relax by myself, I would go crazy.
    Give him his space....it's no reflection of you or how he feels about you.

    Posted by SM1231 September 2, 09 10:24 AM
  1. Hi Regis.

    Posted by Kristen September 2, 09 10:26 AM
  1. Say what??? You are 30, and have been in this LTR for 1.5 years, and it is "Only Your FIRST"?!?!?! WTF??? Where you in a Nunnery for the last 10 years? In Jail? Or were you a "L.U.G." that couldn't bring yourself to drop your college "Roommate" (wink-wink) for several years after graduation??? If this is really your first LTR, then don't even ask for advice; because you are so "green", you won't know what to do with the words we write. Anyhow, as a man, YES!!! Some of us need our "Alone Time". I don't know why, but we do; and Yes, we do emotionally withdraw. Good luck, I am sure you can "change" him (laughing so hard I am nearly crying...).

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 September 2, 09 10:28 AM
  1. BREAKING NEWS: Local woman baffled by husband's need for alone time in the "cave"!

    Posted by Anonymous September 2, 09 10:33 AM
  1. I agree with Mere completely. I think at your age and point in the relationship, and now these more normal work hours, the thought of cohabitation is natural. The conversation that needs to happen is that of "If I am having a hard time dealing with this behavior now, what does this mean about our future?". You absolutely deserve to know whether or not this is going to be a major problem with you two moving forward as a couple. If it is really such an extreme need for him, it might be a deal breaker.

    Good luck!

    Posted by Laura September 2, 09 10:34 AM
  1. Meridith is right -- he may be a cave person; an introvert. It's a common misunderstanding that introverts are not social but that's not true. It simply means that when their energy is running low, they re-charge by spending time alone (whereas extroverts like to recharge by spending time with others).

    In any personality system that you care to study, there are always types that need their space -- their "alone time." Don't take offense...

    Posted by Marie September 2, 09 10:34 AM
  1. I too think it is important to have space from the person you are dating. It allows you to balance your friendships, career, and your relationship. But, it sounds like you already have a lot of space in your relationship...

    I don't know why your man seems to want to be alone a lot, but I think instead of trying to figure out why he feels that way, you should figure out if you will be happy in this relationship (with the ample "alone" time) in the long term. He wont change-- this is who he is...but is that the way you want to live?

    Good luck!!

    Posted by Kristen September 2, 09 10:35 AM
  1. You’re not going to want to hear this, but here is my assessment.

    Firstly, you’re both in your 30’s, and this is your FIRST relationship? Where have you been? You need to get out more, Girlie. This is his 3rd relationship? Uh, oh, serious emotional arrestment here on both ends.

    Next, you acknowledge you’ve got a lot invested here. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been dating 6 months or 1 ½ years; fish or cut bait and learn to cut your losses.

    Further, if after 1 ½ years he’s doing this emotional cut-off, I’m sorry, but he’s looking at ways to extricate himself from this relationship. Seems he doesn’t have the kahunas to come out and tell you he wants out, so he does the only thing he knows will anger you and that’s withdraw.

    Methinks you need to get involved with new activities without him, take a class, join a health club to get your endorphins going, meet new people (not to date, but for a frame of reference), and give yourself some breathing room. He desperately needs it himself.

    If he sees you’re not so clingy and you’re more independent and can function without him, he’ll either do the same and wiggle away or gain more respect for you.

    I LOVED what one poster said last week about women and self-esteem issues, and how he was going to go home and hug his kids tighter and fuel their self-esteem further so they can grow up with healthy self-confidence so they won’t pick losers. What a great dad! All take note of his words of wisdom. We could breed better children that way.


    Posted by JeffreyInMalibu September 2, 09 10:35 AM
  1. I am a cave person AND I'm marrying one!! I live with my fiance, but it works out great because he works practically 24 hours a day every other 4 days and I work all day Mon-Fri!!

    Give him space, hang out with your friends and family, go shopping and go to the gym! It CAN work! :)

    Posted by Robinnnnn September 2, 09 10:40 AM
  1. I also agree with Meredith and would point out that this is not a "man" thing. Lots of people need their alone time. I used to disappear from friendships from time to time and my best friend called it my hybernation time. She totally understood it and was always ready to pick up the friendship again when I emerged from the cave, blinking in the sunlight. Meredith raises an important question - will this guy ever be prepared to live with you? And the only other question I need to ask is, are you sure he is alone when he is not with you? I don't want to raise any paranoia here but if it's not alone time he seeks, but "time with other people" then it's a different issue.

    Posted by J Bar September 2, 09 10:40 AM
  1. He needs a shrink. This behavior is bizarre. I'm somewhat of a loner but would never "withdraw" from someone I've been with for a year and a half. It might be that he's seeing someone else, he's bored when he's with you, he's thinking of the other girl, etc. Sad but true.

    Posted by Flash September 2, 09 10:44 AM
  1. Jeez, LW. I'm a woman and I DO this. Good lord, I can't stand this generalizing about men and women--this attitude got me in all sorts of hot water with my ex, who was really stroppy over the fact that I wanted some time to myself, since I wasn't "supposed" to--I am female, after all, and should have been grateful that I had a guy who wanted to laminate himself to me. (If the book you read was that stupid Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus, please dismiss it as the inaccurate pop-psych drivel it is. That book is crap.)

    And seriously? You sound clingy. Do you need to spend every frickin' moment with him? Great, you have similar work hours now. That means when you do go out, you can go out sooner after work. It doesn't mean that you should spend all of your time together. Yes, you say you know how to occupy yourself without him, but it's not about "occupying" yourself with placeholders until you see him--it's about being ENGAGED with other people and other interests. Right now, you're making your BF your whole world. I've been on the other side of that, and I have to tell you, it's annoying and sometimes creepy.

    Sheesh.


    Posted by PM September 2, 09 10:45 AM
  1. Jeez, LW. I'm a woman and I DO this. Good lord, I can't stand this generalizing about men and women--this attitude got me in all sorts of hot water with my ex, who was really stroppy over the fact that I wanted some time to myself, since I wasn't "supposed" to--I am female, after all, and should have been grateful that I had a guy who wanted to laminate himself to me. (If the book you read was that stupid Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus, please dismiss it as the inaccurate pop-psych drivel it is. That book is crap.)

    And seriously? You sound clingy. Do you need to spend every frickin' moment with him? Great, you have similar work hours now. That means when you do go out, you can go out sooner after work. It doesn't mean that you should spend all of your time together. Yes, you say you know how to occupy yourself without him, but it's not about "occupying" yourself with placeholders until you see him--it's about being ENGAGED with other people and other interests. Right now, you're making your BF your whole world. I've been on the other side of that, and I have to tell you, it's annoying and sometimes creepy.

    Sheesh.

    Posted by PM September 2, 09 10:45 AM
  1. Rico thinks Meredith is way off base today...and here is what Rico has to say about it:

    Rico is concerned on a whole other level. Your compatibility is an issue, his caveman deal is an issue. Rico is curious about you being 30 and having such limited dating experience. Rico is wondering what other info you are leaving out. Rico is wondering whether this caveman is using the excuse to not watch TV but to explore other options. The limited experience in relationships is why Rico thinks this is a possibility. Rico knows that just because you spent a week with him and his friends, family etc...that you might not be the only girl he has been dating.

    Think this all through. Rico suggests that if he is not the type of guy you want to be with then you cut your losses early on. What seems cute and quirky to you now can become irritating and obnoxious as years go by. Rico needs his alone time too...like watching a ball game or going food shopping, cooking, a nap, a run, bike ride, etc...Get the point? Rico thinks Meredith would agree that alone time is fine but if it is to totally withdraw for long periods of time very often then you have a problem.

    Rico could be wrong and the reason for the limited experience is just due to general shyness. What is the truth? Rico wants to know the answers and he will gladly try to analyze this better.

    Have a nice day and enjoy these last few days of summer...

    Love always,

    Rico

    Gears not Gas

    Posted by Rico September 2, 09 10:45 AM
  1. Mer is right on. I call this my "billy time" Everyone needs it and should have it, otherwise we'd ALL be insane!

    Posted by billy September 2, 09 10:45 AM
  1. Is he an only child? I am and when I am stuck with others for too long, I go batty. Another cousin who is an only child seconded this. If everything else checks out, give him some space.

    Posted by EC September 2, 09 10:47 AM
  1. In my opinion, needing 'cave-time' is a sign of a moody disposition...

    If you are not this, don't try and date one. Let alone marry one.

    Or you too will become a moody cavewoman

    Posted by EastCoastGirl September 2, 09 10:52 AM
  1. There's nothing better than grabbing some headphones, a good book (preferably john grisham)....maybe a beer, and perhaps a burrito....... then curling up and enjoying a little quality time with yourself indoors or outdoors.

    leave the guy alone....maybe if you put yourself out there prior to 30 you would have more life experiences to base off of your need for attention.

    i mean come on, Rico, what do you think today???

    Posted by itsahairflip September 2, 09 10:52 AM
  1. DANC, Meredith is right that this is not a M/F issue. It seems to me that it's a basic compatibility question, and IMO does not bode well for the future of the relationship.

    The language of your letter is unusual, and I feel that if you go back and examine it, you'll get some insight into yourself. You are so tentative ("I think he thinks" - twice) and roundabout that I wonder if that's how you are communicating in your routine conversations with your BF.

    Look at this passage: "I have managed to draw him out of his cave in a couple of situations when I finally voiced my feelings about it, but I don't like behaving in a way that seems manipulative even if I'm not actually being manipulative (or at least am not trying to be)." This shows a great deal of insecurity in the relationship. You need to be open with your BF and realize that even though you love him, if the relationship does not meet your needs, it's not for you.

    Posted by Sasha September 2, 09 10:54 AM
  1. Marie - I'm in complete agreement with you. I think the OP needs to learn how to be empathetic. I am a complete introvert, yet I work in business development and do it quite successfully. All introverts need their alone time. Whenever I'm around people, even if it's just one person, whether in a large social setting like a party or a one-on-one date, it DRAINS the life out of me. You can only imagine how tiring all the networking events I have to attend can be...I need my cave time in order to literally recharge my batteries...time in which I don't have to care about my appearance, or performing in front of others. I cannot stress enough as to how critical this down-time is in order for me to function. If I didn't get a chance to relax and be alone, I would be cranky and insufferable all the time.

    Give your boyfriend a break. You sound like you have issues with regards to being emotionally independent. This is strange to me, given that this is your 'first' relationship at 30. You clearly could cope with being alone for several years preceding, so I don't see what the problem is now. Remember, relationships are a supplement, a bonus if you will...Not a necessity. That being said, I am getting the sense that you are seeking too much validation out of this relationship that you should be able to get without it. Wait a second...

    "What can I do, short of exercising and making plans with other friends and family (which I do anyway), to not feel so lonely when he is not being emotionally responsive"

    I think you just answered your own question. Being in a relationship doesn't mean being attached at the hip. Perhaps you are being too clingy, and it seems you view your boyfriend's behavior as being abnormal. Have you ever considered that he might just be different than you? Get over yourself. Sorry to sound harsh, but letters like this annoying me...I can't stand it when people don't make any effort to be empathetic.

    Posted by JMoney September 2, 09 10:54 AM
  1. If I left it to my husband we would spend every waking and sleeping moment together. He never gets sick of it, and never seems to want/need any alone time. I on the other hand NEED alone time. What I hate is feeling guilty for wanting a few hours to myself to do WHATEVER I want to do.

    I think that you should respect his need to spend time with himself - and only himself. If you don't badger him about his alone time, you may find he needs less of it. And lets be honest - you don't REALLY want to know what he does when he is by himself, do you? Let's just call it his happy time and leave it at that.

    Don't take it upon yourself to "draw him out of his cave". Just remember that he was on his own for a long time before you came into the picture.

    Posted by -M September 2, 09 10:56 AM
  1. He probably just does not like you that much...he only comes out of his cave to get into your "cave"...

    Posted by Steve is a bumbling idiot as usual September 2, 09 10:58 AM
  1. I don't think this relationship is a "match". After 1 1/2 yrs. they should be growing together not growing further apart. She is only 30 years old so my advice would be to kick him to the curb and find someone else to spend time with..we are living int he 21st century, not prehistoric times so I just don't find all this "cave" talk all that amusing - it is NONSENSE!
    i am not an expert in relationships by any means but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is not a relationship to build a future upon. He obviously isn't all that interested in her which is why he sees her only occasionally to fill up his "down" time - most men who are crazy about a woman will go out of their way and even sacrifice alone time to be with a woman that they just can't get enough of...am I right guys???

    Posted by daizy September 2, 09 10:58 AM
  1. This is not a guy thing...this is a personality thing. If he is an introvert (meaning that he can still like being social and have a great personality, but 'recharges' by being alone and reorganizing his mind), than he needs alone time and will probably not be able to verbalize why. He may want to, but chances are, he can't. DONT TRY TO HAVE THIS DISCUSSION WHEN HE IS IN WITHDRAWAL MODE. HE IS TRYING TO RECHARGE SO THAT HE CAN INTERACT WITH THE WORLD AGAIN. Talk with him when he is recharged. Let him know that you respect and want him to have his alone time. Maybe you can work out a schedule that gives him his space regularly so that he can anticipate when he will have alone time. He may really appreciate this and feel less defensive and guilty.

    I date one of these. I can tell when he needs his time. and we live together also. I am an extrovert, but guess what? I have friends I can hang out with! Lastly, if there is a get-together or social event, or date that is very important that you attend with him fully present, let him know ahead of time so that he can recharge before it happens. That is a good way to compromise -- through dialogue and discussion.

    You might think of having both you and he take the MBTI or kiersey temperament sorter (google it). This test reveals worlds about these sorts of issues...

    Posted by Ellen September 2, 09 11:00 AM
  1. I agree with another poster who suggested this is common with only children. My SO is an only child and also needs "cavetime." When we moved in together, it was an issue because I was so used to coming home from work and unwinding by talking. No, I'm not clingy or suffocating (and I doubt the LW is either) - I am just DIFFERENT than my SO. No biggie - we talked about it and agreed that I would leave him alone after work. I'd go in the kitchen and cook dinner and he'd join me when he was ready (after surfing the net, watching TV, playing video games, whatever). Sometimes that's sooner and sometimes it's later. After living together for a year, , I've learned to really enjoy that time to myself too.

    Posted by sneeks September 2, 09 11:03 AM
  1. I dated a guy who was like this. He was actually very social when he was around people - the total life of the party type of guy so when he said he needed his alone time, I just didn't get it (even though I also like my alone time). The more I got to know him I understood it and actually began to appreciate it as again, I also like some alone time. Although, in his case some of his alone time thing also had to do with the fact that he was a little depressed about a few things in his life at the time. Once he opened up a bit more about these things and realized he could actually talk to me about that stuff his alone time became a little less important to him. Not that saying that your boyfriend is depressed is about anything, so it may just simply be that he needs some time to himself every now and again.

    At any rate, I think Mer's advice is on the money. I also think that you should get out more and do things with your friends or just join/participate in some other activities without your bf if you want to be more social in general. I think if your bf sees that you are not afraid to be apart and do your own thing it will actually make him feel more comfortable in the relationship, if that makes sense. I can tell you that a couple times when my ex and I had tentative plans I ended up making other plans because I was afraid he was going to go into cave mode and I didn't want to sit home alone or make him think that I was trying to pressure him into going out if he wasn't up for it. Once he realized that I wasn't sitting around waiting for him and had my own life it made him a little more appreciative the time we did spend together and also made him want to spend more time together. Sometimes the more you push someone the more they pull away.

    Posted by CC September 2, 09 11:04 AM
  1. I agree with Meredith that on the one hand, he's not doing anything wrong, but on the other, neither are you. It's perfectly natural on your part to wonder if this is just how it's going to be for the rest of your life together and if you can deal with that. It's not about you being clingy or trying to make him into something he's not - it's about trying to figure out if you're truly compatible.

    You both have a right to want what you want in a relationship without feeling guilty about it. Talk it over with him and be brutally honest with yourself about whether there's some compromise available that will satisfy both of you. If not, you may have to make a tough decision.

    If it makes you feel better, my boyfriend was a bit of a cave dweller the first year and a half or so of dating. But one day, he just kind of snapped out of it and after 2 years of dating, we moved in together - on his suggestion. Now we cave dwell together and adore our time away from friends, just hanging out in front of the TV, barely even interacting with each other. So you see, things can change with time.

    Posted by Rae September 2, 09 11:05 AM
  1. You know, by the tone of her letter, I don't think this sounds like typical "alone time" behavior that others are relating too. It sounds a little more extreme than that. She speaks of his "withdrawal" in very definitive terms (like "not being emotionally responsive") and it stands out enough for her to question the health of the future relationship. Geez, you don't have to turn into a complete ice cube to the world around you just because you want to curl up with a book for a while.

    I once casually dated a man who withdrew so badly that he wouldn't even SPEAK in RESPONSE TO A DIRECT QUESTION. He literally would stare downward and pout for hours on end, and would refuse to make eye contact with people or sacrifice this "need" for the comfort of others around. It was actually spooky when it happened. Suffice it to say, the casual dating never went beyond that.

    There is more to this man's behavior than recharge time, I am sure. And it's not her fault because she doesn't "know" relationships. That is so stupid. I'm sure she's had friends and family relationships for years. You don't need a string of romantic boyfriends to know when odd is odd.

    Posted by Bee Bee September 2, 09 11:07 AM
  1. I'm an introvert and a homebody, so I can understand that part of it. But what I don't understand is how you were away on vacation and you said he had no withdrawal - this makes it sound like he can turn it on and off. When I withdraw, I withdraw to my cave, not in the presence of friends and family. I don't like being "on" in social situations but sometimes you just have to. Is he not willing to be "on" in these situations either? I would find that more troubling than him wanting to spend time alone.

    If I were you, I'd continue to invest in yourself, keeping yourself occupied and working to become a well-rounded person. If it was meant to be with this guy, then it will. But don't invest in a relationship that sucks all the life out of you. Make sure it's a two-way street and the effort isn't all on your part. You guys need to be able to accept each other's idiosyncrasies and if not, you need to move on.

    Posted by Cavewoman September 2, 09 11:09 AM
  1. There is a fallacy amongst many people that a relationship (dating, marriage, whatever form) has to be a complete melding of existences. Bobby and Betty need to morph into some kind of single entity: Botty, Bo-Betty, Beebby, etc. It is a recipe for disaster. No doubt.

    Each and every one of us is a circle. All that we are (physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) exists within the circle. Every relationship that we have (marriage, sibling, parent, child, neighbor, co-worker, fellow obnoxious bike afficionado, etc.) results in an overlap of the two distinct circles. Obviously the amount of overlap depends on the nature of the relationship and the personality of the person (introvert, extrovert, phony, hanger on, loner, croc wearing leach, etc.). A husband and wife’s circles would probably be somewhere in a range of 50 to 75 percent overlap. I argue that it should be 60% max, but I’ve had many people claim it can’t be any less than 80%. Two co-workers or neighbors may be 2 to 10 % overlap. You get the point.

    No matter what, a part of each person’s circle MUST remain on it’s own. It cannot be overlapped. That portion represents your spiritual core, the essence of your existence. You cannot allow another to smother that portion and you cannot spread yourself too thin. We get in touch with that part of our lives (and block out external entities and beings) by going into some type of cave mode. Guys in general, tap into this mode more often than women (yy opinion, not meant to stir the daily gender war that many folks here lay in waiting for). The cave mode is needed to keep ALL of the external relationships healthy. Take away the cave mode and the ripples go out and eventually destroy all other overlapping circles.

    My advice: Let him have his cave mode. You’ve already discussed it multiple times. Any more and you will lose him. Poof. Get in touch with your own cave mode. Foster your other relationships (friends, family, hobbies, etc.) to make up for the portion of his circle that your needy soul is so convinced it’s lacking or needs from him. In short: Make a pledge to yourself to stop trying to change him.

    One of the golden rules: Let me be true to myself and as a result, I will be better to all of those around me.

    - Hoss

    Posted by Hoss September 2, 09 11:11 AM
  1. This is definitely not just a guy thing. I am like Meredith, meanwhile, my husband very rarely needs alone time, and when he does (usually to watch cartoons or to nap), he wants me by his side. This can be a bit annoying to me, but it is what it is. We have learned to compromise.

    On my end, if he comes home and I'm already in cave-mode, I make the effort to stick my head out briefly and make an emotional connection before crawling back in. I ask about his day, I give him my full attention. This is actually pretty hard to do when I'm in full-on cave mode - but I've learned it makes all the difference to him, so it's worth it. And sometimes I suck it up for his sake and go out into the world of people when I really rather just stay home in my elastic pants. I make an effort to truly enjoy it too.

    On his end, he's learned, first and foremost, not to take it personally. It’s not. He’s learned to suck it up on occasion and go out on his own while I stay home in my cave. And to be content that I may be next to him while he watches cartoons, I'm not watching them - I'm reading a book or mindlessly surfing the web. And to recognize sometimes it does take a herculean effort for me to make that brief emotional connection - and let me off the hook fairly quickly with a kiss and a genuine "thank you.”

    Posted by anecdotal evidence September 2, 09 11:11 AM
  1. Its not just men that do this... I'm a woman and I need my alone time too. My husband and I have shared interests, but we also have time when we want to do our own thing. From the tone of your letter, it sounds like you may be a bit too clingy. This may be why he "shuts down emotionally." It may be cause its your first relationship, but lighten up a little... people in a relationship dont need to spend every waking moment together. If you happen to be a clingy person by nature, move on... you can't change people. Would you want someone changing you?

    Posted by EM September 2, 09 11:13 AM
  1. LW writes that " I threw myself into this relationship with my whole self and now can't seem to remember how I used to enjoy myself when I was single". Get back to that. Get some self respect, go work out, go out with friends, take a class, curl up in the library with a good book. You talk about being highly invested in this relationship. It sounds neurotic. You sound as though you've let everything else go because you finally found a boyfriend. I'm happy that you have - but don't you think maybe HE finds it a bit overwhelming at times that you've thrown yourself in this 150%? And if he's in cavetime - why draw him out? Let him cave. If you continue this behavior, you will drive him away.

    I am divorced, and have been single longer than I'd like. However, in being single this long, I've learned to love my alone time and my independence. I wouldn't give that up. Stop trying to "help" him - he doesn't need your "help". He needs you to either accept him the way his is or move on.

    Posted by Patty September 2, 09 11:13 AM
  1. Meredith gets it. I am a caveman.

    The first rule of the caveman:
    If you mess with my cave time no one wins.

    The second rule of the Caveman: If you let me have my cave time you will be happily and heavily rewarded with good times, friends and family.

    Corollaries: There is room for compromise on cave time in terms of duration, time of day, day of week, frequency and location. You need to listen to logic and reason and not emotion on this one. Failure to respect cave time corollaries: See Rule #1.

    Posted by Darwin September 2, 09 11:14 AM
  1. Me thinks you have some big compatibility problems here. You wrote:

    “I don't know what to do about the fact that I want to spend far more time with him than he wants to spend with me".

    “I really do spend a great deal of time alone or with other friends wishing I could be with him.”

    “I have managed to draw him out of his cave in a couple of situations when I finally voiced my feelings about it, but I don't like behaving in a way that seems manipulative even if I'm not actually being manipulative (or at least am not trying to be).”

    Although you are very much in love with this man, your statements seem to indicate that he is not really the match for you (nor you the match for him). This happens. We fall for someone who really isn’t going to work out for the long-term. It’s painful to move on, but when you find the guy who wants to be with you as much as you with him (and you will!) you’ll realize that not settling for a cave-dweller was probably one of the best decisions you ever made.

    Posted by Sigh September 2, 09 11:15 AM
  1. I need my "me time" - but this guy sounds borderline depressed. Not your problem. You definitely sounds insecure, but that's okay - happens to the best of us. Maybe if he wasn't such an introvert, this would be a non-issue.

    I think you need to decide what you want - it sounds like you can't stand the fact that he is like this, so there's your answer. Find someone else who's more outgoing, and who you can spend time with... If the same thing happens, well - you know it's you, then, and you'll have to back off.

    You're 30 now - get off your butt and make a life for yourself. Don't rely on other people to do what you want - cause they're not gonna change. Compromise is best, so think about it.

    Cats not Dogs

    Posted by Rica September 2, 09 11:15 AM
  1. I think I would go insane without my "MeMe" time. And Rico is right...compatability maybe an issue here. Also, I worry about the inexperience and cling issues. How much time do you want to spend with this guy? Everynight? It sounds like you wait around for him to do things. Go out and enjoy yourself with friends, and your own "MeMe" time.

    Posted by liljess September 2, 09 11:16 AM
  1. This is very interesting. I did not know there were women out there who needed time to themselves. In every relationship I have been in, needing quiet time by myself was always met with exasperation as suspicion. My need to have time to think, read or listen to music by myself was never a welcome concept. And that's just if I wanted an hour or two alone. "I'd rather be by myself today" tends to generate such a negative response that it's generally out of the question.

    I really did see this as an XY vs. XX issue. I have now been educated, and take heart in the fact that there are "cave women" out there.

    As for the LW, you don't need to spend EVERY FREE MOMENT with your man to be happy. Constant companionship always almost inhibits personal growth. You need to learn balance between your love live and the rest of your life. Sadly, you are in your 30's making the mistakes of an 18 year old. I hope you can get up to speed on adult relationships pretty quickly!

    Posted by Schlippo September 2, 09 11:16 AM
  1. For those of you who've said this is typical of an introvert, I want to say that's not always true. I'm an extrovert and always have been. I test 100% extrovert on MBTI and Keirsey. Yet, I still need doses of alone time. It's proportional to how much time I've spent around people.

    My daughter is the same way. She's got lots of friends, she's a chatty kathy, she is go-go-go all day long at school. Then she comes home and she completely collapses into her cave and needs a few hours to "recharge." She's been like this since Kindergarten.

    Posted by anecdotal evidence September 2, 09 11:18 AM
  1. wow some amazing revelations from today:

    1. Prico actually read Mer's advice
    2. another LW that has a cookie cutter template of a problem
    3. concluding that this column has devolved into a poor image of what it could be.

    so, advice for the imaginary 'LW"..... move on. date a lot. whore around if you have to if you are ugly. even ugly chicks can get guys if they put out. Just ask Prico. I am sure she is successful that way. just GET some dating experience so you are not emotionally crippled or dating emotional cripples. This current guy? NORMAL!!! take your pick.

    Ban 3rd person "guy"

    Posted by byubba September 2, 09 11:19 AM
  1. I'm a cave person too!! I love spending time alone. I find it very relaxing to hang out by myself and I usually aim for a couple nights a week alone. Watching TV and relaxing while someone else is there is not the same as being alone and i think that's the part others don't quite understand.

    You aren't going to change him. Stop trying to fix his "problem" or be his therapist. At 30 he's set in his ways so i would just accept his lifestyle the way it is. Maybe you can adopt a cute puppy to hang out with in his absence.

    Posted by trueluv4eva September 2, 09 11:19 AM
  1. Many guys, after a hard day's work, just want to veg out for a while. The last thing we want to do is revisit our day's experiences, spilling our guts out telling our spouse or S.O. about what happened at work, who did what, how we felt (yuck!), etc. We MAY discuss it later if I'm in the mood, but certainly not right after we come home from work. Sometimes I just have to be in the mood to be talkative.

    Many women (like my wife) will come home all fired up wanting to spill about EVERYTHING that happened earlier in the day and how they felt.

    My wife and I have learned each other's limits and compromised. She will let me have my cave time first and spill when I emerge. She will interrupt my cave time only when something is important or is bothering her a lot. In turn, I recognize she needs quick support sometimes and I gladly lend an ear. In this way we provide mutual support. Although cave time is important to me, I have learned to practice it in moderation, so that I don't end up ignoring--or give the perception of ignoring--a loved one. And she has learned not to go on for hours and hours (moderation again), and she appreciates the problem solutions I offer (in an attempt to cut short the frustrating going round and round on one topic).

    People keep looking for easy formulas, but if two people truly want to be with each other for the long term, I say nothing replaces the compromise, hard work, hurt and understanding, iterative process of learning to be together. Make known the consequences of what you consider nuclear deal-breakers (infidelity, lying, etc.) and don't let the little quirks wreck the relationship. Remember the important qualities that attracted you in the first place.

    Married 20 years and going strong...


    Posted by M20YGS September 2, 09 11:21 AM
  1. I am a cavewoman like Meredith, and my husband is a caveman as well. We both cherish our alone time, but of course enjoy spending time with each other as well. I agree with SM1231 (#1) - I don't understand couples who spend 24 hours a day, every day, with each other either. That would drive me nuts, no matter who it was with. I enjoy TV time alone, I enjoy walks or runs by myself, and I enjoy going to the beach alone as well. Sometimes my husband accompanies me, and sometimes he doesn't, and that's fine.

    It is possible to co-habitate with a cave person (if your goal is to ultimately live with your caveman). As long as you respect his alone time. Have you discussed this with him, as Meredith suggests? I'm sure he has thought about it himself, but it wouldn't hurt to bring it up.

    Good luck.

    Posted by Regina Felangy September 2, 09 11:26 AM
  1. You people and your comments about the LW being in her first relationship at age 30 make me sick - I don't see the problem in that. It HAPPENS! Not everyone dates long-term...and yes, I'm going to be bashed and criticized but I am one of those people. I am 49 and never dated in high school or college - didn't go to my proms...not too shy to ask guys out but never got a "yes." I'm not a dog or a hag but it just didn't work out for me. I would have loved to have a relationship but I just wasn't that lucky. But quit picking on the LW - she is trying to make it work with her SO and there wasn't a line in her letter that sounds like she is too clingy. You are all so judgmental...

    Posted by Anonymous September 2, 09 11:26 AM
  1. Everyone is talking about it as if this guy wants a Sunday afternoon to himself to watch football or play Nintendo. That would be fine, even in a happy marriage you sometimes spend an afternoon in different rooms doing different things. But, take note, she says he withdraws emotionally. He "shuts down" and withdraws. That is not just being an introvert, that is a problem. Introverts and cave-folk might need alone time, but they don't shut down. if their mom calls they still talk to her, they still help a friend if they need it, etc. He either has anxiety or depression issues and could use some help. Or, he's just not that into LW. He sees this as a casual relationship and limiting the time spent is his way of keeping you at arms reach. Spend a week together and all is fine? Great! he does not withdraw then because it's what he wanted to be doing and he decided to invite you. Get home and he disappears? It's so you don't think that family visit meant more than it did. He's putting you on ice.
    And, you will be a far better catch as a 30 yo with a relationship under her belt.Take confidence from this one and get out. Find a guy who wants to be with you. Sure he can say he wants to just stay home Friday and read, sure he can choose to go for a solo walk, but if it's love then he'll communicate what he needs, make contact when he's back and overall let you know that you are important to him. Being in a good relationship means that even if you are physically alone you are not emotionally so. A guy who makes you feel emotionally deserted is abusive.

    Posted by allthekingsmen September 2, 09 11:28 AM
  1. OK, you know, folks, wanting alone time doesn't mean you are depressed or an only child. And I take the "withdrawing emotionally" comment with a shakerful of salt--a few men I've dated accused me of doing that because I wanted to spend, say, a Thursday evening or a weekend day alone (or even just away from them). That kind of pressure just drove me away.

    Posted by PM September 2, 09 11:28 AM
  1. What does he do when he's by himself? Watch tv? Maybe he thinks you talk too much, and enjoys some peace and quiet sometimes.

    Posted by Bee September 2, 09 11:29 AM
  1. Oh I love today’s question! This is not about male or female, like Meredith I am a cavewoman. I live alone, I like my alone time, and honestly feel annoyed when people intrude into my space trying to constantly talk things over and trying to figure me out. I just want to scream “leave me alone in my quiet space.” Nonetheless I like my friends and also get excited to see them, just last night I had a very social evening at a friend’s birthday. I dressed up put on some makeup and talked and danced. Today I’m back on cavemood.

    My point is that some people need more alone time than others. Some of us simply enjoy silences and have learned to be comfortable with ourselves and there is nothing mentally ill about it. The key to a relationship with such beings is to not push it.

    So talk to this caveman of yours and lay out your fears. Be aware that it may be in his nature to need space. I believe that you can work on a healthy relationship with a caveperson as long as you don’t expect that this person will be constantly available to talk to you all the time. Like all relationships you need to have others to rely on since one person cannot fulfill all your emotional needs.

    Love your caveman (and woman)!

    Posted by PoliteG September 2, 09 11:29 AM
  1. Meredith, thank you. You are always full of awesome. You gave me my first belly laugh of the day... I have my cavewoman moments too and I agree, we emerge from our caves happier and ready for friendship and fun after we've cleared our brains while eating skittles in our jammies ("elastic pants" -ha!) or vegging alone in front of the TV.

    Your advice is spot on because she does need to make sure he'll be emotionally available if they are to ever live together or get married. I dated a guy like this and even though I totally understood his need to chill without anyone around he still came off as a pr#+k sometimes. Some men need to put forth a major effort to be emotionally available to anyone including themselves. DANC needs to make sure this man is worth her energy, time, and scheduling...


    Posted by Amazed September 2, 09 11:30 AM
  1. Everyone needs some alone time but your boyfriend is way beyond that. His behavior is more than a bit odd. Why was it that he had no trouble being a great guy when it involved his family for a week? I think you are accepting too much goofy behavior out of fear of not finding another boyfriend. You say that this is your first relationship. Don't settle for this guy. There are plenty of guys out there who don't do this weird stuff. You've invested more than a year of your life with this dude. Move onto someone else. Start dating again and don't settle for anymore oddballs. You ain't getting any younger and you deserve to have a boyfriend who appreciates your efforts.

    Posted by Harry September 2, 09 11:30 AM
  1. All you oh-so-superior people trashing this woman just because she didn't have a serious relationship till 30 need to open your minds a little - everyone is not exactly like YOU. I didn't date very much in my 20s because I was shy and a late bloomer. Then I met my wonderful husband at 31 and we've been happy ever since. You don't need to sleep around for 10 years to find happiness with the right person.
    As for LW, this behavior is pretty normal for most guys. The only problem is that if you're looking to marry him or at least live together, he's going to have to modify it a little. If he has an "office" in your house/apartment where he can have his alone time, that's a good solution. But if he feels that his need for alone time is so extreme that he could never live with you, then have a problem on your hands - you need to talk this out, and after a 1 1/2 years of dating when you're both in your 30s, you have every right to find out where he stands on the living together issue.

    Posted by Sharon September 2, 09 11:32 AM
  1. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 8 years and I can say in all the years we've been dating, ups and downs, there is always that one day a week that he needs to take for himself. It's usually a Sunday and usually after he's seen me, his friends and whomever else he had plans with. When we first started dating I was 20 and the only other relationship I had was in the summer of when I was 16, so everything was pretty new. It took a while to get used to this and those days where he had the "blues" but he also had to get used to my mood swings too, it was something we did together.
    I also want to say I agree with the first comment 24/7 is really not healthy and I myself don't get couples that want THIS MUCH time together. When I started dating I was in college but living at home so our only time together was weekends, the next year I had an on campus apartment and we saw eachother everyday and in a way made up for lost time, that didn't work either. At one point we both realized this was too much time together; we actually wanted to spend time with others.
    Now we both work during the week and I decided to go back to school and it's back to just having weekends together and we both have realized that while we don't want the 24/7 deal we would like a little more time together and still have that one day for ourselves, even if it does mean retreating back to our "caves". Give it time and as long as this doesn't get out of hand and turn into him not ever leaving then there is nothing to worry about.

    Posted by Raynee01 September 2, 09 11:35 AM
  1. DANC, from your letter it sounds as though the two issues you are dealing with are compatibility and communication (they are connected). As some of the responders have made clear, it is possible for people with different levels of intro- and extroversion to be in healthy relationships, but they are able to communicate about their needs and feel secure in understanding the other person's needs. It sounds as though you are not feeling terribly secure in this relationship and/or your own needs aren't being met. In addition, you don't know how to communicate your needs without being or feeling as though you are being manipulative. That is a huge red flag. This might not be the right relationship for you - not because he is too absent or you are too clingy but just because you aren't able to meet each other's needs. I know it must be scary to have invested so much of yourself in a 1.5 year relationship only to realize that you are not fulfilled in it. If you can learn from this relationship about what you need in addition to love then that will serve you well in finding a relationship that works better for you. The best advice I can offer is to work on the communication side of things. Listen to him and respect his needs and be honest with yourself and with him about your own needs. If you start feeling more secure through honest communication, then that is great. If you continue to feel insecure and lonely and unfulfilled, then you need to find someone else.

    Posted by hopeful September 2, 09 11:35 AM
  1. Seeing each other just a few times a week after that long seems a little odd to me. Is he hiding something? I would be concerned about his lack of availability and lack of clear direction in the relationship at this point--a year and a half is a long time. It sounds like you are looking for real intimacy and he is withholding. Hope I am wrong.

    Posted by Mikeinmass September 2, 09 11:35 AM
  1. Break-up. Everybody needs to be alone sometimes I get that but not everyone "needs" to be alone to the extent that their partner feels the need to write a letter to ask for help. You are 30 you are too young to be tip-toeing around some guy. the flip of that is that if you want a family you are to old to find the time to change this guy before the kids come along and guess what...you are doing all the heaving lifting while he "needs" to be in his cave.

    If I am reading your letter correctly you aer not asking for 24/7 just some week nights?

    He strikes me as very selfish that he places his needs so far above his partners - more power to him. But everyone deserves to be with someone who sees their needs as equal.

    Good Luck

    Posted by needy September 2, 09 11:36 AM
  1. I think he may be setting boundaries. Does he ever offer to go anywhere with you or are you the one to make all of the decisions? He could be suffering from "nice guy" syndrome. Do you nag him about things? Maybe he's being passive aggressive. So called nice guys will never tell you that you did something to drive them away. He might need therapy or he just needs to be honest about how he feels.

    Posted by Algernon September 2, 09 11:36 AM
  1. Kate's Nonna - If you are reading this today, thank you - very much - for your sweet words yesterday. You made my day :)

    Posted by reindeergirl September 2, 09 11:38 AM
  1. Oh Gosh, Meredith! I am a cavewoman! I love my boyfriend having a few nights off, where I can be alone in my home, with my dog, listening to music and doing whatever the heck I want to do is great. I guess being alone with thoughts recharges me. And if that makes me off, so be it Harry. I am odd but am in love and am very happy.

    Posted by Peonylovesthepru September 2, 09 11:39 AM
  1. Rico's advice Haiku:

    I know more than you
    fake third person diatribe
    yes I am a tool

    Posted by FakeRico September 2, 09 11:39 AM
  1. Rico's advice Haiku:

    I know more than you
    fake third person diatribe
    yes I am a tool

    Posted by FakeRico September 2, 09 11:39 AM
  1. Hoss, you have nailed it again. LW and posters, Hoss's input is great as always. The circle imagery is right on, especially the part about disagreeing with the percentage of overlap. Sounds like LW wants 75% and the cave dweller wants 40%. Nothing wrong with either number, and neither is "good" or "bad", just different. A little communication between them, when he is in extrovert mode, can go a long way.

    M20YGS and Anecdotal Evidence also had thoughtful posts - compromise is maybe the key?

    Posted by J Bar September 2, 09 11:39 AM
  1. I really liked the last few lines to #44 (allthekingsmen)

    Wondering if you're compatible...you can't change someone's behavior. Do you accept him as he is (alone time and all)? Does he accept you as you are (chatty and all)? Or are both of you constantly pushing for more or less from each other?

    As someone who likes to be alone, and to do things alone on occasion, I can see where he's coming from. It is different to watch TV alone, to be honest - if you don't see that, it might not bode well for your personalities.

    good luck!

    Posted by emmj September 2, 09 11:42 AM
  1. LW, I really feel your pain, and I'm sorry, because even though you really love this guy, this difference between you is probably a deal breaker. I dated someone like this for several years, and during that entire time he never grew out of his need to have excessive amounts of solitary time. Ultimately this behavior became the wedge that drove us apart - I (naturally) wanted to take our relationship to the next level (cohabitation, marriage, etc.), and he couldn't even imagine living with another person (he lives alone).

    Even though you are 30, this is still your first relationship, and it doesn't have to be your last. I know you might not believe it right now, but there IS a guy out there who will WANT to spend time with you, and who will work as hard as you to make sure that both of your needs are met. You are making a lot of sacrifices for your current beau, and I'm sure it's beginning to eat away at you, maybe even breeding resentment. You also don't sound very secure in the relationship, and all of these factors combined means that deep down you're probably not happy in the relationship. I'm sure you're thrilled during the moments when he lets you into his life, but I can imagine that when you're not together, you're constantly thinking about him and wondering why he doesn't want to spend more time with you. This is not healthy, I'm afraid.

    I urge you to have a serious conversation with your guy about your concerns. It sounds like you two have already discussed this issue at length, but you really need to dig beneath the surface. If you love this guy and can imagine yourself spending the rest of your life with him, then your guy owes it to you (and himself) to do some soul searching and figure out if his alone time is more important than his relationship with you.

    Best of luck to you in figuring this out. It won't be easy, but you WILL get through it.

    Posted by IKindaAlwaysKnewI'dEndUpYourEx-Girlfriend September 2, 09 11:42 AM
  1. I love my cave time!!!!!! I'm a 27 year old, married woman and I love when my husband retreats to his cave, (a game room just for him), and I get the run of the house. I think we both look forward to alone time. Totally normal.

    Posted by happy cave couple September 2, 09 11:43 AM
  1. I'm going to agree with many of the posters. This is not a male thing. I don't think it's an introvert thing either. I'm a very outgoing female but I still need time to myself, quite a bit in fact. Some people need more time than others. I know for me, I commute to work on public transportation (and deal with people), I work all day (and deal with people), I go to school at night (and deal with people), I go to the gym (and deal with people). By the end of the day, I'm exhausted and need some time to focus on myself. Some nights I will spend with my boyfriend and other nights I won't. That is not a reflection of how I feel about him but of how I feel about myself. I need time to unwind, refuel and restart.

    The part of your letter that concerns me is this: "but sometimes when we've been hanging out a lot he begins to withdraw from me, to shut down emotionally." My concern is not with him, but with you. What are your expectations or him? To me, they seem really high. And being in your first relationship it is understandable. You need to relax a bit. You can't expect him to be all lovey dovey, mushy and emotional all the time. Cut him some slack. And follow his lead--- spend some of your time taking care of yourself so you don't need to rely on him to satisfy your emotional needs.

    Posted by Kathleen September 2, 09 11:44 AM
  1. #43... Whoa, really struck a nerve there, huh?

    Honestly, I don't care how old LW was when she had her first relationship... but the letter wreaks of a clingy broad trying to change her BF. Maybe she's clingy cause its her first relationship or maybe she's clingy by nature... I dont know. All I'm saying is don't try to change people. If she needs someone to be with 24/7, she should move on and find someone who is looking for the same thing.

    Posted by EM September 2, 09 11:46 AM
  1. The byubba loser needs to get a life. Seriously, you are a bitter and useless poster. What do you have against rico? Do you sit in your mom's basement and fantasize about him? You seriously need to get out of the basement and see daylight. Maybe take rico's advice and go for a bike ride. I happen to enjoy reading almost every poster regardless of whether I agree with them. Personally I hope rico posts 20 times a day to annoy you even more. You have a crush on rico!

    To the letter writer, 1 serious relationship and you are 30? he has 3 and he is 30? You need to get out more or was that all a lie? Rico made a good point but I will add to it in that I think both of you have major problems to be 30 years of age with the limited dating experience you have. I had 3 relationships before I got out of college and plenty afterward before marrying and having kids. You and he are either not compatible, he is cheating, you are annoying, he is living a secret life (craigslist killer) or any combo of those and whatever else you can think of.

    You can change his clothes but you can't change who he is.

    Posted by Rico needs his own column September 2, 09 11:47 AM
  1. #43 how do you just give up so easily??? something has to be wrong that you're okay with being 49 and alone. not one date??? i find that hard to believe. i'm sure you would make someone happy!

    Posted by itsahairflip September 2, 09 11:47 AM
  1. Isn't there an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie feels this way and needs her 'cave-time'??

    Posted by Rica September 2, 09 11:47 AM
  1. LW- I bet that if you gave your boyfriend the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (an assessment of how one looks at the world and makes decisions) You would find that your guy tests highly on the introversion scale. This means that your boyfriend, while he enjoys your company and loves being around friends, draws his energy from taking time for himself.
    As a tried and true introvert myself, i can assure you it says nothing of his feelings for you, and only comments on his need for some quiet time with his thoughts.
    It seems as though he doesnt understand that feeling that way is completely normal! Sounds like you try to be a very understanding girlfriend, and that is great, but there is a big difference between watching TV or playing video games while you are around, if there wasnt, YOU would be watching TV or doing things without him and it wouldnt be an issue. Its easy for pals and lovers to get frustrated when someone seemingly turns off. While you two are figuring this out, also take this opportunity to get back some of that independence you talk about.

    (Hi Kristen!)

    Posted by rw September 2, 09 11:53 AM
  1. You're probably being annoying and trying to invite yourself over when he wants to drink beer at home with his roommates and watch a baseball game.

    Posted by jt September 2, 09 11:53 AM
  1. We need more cheating, lying, stealing, staring & snooping letters.

    Posted by Alvin Writing By Himself September 2, 09 11:55 AM
  1. Why adjust your schedule to meet his needs? I trust that you have other friends with whom you can socialize with during the week with out your boyfriend. Make time away from work YOUR time, not the time you make for HIM. Maybe you're focusing too much on this guy and you need more balance in your social life.
    I think we all need some time to withdraw from social situations and this varies with each of us. After a busy work week, if I didn't have time to hang out in my tie-dye tshirt with no bra, watch Turner Classic Movies and rumble around my abode alone, I'd go nutty. But each of us has our own amount of time required to think, write in our journals, catch up with ourselves and de-compress from work's usual travails.
    If BF feels that desperate need, don't force him to be with you or make him feel guilty if he won't come over, or comes over to your place with that caveman look on his face. Tell him it's OK to go back to his cave and watch his football games, or whatever he's into.

    Posted by exvermonter September 2, 09 11:57 AM
  1. Good Lord, can people critically read these letters before commenting rather than skimming really quick, latching onto one or two phrases and then launching into an attack on the LW?

    Look, LW, you may just be in a relationship with a super moody, emotionally needy guy who will always require you to walk on eggshells around him and anticipate/accomodate his ups and downs. You need to find out right now if that's the way it's going to be. If it is, for the love of pete, go out and find someone who doesn't act like a turd whenever the two of you spend more than a couple of consecutive evenings together. By all means, try to reach a compromise, but don't settle for someone who can't or won't meet you halfway.

    Posted by Rae September 2, 09 11:58 AM
  1. Hey LW
    You should be realistic about how much you are willing to compromise with his alone time and then have him determine the same. If you both cannot meet in the middle and live with each other's plan, then it may be time to move on.

    Also, if your guy thinks he's a wierdo or there's something wrong with him, maybe he should talk to his doctor about it. There's probably nothing wrong, but by the same token, too many people just let their health issues slide. (Handsome- if you’re reading this, make the g-d doctor’s appointment already. Jeesh)
    Good Luck

    Posted by Shorty September 2, 09 11:59 AM
  1. Why is it that some women (like the author of the letter) will automatically say things like, "I want to help him (or in any case, want him to help himself)" WTF? The guy likes to be alone from time to time and the woman assumes he has a problem and needs to be fixed. Guess what DNAC it sounds to me and I'm sure a lot of the readers that it's you with the problem. My guess is that you’re insecure and that you tossed the majority of your friends aside once you got "serious" with this guy.......BAD MISTAKE!!!!

    Posted by joeyboy1221 September 2, 09 12:02 PM
  1. isnt the real rico a fake rico???

    so u are the one
    if youre so very special
    why do all not see

    i think this haiku applies to both rico and the issue at hand recovery time is always needed to be able to sustain long short/long term coveting if any coveting is indeed worth it at all

    Posted by jcour38 September 2, 09 12:02 PM
  1. i think i dated your bf once..../ or someone like him. yes it was annoying. he seemed even more annoyed when i brought it up, i was just expected to know when he needed "alone" time. it got tiring.

    Posted by polly September 2, 09 12:03 PM
  1. Thank god so many women (including Meredith!) have validated the cavewoman concept. I am a woman and need LOTS of alone time. That's just the way I am. When I'm with people I'm happy to be with them, but, as others have indicated, socializing takes a lot of energy for me.

    Another observation is that most of the very healthy, long term relationships that I have seen succeed because each partner has his/her own interests, friends, etc. They share interests and friends, but they are not completely dependent upon their partner for these things. They accept one another's differences, don't freak out when a partner wants to be alone or off doing their own thing, and are happy and rejuvenated when they spend time together.

    After a very long and unhealthy marriage, I doubt I would consider a serious relationship again, but, if I did, this is the type of relationship I would strive for. And it would require that both of us be very mature and sure of our own lives.

    Finally, those of you giving the LW a hard time because of the limited dating experience - get over yourselves. Not everyone started requiring a serious relationship since age 13, and insisted on always being paired up. In fact, this can be a sign of very healthy young adults, who have focused on their own lives, interests, careers, families and friends. Although a series of 'relationships' throughout teen and early adult years may serve as 'practice' for more serious relationships later, to indicated that there is something pathological about this is simply foolish and sophomoric.

    Posted by Cathy September 2, 09 12:05 PM
  1. Check under the floor boards and under the porch of his house, is he John Wayne Gacy?

    Posted by Becca September 2, 09 12:05 PM
  1. I had two initial reactions to this letter:
    1. Perhaps his guilt is not due to needing his alone time, but rather because he is spending his cave time with someone else or because he feels guilty for not having the feelings that he should after 1.5 years
    2. " I threw myself into this relationship with my whole self and now can't seem to remember how I used to enjoy myself when I was single".- This is not a good sign. First you can’t remember how you used to enjoy yourself when you were single, and before you know if, you will forget who you used to be when you were single. Because this is your first relationship at 30, I’m worried that you will compromise too much and lose yourself trying to make a failing relationship work. I don’t doubt that you both care for each other but lack of compatibility may be too much to overcome.
    First relationships are hard to let go of. But you’ve had enough life experience to hopefully know what you want and what you need for a happy and healthy relationship. Don’t waste your time on someone who doesn’t fit the bill.

    Posted by franklin for your thoughts September 2, 09 12:07 PM
  1. Ok, you're 30. I'm going to skip over the issues we could discuss about your relationship-free 30 years and move on to the present. He is your first boyfriend and he's nice but he has flaws that bother you to a point that you are writing to Mer. DUMP HIM. I know some people like their cave time (I am one of those people) but if it's a problem then be done with him and move on to the next. Just because your clock is ticking doesn't mean you have to settle for the first one because you are 30. Chalk this up to an experience, put on your heels, go out and find a new one. Date as many types of people as you can and get as much experience under your belt (pun intended). You will find what you are looking for, just keep looking and don't let your age be a reason you settle.

    Hell why don't you call #43, he could use a date!

    Posted by reaaalllyyy??? September 2, 09 12:07 PM
  1. #66..get a life. We know you are Prico posting for himself. me thinks thou dost protest too much.

    LW....there are lots of people that have limited dating experience. that does not mean ANYTHING about the type of person you are. what your problem does mean is that if you can't get over the isolation causing you pain...you need to move on.

    Posted by 66likesrico September 2, 09 12:07 PM
  1. ...Honestly I'm not seeing the issue here with being 30 and having your first relationship. Maybe she was concentrating on other things that fufill her life? Not everybody can juggle all their social interactions and personal development at once.

    Anywho. I was wondering, when does the emotional withdrawal begin? After he's attempted to get his alone time and doesn't, or is it immediately? People tend to get very cranky if they can't pull back for a while--that could be the reason why he seems to shut down emotionally.

    I don't think the two of you need to feel guilty...you might just be learning how to, you know, groove together.
    Peace, Strigiformes

    Posted by Strigiformes September 2, 09 12:07 PM
  1. I have to admit I am lost by today's letter. What do you mean by emotionally unavailable? How much alone time does he need? (An hour or two? a day? A week at a time)?

    On the surface, this doesn't sound like it should be a big deal. If he needs alone time, just let him have it. That's who he is, so you just have to ask yourself if this is going to be OK with you, or is it going to be a major problem going forward. There's nothing wrong with him, so don't expect him to change. You just need to communicate to see if there's a way to accommodate both your needs.

    I would also suggest that you find ways for him to have alone time, when you are at each others place. Run to the store alone to pick something up without him. If he wants to watch something on TV you don't like, go read a book. Don't be distant, but give him space. This is a preview of what things will be like if you live together. You need to find ways to be together without being in each others' faces.

    Finding enough time in your lives for you both to have your needs met shouldn't be a problem, unless you are truly incompatible. That is, until you have kids. Once you have kids, the amount of free time you have drops dramatically. It can be a real problem if you only get 1 hr of free time a day (if you're lucky) and you can't agree on whether to spend it together or separate. So you may also want to think about this, when thinking about your future.

    Posted by two sheds September 2, 09 12:07 PM
  1. All you idiots with your deep psychological explanations are way off.

    He just wants alone time to look at POOOOOORN!!!!

    Don't lie... you all do it!

    Posted by A guy who knows guys September 2, 09 12:08 PM
  1. There is nothing wrong w/ this guy, nor is there anything wrong w/ the author of the letter for not having had a serious relationship till she was 30. Everyone needs alone time and it is possible not to get involved in serious emotional relationships till you are older. I love my alone time and didn't have a serious boyfriend till I was 27. Still, I managed to get married in my early 30s. I only had 3 serious relationships, including my husband - does that make we a weirdo or antisocial? If so, too bad.

    It's not a guy thing. People need alone time. My husband likes to watch TV and play video games by himself. I go upstairs and read a book or do a crossword. I watch TV and play on the computer by myself too. When you do that, you don't necessarily want people watching you. The author needs to chill out and give her BF some space. Spending an evening or 2 during the week and weekends together is more than enough together time. I never saw my husband during the week on an average week when we were dating or engaged. I worked long hours, even though I had a day job. When you get out of work around 7 and then hit the gym, you just want to go home and watch TV, not spend tons of time w/ your SO. Chill out. He is normal, but your expectations for 'together time' are far too high.

    Posted by ALF72 September 2, 09 12:08 PM
  1. I'm definitely a caveman. My wife doesn't really understand it. I feel guilty when I try to box out alone time, especially as I'm her primary adult interaction for the moment now that we have two kids.

    If your boyfriend really is committed to the relationship (and you should have a long talk about that, and couch in terms not including the caveman time), figure out how you can give him his space when he needs it and have him figure out some way to structure it. Look for patterns. I know I love caveman time if I've had a stressful day. I use yardwork as an excuse to get caveman time. (Not all of us can afford to hide with a bag of skittles anymore, Meredith).

    Good luck. Don't worry about what everyone says about # of relationships, is he or is he not trying to dump you by being a jerk, etc. You've got to figure those things out for yourself. Some things you can learn from other peoples experiences. Some things you have to write your own book on. I think love and relationships is one category that at least falls under the latter.

    Posted by marriedinnh September 2, 09 12:10 PM
  1. If he's happy with what he has and you're not, it's not that complicated.

    Posted by 123 September 2, 09 12:11 PM
  1. DANC,

    I'm a cavewoman and come from a family of cavedwellers. (I'm not an only child.)

    I'm concerned that you say he feels guilty and confused when he's in his cave. He shouldn't. Be sure you're not making him feel that way.

    His need for alone time is an integral part of his personality that he can't change; don't make him feel bad about that.

    You ask why, for him, watching TV alone is different from watching TV with you there. Here's why:

    For a cavedweller, another person's simple presence often creates a subtle feeling of obligation - an obligation to provide companionship, to talk, to pay attention - even if the other person hasn't "asked" for those things.

    So for him, watching TV alone is rejuvenating. Watching TV with you may sometimes be draining, even if you're just sitting there.

    You should talk to him about whether he thinks he'll ever want to live with another person (not you in particular). If the answer is yes, assume that you'll need a place with multiple rooms - he'll require a room to retreat to.

    In the meantime, the more independent you are the less burdened and guilty he'll feel.

    Posted by TallGirl September 2, 09 12:12 PM
  1. To the LW: Dear God, leave the man alone and let him have some PEACE. Keep in mind that his job may have him interacting with lots of people all day and he wants some quiet time to unwind. Or maybe he's picking up the slack because they have laid off half his department and he doesn't know if he's next. There really is nothing more annoying than having one nerve left when you get home and having someone want to psychoanalyze you or poke poke poke at why you don't want to do something. You just want it to STOP.

    I've been married now almost 10 years, and both the wife and I need to have our separate "alone time". For her, it's watching TV, for me it's reading a book, playing video games or surfing the Internet.

    Alone time is even more precious now that we have kids. When I run low on it, I get grouchy, irritable and so on and I need time to recover it. It's actually the same with my wife AND the kids, too -- even they benefit by being alone for some amount of time.

    I'd suggest developing some friendships outside the relationship. Have a girl's night out. Find a hobby. Spend time with your family. Take a night school class that sounds fun. Get an advanced degree. Be with your man, but also find something that doesn't involve him.

    Of course, if this relationship does lead to marriage (and children), he will need to cope with less alone time, too -- and you should seriously discuss that if/when you get engaged.

    Posted by K September 2, 09 12:13 PM
  1. My partner and I are both cavemen. Time alone is essential to a good relationship. Sometimes that can mean an entire weekend! I enjoy my own company and he enjoys his alone time. LW writer needs to chill a bit. This is her first relationship, so maybe she's a bit clingy. She should plan activities without him like she used to do when she was single. I am sure BF will be fine with that. Don't shut out old friends for any relationship.

    Posted by JohnB September 2, 09 12:14 PM
  1. I am a cave woman-person...I just need alone time. And I've never felt the need to explain it. As much as I enjoy people, I also crave time when I can chill out, read, walk the beach. I don't think it's that odd. Maybe you just need to get out in the real world and have a few more relationships. Then you can compare. FYI. I have three married children and they all value their alone time. They don't love their spouses any less...they just want some time to themselves.

    Posted by carol September 2, 09 12:16 PM
  1. I get withdrawn with people who are pushy, talk my head off, act too needy, and I need some space from them without hurting feelings & then having to explain why I feel this way. I mostly feel this way about my family, because this difference isn't going to change. They are chatty beyond belief and I am not.

    I'm not sure if you push on your guy when he pulls away, or if you pull back in response to his pull back. I don't think either is good. You shouldn't have to feel insecure, and you shouldn't have to be the only one who is accommodating. I didn't choose my family. Dating someone is different. He's getting his needs met when you respond by pulling away, and you're sort of enabling this means of communication. It's not fair to you. Why should you have to feel as though you're encroaching on someone? You should feel embraced, welcomed, held, and loved.

    That said, I was with a caveman for a long time, and it doesn't change. I think it's a matter of compatilibility. Over the years, if you continue to work with this, you are going to end up feeling cheated. I love my alone time, but not to the extent where it's constant and it's like you don't even have a partner.

    Overall- I'm not so sure your needs are compatible. Balance seems the best compromise. He's not meeting you halfway. I think you should be with someone who likes being with you all of the time, because that's the kind of person that you are & there's nothing wrong with that.

    Posted by rosebud September 2, 09 12:16 PM
  1. I, too am a cavewoman. I work at a job that requires me to be interacting with people all day long and sometimes when I come home, I am so drained from talking to people all day that I prefer to retreat into a cave and not come out for a few hours. Mr. Veggies is not a caveman in the least. He's a twin, and is used to doing things with somebody else all the time. It definitely took a while for us to get used to each other and sometimes, I still have to say "shhh... just let me watch this insipid TV show and not talk for an hour." He still sometimes takes it personally when I need cavetime, but I always tell him how much I love him when I emerge from my cave and it seems to work itself out.

    I'm a little concerned that what you are describing is a little more than your bf simply requiring alone time, and more of a compatability issue. I think most of the readers who are also crying their cavemen tendencies may agree that while we all need our cavetime, I don't think "emotionally shutting down" is part of the puzzle. Although maybe you're misinterpreting his "shutdown" since you're new at relationships - maybe his shutdown is really just quiet time.

    I think Meredith's suggestion at compromise is a good one. Maybe something like - "tonight, do your own thing, but let's get some take out and go for a walk together tomorrow." Maybe once he's secure that you understand his need to be by himself once in a while, he won't need to make such a clear boundary with you. Sometimes, when our needs are met, we realize we don't need them as much as we thought we did.

    Good luck.


    Posted by Veggiesaregreat September 2, 09 12:17 PM
  1. Ok, not really getting the comments about how someone can be 30 and have had only 1 relationship or only 3. First off, they would have been 28 or 29 when they met (still relatively young) and second, I assume that she means both serious and long term, I am sure that they both dated previously. I was not in my first serious relationship until I was 30, but I certainly dated plenty before then. Some were even guys that I dated on and off for a couple years, just not particularly serious.

    I had plenty of dating experience, just not a lot of "relationship" experience. Most definitely there is a difference. I think this is probably the case with the lw. Perhaps if she had (seriously) dated someone like this in the past she would approach this differently, but none-the-less still a relationship issue she needs to figure out.

    Posted by Sue September 2, 09 12:21 PM
  1. I'm totally with Mer. I am a female and I absolutely need my alone time, but you two should talk about it. As for not having another relationship - dismiss all these people who this that is weird. I'm just a little younger than you and haven't had one, but go on dates - just haven't found anyone worth having a serious relationship with!

    Posted by Alli September 2, 09 12:32 PM
  1. DANC,

    Please put down the pop psychology book, and re-read your Virginia Woolf. Yes, a lot of that essay was metaphoric, but you can also read it on a literal level. You'll be happier by the end of it (even knowing the outcome of the author), and re-discover those resources you had a few years ago. "A Room of One's Own," Virginia Woolf, available at a bookstore (or library) near you.

    Posted by reindeergirl September 2, 09 12:33 PM
  1. Dear Meredith,

    I see a number of problems here that need to be addressed.

    Firstly, you're 30, and this is your first real relationship? OK, but if you ever want to have kids, you should know that your fertility drops drastically after 35, and it takes a lot longer than you think to find a cool, suitable, interested guy. If you've been dating a guy for 1 1/2 years and he doesn't want to spend much time with you, he's not into you. Sorry. Stop chasing him and wasting your time.

    Also, as your first relationship, you're probably more invested in it than you should be, meaning, more than is good for you -read on...

    30 is not too late to learn how to date. Some people never learn - so don't be one of them! In fact, time's-a-wasting, so you'd better get out there.

    Contrary to fact, most of us are NOT naturals at dating. Read the right books, and you will save yourself decades of time and buckets of needless pain. Between "The Technique of the Love Affair", "The Rules", and "Fire Your Shrink", you'll have all the advice you need. (These books not only agreed with Grandma, but their advice has since been supported by science - google "oxytocin," for one thing...)

    I repeat, he's not into you, Meredith. I'm sorry. Read those books. One-and-a-half years is about a year to long to waste on a guy who's not into you. Look for a guy who wants to invest in you and the relationship - that should NEVER be an issue.

    Practice flirting with other guys every chance you get. Get in shape, update your style, do things you enjoy (remember that?) and invest in YOURSELF, for fun and profit. Stop focusing on the problems, stop doing what's not working, and be solution-focused... Join dating clubs, try craigslist, volunteer, and join single, activity and professional / mixer groups. One thing you have over your Mom's generation: you've got the internet, which speeds up the whole process. Trust me, this is in your favor!

    Forget that dude, and GO FOR IT! And if that guy wants you back, don't take him back unless he makes a complete 180, and puts a ring on your finger. This includes: no living together. Morality aside, living together just does not help women. It wastes your time.

    Go for it! Your Grandma would be proud. :)

    Best of luck. xo

    Posted by Julie D. September 2, 09 12:36 PM
  1. Nothing wrong with recharging this way. I am an introvert as well .. . and I do need some time alone from my SO. She works at home and sometimes it is nice to just chill out at home.

    Posted by David September 2, 09 12:38 PM
  1. I think most people need some "alone time." I know I do. I get mine and hubby gets his. It's just nice to be alone sometimes and not feel you have to carry on a conversation or socaialize with anyone if thats what you choose. It just helps you to relax and not have to think about anything....a time to clear your head so to speak. Its just another way of being "just you" and not part of a "couple" or a "social group" . I guess there are those that have to be with people all the time and those that like to get away from people now and then for a little space. I understand where your boyfriend is coming from.....if you care for him as much as you say you do...stop bugging him about it and let him have his space, if you don't he may start to feel smothered....I completely understand how he feels and we cave folk can enjoy our own company now and then, a time to just "be"

    Posted by Pam September 2, 09 12:39 PM
  1. my wonderful wife knows exactly what I mean by "joey time".
    I treasure that time alone. I get to flush out all the crap that has been collecting in my head for day/week/month and re-charge and re-focus to be a better husband, father.

    We communicate all the time and my desire to be alone doesn't mean I want to be away from her I just need some time to figure out things.
    Your significant other sounds like he is doing the same but I can only speak for myself.
    I like to be by myself on occasion but it doesn't mean I don't adore my wife and daughter, to me it only means I want to do everything possible to be there for them and if it means sitting in my "man-cave" I mean basement, playing my bass or kayaking out on the lake so be it.
    They both know when I get back or come upstairs I'll be on my game for them, which is pretty much the only reason I'm here and I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope your significant other is using his alone time in the same regard.


    Keltoi

    Posted by Keltoi Sylvanthicus September 2, 09 12:39 PM
  1. Everyone, male or female, needs their alone time. That is not unusual. However, a problem arises when children come along. They do not need alone time at all, in fact, just the opposite. So be prepared to shoulder the lion's share of childcare if you marry this man, since childcare is probably what you will be doing while your husband reads a book or plays computer games in his "cave" in the next room. Or, set up a system early on of switching out the evenings off. Otherwise, tension -- not tolerance or curiosity -- will be what you feel.

    Posted by caveisokifyoumanageit September 2, 09 12:39 PM
  1. Hungover at a friends home I happened upon the ridiculous book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"...for entertainment purposes I glanced at the table of contents and there was definitely a section all about MEN AND THE CAVE. As silly and unrelated as the majority of the book is, there is some truth to people needing their alone time. Just let him be.

    Also, for those who are into the battle of the sexes comedy shows, check out "Defending The Caveman" its hilarious and much more relatable about the differences between men and women.

    Posted by patriotsgal September 2, 09 12:44 PM
  1. I just googled elastic pants and thankfully I don't own a pair. Also, can you get grilled cheese sandwiches while in the cave?

    Posted by SoxSupporter September 2, 09 12:47 PM
  1. “My YouPorn Webcam Chat Doesn’t Include You” Haiku

    Bruce Ward? Ed Murphy?
    Gumby sticks, I gotta fly
    I’m Batman, dammit!

    Posted by valentino September 2, 09 12:51 PM
  1. Dear LL,

    I ride a bike and I think its affected my manhood. I used to be able to get any unshaven woman in Cambridge that I wanted but now I get nothing. I've heard the little blue pills might help but I am afraid of my boobs getting bigger. What should I do?

    Posted by bikeseatblues September 2, 09 12:52 PM
  1. Rico is right - it's a compatibility issue. You are always going to want more from him because that's who you are (and there is nothing wrong with you - it is normal to want your relationship to progress, especially after a year and half), and he is always going to want to retreat (and there is nothing wrong with him - it's just the way he is). If his caveman-like behavior is still bothering you after dating for so long, perhaps it is time to look at your long-term prospects for happiness with him. Your needs and desires are not going to change, and neither will his - it's about who you are as people, and that doesn't change because you love someone.

    Posted by vamanos September 2, 09 12:52 PM
  1. The LW sounds like a needy horror to me. I am a caveman, and I wouldn't shut down, I would shut the cave door with a big heavy rock, and find an alternate tunnel to come out of.

    Posted by rayluc September 2, 09 12:54 PM
  1. DANC- Are you dating my husband by chance? He is exactly the same way. For the first few years, I had a really hard time with this, as I am not really a cave person. But two things happened. First, our life together evolved. We both got jobs with long commutes, bought a house, had two kids. Now, we hardly have any time for each other. So he tends to not back away so much. But also, I learned to deal. That's just who he was/is, and if I loved him, I had to come to terms with it. It's just like any other personality trait. It's something you can live with, or you can't.
    After 16 years, I had forgotten that this was even a issue.

    Posted by bellyb September 2, 09 01:05 PM
  1. I've had a very similar experience in my LTR with a cave-guy who sounds very similar to yours, and I know that it can work. But it's hard - it takes a lot of compromise and being able to communicate really well in the spaces between cave-time. Some thoughts -

    -- Don't take it personally. I know, it's been said, but it's true. It's too easy to think, "He'd rather be alone than be with me, so how can this relationship possibly work?" That's not it, it really isn't. Some people truly draw a blank when required to socialize and come up with the appropriate thing to say - even to someone they're very close to. Pushing it just makes them want to run and hide.

    -- What do you do together? Since you live apart, I might guess that a lot of your time with him involves arranging to get together for a specific occasion where talking and socializing is integral. Have you tried more quiet time "together"? I.e. go to his place, cook and eat dinner with him, and then hang out separately.
    My SO and I had to learn to do this when we'd already moved in together, and we've reached this comfortable compromise. Most weeknights, we have dinner together, talk about the day, then retreat to separate rooms for a few hours before we go to bed. I do my thing, he does his, and we each make a point of popping in occasionally for a hug/smooch and quick check-in. It taught me to not expect him to spend every minute right next to me and to enjoy my own alone time, and it taught him to break out of cave-mode just enough to keep us connected and give me the affection and attention that I need. We have a lot of our more involved conversations and social interactions on weekends, when we're both relaxed.
    It would be an unconventional date for you, but it might help you to simulate what it would be like to live with him. You can see whether you can reach enough of a compromise that you and he each get what you need.

    -- Last, as someone else has said, you can compromise by being aware of when you try to talk to him. Surprising him in his cave time to start a heavy discussion won't go well. Starting a conversation when he's already in an interactive mood will probably work better. Also, unromantic as it is, scheduling time to sit down and talk works well too. When we have emotional stuff to talk about, if he's not in an "open" mood, he's learned to say "why don't we sit down over breakfast on Saturday and talk it out?" That way he's not taken by surprise, and while I've had to learn to be patient, it helps to have that assurance that he's committed to the communication thing.

    Posted by Lala September 2, 09 01:11 PM
  1. Why all the hating on Rico?

    Posted by shelly September 2, 09 01:12 PM
  1. Ok, I have to comment on this one! First of all, it's far more common than these other posters think to have limited dating experience at your age. I am in my first serious relationship (three years and going strong) and I'm 34. I know a lot of women and men in a similar situation... who haven't met the right guys, who have been busy with school and career, who have been hurt by a previous relationship, etc. etc. Ignore these posters when they ask you what's wrong with you for not having more experience, it's more common than you think (there's also a lot of bitter commentors on this site!). It's also perfectly normal for you to be anxious about this relationship, but please try not to be. It sounds like it is going well for the most part.
    That being said, it's only been a year and a half and you said you had opposite schedules for most of that time. The relationship is still developing and it might take a while for both of you to get to a comfort level of how much together time is enough. Unless your gut is telling you that something is wrong, relax and enjoy each other and let your relationship take its' course. There is nothing wrong with needing alone time and friend time, but if it gets to be too much for you, you need to talk to him calmly and tell him how you are feeling and find out how he's feeling. From there, you can decide if you are able to compromise on this issue (who knows, it may work itself out and you won't even need to "compromise" on anything). Open communication is a must!!
    BTW-it took me and my bf three years to get to the living together stage and we are incredibly happy and solid. I'm glad that we took our time. We may have moved slow, but I have no doubt that we are the real deal. Listen to your instincts, try to relax and not OVERANALYZE and keep in mind that you know you can make it on your own if by some chance this doesn't work out...some women and men will put up with any kind of behavior because they can't be alone-don't allow yourself to be one of those people!

    Posted by latebloomer September 2, 09 01:14 PM
  1. I guess the question is how much alone time does he require? Everyone requires alone time for their own sanity and well being. If he is disappearing for several days at a time boxed up in his house like a hermit he might have a serious problem. If it’s just a few days here and there I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I am very much a cave dweller. I love to be at my home crank some tunes, read, watch a TV show, play some video games whatever. It’s ME time heck sometimes I won’t even answer my phone. Like someone has already previously posted this could be a capability issue. I suggest trying to talk to him about a compromise. If you require more time with him and he is unwilling to work with you or can’t for whatever reason then you need to nip this in the bud now before wasting more time. But the extent of the time he spends alone is really a big factor here as to weather this is really a problem or not. Please post back and let us know.

    Posted by Camcam September 2, 09 01:14 PM
  1. I have to agree with the "Only Child" tendency, and #81 (TallGirl) here. I am an only child, and therefore nearly 100% independent since about 10yo. I find most people to be *babbling needy fools* - when they tell me their "problems" then I feel like they are asking for answers - when they tell me their "wants" then I feel like they are asking to be accommodated. Unless I am in a really good mood, I am often thinking "WTF do want from me?"; so when I get really exhausted I just need down time, it makes me much less likely to tell people GFY. Luckily my wife seems to understand this, most of the time...

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 September 2, 09 01:15 PM
  1. EVERYONE needs alone time! Ladies included! I prefer to be able to veg alone sometimes- whether to watch a movie, read, clean my apt. I go temporarily insane when my boyfriend comes over to "hang out" while I am in "cave-woman" mode and he sits on my comp and watches youtube or interupts my time with sports center!

    Posted by K September 2, 09 01:18 PM
  1. I have been in a relationship exactly like this for 3.5yrs and it does take getting used to -- but I don't wholly agree with the posters that say it's a compatibility issue or your BF wanting out of the relationship. If you had previous relationship behaviors to draw from (as I had) then I would say that it was an adjustment period where you just had to figure out that different people need to spend different amounts of time with their partner (as stated by many above). In my situation, I was just put-off that he didn't want to spend tons of time with me -- and maybe that's what you're feeling too, not that you necessarily want or need to spend more time with him, but that you need to feel that he wants to spend time with you.

    For a long time, I listened to other people (that his withdrawal was weird, that he would never want to live with me, he didn't want to be in the relationship, etc etc) instead of listening to myself, and that put a lot of strain on us. I'm happy to say that "other people" were wrong and that we are still together, in a happy relationship, spend time together and apart, and have grown to a level of compromise. When we do get married and live together (which we plan to do), we have figured out ways where we still get our time apart to keep our relationship healthy.

    Relationships are each unique. Some married people live miles apart, others work and live together 24/7. Take some time to really consider what you want and why his behavior is making you feel and react the way that you do. Respect that he needs and wants this time alone -- he's allowed that just as much as you are allowed not to like it! If you really consider it and find that you are just the kind of person that needs more time together and the cons outweigh the pros, then end this relationship and find someone with a more compatible need for shared time. Simple as that! That's why people usually date several people before marriage, to find the right fit (or that's why I have, at least!).

    Best of luck to you.

    Posted by Andrea September 2, 09 01:18 PM
  1. The issue not being discussed or looked upon here is why this woman needs to have to be around him 24/7. Seems like she doesn't, but it also seems like she's insecure. It also seems like she's hiding her worry of him doing other things while he is along aother than video games and TV.

    Everyone needs some space, especially from partner;s who tend to demand such a seriosu amount of attention and time. We live in a crazy, screwed up world. Everyone needs some peace and solace. And we all do it differnet ways. Some men and women like video games, some like TV, some like porn, some like skittles, some like elastic pants, some like the beach...everyone is different and have their own thing. I close freind has a boyfreind who wants to watch soccer games by himself. It's his solace. Sure he can watch the game with his girlfreind, but he wanst that activity by himself. So be it. We're humans, all different, all strange, and we all have a little Manny Being Manny in us if we choose to let it out.

    But the point is y'all have to be up front and honest and understanding. Sound slike you still have some ways to go in finding out why YOU need so much time from him and why he is digging into his cave. Good luck. You seem to have a good relationship. Sounds really exciting. My two cents is to encourage openness and honesty. You may also want to try to reflect upon yourself a little and expose that insecurity to him. You'd be surprised how much more he'll open up.

    Posted by TBD September 2, 09 01:26 PM
  1. Maybe you are driving him into his cave. You sound like an overbearing battleaxe. Why are today's women so dumb? Being a female myself, I can't believe today's "professional, educated" women are so clueless.

    Posted by Chloe-OBrien September 2, 09 01:27 PM
  1. Hoss - you rock.

    Posted by UMassPsychMajor September 2, 09 01:28 PM
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    Posted by NotRico September 2, 09 01:29 PM
  1. This is yet another comment to validate the existence of cavepeople. Too much socializing and I go nuts. LW, you need to accept this if you want to stay with this guy. Some couples have to deal with their better half wanting to spend time with their friends alone. Other people have a serious hobby (e.g., musician) that necessarily excludes their partner. This is just another one of those things. It would be to your advantage to establish your own thing. I finally found the perfect relationship when my partner had a life of her own outside of mine. It's not abnormal at all.

    Posted by another cavewoman September 2, 09 01:33 PM
  1. Maybe she's just really annoying and not nearly as interesting as she thinks she is? Maybe nobody wants to spend that much time around her?

    Posted by Chris September 2, 09 01:36 PM
  1. There's three possibilities - only one of which you can control.

    1. You say you're willing to let him to do his own thing even when you're around, but you really don't.
    2. He's so set in his isolationist ways that he'll never change.
    3. He'll change for someone (as I did), but never for you.

    If it's #1, try working on it. Otherwise it's time to start thinking about your next (second) LTR.


    Posted by CPThree September 2, 09 01:45 PM
  1. Lose some weight. Get some kinky nightwear. Put him in the iron maiden
    and go to town. Make him into a real Caveman. I bet he won't not pay attention to you after you put the studded leash around his neck.

    Posted by Bostonspaz September 2, 09 01:52 PM
  1. You want to pull him out of his doldrums?

    Dress up in your nicest Victoria Secret outfit (the one with the heels) and saunter by as he is zoning out. Boing! Instant zone back into you!

    Everyone wins!

    Posted by Lance Romance September 2, 09 02:02 PM
  1. Slow down! Step back and work to regain your independence. You and he are separate people. I'm not going to say end the relationship, because you are deeply in love. Curb your need to be with him 24/7. Insist that he tell you exactly what he is thinking and feeling when he emotionally withdraws because it is scary for you. It's not his need for alone time that is the problem, it's his withdrawing emotionally. You both need to compormise around this issue. Then again, he may be suffering from episodes of depression/anxiety and if so, needs professional help. If things don't improve, then do yourself a favor and get professional help yourself.

    Posted by Anonymous September 2, 09 02:03 PM
  1. Although it also sounds like you are kinda shrill and needy. Men don't like that. So, in addition to the sexy parade idea, you may want to dial back the neediness.

    Posted by Lance Romance September 2, 09 02:03 PM
  1. You think he'd want to be around you more if you weren't so fat?

    Posted by Michael September 2, 09 02:07 PM
  1. I think he might be a closet LSD addict. This would explain EVERYTHING.

    Posted by YouAreAllMySons September 2, 09 02:08 PM
  1. Rico is way off base, as well off his rocker! Rico 3rd person evil mind took over. Just because a person needs his alone time, does not mean he is in the computer looking for other hook-ups or has another woman on the side. Is Rico talking from past experience?

    Here is the interesting thing, you mentioned that you guys went on vacation and everything was nice and he was all there – no need to “cave it”. Well has it occurred to you that his job, whatever that is, could be very stressful and he might have lots of things going on that makes him need the “Cave” - you know sort of reboot the system? I know I do sometimes. I enjoy sitting there watching mindless TV. It works, you get better perspective on life after a good reboot. You have to understand where he is coming from, maybe offer him time off – offer him time alone so he can reboot his system. But I think the problem here is you. Sorry –but yes. I think due to your lack of experience you are not prepared to share, even the down time. There is a common expression when people look to cohabitate where people look and ask for “space to get away”. This means you need a space in your house where you can retreat to and reboot without the other person haunts you… give him his space, let him reboot. If that is an issue, if you one of those 27/7 kind of people where “we do everything together” -- yes this relationship is not for you. But give him space and learn to back off- he will appreciate and things will work better for both of you.

    Posted by Rican September 2, 09 02:11 PM
  1. Meredith mentioned his "moods", but I don't think this is an issue. It sounds like he just doesn't want to spend every waking moment with you and doesn't feel the need to socialize all of the time. If you're going to be with him, you just have to deal with his reclusiveness and accept it as part of his personality.

    You're probably too up in his face and too needy, so he pushes you away when he needs his space.

    Posted by YouAreAllMySons September 2, 09 02:13 PM
  1. Take a step back for a while. Your boyfriend needs time alone. It's the emotional withdrawing that is hurting you. Have a good talk w him about what he is thinking and feeling when he withdraws. Otherwise, you will think it's something you've said/done. If he can't verbalize the problem, get yourself to a good therapist and work on your own independence and that will give you the clear mind to decide if you want to continue the relationship. I know you love him. I happen to be someone who needs a LOT of time alone but I always let my partner know it is nothing to do w him and give him a lot of attention before and afterwards. This could be a need rto control on his part. Check that outw a therapist.

    Posted by Rose September 2, 09 02:15 PM
  1. Depression. This does *not* sound like a case of needing Sundays to watch the game with the man-friends. I had one like this - playing computer games 6 - 7 hours/day, then on the TV, highly creative and skilled but didn't put it to use. He hadn't gotten over the loss (death) of his partner, so, understandable, but that's how he coped. Plus of 3 sibs he was the primary caregiver for their elderly mother, even though one was but 2 towns away. Depression. Has he had a physical recently?

    // save gas, ride a Bleako today (in that reverse cowgirl way we're all so good at!)

    Posted by reindeergirl September 2, 09 02:22 PM
  1. This is a personality trait and it varies by degrees. I love my cave, but once dated an EXTREME dweller and not only could I not handle his absence, I couldn't handle the implication that *I* was the person who didn't need alone time.

    I disagree that this is a thing that prevents people from co-habitating, however. You just need to share a big enough space so that someone can retreat to another room if necessary. Don't think you're going to shack up in his studio or anything.

    Posted by Q September 2, 09 02:23 PM
  1. Just normal "down time" for anyone.

    BTW, you are still single if he is your boyfriend and not your husband.

    Posted by BobL-FF September 2, 09 02:29 PM
  1. I think its normal for most guys to go awol and just wanting time to reflect on oneself. Sometimes is longer for some guys to get back to reality.

    Posted by Nels September 2, 09 02:32 PM
  1. Snapshot of your life together should you get married. Accept or move. I say start thinking about the possibility this isn't the one for you.

    Posted by Maryro September 2, 09 02:34 PM
  1. I'm willing to bet I know the LW. Please, guys, be easy on her! She's fit (has a figure to die for), fun, smart, generous, and kind. It is as some have guessed: the main reason she has been relationship-free for son long is she has been focused on school (including an all-female college) and career (requiring unusual hours). She knows what she's looking for in a guy, and she has very high standards. She also tends to be a bit fragile and has a strong defense mechanism, so she doesn't let many people get very close to her. I've never met the guy, but my impression is that they have a lot in common, and she's thrilled to have finally met someone who seems to be what she's looking for.

    My impression is that the bigger issue is the change in work schedule: suddenly she has time, and she knows she wants to spend it with him, but that's not going to happen overnight. I'm sure lots of us can relate: I, for example, got dumped right at the beginning of the summer. Where I thought I'd spend every weekend hiking, biking, etc, with the guy I'd been dating, suddenly I had tons of free time.

    It's scary to rearrange your life in any circumstances, and she happens to have 2 things happening at once: new job situation and a desire to spend more time with the (unavailable) bf.

    My advice: take care of yourself as you would if you were single. At the same time, consider whether this is *really* the guy for you. You're a catch! 30 is a scary age to be single, but it's always better to wait for the right person than try to make the wrong person work. And maybe he is the right person -- you'll figure it out.

    Posted by purple September 2, 09 02:36 PM
  1. This may be reading too much into it, but I see an evening like this:

    SO: I need some down time. I'm going to go watch TV.
    LW: OK! (taps fingers. Looks at watch.) Are you done yet?
    SO: No.
    LW: Can I watch too? What are you watching? IS it good? Oh, baseball! Who's playing? I just love that Big Papi. Don't you?
    SO: No.
    LW: Oh. OK. (Goes and reads Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.)
    LW: It seems you need "Cave Time." Does that sound right? Cave time? Why do you need cave time? Do other people need cave time? Is it a guy thing? I don't know why anyone would need cave time.
    SO: Just do. Can it start now, please?
    LW: Oh. OK. (taps fingers) Just wondering HOW LONG this cave time thing is. I mean, are we talking five minutes? ten? Just curious, cuz i don't really want to do much besides hang out with you. I mean, i will, and everything, but would rather not. So just let me know, OK?

    Posted by feeling claustrophobic September 2, 09 02:41 PM
  1. I agree with PM. You need your own life outside of this relationship. So many of my friends drop EVERYTHING once they have a boyfriend and it is sickening. Their entire life revolves around talking to them on the phone, hanging out with them and pining away for them when they're not together. That's not healthy. I am a woman and need my alone time. Everyone does. Spending every waking moment together will make you go nuts. Enjoy your friendships and get your own life.

    Also find out what he wants long term out of the relationship though. Does he consider this a serious relationship? And not to be paranoid, but are you sure he's alone during "alone-time"?

    Posted by pleasegetalife September 2, 09 02:44 PM
  1. I agree with PM. You need your own life outside of this relationship. So many of my friends drop EVERYTHING once they have a boyfriend and it is sickening. Their entire life revolves around talking to them on the phone, hanging out with them and pining away for them when they're not together. That's not healthy. I am a woman and need my alone time. Everyone does. Spending every waking moment together will make you go nuts. Enjoy your friendships and get your own life. And remember- this relationship has TWO people in it- remember yourself!

    Also find out what he wants long term out of the relationship though. Does he consider this a serious relationship? And not to be paranoid, but are you sure he's alone during "alone-time"?

    Posted by rememberyourself September 2, 09 02:46 PM
  1. Maybe when he wants to retreat to his cave you can offer to make him a grilled cheese sandwich. Most guys would rather have a grilled cheese sandwich than be in their cave. Unfortunately, immediately after finishing, he will go to sleep, but at least you can be together...

    Posted by Typing on the keyboard and hitting enter September 2, 09 02:47 PM
  1. Dear LW - I am sorry people are being so mean today.

    Posted by sorry September 2, 09 02:52 PM
  1. Wondering:
    If you followed us here, please feel free to weigh in. Just remember that common advice is like the missionary position: It may hit the right spot, but it’s good to find and feel new ones. That’s why Lewis and Clark did their explorations Git Along Little Doggie Style: It’s a reverse cowgirl with a triple lindy. Come on…let your mind wander.

    Posted by valentino September 2, 09 02:52 PM
  1. So this girl is going to be 39 with her clock ticking, wondering why she can't meet a guy to procreate with because she's been too busy with other stuff during her 20's. She'll then blame all of the men for wanting younger women and will be very jaded. She'll write into Love Letters 10 years from now about the potential to date younger men, because men her age don't want her.

    Now she finds out she isn't compatible with her first boyfriend and probably won't be with her next 5. She should have spent her 20's doing what normal 20 year olds do......date, live life, meet people, etc. What was she doing?

    Posted by YouAreAllMySons September 2, 09 03:02 PM
  1. FIRST! Boo Ya!

    Posted by Slow Attention Internet Whore September 2, 09 03:03 PM
  1. #138 - Purple - what a good friend!

    Posted by Lizziex1980 September 2, 09 03:08 PM
  1. Post #138:
    "I've never met the guy, but my impression is that they have a lot in common"

    President Obama:
    "Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts...the Cambridge police acted stupidly"

    I see a pattern here - lack of credibility.

    Posted by BobL-FF September 2, 09 03:12 PM
  1. I remember when I had this roommate... When I was arriving home after a long craptacular day at a job I despised: I would be climbing up the three flights of stairs to the apartment, and she'd be there, standing at the top, with her barking dog, waiting to greet me. I'd push through the damn dog with my laptop (while the dog was still barking, and jumping all over me...) While she delved in to a long diatribe about her day, and then asking me all about dinner plans: what I wanted for dinner, when I was planning on eating dinner, where I was having dinner, if I was hungry....

    IT DROVE ME NUTS... AND THERE WAS NO ESCAPING IT.

    That being said. Do not be one of these people - BACK THE F OFF!!!!

    Cats not Dogs

    Posted by Rica September 2, 09 03:19 PM
  1. Anonymous commenter #43: Let me guess...you're fat right?

    Posted by Channeling Michael September 2, 09 03:20 PM
  1. No. 143, people are always mean on LL!

    Posted by Anonymous September 2, 09 03:24 PM
  1. #138, "Purple": Well, the fact that she went to an "All Girls College" (wink-wink) might prove my "She was a L.U.G." theory. I wonder if she was the skinny submissive mousy kind, or the bookish shy pudgy "Velma" kind? Either way, even the "Bulls" couldn't cope with her (otherwise she would be driving a Subaru to Ogonquit right now!).

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 September 2, 09 03:26 PM
  1. #146......PRICELESS !!!!

    Posted by notfirst September 2, 09 03:29 PM
  1. Aye de mi. val and I both have the reverse cowgirl thingie on our minds today!

    :D

    LW - Guys LOVE that. When he's fuzzing us, just slink over to and on him. Ride your pony, treat your BF like a toy. Let your mind and his hands wander. Believe me, it works even with the toughest cases; it even worked with my depressive guy.

    Posted by reindeergirl September 2, 09 03:30 PM
  1. I belatedly add my two cents, citing with approval that which has come before:

    1. Plenty of people need alone time.
    2. Sometimes alone time is a sign of depression.
    3. His needs for alone time may not be compatible with your needs for together time.

    So: there is nothing inherently wrong with alone time, but if he's depressed he should get treatment. And, even though there is nothing wrong with alone time, if that's not the kind of person you can be with, then don't be with him.

    Posted by Nick September 2, 09 03:32 PM
  1. #145 YouAreAllMySons,

    YouAreWayOffTopic. Where does DANC's letter say she ever wants to have children? I must have missed that.

    Why do you think that women date younger men as a last resort, and not as their first choice? Men don't age well, as all the e.d. drug advertisements make obvious.

    You ask, "What was she doing?" Maybe she was training to be a neurosurgeon - so she'll have enough income to never have to settle for a man - caveman or not.

    Please try to make yourself useful and answer the LW's question. Jeez...

    Posted by TallGirl September 2, 09 03:37 PM
  1. There's a difference between needing "alone time" and being "emotionally unresponsive" (as the LW put it). I (like EC) am an only child and need some alone time. I recently married a man who works from home and like PM cleverly put, kind of laminates himself to me when I get home because he's been alone all day. In general, he does not need alone time like I do.

    But even when I'm having that alone time, when I can get it, I do not just totally pretend he doesn't exist. If he needed me, I'd be responsive. I often reassure him that my needing this time alone does not mean I specifically don't want to be around him, just that I need some time alone!

    If LWs boyfriend is committed to her, he needs to learn to do those things. If he can't, she should move on.

    Posted by heatherv1211 September 2, 09 03:45 PM
  1. "She should have spent her 20's doing what normal 20 year olds do......date, live life, meet people, ***dodge creepy, middle-aged men who think they're entitled to hot twenty-somethings,*** etc."

    There, fixed it for you.

    Posted by PM September 2, 09 03:51 PM
  1. Post # 138 - BobL-FF - this is not a political website so keep your politics to yourself, idiot. Obama, an African American, is president so get used to it. Also get used to a Puerto Rican woman on the Supreme Court....the time has come and gone for tired old grumpy white men.

    Posted by Rose September 2, 09 03:52 PM
  1. #139 pretty much sums up how an evening goes.

    Posted by K September 2, 09 04:11 PM
  1. Why do bitter, snide men assume that ALL women want a baby? I can assure you plenty of women are perfectly content being childless. Some women just hope for the right man to come along and really DON'T CARE at what age that happens because they are not desperate for motherhood. Isn't that what men would prefer, anyway? To know a woman loves you for YOU, and NOT because she wants you to give her a baby? Instead, you snipe angrily about their "ticking clock" that they MUST be panicked about. Oh for god's sake, unless a LW specifically mentions it, PLEASE let it go, guys.

    Posted by Bee Bee September 2, 09 04:12 PM
  1. So ?
    oh my ! he is doing *****DRUGS***** or pot without you. join ASAP.
    don't ever condemn, ask him to let you be there as funmate!

    Posted by Maria September 2, 09 04:21 PM
  1. TallMom didn't say whether to be objective or subjective ?
    are they from culturally different background?
    does he have a hard time hearing? never listen
    more info please

    Posted by TallGuy September 2, 09 04:23 PM
  1. shutdown - RESTART !
    how to ? well, manual or .......

    Posted by liehate8adm September 2, 09 04:26 PM
  1. reindeergirl..you post is worthless without pictures.

    Posted by reindeergirlpics4us September 2, 09 04:28 PM
  1. Danc dance to get out of COMA and into reality!

    Posted by killing moves September 2, 09 04:29 PM
  1. Run do not walk away from this person. He is detached from you for a reason. And you need to learn how to date/have relationships (30 and it's your first one? come on) You both need some help but APART. If it's real, it will be there later

    Posted by smartlady1962 September 2, 09 04:33 PM
  1. I've decided that some men on this blog make annoying, 1950s-ish generalizations about women because in real life they're only 14 years old. They don't actually know any women. Peel away the keyboard, and there's a pimply teenage boy there.

    I feel much better now.

    Posted by TallGirl September 2, 09 04:34 PM
  1. shut down emotionally - emotional healing is in order!

    Posted by Dr.Oofana September 2, 09 04:41 PM
  1. emotional blocks or selective amnesia or different gf-mate time or better-than-you-guy-time!
    defenitely notice that "wall" , one puts up to keep out any romantic feelings.
    what a loss!

    Posted by Sheff September 2, 09 04:47 PM
  1. c'mon people - don't you realize he needs his alone time so he can watch his homemade vids he made with his past girlfriends that were actually doing something worthwile in their 20s. Other times he's scanning Craiglists personal ads and porno sites - making the most of his "alone time." Once DANC becomes like all the other LWs on here an comes round to finally snooping on his computer she'll realize its true. Only a matter of time.

    Posted by spiderfrommars September 2, 09 04:47 PM
  1. #158 - Lighten up. My comment has nothing to do with politics, but rather my comment was that her friend had an impression of the relationship based on no data, as did the president when he commented without facts. I have no problem with Obama as president, or women in power, but you do seem to have an axe to grind. I'm not old nor tired, nor bigoted as you seem to imply. So keep your insults to yourself.

    Posted by BobL-FF September 2, 09 04:50 PM
  1. I am married to a guy like that, and have been for nearly 11 wonderful years. The chances of one person needing exactly the same amount of alone time as their mate is slim to non existent. Luckily I am also someone who needs a lot of alone time, but still not quite as much as he does.

    In our household it goes like this: I give him as much space as he needs, unless I really need the togetherness more. When I am emotionally vulnerable, needy, or need something he makes a point of being there with me as consciously and fully as he can. Sometimes he pulls too far into himself. I then sometimes have to go "Hey, I am over here!" and he is good about rebounding and coming back to reality. I need him a lot more lately with good reason and he has been wonderful about it. I am really into my hobbies, reading, and other interests, and so is he: That is why he needs so much alone time, besides him being an introvert. He was absolutely the ideal mate when I was finishing my degree at night. He got a few nights completely to himself and when I got home he was ready for contact with the human race.

    I don't know what else to tell you. It is really a matter of whether or not you two can adapt to each other. It will take some compromise. In my marriage it was well worth it!

    Posted by merilisa September 2, 09 04:52 PM
  1. DANC - do you speak the same way you write? That's a a lot of asides in parenthesis (7).

    He's 30. This is the way he is. There's nothing wrong with him. Give him a break.

    "Rico is concerned..."
    "Rico is curious..."
    "Rico is wondering..."
    "Rico is wondering..."
    "Rico thinks..."
    "Rico knows..."
    "Rico suggests..."
    "Rico needs..."
    "Rico thinks..."
    "Rico wants..."

    Rico needs a nice tall glass of STFU. Good grief - dude (or whatever), it's not all about you.

    Posted by Joe September 2, 09 05:21 PM
  1. There is a huge difference between "alone time" and being "emotionally unresponsive." I understand people need time to themselves, I'm personally not one of them, but I do get it. My boyfriend likes to have his "alone time" with his video games and that's fine with me. Luckily I enjoy reality TV instead of video games so I catch up on my trashy shows while he plays his games. Everyone wins.


    The difference here is that at no point in his "alone time" is he not emotionally present. If you've been with someone a year and a half and love them how can you just shut off emotionally?? It's incredibly selfish. Wanting some time to do activities on your own is normal. Shutting the person you love out for periods of time is not.

    I'm not sure if it's your lack of experience with relationships that is clouding your judgement here, or it could possibly be insecurity. The bottom line is that if you are in a committed relationship, it's absurd to allow your partner to take these emotional vacations. How could he possibly be a supportive partner if he's not even around half the time?

    Posted by inloveinma September 2, 09 06:51 PM
  1. I have to disagree with Meredith on this one. Which is a first. When I read this letter, what I got was a man who just didn't need a typical amount of alone time because he's a cave dweller type, shy, only child, in a high profile/stress job. He is either an introvert, goes through episodes of depression, or needs to keep the LW at a distance. My gut tells me that the LW should move on. They just don't seem compatible or, if he is using "alone time" as code for keeping her at a distance, its time to cut your losses.

    We all need alone time, but it usually comes in the form of reading, going for a walk, being on the computer for an evening, going shopping, going for a bike ride etc. It is usually something that lasts for a few hours, an afternoon or evening. Not for extended periods of time in which you are MIA. I'm sure Meredith's idea of alone time/cave dwelling is for a couple of hours or a Saturday here and there. Not disappearing from your significant other for extended periods to time.

    I also find red flags in the statements that he he is "shut down emotionally", "withdrawn", "confused or confusing." Even when people need their alone time they are not emotionally shut off, confusing or confused. When someone needs alone time, they should still be respectful, loving and in the present. I find it a little alarming that it would even be a concern that he would shut down at a family wedding. The LW acutally sounds like she is commending him on NOT having a period like this while vacationing with her and his family. What is that all about? What if they do get married and have children? What type of support system would he be if he goes and shuts down and gets confused and withdrawn when she's in the middle of labor? has a newborn at home, becomes sick? Etc.

    I would cut your losses and remember the good times, learn from the relationship and go for your second serious relationship, and then you'll be able to see this man's flaws and your relationship with him more clearly.

    Posted by Jaye September 2, 09 07:16 PM
  1. Wow. Some of all y'all are nasty. As I see it LW is asking an honest and reasonable question. Some of the answers are thoughtful and give her plenty of good advice on which to ponder. I hope she just ignores the rest of you....maybe some of you need more cave time to work on your attitudes. And, what's up with the "you are fat and that's your problem" stuff? Here's a wake up call: fatness isn't the deal breaker some people opine about and it is nothing to be ashamed of in any case. We aren't put on this earth to live up to your (all y'alls') expectations. I don't do name calling, either, and am signing off until Meredith cleans this up a bit.

    Posted by No more nonsense September 2, 09 08:58 PM
  1. Here comes the cliche... "he's just not that into you". This relationship will be even MORE frustrating when you are living with him. Here is another "your Mrs. Right, right now"

    I agree with others...cut your losses and go out and meet a great guy that is into you! good luck!

    Posted by lisa September 3, 09 06:37 AM
  1. I agree with No More Nonsense. This used to be a good blog, where people could actually offer advice. Many of the posters are sincere and I enjoy reading them, esp. Hoss, Valentino, the good Admiral, Anecdotal Evidence and of course Sally. There are too many though, who make this about them. Michael, the first time you "went out on a limb" it was funny. It isn't funny anymore. Reindeergirl, you are trying so hard to be Sally but you're missing. The Rico lovers and Rico haters, this isn't about Rico! It's about the LWs! Lance Romance, Byubba - my skin crawls. It's funny how whenever a post is submitted we get this canned language about keeping the discourse civil but the blogmaster does NOTHING in that regard. So i'm signing off too - see you in the funny papers.

    Posted by J Bar September 3, 09 09:00 AM
  1. "And, what's up with the "you are fat and that's your problem" stuff?"

    That's Michael--that's his schtick for female LW's (or LW's he assumes are female). This is because he's stunningly unoriginal. I'm guessing he's a moron.

    If I came off as nasty in my response, that's too bad. First off, it's NOT reasonable to assume that all men are one way and all women are another way. That's incredibly sexist. Second, the Mars/Venus books are crap (which the LW read). Evo-psych BS is just that--BS. I, and most of the women I know, do not fit the profile these so-called experts peddle. Third, as someone who LIKES her alone time, it is incredibly suffocating to have someone try to attach themselves to you at all times. When I am involved with a man, I enjoy spending time with him. I also like being alone to decompress. Not only is it frustrating, but if HE buys into the Mars/Venus BS, I get it thrown in my face that I'm somehow ungrateful because wow! lookit this! a man who wants to spend every waking minute with me! And I'm unnatural for being female and wanting some time to myself.

    I don't think it's unreasonable for the LW's boyfriend to want time to himself. The LW never talked in depth about what he does when he shuts down emotionally--and so I take it with a grain of salt. Remember--I've been subjected to this sort of thing as well--if I wasn't willing to spend every free minute with my ex, I was apparently shutting him out. He wants to watch TV or play video games by himself. Sheesh. What's the problem?

    Sheesh.

    Posted by PM September 3, 09 09:01 AM
  1. J Bar - Come back. You're too valuable to leave us. The nasty stuff, name calling and comments on physical appearance are disappointing, but predictable. It's not original and it says more about the author than the LW or intended poster. It's not worth the time. I just skim it and move on. Sometimes i confront the bully...mostly I let them drift. Cheers.

    Posted by val September 3, 09 12:02 PM
  1. After re-reading the letter and a lot of commenters pointing out that to be an introvert is different than being emotionally unresponsive, I wanted to add one thing. Is it possible that your boyfriend has some additional reason for being emotionally unavailable - i.e. some past personal history that prompts him to shut down in the face of something that's difficult?

    I ask because my oldest friend is in a constant struggle with his girlfriend, who is frustrated that he simply shuts off if the emotion (usually a negative one) runs too high. He had a very unstable childhood, and after years of family fights and poor parenting, he adapted by simply retreating and learning to be very socially self-sufficient. He processes everything internally, and he can get panicky if he's asked to react externally to emotional situations. He describes it as his mind running in circles, desperate to think of something to say, and he simply can't.

    In my friend's case, therapy did help. He doesn't like to talk much about his family experiences with his girlfriend or friends, but letting it out to a counselor whose job it was to listen seemed to help him recognize and be able to express emotions in other situations. I'm only taking a guess here, but perhaps if your boyfriend has similar problems letting emotion come to the surface there's some reason for it that a therapist could help him with.

    Posted by Lala September 3, 09 12:35 PM
  1. My husband does this all the time. 5 years and I'm just getting used to it. He's a great guy but sometimes gets overstimulated by his day and has to retreat. (I'm kind of the opposite--the rougher the day, the more I want to debrief about it at home.) And he, too, can be in his "cave" while sitting around watching TV, sometimes with me in the room! We're figuring out what works in how to deal with it--he's being less snappy about it if I try to talk to him during a cave episode, and I'm learning to recognize when to be less "intrusive." It helps that when he's NOT in the cave he reassures me that he loves that I want to be with him, that he really does want to be with me, but that he needs his alone time. Neither of us thinks the other needs counseling. Hope it helps to know other people experience this, too!

    Posted by Anonymous September 3, 09 10:53 PM
  1. LW here. I was not expecting Meredith to publish my letter so I haven't checked in until today.

    First of all, purple, who are you? Obviously I know you but I can't figure out who you are. A clue, please? You obviously know that my favorite color is purple, right?

    Thanks, Meredith, and everyone else, for your advice. I really appreciate the positive ones because breaking up with this guy is not the first solution that comes to mind. Wish I could name you all individually, but there are too many of you. I hope you see this.

    I'm not going to bother responding to the negative comments except to say this: I am hot. So there.

    Thanks all! Happy Labor Day!
    --DANC

    Posted by Dating a Nice Caveman September 4, 09 06:29 PM
  1. I think we all agree that "ME TIME" is important for everyone (and that different people need them in varying degrees). And we also agree that people usually lean towards being either an introvert or an extrovert. What I got from the LW's letter though was that it wasn't about "ME TIME" (like recharging, chilling out, enjoying ones time alone), but seemed to be more about avoidance (of this relationship and perhaps other life issues). I also didn't pick up that she wanted to spend 24 hrs with him either. It sounds like what she said....that the guy she has strong feelings for becomes "emotionally withdrawn"...and that she would like to have more social time with him, or at least have him be more take-charge and view spending time with her as a priority in his life. It seems she places a high priority on spending time with him because she enjoys his company and genuinely likes him, and wishes he had the same reciprical feelings for her. Sounds fair enough to me.

    "ME TIME" to read, hang out with friends, play videos, surf the internet, go for long drives, take a week off from date nights, whatever anyone's "ME TIME" is....is not the same as becoming "emotionally withdrawn" and being vague and incommunicado. Not saying his behavior is "wrong"....just not what she's looking for at this point in a year and a half long relationship, which leads to the other point that some people have noted - compatibility differences. I have learned the hard way that you can't change people...and that we should use the time we invest in dating to figure out what works for us...and what doesn't. Feelings of "love" and "chemistry" aren't enough. I'm sure you love your boyfriend, and perhaps he loves you too, but if this relationship includes him withdrawing and feeling "confused" and "guilty", and you feeling like you're walking on eggshells trying to be understanding, but also wanting more....that means, you've reached the dating fork in the road of.....this is who you are....this is who he is....now what are you going to do....accept or move on? Moving on doesn't mean you're not being empathetic to him....it just means, you gave the relationship a chance, but it didn't work for you...and if it doesn't work for you, it's not only wrong for your own self to continue, but unfair to him as well.

    Move on, be platonic friends with him if you want him in your life, but get back to shaping that circle of your life as Hoss mentioned. Dote on yourself the way you were hoping he would dote on you. We all have to love ourselves first...and from the sounds of it, I get the sense that your boyfriend isn't able to fully love himself first (otherwise he'd have no feelings of confusion and guilt...he would be proud of who he is and be able to embrace a "take me as I am or leave me" attitude), and we all know what happens when someone can't fully love themselves (unable to love others fully as well).

    Posted by bklynmom September 5, 09 10:41 PM
  1. So easy, even a caveman can do it......

    If the LW has a problem with her BF needing so much 'alone time', then there IS a legit problem here. He needs to be aware that she is troubled by it and absolutely must make and effort to come out of his shell more. Otherwise this will only manifest into a bigger problem later in the relationship. Next thing you know, HE will be writing in here crying that his GF is cheating on him with a tall, hot, out-going biker who gives great GC.

    Good luck,
    DrK

    Posted by DrK September 8, 09 08:53 AM
 
ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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