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Dating a silent artist type

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  May 29, 2012 08:35 AM

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Q: Hey Mere,

I tend to date artist types. Musicians, painters, actors, etc. My newest flame is a writer (he's 27). I am also a writer and 24. We are crazy about each other. He is ridiculously kind, handsome, talented, and charming. We have goals and morals in common, and many of our tastes are similar. We have both been in many relationships and feel that ours is special and unique. We often talk about how lucky we feel to have found one and other.

I haven't felt this comfortable with someone in a really long time. We have sleepovers up to five nights a week, and often spend the next day together. Sometimes we even sit in coffee shops and have "writing dates." This has been the most rewarding relationship I've ever been in.

The problem? And the problem that I've had in other relationships? When the bedroom door is closed and it's just him and me, he lets down his guard. We'll talk for hours about any topic that may come up. Endless conversations about the world, our thoughts, dreams, ambitions, sex, past relationships, friends, work, family, politics, money ... you name it. We play games, joke, and laugh a lot. He lets me in, in the way that I need to be let in to feel comfortable and desired.

But sometimes when we spend the days together we hardly talk about anything. I try to start conversations but his answers are short, he seems distant, and a little closed. He is by no means rude, but his mind seems to be elsewhere. Sometimes it eventually turns into a silence that makes me really uncomfortable, and to have someone be SO open one minute and so closed the next is confusing to me. I have had two other relationships where this has happened and in the end was part of why we broke up.

As a writer I like to talk and share. When a man puts a wall up I tend to panic and question his feelings for me. I grew up around lots of lies and a bad divorce, which might be the problem. But what's this about, Mere? Why do the men I date seem so comfortable with me behind closed doors, but become closed when we are out and about? I don't question how he feels about me; we are together all the time and I know he wouldn't be around so much if he wasn't into this. Someone once told me that if you are able to be silent with someone it means you are truly comfortable with them. But to me silence feels like there is something not being said. A few of my friends have also suggested that artists have a number of layers that are sometimes hard to understand. What do you think? Is there a way I can bring my concern up to him without looking like a manic girl? Is there a way I can feel more comfortable in the silence?

– Uncomfortable Wall Of Silence, NY


A: I get it, UWOS. I am the queen of sharing. Sometimes I talk about empathy and self-awareness when I'm on the lunch line in the Globe cafeteria. And I know I've been the annoying girlfriend who asks, "What are you thinking?" when her boyfriend is just trying to drive a car.

But I also love silence. And I have errands to deal with during the day that have nothing to do with my soul. If I spent all day engaging with people about feelings, I'd probably forget that I need an oil change and a haircut.

This isn't about dating moody artists. Your guy isn't even that moody. Your problem is the amount of time you spend together. All day and all night? That's a lot. That's like ... every waking and sleeping hour. Perhaps it'd be better for both of you if you separated more often during the day so that you could get stuff done without having to question the emotional state of your partner. Sometimes it's better to have a break and shoot for quality instead of quantity.

You're thinking of your time together as one long date. That's too much pressure.

Don't bring this up with him -- at least not in the context of a big, important conversation. Just use some of those daytime hours to walk away and call a friend. If you need to talk, fine. Just talk to someone else. You can find your boyfriend again at night and make up for lost time.

Readers? Is this about dating an artist or is this about her issues with silence? How does one become comfortable with quiet? Will walking away help? Should she talk to him about this? What are you thinking?


– Meredith


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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.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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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