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Old 05-02-2013, 08:20 PM
mmmothra mmmothra is offline
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 12
Default resources/advice on communication and intimacy issues?

Hello people,

Sorry in advance for the wall of text. So I'm having some issues in my relationship that I would love any resources or advice on. The communications issues are the most concrete type of advice I'm looking for, but I also want to know what people think about the intimacy issues I'm having with a partner as well - so I'll start there because that gives us some context for the rest.

Me and my girlfriend (lets call her B) of 3 years (we are in a vee, I also have a boyfriend of 8 years, lets call him L) have been going through a rough time in the last few months. It has been largely precipitated by a big change in our lives which we are trying to work through, but I am not convinced that is what it is all about. Essentially, I will be moving with L in a year, which we have all been trying to deal with and plan for. B and I are not breaking up, and I will come live with her for 4 months out of the year. This has been hard to work through, but for a while we were making a lot of progress - but in the last month I feel that we have come up against a wall.

She has been totally withdrawn from me in terms of intimacy and affection. We have not had sex in a month and a half, she often pulls away from me when I try to kiss her, she does not reach out to me for affection almost at all, and she rarely sends me sweet (or any) texts anymore. We have talked about this at length, and she contends that she is dealing with her emotions about the move (which is something we are all negotiating together btw, I am not leaving her out of it), and in my recognition that this is a very difficult situation for her (and us) I have given her that space with a lot of patience. I consistently bring it up to discuss, trying to understand her feelings and firmly (but lovingly) expressing that this is having a huge affect on me.

So the communication part. For a long time, and until the last few months, we worked hard on our communication. Recently though, it seems like she isn't invested in working things out. We used to talk anytime something seemed wrong, and now I get shut down anytime I bring stuff up. For example, I was just out of town and she knows I have been struggling a lot with all this. I asked her if we could talk, and she said she just wanted "one day to relax and not think about this" after a long few days of work. It felt like she just didn't want to deal with it, even though she knows it's eating me up. The overarching feeling is that she is less invested in our relationship, but when I express feeling like I am low priority right now she gets upset and denies that. It's hard for me to engage with because I want to take things at face value when she says them, but her actions and words don't match. She is distancing herself from me through words, too - where she used to use pet names for me all the time, she doesn't do it as often - instead she calls me 'dude' or by my name. When I bring these issues up, she reacts as though I'm making things up. How can I bring these issues up, which seem small but to me speak volumes, without sounding nitpicky?

And here is where I was hoping for concrete communication advice or resources in terms of what we are actually saying to each other. There is a lot of under-the-surface level communication going on here, like the distancing I described above and mannerisms, such that she will come off as irritated or say something in 'that tone of voice' or be dismissive. This happens constantly. When I bring it up, what I usually say is "are you doing ok, babe?", and she comes back at me with an angry "are YOU doing ok??" which completely shuts the conversation down. So anytime I bring up my perception of these things, she gets extremely defensive. I use "I" statement, like "I feel dismissed when you say something like that" etc, and then she comes back at me with "It makes me feel shitty when you say those things". So right now, it seems like everytime I bring something up that isn't ok with me in how we are interacting, instead of hearing me she turns it back on me as some kind of attack. She sees any remotely critical thing I say to her a as me telling her she is not fulfilling my needs which makes her feel like a bad person. From my vantage point, this completely shuts down the conversation and invalidates how I'm feeling. I have said this to her before and it goes nowhere.

So I know that was meandering, but my questions are really about how to communicate with a person who is so defensive, but at the same time refuses to admit that they are being defensive? Are there any tricks you have used that help? Although I feel like I am very gentle and compassionate in my wording, should I try to be more? At this point I am really losing my patience and am finding myself wanting to react more and more. I want to get us to a healthy place of communication. I know that I can't force her to do this, but I want to try before I reach my wit's end.

Randomly, if it helps - I am ENFP and she is INTJ.

Thanks in advance!
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