You’ve racked your brains over the problem, and no, it isn’t just a bout of insecurity. He is distant. He is also potentially resentful, passive aggressive, snarky, drained, unmotivated and uninspired. What’s going on?
Well, that would depend…
He’s Sitting On His Resentment
Remember that argument you had last year? Not that one, the other one. No? Well, he does. And not only that, but it has festered. Oh boy has it festered.
If your relationship suffers from poor communication, there may be no outlet for indignation.
Maybe he knows that sounding the alarm about something as trivial as an off hand remark over a year ago will sound petty. And so he internalizes his rage instead, condensing the self-inflicted misery into an avalanche.
Anger needs to flow outwards, if it doesn’t it will decay into resentment. If your boyfriend acts like he’s out to punish you, maybe he is. It is his indirect way of attempting to break even (or so he thinks).
Signs this is the case: He’s constantly spiteful, evasive or passive-aggressive.
He’s Conceding Too Much
Yes, yes, compromise is the bedrock of long term relationships. But altruism can be taken too far. Especially if it isn’t altruism at all, but rather the fear of confrontation.
It’s an insidious threat because it’s difficult to pin down and address what’s wrong when we aren’t aware it’s happening in the first place.
If your boyfriend is notoriously fearful of confrontation he may have shed too much of what makes him tick in order to keep the relationship strong. The irony is that it is this lack of confrontation, and not the discussion itself, that is ultimately what threatens the relationship.
Compromise is important, but so is building a relationship that works for us as individuals. If he no longer seems to care, perhaps it is his individuality that has suffered under the weight of long-term negotiation.
Signs this is the case: He seems to have lost color and character over time. Low motivation and energy may also be a symptom.
His Routine Is Burning Him Out
Many of these points have one thing in common, and that is that they have little to do with our failings as a partner. Often it is simply the architecture of our lives outside of the relationship that is negatively impacting us.
If your boyfriend is locked into a routine that is sucking the soul from his body, the problem is that you may end up becoming a lightning rod for his stress (in moderation this is unavoidable). If this is the case you now have a relationship problem despite not really having a relationship problem. Wonderful.
Encouraging him to shake his routine up a bit may help, but the onus is most definitely on him to reform his day-to-day. All you can realistically do is give him the space and confidence to break his comfort zones.
Signs this is the case: He suffers from low motivation, drive and relationship energy.
He Has Other Priorities (Temporarily)
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If his tendency to not care is recent then perhaps it boils down to a temporary shift in priorities. Maybe his workplace has given him an ultimatum, or perhaps it is the stress of being unemployed instead. Whatever it is, it has him in a clinch.
I say this not in defense of his sidelining of you, but as a simple statement of fact. It is what it is. And what you do about it as absolutely up to you.
Not all boyfriends will juggle priorities in this way, but before you act make sure he is aware of how his disregard is making you feel. He may not be aware of any wrongdoing.
Signs this is the case: He is evidently under pressure and oozing stress. He may be less talkative, more prone to seeking time alone and generally more absent-minded.
He Has Other Priorities (Permanently)
It goes without saying that one possible reason he doesn’t seem to care anymore is just that, he doesn’t actually care.
I would say don’t overthink this one, but then again I’m the one that just listed five other reasons.
In this case the shift in priorities is not caused by a third-party. The relationship is the root cause of the problem. This makes makes diagnosing the problem a little easier, because if there is no stated reason for the malaise, then we have our answer.
Please note that I do not consider this a problem that will always destroy the relationship, or that it is necessary to break up preemptively. It just means that this shift in priorities is not going anywhere until the relationship itself evolves to accommodate the problem.
Signs this is the case: He is distant and stressed without apparent cause.