My boyfriend has been acting distant lately

My situation is a little different because it’s a long-distance relationship. This makes actually catching him doing something nearly impossible.

We have been together for a couple years now—officially for the past year. He always told me that he didn’t like relationships because he didn’t like how women changed and tried to control men. We were just seeing each other for the first year of our relationship. Then he realized that he wanted to become more serious about us and actually commit because he loved me so much and wanted to be able to call me his gf.

Things have been pretty great up until a month ago. We get along great, have lots in common, have a fantastic sex life, and could talk for hours. He always wanted to spend time with me whenever he could. Things changed after he came and visited me. It was the first time we were together in person. We had great sex and got along really well. He even cried when he left because he didn’t want to go back home.

Since he has been back he has hardly been around. He rarely speaks to me anymore and makes excuses for why he can’t call me. At first he said it was because everyone missed him and he needed to spend time with them all and then things would go back to normal. Things never went back to normal. In fact he is going out all of the time now. He is colder with me. He doesn’t seem as interested in sex. He gets angry when I tell him that I want him to spend time with me and tells me that his life doesn’t need to revolve around me. He breaks his promises and starts fights with me. It has been making me feel terrible so I confronted him. I just came out and asked him if he was cheating on me or wanted out of this relationship. He told me that he loves me and would never cheat on me or anyone he was with and that he has just been depressed and needing to get out of the house and spend time around others. He does suffer from depression but his change in behavior is completely different. He has even started working out all of the time and encouraging me to spend time around others. He has always been the type to not like going out, he is very introverted.

I am thinking about leaving him because I am so sure that he is cheating on me even though he swears that he isn’t.

Response:

It might be helpful to focus on the issues that you know about rather than worry about what your boyfriend might be doing behind your back.

The person you date during the first year of a relationship is typically not the same person you encounter as time goes on. The beginning of any relationship is novel and exciting – it is stimulating and fun. But as time goes on, people’s true selves tend to emerge.

The behaviors you describe are consistent with someone who has a dismissing style of attachment (see attachment styles). Such individuals like long-distance relationships and they like pushing their partners away (especially, once intimacy as been established). But, more importantly, men with a dismissing style of attachment often act very open, emotional, and warm at the start of a relationship (see Brumbaugh and Fraley), only to turn into someone who is aloof and detached.

Viewing your boyfriend’s behavior in light of attachment theory may help you sort out what is going on in your relationship.

 dismissing attachment | shows no interest

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