We all have our moments where we are feeling a little… off. It’s just a part of human nature. But we shouldn’t let these moments affect relationships. And the best way to ensure that is to understand where the other person is coming from. Which is why we talked to few relationship experts and psychologists so you can now decode your boyfriend’s strange behavior. In the long run, this will only make your bond and relationship stronger.
He seems nervous and closed off
Men generally have a harder time communicating. And if he starts acting closed off it could be because he’s hiding something he doesn’t know how to discuss. “Closed and nervous body language, defensiveness, and evasive answers are all possible indicators of dishonesty,” explains dating and relationship coach Jonathan Bennett. This could be something as small as work-related stresses or a medical diagnosis he’s worried to talk to you about. No matter what it is, just give him time before encouraging an open dialogue. Whatever you do, do not approach the conversation in an accusatory tone. Bennett assures, “Give him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.”
He’s giving you short answers
If your guy is being shorter with you than usual, it could be because he’s concealing anger or unpleasant feelings toward you. “Usually if guys are secretly angry or upset with their girlfriends, they’ll give short answers, keep to themselves, and appear less happy and enthusiastic than normal,” Bennett explains. This is due to how men are taught to behave, as well as handle relationships. “Men are often not encouraged to express their feelings, so they retreat inwardly rather than address it with their girlfriend directly,” says Bennett, once again recommending that a girlfriend encourages open communication. “Be empathetic and understanding.”
He’s not acting affectionate
Men typically have a harder time showing their affection. “Not all guys want to show [a] public display of affection or be passionate all the time,” explains relationship expert Earl Lewis. This could just be a part of his personality. “If his belief is focused more on providing and protecting as a traditional societal belief has, affection might not be pushed down to the list of priorities in the relationship.” So if this is something that bothers you, then maybe you aren’t the best fit together. But if his other relationship priorities are also your priorities, then you may have found your match.
He’s getting quiet and pulling away
Men are known to pull away when things start to get, well, a little intense. “They may just be temporarily overwhelmed by the intense emotions of falling in love,” explains psychologist Dr. Deborah Offner. “Or they could be experiencing a ‘normal’ fear of commitment that we can all feel as we contemplate moving further into a committed relationship.” She notes that this is a man’s way of attempting to maintain an emotional equilibrium. “As the relationship deepens, he may need to pull back in order to find a middle ground between totally diving in and maintaining his independent sense of self.”
Moving a relationship forward can be scary for all parties. But to help encourage him to make the transition, allow him to have his mental space. “Recognize that for many people, in particular men because of the way many of them have been socialized, intimacy is at once compelling and frightening,” Dr. Offner clarifies. “Some men need to pull back to balance out their own intense feelings and get their bearings.”
He’s spending more time with the guys
Having a separate social life from one another is key to a healthy relationship. But you may notice that he’s been spending a lot more time with the guys then usual. While it may seem like he’s trying to get away from you, that isn’t necessarily true. “Wanting to maintain his friendships is not necessarily a sign he is less interested in you,” Dr. Offner notes. She continues, saying that this is actually a positive thing: For him to maintain connections with people and value interpersonal bonds. “If a man has not maintained his friendships and/or is willing to totally ditch them as soon as he falls head over heels, this may be a red flag about his relationship capacities.”
And if you notice he’s heading off to spend a little more extra time with the guys, this could have to do with him more than you. “He may fear his friends will write him off now that he’s hitched and perhaps go off and get used to doing things without him,” explains Dr. Offner. Just give him his space and let him indulge in his “bromances” as much as he needs. Even use the opportunities as a little alone time to connect with your other friends. “You will both benefit from remaining close with other people in your life, and from getting some time apart,” Dr. Offner recommends. “It provides breathing space, perspective, a chance to reflect on yourself.”
He’s not listening to you carefully
You may notice your guy has been asking what, or zoning out when you talk to him. Psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman shares that men tend to slip into this kind of “bad” behavior when they start to get comfortable. “They may make a lot of effort to communicate and relate to her feelings early on in the relationship,” she says, “But if this is not who a guy really is, he won’t be able to sustain it.” She adds that it may also be a sign that he’s not as into it as he originally thought. If this is happening to you, don’t be so quick to turn it into a fight. Be inquisitive and ask him what’s going on. It’ll only benefit the both of you in the long run.
He’s quick to drop an argument and let it go
Women tend to want to fight and talk it out more then men when it comes to, well, all forms of communication, but especially arguments. Generally speaking, women want to flush it out and lay it all on the table. But men function differently. “Men are rational and want to forget things right away,” explains relationship expert Audrey Hope. “They don’t think it is important to rehash an uncomfortable situation or experience, and instead they encourage you to just move on and forget about it.” Since it’s harder for men to deal with emotions, dropping an issue is the first approach. And while women may find it healthier to hash things out, sometimes it actually is best not to dwell on a bad situation.
He acts differently around his friends
You may notice that he acts differently when it’s just the two of you and when you two are around his friends. Which can be frustrating. Coach Toni Coleman assures, “This can be due to his presenting his relationship in a way to his friends that is different from what it really is.” She notes that this is common in immature and insecure men along with newer relationships. If he’s still figuring out where he wants the relationship to go, he’s going to have some inconsistencies.
If it bothers you, bring it up after a direct example. For instance, if it happens when you’re out with all his friends one night, bring it up on the way home or the next morning. That way, he’ll know exactly what you’re talking about and you won’t sound full of accusations or insecurity.
Ultimately, it’s up to you
While some strange behavior traits could be red flags — such as emotional distance over a long period of time, or unavailability when you’re in emotional distress — a lot of times it’s just part of male behavior. “If he’s always been a loving and supportive boyfriend, don’t assume the worst about his weird behavior,” explains relationship expert Jonathan Bennett. Toni Coleman expounded on the topic, “Women have to decide how this [strange] behavior weighs against everything else a guy brings to the table.” So don’t jump to conclusions and decide what’s really important in your relationship. After all, men are from Mars and women are from Venus.