She’s Stonewalling Me

 By Nina Atwood

Rick writes: I have been dating a woman on and off for several years. I moved out of state six months ago and haven’t seen her but twice. The last time she visited, I noticed that she was distant after our intimate moments – not cuddling like she had in the past. One night when I was rubbing her back she said “you are smothering me.” Her distant behavior during this visit was very out of character. She has always liked being intimate with me but avoided it this last visit. I called her after she went home to tell her I would be off for 12 days and she said she had other plans with women friends. When I asked how she could put her friends before our relationship, she got mad and hasn’t spoken to me since, over two weeks, and won’t respond to my messages. Do you think she’s seeing someone else? She’s done the silent treatment on me before (got it from the way her Dad behaves toward her).

Dear Rick,

Your girlfriend is stonewalling – meaning that she has chosen to withdraw and not communicate. When that happens, it leaves a vacuum of insight – you don’t have a full understanding of what’s going on because she’s not telling you. In the absence of information, we have a tendency to fill it with stuff we make up. The problen with that is that it may be completely off base. If you base your response on innacuracy, you further the misunderstanding.

It’s not clear from your question what is your level of commitment in this relationship. Why are you dating after several years? Why didn’t she move with you? What are your future plans regarding marriage? What does she want? The answers to those questions may provide insight into your problem. Perhaps you and your girlfriend are no longer on the same page regarding your future, or maybe you’ve never been on the same page.

When a woman withdraws from intimacy, it’s usually because her emotional needs aren’t being met in the relationship. Your job, if you love her, is to make sure that you regularly assess from her point of view if you’re meeting her needs. Maybe she withdraws because that’s the only way she can get your attention.

I recommend that you send her a new message, and in it, you focus entirely on your deep interest in listening to her. Tell her that you realize you’ve made some kind of mistake with her and that you’re ready to listen to her point of view. Speak from your heart, make sure she knows you love her, and you will pave the way for her to feel safe enough to reach back. If you really love this woman, maybe it’s time to step up to the plate with more commitment, more focus on her needs. If you don’t love her, maybe it’s time to move on.

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