Jorge's relationship advice is based on experience and observation. Let his trial and error be your success (hopefully).
Is Your Boyfriend Acting Weird?
Everything was going fine. You were happy with your relationship (at least enough to stay in it). You got along fairly well and didn't fight much. You had decent communication, even--until he started acting weird all of a sudden.
Of course, "weird" is something up for interpretation. Maybe to him, he's acting perfectly normal. However, you can't shake the feeling that something's up. The energy is off. He's not being his usual self.
Maybe he's being really quiet, for example. Maybe he seems mad about something and there's a constant tone in his voice. Maybe he's not texting and calling as often, or he's even giving you complete radio silence.
For most people, "weird" in this case tends to mean "suddenly distant." Your boyfriend might have put a wall up overnight and now you don't know what to do.
There are lots of reasons why he might have done this. Some of the reasons might be no big deal, while some of them might point to deeper issues. Let's take a look:
1. He's Mad
The simplest answer is that he's mad.
You may have done something he didn't like or unknowingly crossed a boundary of his, but he has failed to communicate what happened. Unfortunately, lots of people don't know how to express their negative feelings properly, so they retreat and start acting weird instead.
And you know what? It might be common, but it's not healthy. Well-adjusted adults normally have enough experience to realize that they can't expect others to "just know" what triggers them. You are probably not psychic, right?
When it comes to relationships, you can't assume anything. You had no way of knowing what would offend him ahead of time, so if it turns out that he is indeed angry, don't beat yourself up. Unless you did something obvious like cheat on him, it's perfectly understandable that you expect him to act like an adult and tell you directly instead of waiting for you to guess.
What should you do about it, then?
Sadly, lots of people are conditioned to hide their unwanted emotions as children. This is especially the case when they had disapproving parents who never let them express how they felt. He might actually not even realize that he's repeating old patterns in this way; it could be totally subconscious.
If you suspect this is the case, you could try interrupting the pattern by bringing attention to it:
"Hey, I know that you're probably mad about something. Maybe in past relationships you dealt with that by getting real quiet and hoping the other person would just automatically know. That was fine then, but I'm not good at guessing. Please tell me what's on your mind. I won't judge you. I just want to know the truth because I care about you. Our relationship can't grow unless we trust each other with this sort of stuff."
From there, he could have one of several reactions:
1) He Now Feels Safe Enough to Give an Honest Answer
If you're lucky, just that bit of coaxing might be enough to get him to open up. This is great!
Follow through on your promise and don't judge or react to what he says just yet. It might be hard for you to not feel attacked if he starts airing out all the complaints he had saved up, but remember that this is more about his feelings concerning the situation than about any of your actions.
His feelings are not your fault. They just exist.
Remember that one of the reasons he may have been withholding was because he was afraid that you would get mad about the fact that he's mad! Would you rather get offended and reactive, or would you rather know the truth?
It's up to you, but if you want the unfiltered truth, let him know that he's safe to feel however he wants. Feelings themselves are not wrong. It's when we blame other people for them that the problems start. Getting him to feel safe enough to open up can be the key to much better communication in general.
2) He's Not Ready to Be Upfront
Unfortunately, though, he might not respond to your openness right away. A quite common reaction when you ask him what's wrong is that he will hold tightly to his patterns. He'll deny that he's mad and keep acting weird. This isn't too surprising, since these patterns are nothing more than habits of thought, and breaking a habit can take many tries.
The fastest way to do it is to, again, keep bringing attention to this behavior. Remember that it is a habit, so the key is to interrupt it and not reward it by playing endless guessing games with him. Eventually, he might realize what he's doing and that this strategy no longer works.
If he seems completely oblivious in spite of how upfront you're being, then it's up to you to decide whether it's all worth your time.
There's also another possibility...which is that he isn't mad at all! This brings us to some completely different considerations:
2. He Wants Some Time to Himself and Doesn't Know How to Express That
Again, lack of communication is the downfall of many relationships.
Maybe when he was growing up, your boyfriend was made to feel that it was selfish to have the need to be alone. Maybe he was shamed for this in past relationships and feels he has a duty to always "be there," but deep down he needs some time to himself--like everyone does!
If he feels guilty having time to himself, he might wait until things reach a boiling point. Instead of just setting aside time to be alone and communicating that he needs space in a healthy way, he'll end up in these crazy extremes of being super close to you one moment, then practically living on Mars the next.
He may start acting weird all of a sudden because he's subconsciously pushing you away instead of consciously making space for himself. There's a big difference between those two things. The best way you can address this is once again to draw attention to it.
How He's Been Acting Weird
3. He is Feeling Anxious and Awkward Around You
Is your boyfriend socially awkward? If he has a lot of anxiety surrounding social relationships, then his acting weird might actually have nothing at all to do with you.
It could actually be that he feels weird about something that he did, and is thus acting weird towards you because he keeps replaying the incident over and over again in his mind. He might have said something to you that he personally thinks is awkward or dumb and now he can't face you. What you're interpreting as "weirdness" could simply be embarrassment.
Now, you might say to yourself, "I don't remember him saying anything dumb lately," which could be true from your perspective. When someone is really anxious, though, things that may seem no big deal (or even completely forgettable) to you may stick out in their mind as unforgivable.
Ask him about it.
4. He's Worried He'll Lose You
It might seem to make no sense, but sometimes when people are afraid of losing a relationship, they push the person away even more.
Think of it as trying to beat you to the punch. Maybe he thinks that you're out of his league or suspects that you're about to break up with him. If he pushes you away and rejects you first, then it might hurt his ego a little less, right?
If this sounds irrational to you, that's because it is. Of course it's dumb--but people are not always rational when it comes to relationships. There are a lot of feelings involved and we can fall prey to subconscious patterns. He may not even realize what he's doing!
As with anything else, it's time to bring it out into the open. That's the only way you can talk about it and reassure him.
5. He's Thinking of Calling it Quits
On the other hand, it is possible that he's been "acting weird" and pulling away because he has genuinely lost interest. Maybe he's in the in-between stage where he's seriously considering leaving, but isn't 100% sure yet if he wants to end the relationship.
That's a difficult stage to be in. There can be a lot of feelings of weirdness in that, so it could easily manifest outwardly in his behavior. Being his partner, you naturally picked up the vibe.
If you suspect this is what's happening, it's up to you how you want to react.
You can just let things take their course, since it may just be a phase of ambivalence that will pass (or not)--but that still leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Even if he spontaneously changes his mind and decides to stay without ever discussing it with you, he may have doubted the relationship for reasons that could come up again in the future.
It's best to address these things directly. Bring it up. It might feel like ripping a bandage off a wound, but communicate your openness as best you can: "If you have doubts about the relationship, I want you to know it's not a taboo subject. I just want the truth. We can't improve things that are swept under the rug."
6. Someone Else Has His Attention
Breakups typically happen because of internal turmoil in the relationship, but that doesn't mean that someone else can't show up to complicate things every once in awhile.
He might be "acting weird" because he's been talking to somebody else. When someone feels guilty about two-timing, they'll tend to act strangely. For example, he may:
- Act more distant than usual.
- Hide his phone a lot.
- Avoid revealing details about where he is going or who he's seeing.
- Act weirdly jealous and possessive, as if he suspects you're the one cheating. (Cheaters often become paranoid that others are doing the same thing.)
- Hint that he is talking to other people in a flirtatious way, as if he wants to get caught. (This may be his way of trying to escape the tension by finally letting it all explode.)
If he's really obvious about the cheating, then this could be a sign that he wants to break up, but can't be upfront about it. Maybe without even realizing it, he could be waiting for you to figure it out and dump him so he doesn't have to be the one to make the decision.
Cowardly? Yes. Unfortunately, some people react this way to confrontation. If that's the case, you're better off without him anyway.
7. He's Just Distracted With His Own Worries
Finally, the issue could simply be a circumstance outside of the relationship. There could just be something troubling him that he has yet to share with you, and so it seems that he's acting weird when he's really just distracted.
As someone who is really introspective, I've wrestled with this myself from the other side. It isn't fair to one's partner, of course, and it has certainly taken a toll on some of my relationships in the past, but it wasn't because of anything the other person did.
Chances are, you haven't done anything wrong, either. If your boyfriend is acting weird all of a sudden, it is probably due to something beyond your control entirely.
He may not have realized that the way he's acting has had this kind of impact on you, though. After all, if he's distracted from the relationship, he may not be in tune with you at the moment.
Share your feelings with him and let him know that you're willing to be there for him. This may not always magically restore things to normalcy right away, but at least he'll know he has your support.
If you've noticed that life really has him down, it might be a good idea to spend some quality time together. This can go a long way towards replacing the weirdness with closeness.
Dealing With Him When He's Acting Weird
If you haven't noticed, a lot of the above issues could be resolved by just talking about them!
That's what's at the root of most relationship problems: lack of communication. The question is whether you're willing to be the first one to bring it up, or if you would rather let things hang forever.
Look, it's understandable to be hesitant. The first person to want to talk is usually the first to have to be vulnerable and put their cards on the table. But if you want the power to change things in your relationship, you can't be passive about communication. If you want him to open up to you, lead by example and open up to him!
When you're honest with him, if he shuts down or acts weird (even more than he already has), remember that it's not your fault. He probably has some emotional blocks, in which case you may need to seriously consider whether or not you can continue the relationship.
Most people have some walls. There will always be things that we don't like to talk about. But when a person flat out refuses to work on a conflict in a relationship and cuts off communication, it's hard to build trust. Do you really want to spend years with festering problems between you that are never resolved because he refuses to talk about them?
Think about this carefully. We all have our disagreements, but the person who is worth investing in is someone who can acknowledge and work through them.
What You're Going to Do About It
© 2021 Jorge Vamos