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My Boyfriend Is Distracted

"My Boyfriend Always Seems Distracted"

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

My boyfriend is hyperobservant about what is going on around him in social situations. He is extraordinarily intuitive, but it goes beyond this. If we drive by someone jogging, he will notice what they are wearing down to the color and make of their sneakers. If we are out to dinner, he will analyze the dynamic and conversation of almost everyone else in the room. We all have our quirks, and I want to love someone as they truly are, not who I want them to be, so this was never something I gave all that much thought to.

Last weekend, we were out to dinner, having a lovely time, and started chatting about a funny thing that had happened at a table next to us. We'd had a bit of wine, and he started mentioning all the things he noticed around the room down to the number of times I had refilled my water glass that evening! (Six, for the record. I was dehydrated.) I was sort of stunned. I always knew he did this, but I never realized the extent to which it happened, and he had never explained it to me in quite the same way, like his mind is spinning a million miles a minute at all times, and he constructs a dialogue in his head based on how he interprets something, almost like he is reading a script. For example, if I say something to him in some tone, "Suuuure," he'll, in his head, think, "'Suuuure,' M said sarcastically." I suddenly felt very self-conscious and slightly defensive, like everything I said or did was going to be overanalyzed in his mind. I tried to really listen to him and be there for him. He expressed how embarrassed he was about this and how he never really told anyone what he had just told me.


He asked me what I thought, and I said it made some things make sense to me — he loves sex (who doesn't, of course . . . but he really loves sex) because it's one of the few times his mind is just at ease. He enjoys smoking weed for the same reason. I told him I loved him (I do!), and we talked about how maybe ADD was a part of this, etc. I was also honest with him (and maybe this was the wrong time to bring it up?) that, at times, I do get confused and frustrated because he will seem very distant. When I'm at dinner or spending time alone with him, 99 percent of the time I am focused just on him, and it can hurt to feel like that's not reciprocated. When I can see that he's somewhere else in his mind, it makes me worry if something is wrong — that I've done something to push him away. Is he losing his feelings for me? And then when I realize he's just curious as to what's going on at the table behind us, it makes me feel not good enough — like why is that so much more interesting than what I have to say?

I really value our time together and spending that time, having conversations, even if it's just about stupid things, really means a lot to me. I know it does to him, too, but I feel like we have less of that when he is focused on so many other things, and it's frustrating and hurtful to me. I recognize that part of this is just me being less sensitive or worrying that everything has to do with me — I am definitely working on that. But I am otherwise at a bit of a loss as to how to talk to my boyfriend about this, how to support him and be there for him, while also making sure my needs in the relationship are met. Has anyone experienced or heard of this type of thing before? I'd be so grateful for any advice. Thank you! 

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Bubbles12 Bubbles12 4 years
I'm a little confused by your note. What I picked up on is the hypervigilence. My husband is like that, he notices EVERYTHING around him and like your bf would be able to say how many glasses of water I've poured, when I wore that shirt last, when I paid a bill and which vitamins I took (if he was in the room). He also earned three tough college degrees with a four point. I can have zero secrets around this man. It was very freaky at first but he doesn't use this information against me and I'm not someone with a lot to hide. So I just learned to relax and not worry about it and see the benefits. It can be annoying but he also has also helped get me to appointments I've forgotten about on time, and not take my vitamins twice. As for his attention, there is something very important for you and all straight women to understand about men: generally they are not hard-wired to focus on other people like we are. We women are hypervigilent about how people feel, how they're responding -- we scan the emotional environment looking for trouble almost. Men pretty much think people will call attention to themselves if they need something from them and leave it to that. I suggest you read "Men are from Mars" by John Gray. Dorky but highly educational read.
henna-red henna-red 4 years
you two might want to do a little internet research on ADD and ADHD.
henna-red henna-red 4 years
I'm agreeing with luckyducky....your boyfriend is bouncing this off of you to see how you react. And i agree that he's embarrassed by it, and I'd guess he's very aware of feeling differently from other people, and that you're acceptance of him gives him a safe place that he hasn't had before. I also would like to suggest he see a doc....I would hazzard a guess that he has something very active happening in his brain....there are so many different manifestations....and his self medicating with weed could lead to some damage. Also, there may be pharmaceuticals out there that could help him move than the weed.....but he's going to need to be comfortable enough to look for a specialist....someone who deals with behavior and physical/medical issues. I think that your issues with feeling hurt when you feel his focus isn't completely on you is a two fold thing. First, with a man who has this intense observation, this is always going to happen, and you shouldn't take it personaly. Second, when you feel that you want him focused on you, and he's not, then gently redirect his attention to you. Tell him about how you feel, let him know that you want more of his attention at that moment, and see how the two of you do sort of retraining his attention towards you, when that's what you need. In any relationship, the needs that get met, are the needs that get stated and worked for, and we all have attention issues.....even without the hyper awareness.....every woman has a story about her guys attention wandering away during an intimate or romantic moment....sometimes that's just a bit of a guy thing. good luck to you both
luckyduckyy luckyduckyy 4 years
Your bf views this thing of his as a problem, which is why he enjoys sex and weed (it gets rid of the problem) so why doesn't he get it checked out by a doctor? He shared this issue with him. He told you he'd never shared it with anyone else because he was too embarassed by it. He didn't have to tell you, even though he was tipsy; he WANTED to tell you. You should ask yourself why he would want to tell you. I believe he loves you and feels so at ease with you that he was willing to display his vulnerability (without fear of derision or rejection). He may have reached out to you in an effort to get you to understand him better, or perhaps to subtly hint to you that he wants help but is too afraid or embarassed to do it himself. Talk about this issue more with him and find out what he wants to do. This very well may have been his call for help.
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