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"Why do my boyfriend's feelings go from hot to cold?"

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 6 months. I donít understand how his attitude shifts from caring to not caring towards me. There are times days when he tells me that he misses me and canít wait to see me. But when I tell him that I miss him, can't wait to see him, and wish that he were with me, my boyfriend just acts nonchalant and doesnít respond. He just changes the subject as if I never brought it up. When we are together he is very affectionate, sweet, and caring.

I donít love him, I care about him. But he hasnít told me how he feels yet. I asked him if he has any feelings for me but all he says that he doesnít know and wants to continue dating, take it day by day, and see what happens. Also he is always saying how I am too good for him and that he doesnít deserve me. Is he giving me a hint about something I am not getting? After six months of dating shouldnít he be giving me an idea as to how he feels about me? I am puzzled and donít know how to handle it. I donít want to break up with him but how long should I wait? Please help me!!!!

19 Jan 2006
Name: Diane
Age: 29

Dear Diane,

A big, bright red flag waves for me whenever a guy says heís not good enough for me or that I donít deserve him. Not because I think heís really trying to send me on my way, but because, I think he truly believes it. And thatís exactly what I think is going on with you, too.

Sounds to me like your guy is a victim of low self-esteem and all his wishy-washy, come close/now go away actions support his ďIím not worthy of her or her loveĒ perspective.

Do I think he genuinely cares about you? Yes, I definitely do. But his lack of self-belief makes it very difficult for him to fully act on his feelings, thus all the indecisive behavior. Heís afraid to lay down his guard and love you wholly and unabashedly, because since he doesnít love himself, he has a hard time believing you will, either. So what does he do? Like my faulty shower head that only works sporadically, he only feels comfortable intermittently showing you affection. Itís his defense mechanism.

If he doesnít get too close, he gets to keep his guard up and protect himself from the pain he undoubtedly knows he will feel when you finally realize (like he has) that heís not good enough for you.

While thatís my best guess as to whatís going on, the other factor could simply be that, as a gender, men sometimes have a harder time actually comprehending and discussing their true feelings. Perhaps your guy just needs a little more time to process his emotions. Itís not that heís not into you Ė he definitely is, or else he wouldnít still be with you after six months Ė but it may just be taking him a little longer to recognize his feelings.

Now the question is Ė in both circumstances Ė is this something youíre willing to put up with? Do you like him enough to put in the extra effort and stick it out? If you say no, do not feel badly. Relationships are hard work without all the extra details, and no one could blame you for not wanting to take on a difficult situation with someone youíre just lukewarm for.

But if the answer is yes, that you do really like him and you want to try to make it work, and if heís really lacking the self-esteem (which I truly believe he is) the best thing to do is build him up. Tell him that you wouldnít stand for anyone else saying such negative things about your boyfriend, and you certainly wonít accept it from him, either! It may get to be repetitive, but tell him that you wouldnít be with him if you didnít want to; youíre a big girl and you are very capable of making your own choices, and youíve chosen him! You want to be with him because he brings out the best in you and makes you feel fantastic, and you wish heíd stop disputing you on that. Eventually, heíll get the point. And in time, when he sees youíre still around, hopefully the self-loathing talk will cease.

Regardless, changes wonít happen overnight, so if you choose to be with him, make sure you stock up on your patience!

Good luck!

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