I've recently been dating my boyfriend. We met on tinder and talked for a couple months before meeting. When we met we hit it off. He even came on a work trip with me. Afterwards my grandmother passed away and he told me I had been acting different. He gave me an ultimatum about communication and I vowed for 100% communication since. However since then he has hardly communicated with me or even spent time with me. He will see his friends first and then me almost as a second option.
About a month later he claims redundancy. I attempted to do more with him but to no avail until finally we decided a "break" would be best. We agreed on exclusivity and to be friends. It's been 2 weeks since the break. I'm confused on what to do next. I still care about him and want to be with him.
Dr. Brotto's response after the jump...
CUB, my honest advice to you would be to use this break to think about what qualities YOU want in a partner. What does great communication look like to you, and what you will and will not accept in terms of communication standards in a partner. After a breakup, the rawness and intensity of your emotions impede your ability to see things clearly, and your longing for your ex is going to be far more potent than the issues that drove you two apart.
When someone you care about passes away, you have every right to act different. It is called grieving. You don't mention how close you were to your grandmother or what role she played in your life, but it sounds as if your boyfriend expected you to not grieve. Giving any partner an ultimatum about improving their communication is unreasonable at the best of times (communication is a two-way transaction), but to expect you to take responsibility for your communication woes while you’re hurting over your grandmother’s death is downright cruel. He is also setting up a double standard wherein you are vowing “100% communication” yet he’s withdrawn. Seems kinda unfair, don't you think?
As for “100% communication”—what is that exactly? Even the happiest and most satisfied couples don't have 100% communication—they have a knack for solving conflict, but they still have communication struggles like the rest of us. Also, great communication in a couple does not mean telling your partner absolutely everything.
CUB, as if the communication imbalance in your relationship wasn't enough, you’re playing second fiddle to you ex’s friends. Partners tend to put their best foot forward at the start of a relationship when everything is new and the desire to impress is highest. If you’re feeling unnoticed now, I worry how you’ll feel in 6 months or 6 years when the spark of novelty has worn off.
In a nutshell, don't confuse caring for him with needing to get back together with him. Take this time to consider what are your essential ingredients in a partner, which traits are desired but not necessary, and which features don't matter too much to you. My guess is that after doing this exercise, the decision will be totally clear to you about whether to pursue or walk away with your head held high.