He’s not affectionate enough

Q: Hi Meredith,
I have been in a relationship for a little over two years. I am coming from a long relationship that ended due to infidelity (on his part). I realize it will take time to heal those wounds and completely trust someone again. The feelings I have now are very strong, and I think he feels the same way about me. When we are together, we get along and enjoy each other’s company. But those moments are few and far between.
The problem I am facing is quite simple but still difficult to handle. He is not very good at communication or being considerate. There are times that he simply forgets to call. He also doesn’t seem to be putting much effort into trying to get together. I realize this may sound selfish or immature, but I am realizing that if I do not make the first move to see him, he doesn’t seem to try. Things become more complicated when I notice that he finds time to see other friends (including an ex). The time he does spend with his friends and ex, he keeps secret from me. His excuses are either that he forgets to mention it or that he didn’t want me to be upset.
I have spoken to him on occasions about my feelings, but his response is usually that he “is just not good at relationships.” He has had numerous relationships in the past, which have ended because of his work schedule. I obviously suggested we not be in a relationship, and he seemed shocked that I would say that. He has said he wants to be in a relationship with me. I am not the type that wants to move in together or spend every day with him. I would just like to see him once in a while (couple of times a month if that). I do not believe he is seeing his anyone else. That is not his personality. When we are together, I see how much he does care.
There is also another issue — he is not very affectionate. I am completely opposite and show affection. Sometimes I find myself beginning to doubt his true feelings for me when there is such a lack of communication and affection. I try to not let those insecurities of my past take over, but it’s becoming so difficult.
I am just getting so many mixed signals that I don’t know what to do. Is this something that we won’t be able to overcome? He is such a wonderful guy once you get past the tough exterior. Please be kind in your responses — he is not in it just for sex.

– Confused in Boston

A: I don’t understand why you’re only interested in seeing this guy a few times a month. Aren’t you supposed to be getting closer over time? “Once in a while” just isn’t enough if you want to grow as a couple. I’m all for him seeing friends, and perhaps this time issue is all about his job, but “few and far between” won’t work — at least not for you.
You’re too focused on what he wants and what he might be doing with his time. Instead, can you think about what you require from the relationship? It’s possible that he’s an OK guy who just can’t give you what you need. Sometimes people are just a bad match.
If few and far between is really all he can offer, you have to chalk this up to incompatibility. It’s not about trust or betrayal — it’s just … a mismatch.
Readers? Is this just incompatibility? Do you believe that a few times a month is enough? What about her last sentence about him not being in it for sex? Discuss.

– Meredith