June 3, 2010 | 8:11 am
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I know this sounds douchy but my boyfriend is actually too nice. It makes me feel like a bad person but I can’t keep up with the gifts, the kind gestures. How do I let him know that he needs to back off and let me be nice to him cause I want to and not because it is payback?
-Sweet Tooth Sucks
There is such a thing as killing you with kindness. Some nice people are nice for the sake of nice, and some are nice because it is an easy way to control a situation. By giving, and giving, and then giving some more it is a perfect way to suck someone in to committing and standing by your side.
This is not to say that this man doesn’t love you, I’m sure he does, but it is to say that his sweetness might be fear-based, and a subconscious form of manipulation. Why would a man manipulate his girlfriend into wanting him around? Duh, because he likes her, so so much that it might scare him.
Vulnerability can really blow, and people cope with hating this release of control in a billion ways. Basically, if you love this man and want to keep standing by his side, then view all this excessive kindness as a siren sounding that he is in fact vulnerable, and does in fact like you.
That being said, be gentle and be kind. All the time. If you want him to be able to receive you need to build this giving tree from the roots to the branches. Some people are amazing at taking and suck at giving. Some are great at giving and have a terrible time taking. Some are balanced. (Who?)
So, if it is hard for your man to receive, then you need to show him that it is safe to do so. You need to give in little ways, unexpectedly and consistently, so he sees a few things. For one, he will see that these gifts are unprompted, not a reciprocation but a genuine expression of adoration. And second, so he sees that they are consistent, and that acceptance of your love is not something that will corner or manipulate him.
Some things you can do to show you love him? Send him a sweet mid-day text, make him a dinner for two, leave little notes for him in random places, dress up in his favorite fetish, buy him something you know he wouldn’t buy himself, bring home cookies, give him a foot rub, a back rub, a neck rub, a face rub. Gifts that are small and sincere are best, because they won’t scare him or make him feel like you feel, like you are buying his love and smothering him with kindness. Even just verbal reminders of how much you appreciate him will suffice.
Everyone learns about love in a million ways and part of the crappy growing up process is fixing the wrong ways were were taught to show we care. So be patient, this dude might have a past that conditioned him to give to protect, rather than to open his heart. He may have been hurt every time he opened himself to receive. It can be terrifying, letting someone love you, so show him patiently that you are for real and eventually, my guess is, that the giving and taking will even out between you.
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