Ask Him This…

communicating with your partnerHave you ever wondered why he likes you?

What is it about you that he enjoys most? It’s an important question to ask.

Unfortunately, a lot of people simply don’t ask. They assume they know why their partner is into them. That’s a big mistake, and here’s why.

Like the rest of us, psychologists want to know why people choose to spend time with them. In fact, they’re so invested in the question that they’ve done studies to determine what makes therapy meaningful for their clients.

Here’s where this gets interesting.

Psychologists are kind of the experts when it comes to human emotion and behavior. In spite of that fact, they are rarely able to correctly identify the moments of therapy their clients find helpful!

In other words, even people with years of training are unable to pin-point what’s working.

So how do therapists deal with this? I mean, in order to do their jobs well, they have to know what’s working and what isn’t. The best therapists use a very simple strategy.

After each session, clients are handed a 30-second questionnaire with items like, “On this scale from 1 to 10, circle the number that best represents how compassionate your therapist was today.” Or, “Circle the number that represents how well you feel your therapist listened.”

When they see a significant jump in the client’s impression of effectiveness, they’re able to ask directly about what was so helpful. “What did I do differently this session?”

Over time, this feedback makes a powerful difference in the quality of help they’re able to offer to each individual client.

Here’s the moral of the story.

What matters to other people is often elusive. You would think trained psychologists would have some idea, but often they don’t. And if they have to ask, it’s probably a good idea for you to ask, too.

In romantic relationships, we often assume we know what’s working for our partners. We think we know. But what if you’re totally wrong?

The only way to know for sure is to ask: “What do you enjoy about spending time with me?”

Of course, delivered at the wrong time or in the wrong way, this question could make it sound like you’re just fishing for complements. So ask when you can tell he’s comfortable and having a good time. (For example, at the end of a date where he seems relaxed and happy.)

Ask him often at those times, and be prepared to be surprised. His answers may not be what you expected.

The opposite side of this coin is also true. He likely doesn’t know what you like about spending time with him. So, tell him.

communicating with your partnerDuring those moments when you’re happiest, share. When he does something you really like, let him know.

He may be completely oblivious to what he’s doing right. Letting him know increases the chances that he’ll keep doing it!

It’s all about communication. Knowing what leaves your partner feeling fulfilled and content is a huge advantage.

Often it’s the little things that make us happy. But the only way to know what those little things are is to ask.

So ask. And ask often.

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19 thoughts on “Ask Him This…

  1. Sylvie M Lett said:

    Dear James
    I met what seems to be my perfect match online almost seven months ago now. He lives in Idaho and I live in Canada. We both love each other and have organized our paperwork to obtain a K- 1 visa. Only weeks after, I asked how that was going, and his reply was that it’s a long process and that it costs a lot of money as well as an interview in Montreal….which is another expense. We were both gung- ho about marrying each other but, now I feel he is getting cold feet. Why would he propose to me, then behave so distant regarding this? He bought me so much jewellery and can not afford to pay the application? He paid for a moving truck for me to be give hours closer to him, now we are only three hours away….before we were eight hours away. His daughter is only 14. He feels he needs to spend time with her before she gets older but, why didn’t he express all this before?
    Do I wait four years and see one another once per month?…
    Should I move on? What do people do in these kinds of situations? Is there a time frame that I should wait before I should just move on? Does this sound like love to you?
    Please help me with some advice if possible.
    It’s tearing me apart.
    Warm regards,
    Your loyal fan.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Sylvie. For personal questions like this where some background info is needed, please send us your question via the private advice service or by joining our private forum. You can access the private forum with a free trial when you purchase one of my relationship mini-courses. Then you can get specific feedback on detailed questions like this.


  2. Rey G. said:

    Hello James,
    I have followed you now for 18 months. My point is I do find the wisdom you share in your posts and articles truly beneficial to me because at the time I open them up it ministers to my current situation.
    I was married for over 13 years to what religion would call a. Apostle or five fold gift minister. He was terribly verbally and emotionally abusive. He connected by emotional tie to other women secretly and even turned a few against me. He also divorced me while I was recovering from a stroke. I am no longer in this marriage and now have moved on.
    I am working on being open minded to all men whereas I was taught the opposite.
    The guy I now date is a single parent and has some rough areas but nothing that cannot be tolerated. My question is; Is it OK that he’s not totally verbal but he does show me he cares…he shares alot bit he shuts down at yours a seem cold, again he assures me that it’s his issues is this normal? #helpmeunderstand

    • James Bauer said:

      Rey, if you were sitting across from me in an office, consulting about this relationship issue, I would turn the question around on you. I would say, “Rey, here’s how this man acts toward you. Is it okay with you?”

      But the fact that you’re asking me makes me wonder if you’re afraid. There’s something about the way he acts that causes you to question your own commitment to him. Start with some journaling. Write out your thoughts about this issue as a way of discovering the source of your inner fear.


  3. Marina said:

    Dear James,
    thank you for sharing your thoughts. They are great every time and very helpful. I learn a lot from your advices.
    I divorced 5 years ago and have a son (who just turned 11) with my ex. My ex spends 4 days a month with our boy. He works a lot, excercises, and lives his life with a new family. Yesterday we learned that our son is failing in Spanish class. my ex came (I called him) so 3 of us could discuss the problem. In general it went well but during conversation my ex shamed our son, that because our son did bad he couldn’t go to a gym and I realized why our kid always feels bad for his father. My ex also said that our son can’t go to church until he fixes the grade in class because school is more important and church is a waist of time ( my ex doesn’t like church but my son and I go to church every Sunday and Wednesday, I finally saved enough money for him to start catholic school next year) what do you think.. how I can aproach with my ex in a way that it will really work when my son is with him and I am not around…any kid needs both parents and on another hand I don’t want my son be growing up with a shame for taking time from his father nor being rediculed for going to church especially that it will become a bigger part of his life once he’ll start mid school there?
    Thank you, Marina

    • James Bauer said:

      Hello Marina. Your ex husband needs some counseling on parenting skills.

      However, he likely does not recognize his own parenting skill deficits (his blind spots). So even if he went to counseling, he would be unlikely to bring up these important issues. He does not even see them as problems.

      So the best thing you can do is this. Consider what older, more experienced and wiser people exist in his life. Are any of those people receptive to communication from you? Would they perhaps take him under their wing and offer him some counsel on building his son’s emotional well-being?

  4. Henrietta said:

    Hi James,

    I like the article. I have dated a guy for 10 months, I am 36 and he is 45, in between he cheated then came back as I forgave him. Recently I learnt that he privately dated another woman kind of a 2 day thing while I was away. When I shared that I learnt about it, he was angry and told me to leave him alone and move on. I was a bit shocked but remained silent. I do love him but I still decided to not contact him again. 3 days after he contacted me and told me he misses me etc..but never apologized, I only listened but didn’t say anything. I feel broken deep inside. I do not know what to reply anymore. Perhaps I should leave him forever but I simply do not know. If his behaviour is worthy to be forgiven again or am I been taken for trash..How to react to such a man?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Henrietta.

      I would not continue a relationship with him if I were you…unless he really pursues you. If he does, it shows he sees you as having real worth and value.

      Let him know what he would need to do (actually do, not just say) if he wants you to take him seriously again.


      • Anonymous said:

        Hello Henrietta:
        I feel that people who do bad things to others and then turnaround and think it is okay to keep persuing you, love to go in this circle. They will continue to evolve in this circle that he enjoys playing as long as you allow it. I understand that you are hurt because you love and care for this man. However, he knows this too, and I feel that is why he can toy with you. Please find someone who will really take care of your heart. He will find out it is not easy to receive this kind of love you are giving him, and it will be too late for him. By that time, I bet the deserving you will already found someone a lot more worthy.


    • mei said:

      Dear Henrietta,
      . I am so sorry to hear you have been treated this way. I don’t know you or the situation, but I can tell you this: History is the best indicator of the future. Chances are if you feel “broken deep inside” now, he will do the same thing and you will be sad again from his actions.

      • Gena Carlile said:

        Dear Henrietta,

        My ex-husband was like that with me and, was physically abusive as well. He made me feel so worthless throughout most of our marriage but, I loved him and did what I thought I could to make it work. Of course, it never did. After a long 4 yr. process, I divorced him. 10 yrs later he shows up at my door and because I never really got over him, I allowed him in.

        I have grown as a woman over the yrs and have come to love myself so, when he told me that “I was incapable of loving anyone and that I had not changed after 10 yrs” I realized at that moment that, it wasn’t me who hadn’t changed, it was him. That’s why he still sees me the same as he did before. Because he’s still where he was 10 yrs ago. I have been single since my divorce but, I’m a much happier woman now because I know what my love is worth. And it’s worthy of someone far better than him.


  5. Jengi said:

    Hi James,

    I really appreciate your reply to Trish, it’s reflective of my own situation and you’ve been able to articulate in words what my approach is. For me, I had someone who knows my situation share their opinion and it was really challenging for me to share my perspective. You hit the nail on the head when you say “So focus on the decision regarding the risk you are willing to take.” and “Focus on what is emotionally “safe” for you to give right now. ”

    I did a personal examination, looked at my risk VS my ability to handle the emotional outcome either way – and made my decision on just how much I could personally invest without bottoming out my emotions (if that makes sense). It’s been a very empowering thing for me to do and I was able to do that based on a couple other articles you shared. In one of the articles I believe you said it like this “Love them like you’ll never see them again.” That taught me how to embrace the moment for what is was, and the very first time I adapted that when I was with the man I love, he said this right out of the blue: “You’re so amazing, you’re giving me so much” and I replied, I’m loving you like I’ll never see you again. From that day on, things between us grew to a more intense level, we both embrace each moment in a new way and we don’t even have to try. And you also wrote about friends and how their perspective may not be on point for your life (at least that’s how I summarized my take away) and that freed me from the thoughts and opinions of others and tune in even more to my jen-tuition (you taught me about that as well!!).

    SO…. : ) today your sharing on evaluating the risk is perfect. It’s what I’ve done and I know I’m right where I should be, I feel empowered and freed to love in ways that I never knew I could.

    My life is truly incredible – I’ve come through an obstacle course of challenges, but as the warrior that I am – it’s all good.

    You James, and your staff, have been a huge part of me moving in and throughout my life and relationships. Thanks for everything.

    • James Bauer said:

      You’re welcome, Jen. It’s a privilege to play a small part in your success. You are clearly an insightful woman and someone capable of putting these ideas to work. I wish you all the best.


    • NE said:

      Thanks for the “Love them like you’ll never see them again.” comment. I don’t recall seeing that before and it is a wonderful idea.

  6. trish said:

    I have recently started an exclusive intimate relationship with a man that said that he had not dated for 2 years after a heart break. He is ready for closeness and intimacy but is trying to stop his pattern of rushing into a relationship and is in the process of taking a different approach going forward. This was fine for me at the place I am in my life at this time. He is an amazing man, knows who he is and I like what I am seeing from him in a short time. It feels like more to me. My question is, am I just being a girl? He has not communicate anything has changed from what we agreed to have but his actions make me feel like there could be more. How do I know what his intentions are? What is my best approach to have more with him? I am pleasantly surprised going into what I thought was a casual relationship to think there could be more but don’t want to get hurt by reading between the lines.
    thank you for your help, Trish

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Trish. Your question is very interesting to me because it reflects something we all feel when getting into a relationship. I’m talking about the desire to be special to someone. It’s like an exclusivity that we highly value because it ends up making us feel like we belong. It gives so much meaning in life when someone else considers us the one most important and special person in their life.

      The reason I point this out is because I want to show you something. You are enjoying the relationship right now. Things are going great and it is a positive experience. Yet your mind has become attached to something in the future. In fact, you are asking this question so that you can decide whether or not to let yourself believe you are his one special person whether he admits it or not.

      Consider two possibilities. In one scenario I tell you that he almost certainly thinks of you as someone he truly and deeply loves in an exclusive sort of way. In this case you feel elated, looking forward to the future when he finally admits this. In the other scenario I tell you his actions seem to suggest he really only sees you as a friend and you are reading into things too much. In this case you would feel deflated on an emotional level.

      Instead of trying to get the answer to this question, let’s focus on something else. Given the unknowns, what are you willing to gamble? That’s where you should focus your decision making power.

      You don’t know what he secretly thinks or feels. You do know what the relationship is like right now. So focus on the decision regarding the risk you are willing to take. What risk am I talking about? I’m talking about the risk of letting yourself become highly invested in the idea of being his special person. The more you give in to that belief the more you will feel hurt if it turns out not to be true. On the flip side of that coin, the more guarded you are, waiting and allowing the future to reveal itself for what it is, the less excitement and happiness you feel now, but the less emotional pain you will experience later if it turns out that he needs a lot more time and is not ready for picking you his one special person.

      Focus on what is emotionally “safe” for you to give right now. Think about ways you can fully embrace and enjoy the relationship as it is right now to minimize the risk and maximize the pleasure of living life.

      I know that’s a rather deep and philosophical response to your question, and perhaps not exactly the kind of answer you were looking for. But I hope you will find it useful nonetheless.


      • NE said:

        The problem with keeping a lid on emotions is that although you “protect” yourself to some extent, you also give up the wonderful highs (and lows) that you could enjoy. It’s not possible to block just one emotion – the damper gets applied to all of them. It is most definitely a balancing act. I am currently trying to opt in the “it’s better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all” version by unblocking all the repressed emotions I have.

  7. claudine osborne said:

    My boyfriend is in jail for something he did not do parole violation its actually because my other half put him in trouble but i am divorcing my other half so to make short i been dating my boyfriend for 2 months and i been waiting 5 months for him to get out he said he loves me and l love him but suddenly my boyfriend said to me i am not the prettiest and the youngest he ever date how should i taje that statement from my boyfriend it really bother me he said that so how do i approach him about that statement he said to me and be a win win situation please help me in advance thank u

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Claudine. It sounds like he lacks sensitivity. Is that normal for him to be so insensitive? What was his point? Was there something motivating this? I don’t think you will find the best approach to addressing this until he first identify what was motivating him to say it. For example, was it said over the phone from prison? If so, might it be his own fear of losing you that prompted him to feel the need to tout his own “options” so you would see him as worth waiting for? Or does he disrespect all his friends like this? There are so many possibilities. Start with figuring out what the driving force was behind his insensitive comment.

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