I do not feel loved or important

-- Question for John --

I don’t feel loved or important to my boyfriend. I feel more like I am an annoying burden that he has to put up with. Friends have told me that he isn’t treating me right. I know I still love him, and although that isn’t going to change, I don’t know if it is enough to stay with him or whether that is even a good idea.

When I was at school, the only times we got to see each other was on weekends, as he had finished last year. Now that I have graduated, there is more time for us to spend together. When he’s away from me, I never get calls to see how I am, or what he’s been up to, and the only contact between us is initiated by me. I’ve told him that this upsets me, but he doesn’t do it anyway.

I have read your advice on giving him more space as it appears that that is what he wants, but I believe that he may be tired with the relationship. I questioned him about this and he insisted that he still loves me, and that I was worried about nothing.

-- Answer from John --

Ultimately, you are responsible to yourself for having the kind of relationship you truly want. If something is really not working for you in a relationship, it is your responsibility to make that ultra clear to the other person. This gives them the clearest option to know what is going on for you, and how your feelings for them are being affected by their behavior.

I would say something like:

“What you are doing right now _____________ (be specific) is not working for me. I love you very much. But in a relationship what I want is ____________ (fill that in with the specifics you want). Right now my love for you is beginning to be affected by this. I am starting to wonder if there is enough in this relationship to keep me involved with you. I am certain that you do not want to have this relationship simply drift into a very negative kind of thing. So I am bringing this up now so that we can deal with it now, like the mature people we would like to be. I would like you to look at this seriously for awhile. And I’d like to talk again about it within a week. I’d like to know hear you would propose to do about it. ”

Then you gotta be willing to accept that maybe he doesn’t want to do anything about it. Or maybe he will look at the situation and see that he does want to do something about it. At least you are giving it your best shot right now to work out for the best. And if he comes back being defensive or evasive or “not understanding” you or in any other way basically saying it is your problem, then you gotta be prepared to take your own action and stand up for yourself and what you want in relationship, whether it is with this guy or the next guy.

You are at an age where learning to show up in relationship is the most important thing for you to do right now — FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHETHER THIS PARTICULAR RELATIONSHIP SURVIVES. Statistically, very few first relationships work out longterm. However, you can count on this to be true: if you do not learn right now to stand up for what you want (in a healthy, non-needy, non-judgmental, non-blaming, but very effective way) then (1) you will not get what you want, and (2) you will only have to learn it later, in the next relationship where you are suffering.