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Should I expect to be a priority after this long?
August 1, 2010 8:26 PM   Subscribe

What to do when you're more commited than you're partner?

So about five months ago I asked a question about my current girlfriend. In short it was basically about me telling her I loved her and her not being at the same point.

Fast forward to now. She has still yet to drop the "L bomb" but I feel as though we have definitely progressed as a couple. We have just recently gone on a trip to New York together. Also my family invited me to go with them to Florida for the holidays. They also asked me to ask her. I did with hesitation because we have only dated a year and I was not sure where her head was at in terms of "longer term" dating.

All in all she brought it up a couple days after and said she would love to go was genuinely excited. (She could have just as easily said it was too expensive being that we are both students). So I know she isn't coming out of obligation.

This is where I become majorly conflicted...

I still feel like we are nowhere near the same point in terms of commitment. We see each other enough, but I don't always feel like a priority.

For example, I just went away for the weekend for work, and got back tonight (Sunday). I was really hoping she would like to see me. However, she’s out with her friends. I have nothing against this, as I have my own friends too, but I feel like sometimes she puts more effort into making solid plans with them. She works 12 hour shifts at a hospital and normally she’s exhausted when comes home, which is understandable. And when she comes over after work, she'll usually just end up falling asleep after a few hours and saying how tired she is. However, she worked a 12 today and two others this weekend and apparently has enough energy to go out on the town with her friends.

I could not imagine this happening with me. Sometimes I feel just like a home comfort to her. Like somewhere were she can just come to crash and cuddle. I like that but I want to do more things together and maybe have her want to see me right away when I get home from a trip. Am I being unreasonable for being upset? I'm making her a large part of my life. I just want to know at what point I'm giving maybe two much and not getting enough in return or how long one should wait for another to get to the same level of commitment.

Should I expect to be a proirity after a year of dating, with a confirmed 5 months ahead?
posted by Atlantic to Human Relations (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you discussed this with her? She won't know how you feel if you never bring it up.
posted by Lobster Garden at 8:28 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, please talk to her. I might be wrong about this, but I get the sense you are afraid to "rock the boat" by telling her how you feel, but your concerns sound valid. Don't be accusatory, but do let her know how you feel. It might be that she simply has different emotional needs in a relationship.
posted by lunasol at 8:32 PM on August 1, 2010


Have you discussed this with her? She won't know how you feel if you never bring it up.

I would love to discuss it with her. But seeing as how she is not even at a place where she can say she loves me yet, I know she would not understand. She's obviosly fine. So anything I bring up would come across as needy. Thats where I'm conflicted, because maybe I shouldn't expect much from someone whos not in love with me?
posted by Atlantic at 8:32 PM on August 1, 2010


"rock the boat"

Thats exaclty how I feel.
posted by Atlantic at 8:33 PM on August 1, 2010


You might be interested in this question: Why is she always too tired to hang out with me, but always has energy for her friends?
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:41 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Atlantic, I understand. I've been in your situation. I know this is easier said that done, but look at it this way: you've been together for a year and love her. Don't you want a relationship where you can be honest about your feelings? If you are honest, you run the risk of the relationship ending, but you also gain the possibility of being able to get emotional support from her. And if you do lose her, well, yeah, that will suck for a while, but you will also then be free to find someone who is more emotionally compatible with you.

The thing is, neither of you are "wrong" here. You're just different. Different can work, but only if both partners are honest about their needs.
posted by lunasol at 8:42 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have really conflicted feelings about what sort of advice to give you.

One the one hand, I recently got out of an almost identical relationship, where I was the more and my boyfriend was the less. One lesson I think I've learned from this is that love isn't something I can earn. I stuck around thinking that if I put in enough time and hard work he would love me. The person either loves you or they don't, and you have no control over it. In that sense, it might be best to start breaking it to yourself gently, so that when this inevitably comes to an end you will be prepared.

On the other hand, I think "love" can mean very different things, and just because someone doesn't approach the relationship in exactly the same way doesn't mean they don't care deeply for you. Is this something the two of you can talk about together? Is it a matter of her not knowing how important this is to you? To me it bodes well that she wants to travel with you and wants to be around your family.

But seeing as how she is not even at a place where she can say she loves me yet, I know she would not understand.

I really wouldn't assume this, if I were you.

Also, if you genuinely know that she doesn't understand how you feel about it and isn't willing to see your side, and really considers this sort of thing "needy", the relationship might not be working out, period.
posted by Sara C. at 9:14 PM on August 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think you two are actually at similar levels of commitment if she was excited at the prospect of going away with you and your family. Heck, she may be even more committed, since you're the one who hesitated. Take a step back here and consider whether you're putting too much weight on the outward signals of love, forest for the trees style.

Put another way, if she was just half-stepping and leading you on while she carouses with her ladyfriends, that would make her kind of a bitch. Bitches like that aren't excited to spend time with your family because that takes away from valuable lying time.

In the other thread posted above I said that it could be that the girlfriend might be wanting to appear single to the outside world, but I'm not getting that feeling here. She knows how you feel and she still wants to hang out with you. You're young and you sound analytical, so be sure to let the relationship breathe. You might scare her away if you keep trying to set benchmarks, because even if they're only in your head they're going to change the way you act toward her and that, my friend, is changing the rules without telling the other person.

Start being a "going out" guy, you also sound like you're stewing.
posted by rhizome at 9:39 PM on August 1, 2010


It sounds like she's committed to you but she shows and expresses her commitment differently than you do. There's a couple that I'm friends with who bought a house together. They have been together for several years but they have, as far as I know, never dropped the L bomb. They've both seen their families deal with issues and they feel that at this point, it would almost be redundant. Like, of course they love each other, saying it isn't the important part but feeling it is. Maybe this is her first serious relationship. Maybe she's been in a serious relationship before and gotten burned.

That said, what are you comfortable with? It doesn't sound like you're comfortable planning something five months away with someone who hasn't dropped the L bomb yet.
posted by kat518 at 9:43 PM on August 1, 2010


Some people take longer to realize things than others, to figure things out, to come to the same conclusion as you.

My ex and I were in a similar position - I felt like I loved him more, and that I was more committed than him. Yet, the couple times during our relationship when we agreed to see other people... I was the one that dated, not him.

The only way I dealt with this was to make sure I felt like I wasn't being taken for granted. If you resent her for her seeming lack of commitment, then perhaps this relationship isn't right for you. Also, if you feel like talking to her is going to make you look needy, that's not a good sign.

I've also dated someone who paid so much attention to me, it drove me nuts. He constantly expected me to say the L-word, to ask him how his day was, to talk to him, etc. I know you aren't asking her to do this, but perhaps check yourself on what it is you may do/ say that makes you think she'd think you're needy if you brought this up.

Perhaps the best way to find out how she feels is to dial back your attention to her a little, and see how she responds. Some people might feel all this is playing games, etc., but your necessity to not 'rock the boat' perhaps warrants a little subtlety in assessing your girlfriend's commitment to you.

That being said, it doesn't like her commitment's an issue here, but if you are not comfortable with the way things are, you ought to try to make them better for both your sakes.
posted by Everydayville at 10:42 PM on August 1, 2010


Am I being unreasonable for being upset?

It is reasonable for you to want anything at all in a relationship. That doesn't mean any given person owes it to you, or it's okay to treat someone badly or try to force it on them (not that you do this) but it is definitely reasonable to want it and be upset if you don't have it. I think the most reasonable thing of all is to end a relationship if someone can't or won't give you what you need, and go looking for someone who might.

I just want to know at what point I'm giving maybe two much and not getting enough in return or how long one should wait for another to get to the same level of commitment.

I'm not saying it *never* happens because I'm sure it does sometimes. But I've never seen relationships that are significantly unbalanced in interest/attraction/attention/desire to spend time together even out with time.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:09 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds like either a) your girlfriend had different way of communicating that she loves you than you do (i.e. less words, more small actions*) or b) you really do care more. Either way you need to talk to her and find out. If it's communication thing, she should be able to tell you that, and if not, you probably should break up. If it's been a year your relationship should be able to handle a serious talk, if not, chances are it wouldn't last anyway.

*I do this. Its a thing.
posted by grapesaresour at 12:17 AM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


your girlfriend had different way of communicating that she loves you than you do (i.e. less words, more small actions

I would think critically, if I were the OP, about whether this is true or not. I can't speak for him, obviously, but one way that I deluded myself into thinking that it was all going to be OK, we just had different ways of expressing ourselves, blah blah blah, was thinking "Oh, he just communicates his love differently, through actions and small things." Then I started thinking critically about whether that was true, and I realized that I was doing a hell of a lot more for him than he was doing for me, and those small actions were actually pretty few and far between and didn't compare in any way with the degree to which I was showing my love for him.
posted by Sara C. at 5:35 AM on August 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


You have to talk to her.

I hate to say that we can't give you advice until you do, but...we're reading her mind based on really sketchy details, here.

I will say that being someone's home is a hell of a special thing. If you want more of a relationship where you go out together, that's fine, but don't discount the affection and care that is demonstrated when someone comes home to you.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:02 AM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having needs is not the same as being needy.
posted by hermitosis at 7:12 AM on August 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, you gotta talk to her. You said you're afraid to 'rock the boat', but, come on take a look at that. Your relationship can make it through one conversation about your feelings. If it can't, well then that's all you need to know. Your needs are legitimate and I suspect your girlfriend will respect you more for talking to her about them now rather than letting them stew and resenting her later.

I also caution against the "we express ourselves differently" argument. That's all well and good if you can truly accept that, but if you're not happy and secure with how she expresses love and commitment, then you're not happy. It doesn't make you needy or pathetic to realize that, it just means you want someone who expresses love more openly (or whatever the case may be).
posted by Katine at 7:22 AM on August 2, 2010


"Rocking the boat" = "I am afraid that if I ask her to declare her feelings, she will declare she is not as into me as I am into her, and the relationship will be over"

It's better to know and know soon than to drag things out.

I was once involved with someone who would tell me how they were going to work all weekend, and that they didn't have time to see me - and then on Monday would tell me that they went to bar X with friend Y on Saturday night. I know, things change, and I didn't care that they went out with their friends, but don't tell me "i'm going to work all weekend!" and then go boozing with the dudes.

also, don't interpret things like her willingness to take a trip with your family as any sign of commitment. this is a dangerous game to play in this situation. with the fellow above, even though it was early in the relationship i would overhear him talking to his parents about me and interpreted this as meaning he was more committed than he was. later i would learn that he told his parents absolutely everything & discussed his relationships with them almost like he would his friends. so be careful.

I know it might hurt but you need to ask her.
posted by micawber at 7:58 AM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you should rock the boat. Talk to her and figure out where you stand, what she thinks about your relationships and where it's headed. I suspect from your question that she's just not that into it and so getting her to spell that out to you is going to hurt, but at least you can move on and find another relationship that can give you what you want. Life's too short to be in a lopsided relationship if that's not what you want.
posted by callmejay at 8:12 AM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Should I expect to be a proirity after a year of dating, with a confirmed 5 months ahead?

In the absence of a conversation in which you both agree to limited expectations, yes.

As someone who's been here, on your side of the equation, this isn't really about the L word, which she could say even if she didn't mean it. This is about whether you can meet each other's emotional needs, which is a fundamental dimension of compatibility.

Sometimes I feel just like a home comfort to her. Like somewhere were she can just come to crash and cuddle. I like that but I want to do more things together and maybe have her want to see me right away when I get home from a trip.

This is what it's about. You've got to talk to her about your expectations, certainly. Additionally, you've got to make it easy: pick her up from the airport, make sure where ever you hang out is comfortable, suggest things to do, etc. If she still doesn't want to do anything with you, or still doesn't want to see you when she gets home from a trip, time to find someone who does.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:32 AM on August 2, 2010


Maybe she's more extroverted than you. And maybe your willingness to commit is slightly scary for her because she's not at that point in her life.
posted by Candide at 3:37 PM on August 2, 2010


This might be out of left field, but for some people the world "love" is scary. Its the opposite of what it should be. What if you made up your own word for love? Or used a word from another language? "Te amo" or "Je t'aime" or something else?

You can have it mean all the good things, but without some of the weight and scariness some people hang on the word.
posted by Admira at 11:59 PM on August 2, 2010


This might be out of left field, but for some people the world "love" is scary. Its the opposite of what it should be. What if you made up your own word for love? Or used a word from another language?

The moment you feel pressured to be less than fully honest about how you feel is the moment you need to leave.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:19 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


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