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Just another question about a possibly-doomed relationship.
January 27, 2014 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm feeling very taken for granted by my boyfriend and I don't know what to do about it. Is this relationship doomed.

Yes, I know you're all strangers, but it might help getting some perspective from new minds.

We're both in our early 30's and neither of us has a ton of relationship experience. I've been in 2, year/2 year-long relationships previous to this one and he hasn't been in any. So basically, it's the blind leading the blind. We are also both independent people. We both own our own houses and are career-oriented. I'm very extroverted though and he, introverted. He's also a lot more of a workaholic. All in all, I feel like I have my life together and I'm ready to find that partner.

We've been together for about a year now. 4 months into the relationship, he broke up with me suddenly. I was really shocked because he had pursued me and we clicked very well. I went No Contact immediately and 2 months later, he reached out and begged for me back. We've now been back together for about 6 months.

He really has been a lot better these past 6 months- more attentive and affectionate. I've met his family and friends; go to home dinners and birthday parties at his family's house. We spent some of the holidays together. He includes me more..., but I feel like he's always hitting the brakes when it comes to our relationship. I also feel like it's gotten to the point where he is now completely taking me for granted. It's really really frustrating, because we do get along so well, make each other laugh, are affectionate, love each other's friends.

He lives like 15 minutes away from me and I still rarely see him. He never invites me over- I'm always having to invite myself, in which I usually feel like I'm being a burden. He actually told me last weekend that he didn't want to see anyone- just wanted to play video games, which really hurt. I told him recently that I wanted to see him more during the week. I feel like it's always work getting together with him. We don't share many hobbies and he works until the late evening. All in all, I probably see him one evening during the week (maybe) and 1-2 evenings during the weekend. We never just sit around and watch movies- we only get together if there is an event or function. I'm starting to feel like I'm around just so he can have a date.

I usually crave a lot of closeness and love being around people. It helps that I have a lot of friends and my own life, but there just doesn't seem to be much partnership with him. We DO talk every night on the telephone, but there just isn't much quality time. If he does come over, he falls asleep almost immediately... or he's playing video games. Our sex life goes up and down, and recently, he hasn't been able to orgasm with me, even though I'm completely open to anything. I try to ask him what he would like and he just says "I don't know."

I guess I'm trying to figure out the best way to approach this. I've tried to bring up my issues before and he tells me I'm being dramatic. I do have anxiety issues, which is what confuses me at times. Am I blowing things out of proportion? There have been times in the past where I have just been fed up, but then he acts really sweet and loving that it takes me by surprise. I have a really hard time walking away, especially when I click with someone. I rarely do click with guys. That's why I'm so frustrated. :(

Other issues:
I rarely hear from him during the work day.
He hasn't told me he loves me (A big one) BUT he usually acts like he does.
He's gotten really obsessed with this particular video game and not responding back to me until like hours later- via text.

Maybe it's just a difference in emotional needs? Like I need more... but I really care for him. Someone suggested that I back WAY off and see what he does. Any thoughts on this approach?
posted by Lillypad331 to Human Relations (45 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Lillypad331: I guess I'm trying to figure out the best way to approach this.

I suggest you print this question out and show it to him. His reaction will tell you whether or not this relationship is worth the work to get it where you want it to be. If he is defensive or dismissive of your concerns and needs, DTMFA. If he is ready and eager to work with you to help ensure that both of your needs are being met in the relationship, then it is worth working on.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:31 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Do you want to be married? If so, this man won't marry you.

He probably loves you, in his way, but he only fits you in when it suits him. He not concerned about what you enjoy, or how much together time you want, or even to really listen to you when you talk.

You may get along very well, but mostly because you're not making any demands on him.

As for hearing from people during the day. That doesn't mean anything, we're all busy at work. We're not in high school, so don't put a lot of stock into that.

As for the video game, we all get into games, but we stop for our loved ones, to feed the cats and to take showers.

Just fade away. It may hurt, but I doubt he'd notice.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:32 PM on January 27 [37 favorites]


1) Has he met your family and friends?

2) Could he be using porn?
posted by rhizome at 1:36 PM on January 27


There's probably a reason why he's never had a relationship. Maybe he doesn't want a serious relationship. If I had to guess, I'd say that he wants a girlfriend and you want a life partner.

You want different things, and what each wants conflicts with what the other wants.

It's not going to work out.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:37 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Someone suggested that I back WAY off and see what he does. Any thoughts on this approach?

I think it's a bad approach. My approach would be "Hey Boyfriend, we need to talk about something important." Then set out how your desires for the level of contact etc. are very different from what you currently have in your relationship, and that more contact is important to you. Discuss how you feel like you're a burden when you're inviting yourself over, and how you'd like to see him more often. Be sure to use lots of "I" statements, "I feel like X when Y happens."

How he responds is important. You said I've tried to bring up my issues before and he tells me I'm being dramatic, and you need to decide if that response is acceptable to you or not -- I would not find a response like that to be acceptable from a romantic partner after I've raised something that I believe is an important issue in our relationship. In my view, if a relationship is working well, the acceptable response to one partner raising an important problem or concern is an attempt to address the concern, even if a discussion about the concern reveals there is nothing that can be done at the time. Being entirely dismissive is unacceptable -- a relationship should be based upon mutual care for the other partner, and that includes not wanting the partner to feel bad about something that is going on in the relationship. And right now, it sounds like you feel bad about something that is going on in the relationship.

I don't think you're blowing things out of proportion; you want something specific from the relationship, and you should talk to your partner about it. He may take steps in that direction, or it may be that the things the two of you want from the relationship are incompatible. The best way to find out which is the case is by talking about it.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:37 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


You have basically asked this same question now three times.

Did you follow any of the past advice? How did it go? What are you looking for in this question that's different from past questions?
posted by jaguar at 1:39 PM on January 27 [34 favorites]


It sounds to me like this relationship has been over for a while, and he's going to make you do the breaking up. So do it. Just stop spending so much energy angsting over someone who doesn't seem to put much or any emotional energy towards you or the relationship.
posted by rtha at 1:43 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


Okay, I'll just say it: yes, this relationship is doomed.

He's never going to meet your needs or give you what you want. This coexists with the fact that the two of you enjoy your time together. He likes you, he has fun with you, and he has no interest in marrying you. That's the whole package.

Your basic choices are this: 1) you can either choose to stay with him and hope for something that will never come, or 2) you can break up for good, spend some time being single, and then look for a potential partner who is interested in a more serious long-term relationship. Which sounds more likely to lead to more happiness in the long-run?
posted by scody at 1:44 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


You two don't want the same things right now, and apparently nothing will change that.

Go find someone who wants the same things you do, someone who will ask you to come over to his place now and then, someone who isn't just sitting around playing video games, and someone who enjoys sex with you.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:45 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


You know, there are charitable interpretations of everything your boyfriend does. Introverts DO need lots of time alone to recharge. Saying "I love you" means different things to different people. Maybe he doesn't realize you feel like a burden when you invite yourself over--maybe he's happy you feel comfortable doing that.

But, a good relationship won't require that you constantly scour your mind for "charitable" interpretations for things that otherwise probably mean "Meh, I don't like this girl but I'm too lazy to break up with her. " This guy has done nothing but make you miserable for, like, a year. I don't think you're possibly doomed, I think you're already done and dusted.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:46 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


I had a thought, how about you start to make plans with your friends for your down time. Weekends away with your friends, dinners, brunch, shopping, whatever it is you'd like to be out doing.

I'll bet you'll see how unfulfilling this "relationship" is and breaking up will be a piece of cake for you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:47 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Someone suggested that I back WAY off and see what he does. Any thoughts on this approach?

This might work, but give it a timeline (i.e. 1 month of off-backing and see where that puts you).

I don't think he's using you, but you two do sound mismatched. You sound kinda needy and this may turn him off so that he needs space. But when someone loves you & is a good match for you, your insecurity will be "naturally" less and they will reassure you when it comes up and kindly/firmly put a limit to you when it's too much.

I've tried to bring up my issues before and he tells me I'm being dramatic.

This may be true, but he needs to word it in a nice, relationship-building way. For this reason, you guys are mismatched.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:48 PM on January 27


He sounds like a classic introvert, and you sound like a classic extrovert, and it sounds like however much you care for each other you're not going to meet each others' emotional needs. Because you have different, and conflicting, emotional needs.
posted by ook at 1:58 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Yes, doomed. You guys have different priorities for how to spend your free time. You want it to be spent as a couple, hanging out or going on dates or having intellectual conversations over coffee or WHATEVER. He, on the other hand, wants to spend his free time playing video games. And honestly, there's nothing wrong with that in itself (my husband is the same way!) but it is a problem if it's not at all what you want and if it leaves you feeling ignored.

If you want to see this relationship progress you need to sit him down and tell him that you guys, as a couple, need to be a bigger priority in his life and that video games have to be a thing he does less often. If he's not able to give you that, then you need to break up. If you're not able to have this conversation, then you still need to break up.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:58 PM on January 27


This was you, answering another question, two months ago. Take your own advice. There's better out there.
posted by rutabega at 1:59 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


I think you should step back and ask yourself why you don't think what you've written here and previously is enough reasons to dump someone.
posted by bleep at 2:00 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


He really has been a lot better these past 6 months- more attentive and affectionate. I've met his family and friends; go to home dinners and birthday parties at his family's house. We spent some of the holidays together. He includes me more...

well, honestly, this is a change that has actually only happened in the last 2-3 months, right? since in your last question in october one of the issues was that he wouldn't include you with his family and you felt he was pulling away from you. also, with all the introvert talk it seems important to reiterate in this thread that he has three roommates, so he's not opposed to being around people. it seems like you aren't being entirely honest with yourself about what changes have been made and when those happened. it might be helpful for you to keep a daily journal so you can look back and see how you were feeling in the moment instead of how you remember feeling...

i'll repeat what i said last time - all the things going one with your boyfriend can be ok and aren't immediate deal breakers - but all of them combined which his seeming lack of care means that this relationship won't be what you want it to be. leave now and find what you want in a relationship - he's unable or unwilling to give it to you.
posted by nadawi at 2:09 PM on January 27


I'm in my early 30's and in a long term relationship and sometimes I also feel as if my fiance is taking me for granted.

For example, yesterday, I did lots of cooking, prepped work lunches for the week, did some cleaning and grocery shopping etc. My fiance didn't do much because he was feeling hungover and I had to ask him to do the washing up after dinner, at which moment he grumbled and I had to remind him that I had done a LOT all day, and he had done very little. he apologised and kissed me and proceeded to do the washing up.

IF my fiance told me to leave him alone because he wanted to play video games all day and never told me he loved me and never spent any quality time with me, I wouldn't moan about being "taken for granted"and see what I could do to make him realise it, I would find myself another relationship.

He doesn't love you, you're getting nothing out of this relationship.... I would advise that you move on and stop trying to change someone who doesn't want to change.
posted by JenThePro at 2:10 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you've brought this up with this guy a few times, and every time he's either dismissed you or made temporary half-assed efforts to meet your needs. It's probably not going to get better. He's unwilling to invest in the relationship.

Additionally, I get the sense you have some insecurity about relationships in general. (That can be improved, of course.) Just remember that it's okay and normal to have needs, and to ask for your partner's help in meeting them. If you're concerned about being overly needy, it can be easy to assume that the ideal is to have zero needs. It can be hard to sort out what you need from what your anxiety thinks you need. Regardless of how "needy" your needs are, if you approach a partner with them, he should be willing to listen to them and help figure out a solution that seems sensible to both of you. A good partner doesn't immediately dismiss your concerns or label them as "being dramatic."
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:13 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's just a difference in emotional needs?

Yes. He's an introvert and needs alone time. You're an extrovert and need time with people. This isn't a black and white difference, but it's far enough along on the various scales that you're not happy.

Combine that with this being another variation on a question you've asked before and well, yeah, this relationship isn't one that will make you happy. Every day you're settling for this is another day you won't get o spend with someone you're more compatible with.

Do what you gotta do and get to where you want and need to be.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:16 PM on January 27


I've tried to bring up my issues before and he tells me I'm being dramatic.

That's actually the worst part. If he were really interested in investing himself in this relationship beyond what he's already doing, he would be more concerned about trying to fix this and not just blowing you off when you complain about it. You want more than he does, for whatever reason.

It's really not worth staying in a relationship like this or trying to make it into something it isn't turning into naturally. There are a lot of people out there who are good at attracting others while also being bad relationship partners (even if not outright abusive). It sounds like you've found one of them.
posted by wondermouse at 2:17 PM on January 27 [9 favorites]


My gut reaction is that he left because he thought he had a shot at something better. When it didn't work, he came back to you, but he's not really invested in your relationship- he probably will bail the minute he thinks he can get something "better". You're not blowing this out of proportion. Dump him.
posted by windykites at 2:18 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


The introvert thing is a red herring. I'm an introvert, too, and I'd be Very Sad if I only got to see my boyfriend 3 evenings a week, and then never to hang out quietly.

Your needs do not sound in the least bit needy. A different relationship, one with someone who actually wants to spend time with you, will meet your needs. You deserve that, you really do.
posted by ldthomps at 2:22 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


You are clearly unhappy. So why are you so obsessed with him bring your boyfriend?

Go date around. Dump his ass. He seems like a pretty lousy boyfriend and bad for your self-esteem.
posted by discopolo at 2:27 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I don't think you guys are well-matched. I don't think he's the right partner for you. I don't have a ton of relationship experience either, but you just don't sound happy, and it doesn't seem like this is going to go where you want it to.
posted by mskyle at 2:29 PM on January 27


it's interesting to me that in your first question about him you described him as outgoing and very involved. i think too much focus on him being an introvert is obscuring the issue.
posted by nadawi at 2:35 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


It really sounds like this relationship is stalled. It's not anyone's fault; sometimes people are not meant to be life partners. I'd end it and move on.
posted by snickerdoodle at 2:42 PM on January 27


I think it is just different emotional needs.

You complain when that if he's playing a video game, you're not actually spending quality time together. So when he wants to play a video game, he doesn't invite you over. This seems logical to me, but you feel hurt about this. It's unlikely that he's going to stop wanting to play video games.

I personally do not consider watching a movie with someone a proper date, or spending quality time with that person, but you do. Have you communicated this to him? That you prefer to watch movies with him?

You say: "I've tried to bring up my issues before and he tells me I'm being dramatic."

This is a huge red flag to me. No matter whether it's okay for other people, these issues clearly bother *you*. And *you* are the one he's dating. It's not fair or okay for him to just brush them off, and he should be trying harder to meet your emotional needs.

But he may not be able to, for whatever reason. Your post suggests that. If he's not able to change, what would you do? Do that.
posted by ethidda at 2:44 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


You two sound like you're just in different places. You've described my relationship with my boyfriend in many respects, but to us, it's perfect. Why don't you friendzone him and find someone with whom you share laughter, friends, AND interests and hobbies AND the same desires around time spent together?

Whenever I ended a relationship thinking, "Well, that's too bad, because I'll never find X in a relationship again" I was always wrong. So if you're holding back because of one or two attributes that you think salvage him, ask yourself how much nicer it would be if you could have those attributes AND the other ones you want but are lacking. Don't stop looking until you find what you want.

Normally I say work on your relationship, don't just toss it if something doesn't add up, but it really does sound like the two of you, while friendly, don't have the same goals in mind or the same current needs.
posted by janey47 at 2:50 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


I was you a long time ago except I spent 8 years with the guy in question. He wasn't an introvert, he just didn't want to spend time with me, I was just there as a fill in between computer time and doing the things he really wanted to do, like work nonstop. He used to trot out the "You're so needy" line to me constantly, to make it my issue, not his and for a while I believed it.

Eventually I woke up to the fact that I'd never get the relationship I wanted from him and when we broke up, I told him that he'd taken my love for him, wanting to be with him and turned it into something bad by calling me needy and now he was free to to have as much time to himself as he wanted. A few years later I met my husband and now we have two kids. He actually wants to spend time with me. Twelve years later, my ex is still single. And apparently still unhappy and hasn't gotten over me, which considering he never wanted anything to do with me, I find hysterical.

The thing is, if you want a family, (not sure if you do) you don't have 8 years to work on this guy and frankly, why would you? He is showing you who he is. I know you don't want to believe it because being the thought of single can be scary but trust me, eventually you two will break up. You might as well make it early enough so that you can still get what you want with another man.

It sounds like this guy is all about the thrill of the chase, he wants what he hasn't got and once he gets it, he gets bored. You deserve better and the longer you spend with this man, the more you'll kick yourself afterwards. Ask me how I know... the right guy for you is waiting but if you stay with this one you will never find him.
posted by Jubey at 2:58 PM on January 27 [16 favorites]


He's had six months to make you happy and hasn't done so. Relationships are work, but not this much work, and when they're right, they're comparatively easy and satisfying.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:03 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Like I need more... but I really care for him.

He is telling you, in words and action, where you fit into his life. Its not enough for you. Why are you still with him?
posted by sm1tten at 3:03 PM on January 27


I'm really sorry. I'm just really sorry for you. You're clearly trying so hard not to judge him in this situation, and give him the benefit of the doubt. The thing is, he's just starting. You're finishing.

Men have this option. It seems really unfair, but they do. They can basically delay indefinitely starting life, relationships, marriage. You are his first. Probably when he was a younger man, it was harder for him to get dates, and he might not even be trying any harder now. It's just the timing is on his side here and not yours.

Well, you have three relationships under your belt now, and you're 30 and otherwise in a good place. I really hope for you the next one is a keeper. At 30 it should still be pretty easy to find marriage-minded men your age or a bit older, but if it feels difficult I would scale up in age a little more.

I feel like this is just a question of bad timing and the unfortunate nature of men and women's relative rates of maturity, mostly. Also it's probably partly him in particular- maybe he's just been alone too long at this stage. Maybe he's just not even one for relationships. Who knows.

Get out and don't blame yourself. You tried.
posted by quincunx at 3:10 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


A lot of people mentioned that he is not going to marry you. I agree, but did not see if marriage is a factor for you. Even if not though, you are do not seem happy in the relationship. I agree that it is likely time to move on.

One more thing - I did not see if you had been direct with him about your needs to more time together etc. I would try being direct and telling him if you have not already.
posted by seesom at 3:26 PM on January 27


Waaaaaaay too much drama and not nearly enough love for one year in. Nothing to do with intro/extraversion. Not worth the pain. You can do better.

You're locked into this so you don't see it, but you really can. You're in a trap right now, where you're hypnotized by his disinterest, captivated by the chance of him showing a glimmer of affection. Obsessed, I bet. How's the rest of your life going?

You can do better, you can be loved, life can be fun. Not with him.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:31 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Being an introvert doesn't mean that you're a poor communicator, that you don't consider the needs of your partner, or that you're emotionally closed in a relationship. I think his introvertedness is a red herring here.

If you've followed the advice that you've received from your previous questions on the same subject and he's still acting this way, I think you have your answer. It sounds to me like he wants a date who he likes, has a good time with, and is on-call when he needs and that he's not invested much further than that.
posted by quince at 4:49 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I don't know you, but I feel confident in saying YOU CAN DO BETTER! DTMFA, and go forth and find somebody who wants the same kind of relationship that you do.
posted by yarly at 5:25 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


This question is like a joke! I can hardly believe you are writing this.

Let's summarize: "When we first dated, i didn't get any of the things I wanted, then I was broken up with brutally, but the second time around he's not interested in giving me any of the things I want."

Guess what! Some people shouldn't be together! No big deal. He's probably great. So what? Why are you barking up this bizarre tree? This is like a cat trying to date a dog! This is like snow trying to date rain! This is like Tweety trying to date Sylvester!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:45 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


You are in your early 30s? Because this sounds like the sort of lame relationship bullshit your 20s are for. You do not have time to waste so stop hoping this dude will grow up in this relationship. He will not. Go date an adult.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:44 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


I think it's just a personality mismatch. You said he is an introvert and you are an extrovert. You are already seeing him one evening a week and 1-2 evenings on the weekend. For some, that's enough. When he said he wanted to not see anyone, it's not something to take personally, some people have a lower threshold for people (I am one of them).
posted by eq21 at 8:59 PM on January 27


This guy is annoying me just reading about him second-hand.

Make like a frog and jump off that lily pad.

Something ain't right here.
Something ain't right with this one.
posted by simulacra at 10:21 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


This is tough and it's okay to take as long as you need to gather your courage and ask for what you need. It's easy to ask us-we are not holding your heart. Keep practicing talking about what you need and what doesn't work for you.

Is this relationship doomed? It depends. It seems like you're really committed to understanding it and making it work...and that's a heck of a lot more than others have going for them...but it does of course take two.

I am inclined to cut him some slack since this is his first relationship...but you should always feel valued. From a personal experience, when, ten years ago, I broke up with a boyfriend because he didn't make me feel special and valued, it ended up being the catalyst for big conversations and the development of real appreciation for each other... which is now the framework of our wonderful marriage. Part of me knows it was that one courageous 'all or nothing' that set the stage for the greatness we now have. Of course, both people need to be courageous...and someone has to go first.
posted by W.S (disambiguation) at 11:10 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I am sorry you are going through this. It sounds like you have been suffering for a long time.

I agree with the people upthread who are asking you to look at your reasons for staying in this relationship. I sense a dynamic between the two of you referred to in the co-dependency literature as "love addict/love avoidant."

Powered by mutually reinforcing fears of intimacy and abandonment, this pattern can persist indefinitely.

It takes an act of faith to even attempt to be close to another human being. I applaud your courage and wish you the best no matter where your path leads.
posted by macinchik at 11:42 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


If he does come over, he falls asleep almost immediately... or he's playing video games.

I really feel like the folks saying "it's just a personality mismatch" may have missed this part…. doesn't seem normal to me to have nearly zero good times together, even if you're "seeing each other" (while in bed, asleep, or while one person plays video games and does not engage with the other) several nights per week. What difference does it make how lovely he is on the rare occasions that he chooses to interact with you? A lot of people could be nice boyfriends for one night every month or two. You really need to find someone who's nice every day.

Reconsider whether this sounds like someone who "is affectionate" or "gets along with you well" or "really clicks with you" - to me it sounds like those are things that you are telling yourself that don't seem to have much objective basis in reality. Like some low-self-esteem part of you is saying that a boyfriend who very infrequently is kind and friendly with you is the best you can expect from life.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:59 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


This may sound nuts, but do you think there's any possibility that he might be gay? The lack of sexual interest and climax.. the fact that you only seem to be there for 'show,' i.e. he brings you to family events and to hangout with his friends but never just wants to hangout with you alone.. something is off. Perhaps he's extremely introverted and independent and a bit asexual, but I feel like there's way more going on here.

Honestly I wouldn't waste another second of my time with a guy like this. This is not a relationship. This is you chasing after everything he's supposed to happily and readily offer up to you in a committed union.
posted by OneHermit at 1:27 AM on February 1


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