Am I Wasting My Life With Him?

Am I Wasting My Life With Him?Hi Evan, My boyfriend of 2 1/2 years (off and on) says he loves me everyday, but his actions don’t follow his words. He doesn’t show me affection or attention, either physically or verbally. By this I mean he does not send text messages to say good morning anymore, he calls sometimes, but never to just say “Hi, I am thinking of you”; it’s always just to ask a financial question or work-related question. Sometimes he calls to tell me he needs something or to tell me something that happened to him. He never builds me up with kind or sweet words like he did in the beginning. He very rarely touches me, and sex has diminished ALOT over the last 10 months. It’s as though he lives in his world by himself, and so I am supposed to live by myself in mine, yet we live together…. I’m not saying that I require these things everyday, but every once in a while it would be nice to know that he thinks I am pretty or sweet or SOMETHING. I don’t think I am being too high maintenance by wanting his attention, but then again, I am not a guy and don’t know what they think or why they think it. He has asked me about marrying him a few times; I say “about” because he later told me that he was just asking to see where I was on the subject, not REALLY asking. Yet if he says something to me involving marrying him, I playfully reply with “I haven’t been asked”, to which he replies, “I have asked you”. So now not only does his behavior confuse me, but I cant help but wonder is he just not that into me, but afraid to break up? What do I do? I feel like I am in a sea of uncertainty and wasting my life away waiting on him. Your thoughts? –Michelle

Michelle,

My thoughts?

You don’t really want my thoughts, do you?

My thoughts are merely going to challenge your worldview, rock the axis of your earth, and change the course of your entire life.

That’s a lot of impact you’re willing to give some stranger who gives dating advice.

I don’t understand this phenomenon of “My boyfriend is totally indifferent towards me; how can I lock him in for the rest of my life?”

But since you asked, I only have one real question for you:

“Why?”

Why would you spend 2 ½ years with a man who doesn’t show you affection or attention?

Why would you spend 2 ½ years with a man who never does the “little things”?

Why would you spend 2 ½ years with a man who doesn’t ask how YOU’RE doing?

Why would you spend 2 ½ years with a man who never compliments you?

Why would you spend 2 ½ years with a man who rarely touches you or makes you feel hot?

Why would you spend 2 ½ years with a man who lives in his own adjacent world?

And, most importantly, given that he doesn’t do any of the things that you want from a long-term partner, that you DESERVE from a long-term partner…

WHY THE HELL DO YOU WANT TO MARRY HIM?

You’re not alone, Michelle, but, for the life of me, I don’t understand this phenomenon of “My boyfriend is totally indifferent towards me; how can I lock him in for the rest of my life?”

Just yesterday, I talked to a member of my Inner Circle who says that she’s been with her live-in boyfriend for 3 ½ years, and that he proposed and “unproposed” to her because she was too bossy. So now she’s on probation to try to win back the ring that she lost. If that’s not enough, I asked her what percentage of her relationship was good. She said about 50%.

Can you see the willful blindness of this situation?

She’s fighting hard to preserve an unhappy union with a man who really doesn’t want to get married, who doesn’t think she’s a good partner, who has all the power in the relationship.

Why?

Low self-esteem? Loneliness? Fear? Sunk costs?

But to me, it’s like you were test driving a car for three years that stalled 50% of the time …and trying to negotiate a deal to own that car for life.

Why?

You might understand the concept of “actions speak louder than words”, Michelle, but until you start living your life by that rule and making sure there are consequences towards his coldness towards you, you’re hurtling towards a lifetime of unhappiness.

To answer your original question, in a line: yes, you’re wasting your life with him, and honestly, you wouldn’t be asking me that question if you didn’t know it was true.

Get out now.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Helen

    Whew, Evan. Thank you. If I may add one more point: one of the reasons Michelle may be staying is that she’s so eager to be married to someone – anyone – that she doesn’t care if the red flags are smacking her right in her face.
     
    It’s far better to be single than to be married to someone who doesn’t value you and makes you feel bad about yourself. The way Michelle describes her boyfriend, he sounds like a complete moron – comically so.  The type for whom you’d literally raise your fingers in an L shape on your forehead. Sweetie, I echo Evan’s last sentence: Get out now!

  2. 2
    my honest answer

    I totally agree with Evan! Talk is cheap, it doesn’t matter if he says he loves you, if he doesn’t follow it through with actions it’s totally meaningless.

  3. 3
    Jennifer

    To be fair to the OP, her relationship hasn’t been awful for 2 1/2 years- things have been diminishing over time (like the sex and text messages). Evan’s advice to get out still stands, but clearly very few people would be confused about whether or not to leave a not so hot relationship if it were bad from the very beginning. People get caught up because, more than likely, it used to be good, possibly really good, and they wonder if they can get back to that state. They think *they* have done something to make the guy not treat them well anymore (whether it’s true or not), and so they want to know what to do to fix it or if it can be fixed. 

    So yeah, if she’s not getting what she needs now leaving is a good plan, I wholeheartedly agree, but let’s not assume things have sucked from the very beginning and she was just too stupid to know to come in out of the rain.
     

  4. 4
    Ruby

    The interesting thing about Michelle’s letter is that she is able to articulate her issues and fears very well in her letter, but it doesn’t sound like she’s talked directly to her boyfriend about them. I find it odd that she wants to marry someone when she has so many unaddressed problems. She doesn’t say he has never been sweet or sexual, but that these things have diminished a lot over the last 10 months. What has changed? I wouldn’t tell her to automatically dump him, but to talk to him first. You cannot hope to have a successful marriage if you can’t talk to each other about your concerns and fears.

  5. 5
    Dan

    That is an excellent feedback!
    Let me share that I was once that moron of a guy in a big relationship in my past. I have learned from that, and I would never do that again. Sure I deeply regret being that person. But I don’t think I would have changed and took the new path that I have without her leaving. 
    Maybe the thinking goes that if both of us stuck it out and worked on it, things will get better and even work out in the end, just  like how I am now enlightened. NO. While I feel I am more insightful and self-aware than the average guy (and probably more than 80% of guys), it still took a massive slap in the face and many years and more pain to turn myself around. Also, there were other things in our relationship that suggested she could be happier not with me. So if I was the guy in those shoes, I think that Michelle leaving is the best for both of them.
    As for what happened to my ex-girlfriend after she left me? She met a guy on Facebook. He was not the type I would have thought she would have liked. But they are now a very happy couple – have been for years! I don’t know if they are married. But I can see that he showers her with affection. In their pictures, I can see it in the smiles in their eyes and in the things they are doing together. I shouldn’t be looking! But I am very happy for them. And when I see that, I can’t be selfish, because in my reformed self, I see that I can’t do for her what her partner is doing for her now to make her so happy.

    1. 5.1
      Jenny

      This kinda made me cry. As I am in similar situation as OP and believe my “moron”  will need to work out these emotionally unavailable tendencies/traits without me by his side, as it seems happened with you. Nevertheless, I thank you for you honesty, and a perspective from the other side. And perhaps, my leaving is for the best (mutually).

  6. 6
    nathan

    This is a good example of misplaced compromise. The guy is clearly going through the motions. He comfortable enough to stay with you, but that’s about it. The lack of touching is, to me, the most obvious sign amongst those listed. Sex often fluctuates in a relationship, but when regular touching of any kind goes, you’re in big trouble.

    1. 6.1
      Mis77

      Nathan, what if the bf of 2.5 years cuddles with Michelle often but the sex has disappeared? What would your take on that situation be? He still doesn’t do the “little things” and when asked about why he just stopped out of the blue being physically intimate he says things like, “I’m under a lot of stress.” “I don’t have a job so it bothers me.” (and then he gets a job and there is still never any sex) or “Sex has always gotten me in trouble and I am trying to build a foundation on something other than sex.”

  7. 7
    Suheil

    To me, all the little things she talked about are not as important. I’ve come across guys who text everyday, or call you beautiful, but it feels more like it’s a “magic” recipe they try and follow and doesn’t really come natural to them. When I read that letter, all I read were the things he “doesn’t” do, … but what about the things he “does” do?. How does she feel when she’s with him? What did she like about him? What does she like about him now? If one is not appreciative of what the other person does, how can we expect them to be appreciative of us? It just doesn’t feel natural. 

    I have a married friend who told me that.. although it is believed that married people only talk about their children, she finds that single people (specially girls) only talk about getting married. As if getting married was “it”, as if it becomes more important to get married than to be happy with the person you’re with.  So what if you don’t get married? Isn’t it more important to appreciate your partner and be happy? And if you’re not happy and you don’t appreciate what your parter brings to the table… why be there?

  8. 8
    Daphne

    Is anyone happy with a guy (or woman) who doesn’t do anything to make them feel hot and desired ?
    Just that she is asking the question indicates what the answer is. It’s just good that she is asking it now, rather than after years of marriage.

  9. 9
    david

    great response — great metaphors (The car!!!)

  10. 10
    Laura

    Wow, I read this and I didn’t think her relationship sounded that bad at all. Finding a guy who says he loves you and is thinking about marriage really isn’t that bad. Plus I assume he has a decent job since he’s thinking about work. Maybe I’ve been single too long, because I thought she was being way too hard on him. Maybe he can tell that she is pulling away, and that influences his actions. It seems like she doesn’t know him that well and is too focused on her needs. My advice to the poster would be totally opposite from Evan’s. I would try to understand the guy better and ask him questions to try to understand how he thinks and feels, and then try to determine whether there’s some reason his behavior has changed. I’d also TELL him how I feel before just dumping him.. how’s he supposed to read her mind and know she expects these things? He at least deserves an explanation for why she feels unsatisfied, because she’s probably doing all these passive aggressive things without communicating her feelings, and that can really damage a relationship over time.

  11. 11
    maria

    Oh Laura, Laura, Laura…yes, I think that ymayou are willing to compromise waaay to much and perhaps waaay too eager to please a man and be his “mommy.”w I think that you are giving this guy waaaay too much credit! NONE of her needs are being met, and you are telling her that she “is too focused on her needs?”
    Please, Laura, you are just as important as your partner!!!!
    Remember that, if your needs are always second, and his are always first, GET OUT!

  12. 12
    Kristen

    Laura, I’m intrigued by your response saying that what she describes isn’t that bad. I totally agree that she needs to do a better job (or perhaps any job) of communicating her feelings, but what she describes doesn’t sound healthy. It sounds as if they are just roommates. It seems pretty likely that the health of their relationship is on life support. While this guy may not be an abusive criminal, he certainly doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs. I hope that they are able to communicate their needs to each other.

  13. 13
    Michael

    I have seen many women who won’t take the time to get to know someone if their attraction buttons aren’t pushed on the second date, regardless of the fact you can’t know someone after 2 dates (unless they really turn you off). Then, there are women like Michelle who must have some unconscious attraction buttons pushed perpetually here, or how to explain her choice which seem irrational to an outsider. I don’t think this is a question of reason. Sounds like she is addicted to certain feelings and needs to do some soul searching and find out what.

  14. 14
    Susan C

    Sounds like she should investigate to see if he is starting to see someone else. If things are tapering off, perhaps he is getting HIS needs met elsewhere. And since they live together and may have some dependence on each other for living expenses, he may be riding her as long as he can until he gets his ducks all lined up. She would be wise to check a few things to at least put her mind at ease that he isn’t pursing anyone else at the moment.
    If she is asking these questions, deep inside she has to have some doubts about him and their future together.

  15. 15
    Nicole

    @13…yes Michael, why on EARTH would Michelle be addicted to feeling loved, appreciated, cherished and beautiful?  For shame on her.  She should just be happy that this guy comes home every night.  

    1. 15.1
      nitika

      You are not clear.

  16. 16
    Alicia

    I just went through this same thing with my boyfriend of 3 years. Over the last 6 months he pulled away considerably. We talked about twice a week (just basic “How are you?”s from him) and fought about once per week, because there was no emotion from him. I knew he had a lot on his plate but I finally said “Show me you care because I’m sick of staying to be hurt and unfulfilled.” He came to me about 4 days later and admitted that he’s been a jerk, but in that time I looked at myself and maybe it was me being unsupportive.

    So Michelle, why is he acting this way? Maybe he feels pressured to be your source of happiness. It could also be that he feels put off about the way you regard his proposals. Men are really forced into buying the ring and asking their partners. They do have every right to feel rejected when we don’t give them a good answer.

    But maybe he is looking elsewhere or something for something different for when you leave. It’s sad, but I read somewhere that men sometimes force a breakup when they find what they perceive as better.

    The point is that it could be for many reasons. Give your boyfriend a free space to let him tell you anything that is bothering him. Don’t be so quick to throw away those years and regret it down the road.

  17. 17
    AQ

    Bravo Evan! ITA! I love your posts they are so enlightening and I have learned so much from you. Thank you!

  18. 18
    nathan

    Nicole, actually Michael might have a point. Some of the things the OP points to as having dwindled or disappeared aren’t necessarily indications of a poor relationship. I’m suspicious of the desire for text messages and the need for “sweet words” to “build her up,” for example. When the passion and heat of the honeymoon period fade or shift, this kind of stuff often goes too. Which doesn’t mean it should disappear completely, but expecting the kind showering of attention that occurred early on is a recipe for disaster in my opinion.
     
    Now, the OP doesn’t seem all that unreasonable about this, but I do wonder if some of what’s going on is her mourning the loss of that new, exciting phase of the relationship. I still think this guy is at least partially checked out, and the lack of touching and sex are a bad sign – a lot worse than him not sending text messages or making “check in” phone calls. However, I also don’t get the sense that Michelle has zeroed in on the deeper issues yet, or has really talked with her bf in depth about what she’s telling us here.

    1. 18.1
      Mis77

      Nathan, I really like your responses and being that you are in deed a man gives your opinions and words weight. What if Michelle’s bf still cuddles with her often but the sex has disappeared? What would you say to that scenario?

  19. 19
    Zann

    No, no, and NO. Good post & feedback, but I wholeheartedly DISagree with any of the comments that suggest she should investigate more, reflect, or self-scrutinize to see if maybe she’s misread his signals, or isn’t doing enough for him, or is — horrors! — asking too much of this bump-on-a-log. His behavior sounds unpleasantly familiar. He’s the guy that pleads, ”What do you want from me? To tell you I love you every 5 minutes?”

    Yea. It’s a smoke screen & it’s bull. As Evan says, it’s totally reasonable to expect expressions of love and just plain caring on a regular basis when you’re a couple. It doesn’t have to be fireworks, but there does have to be connection that is intimate. Not smothering, just tuned in. Why be in a relationship otherwise?

    The biggest red flag here for me was how he handled the issue of marriage. Michelle: it stands to reason that if you’ve given him hints that you’re waiting to be asked, and he hasn’t…it’s not likely he’s going to. I say, Lucky for you. Without judging him as a person, it comes down to him not offering what you want in a relationship. Crumbs! Crumbs do not make a wedding cake, or even cupcakes. And no, no one gets comp points for efforts they made in the beginning of the relationship. That was the easy part.  Don’t do lazy coupling. Don’t be that woman who says: ”Well, it’s better than nothing.”  You’ve already ruminated enough. You’re not crazy and you’re not needy. You just need a better boyfriend.  Go!

  20. 20
    Goldie

    Agree with you Nathan. Good-morning text messages, I could do without (especially since they live together), but no touching is a giant red flag. Also agree that the two of them need to talk. Though, how to get him to talk when he is “partially checked out” all of the time, is a mystery to me.

  21. 21
    Valley Forge Lady

    Take Evan’s advice.  i have never seen something like this get better!  One of my dearest friends just attended the funeral  for her daughter’s best friend and two chlldren.   Her wacko husband did the murder suicide scene before dealing with a pending divorce.  My daughter told me last summer that I did her a favor to divorce her Dad.

    You are looking at many red flags.  You can’t take them down….you can only get away from them.   You will not regret it!  Trust me!  

  22. 22
    maria

    Evan breaks it down as always. 
    Dan, right on! USUALLY people do not change unless they LOSE something that will teach them.
    I have learned that people are teachers.

    I could not imagine living with a guy and the sex and touches are gone.

    Michelle, its time to change your vibe, shift your energy! Go get dressed up. Make YOURSELF feel good about yourself. Get pampered up. GO LOOK FOR ANOTHER PLACE TO LIVE. Go shopping. And if you can, GO OUT OF TOWN FOR THE WEEKEND WITH A GOOD GIRLFRIEND OR FRIENDS!

    This calls for major DRASTIC DRAMATIC CHANGE within.

    Evan and Dan is right. GO! LEAVE! Do not listen to any other female that tells you to stay and work it out. They are WOMEN. You need to LEAVE! Then he can have all the space he needs to think about and touch whomever he wants.

    You need to go DO you.

    Love your self.
    No woman should EVER want to be with a man who is not showering her with love. ESPECIALLY WITH SEX.

    GO!  

  23. 23
    Nicole

    @Goldie and Nathan, the writer said that she doesn’t need those things everyday.  That doesn’t indicate (to me at least) some needy woman who needs to be chased down and fawned over.
    And seriously, the man has trailed off on touching her and having sex for 10 months?  That is a BIG problem, and while she is telling us the sum total of her experience, it sounds like a bigger problem for her (as it should be) than getting complimented by him.
    It sounds like he NEVER does any of that stuff anymore.  Not that she is an attention whore who wants stupid text messages every 15 minutes like a teenager. 

  24. 24
    jennyana

    I ageee with what Zann, Maria and Valley Forge Lady are saying.  This is not normal behavior.  My suggestion:  talk to him.  Tell him how you feel. And, be prepared to walk away.  I doubt he’s going to change.  I know it’s very difficult at first, because you love him, but right now you’re not happy about the situation. 

  25. 25
    Saint Stephen

    I believe many men may express love differently overtime. Which is why it may get pretty tiresome to constantly reassure someone of love, affection and attention for three years, especially if he’s got a stressful job. This guy isn’t a mind reader and as such may feel he’s bringing his best into the relationship- though his effort is not been appreciated.

    Evan gave his advice based on michelle’s own side of the coin. And i’m sure if her boyfriend would write in- he would definitely have his complaints all lined up. Relationships takes work to succeed. given such, i think it would be wise if both parties could sit down have a “heart to heart” discussion to iron out issues. 

    If this guy intermittently broaches up the subject of marriage- then it speaks volumes of his love and desire to spend his future with her.

    michelle you aren’t wasting your life with him. you just need to work on the rough edges of your relationship. But if you can’t work it out- then by all means dump him and look for a better fit.

  26. 26
    Goldie

    He is not a mind reader, so he doesn’t know that an exclusive relationship involves physical contact and sex?? What is he, Rainman? Come on, men are physical creatures. No man will stop with the touching and the sex if there isn’t something serious going on. My X went through that stage many years ago, after the kids were born. Finally, after a year of trying to get him to tell me how he felt about me, I managed to get an answer. Turned out, a year or two before, I’d “lost his love” and he told me that he didn’t love me or want me anymore. I’d have to say, no touching was a dead giveaway! And then we stayed together for twelve more years… but that’s a story for another day. My point is that Michelle and her BF need to talk, and, until they’re clear on how each of them feels about the other, no marriage or kids should enter the picture. It is IMO absolutely critical that they get these things out into the open.

  27. 27
    Allison

    Zann, great line:  “Crumbs do not make a wedding cake, or even cupcakes.”  Will be stealing that one! :)

  28. 28
    ashley

    never , ever move in with a guy unless you are engaged to him ! Sorry , it sounds harsh , but its the truth .. get your own place and move out, there is no need to have ” the talk ” with him , you action would talk for ya , good luck!

  29. 29
    Laine

    Saint Stephen @25.Good point you made about how men express love, infact everyone has different ways of giving and experiencing love. Your comment got me thinking about the book ”The 5 languages of love” by Gary Chapman. He writes of the countless ways we can show love to one another,which include five key categories, or five love languages, proved to be universal and comprehensive.Everyone has a love language, and we all identify primarily with one of the five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

    Not everyone uses all of them, and some only one whilst others more, so unless you are aware of what your partners love language is confusion and feelings of not being loved can occur.

    Food for thought.

  30. 30
    nathan

    I think Laine’s point, coupled with Stephen’s, actually is important as a general issue to consider. People don’t all express love in the same way, and it’s not just men who don’t, for example, say “I love you” all the time. In fact, my father is much more likely than my mother to express love through words like that, but I know both of them love me completely.
     
    In the OP’s particular situation, though, there has been a major shift in several areas of connection between her and her boyfriend. It really doesn’t seem to me to be about her missing how he expresses love. Things have just changed, and in ways suggesting he’s fully not into the relationship anymore. Perhaps some direct, deep conversations between them will help, but it might also be that they’re near the end. That’s how it looks to me anyway.
     

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