Dear Never Settle,
I feel stuck. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. I feel like I’m giving my all to my relationship, I put my heart on my sleeve and I just don’t feel like I’m getting the same in return. It’s made me really irrational and insecure – which only makes me more irritated because that’s not who I am.
We’ve been together 5 years and we’ve got a really good relationship, we get on like a house on fire and know each other inside and out. He’s my best friend. We’ve hurt each other in the past, so neither of us are innocent, but lately I know that things are going really pear shaped. My partner doesn’t know what he wants, and I don’t feel like a priority in his life at all. I don’t feel loved or that I even come in his top priorities. I’ve tried explaining this, rationally – and he understands – but we just have different ways of showing we care.
I think he thinks I’m an anchor. He’s expressed that he wants to go off and do things, alone. But I want to build a life, together.
I want us both to pursue our dreams, but I want to do it together – I don’t want to have to wait around, put my life on hold or live in fear it’s going to end at any point. All I want is to feel genuinely supported, completely comfortable in the relationship and like their number one, and genuinely so – not just told ‘you are’, then actions or decisions made say otherwise. I don’t feel like that’s much to ask.
The worst thing, is that I know with every time I get upset or insecure, or express worries about the relationship, I’m pushing him away more. I’m a really happy, fun, confident person, but I feel like I’ve become a miserable, insecure wreck – and who wants to be with that?
Sounds stupid, but you know in romantic films, where the man declares his love in a sweeping way? That he could never imagine a life without his partner, where they say ‘I want to be with you, and only you, and I promise that I will do everything I possibly can to make that work’. I just want to hear that.
I would do anything to help the relationship blossom – I’ve forgiven deal breakers, heartbreak and badly handled situations – I would move, change my life, not because I’m dependent on him, but because I always put my relationships and people I love first. Family comes first in my eyes, compromise is second nature – cause it’s just what you do to make things work. But I don’t think he thinks the same, as he’s very used to me compromising and putting extra 50% into the relationship when he hasn’t realised he needs to.
I’m at the point where I don’t know what to do. We’re going round in circles, I’m putting on a brave face but inside I’m subconsciously building a wall to protect myself. I don’t want to break-up because I know it can be fantastic – I thought it was fantastic, but I just can’t see things changing anytime soon and don’t equally want to delay the inevitable. Why should I break my own heart because he can’t commit in the same way? It is really frustrating.
Dear Worried Reader,
Firstly I’m really sorry to hear that you’re hurting like this. In this situation, it can be really easy to feel like we’re in a one-way relationship – that we’re just a back-up plan in an unrequited love. And that is really hard.
It sounds like your boyfriend is really confused and doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. He probably does love you, but other things in his life, in his mind, are taking priority, and some people do just think more selfishly. It also sounds like he’s not communicating in a way you’re understanding, or he’s not being as clear as he could.
People show their love in different ways – your boyfriend’s love language sounds different to yours. You sound like you need words of affirmation – to be told you’re loved, and quality time with him. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important to you – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. You also feel loved when you recieve full, undivided attention. Really being there-, with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby, makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful for you.
It sounds like he’s not doing either of those things, so you simply don’t feel loved. But equally, maybe he doesn’t feel loved: maybe you’re not showing him your love in the way he understands it? If you’ve explained this to him, he’s still not trying – then do you really want to be with this kind of person?
As I say in The #1 Thing Women Want, the one thing all women universally want from a relationship, whether they realise it or not, is to feel genuinely wanted, to be with someone who makes you feel that they are the luckiest person in the world – because they are with you. Being in a relationship is about being someone’s priority, and feeling truly like one is vital.
If he genuinely wants to go off and do his own thing – and wants the best of both worlds, with you there waiting for him: Is that going to make you happy? Only you can answer that.
But I can tell you now, that you will be fine. On your own, or if you continue to work things out – whatever you decide, you will be fine. We are really resilient when faced with pain, and only get stronger because of it. If you feel like you can’t commit to someone who can’t commit to you in this way, especially when you’ve been together for this long – you have to decide, is this love is enough? Are you willing to continue?
Love should not compromise achieving our dreams or being happy. It should make you a better person than you would be single, and unless you are a psychologist or a mind-reader, it’s difficult to know what our partners are thinking if we don’t communicate properly. We don’t intuitively realise what our other half wants because we love them: it takes talking, actually listening and constantly learning about each other. If he can’t have a proper conversation about the future or what he wants – or if he’s okay with just leaving you at the sideline, then you have to make a decision of whether this is how you want to live.
Stop blaming yourself. You are in your every right to feel insecure and upset over this, and putting on a brave face will only make yourself more miserable. Neediness is a fear of loss: When you believe that you could lose something, you’ll instinctively want to regain it – and neediness is a part of that, you end up worrying, and ultimately don’t act like yourself. So I understand you feel you’re pushing him away, but you’re acting like anyone would in this situation. The best thing to do is start focusing on yourself again – actively enjoy your hobbies and surround yourself with people who make you happy.
Finally, if he doesn’t put in the effort or looks like he’s happy to let you go, then cut your losses – put yourself first. If he doesn’t seem like he cares, with little investment, then it sounds like he doesn’t deserve you in the first place.
You deserve the best, you shouldn’t feel like you’re chasing love from someone, because they should have never put you in that position in the first place. You are worth everything, and if someone is willing to walk away – then you deserve more.
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