How much together time does it take to make a relationship?
I'm a woman who has been seeing a man for a little over a year. I liked him and fell in
love with him before we became intimate. We have been on two dates, and when he comes over he spends infrequent nights with me. I have expressed to him that I would love for him to spend more time with me, but he told me he is "an unconventional boyfriend." I have given my heart to this man and I haven't heard from him in almost two weeks. I've texted and emailed him with no response. Should I just let him go and move on, and get a real man who will have time to spend with me?
Hara Estroff MaranoHara Estroff Marano is the Editor at Large of Psychology Today and writes the magazine's advice column, Unconventional Wisdom. Her newest book, A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting, grew out the groundbreaking Psychology Today article A Nation of Wimps.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
Unconventional boyfriends are fine—provided they, like all mates, demonstrate interest, affection, and respect. Two dates in a year is not an overwhelming display of interest. And since all contact is on his terms, there seems to be no allowance for your needs or desires; indeed, they don't seem to figure in to whatever is going on with this guy. To the degree that you have a relationship, it is strictly one of convenience to him. Would you call that a sign of respect?
If falling in love before you became intimate is supposed to be a mark of virtue or restraint, it's an almost meaningless one. Yes, it's generally wise to know your feelings before you become intimate, but the trick of relationships—they're two-way streets—is to have some measure of his feelings, too. Why waste your feelings on someone who has no investment in a relationship with you? Relationships work best—indeed, it is the very definition—when there are mutual displays of interest. If one of you is wanting more and the other is giving less, then the one who is giving less is definitely regulating the relationship. That is, he has all the power and control. Some people like their relationships that way, but in the long run, or even the medium run, the imbalance is usually unsatisfying. Resentment seeps in and becomes corrosive, undermining intimacy.
What your friend calls unconventionality may be just a well-spun word for "otherwise involved." Maybe even married. You need to consider the possibility that he is concealing his real situation. I'm not advocating paranoia, just an examination of reality. If it doesn't look or feel as if he is equally interested and invested in a continuing relationship with you, then he isn't. If your interests and needs and desires don't get approximately equal attention to his needs, then you will never be any more satisfied than you are now. You will likely feel "less than." Less than loved. Less than good about yourself. Less than whole. Less than respected.
Even if he doesn't respect your needs, you must. At the very least your boyfriend will have new respect for you if you do. It's time to fall out of love with him and look for a partner whose interest level demonstrably matches yours. Your boyfriend may be lying about other entanglements; he may not. But you need not be angry or compromise yourself in speaking up to him. Speak the simple, kind truth, and speak up for your own interests. In your own words, you needn't say any more than, "I wish you could give me the kind of relationship I want and deserve. I'm sorry, this just isn't working for me. If you ever feel you can give more of yourself, you know how to reach me. I wish you well."
That also means not moving too quickly in your next relationship, and making sure your level of interest is met by your partner's.