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Ignored by My Boyfriend

Group Therapy: Fighting For His Attention After 4 Years Together

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

My boyfriend and I met in college almost four years ago through some of my girlfriends, and after college we spent almost two years doing long distance — he is in Med School and I was working in another state. I moved to be with him in Feb., quit my job and left friends because I wanted our relationship to progress and we didn't want to do long distance forever. 

Prior to me moving we saw each every 4 weeks or so and talked at night for about 30 mins, and now that I've moved I see him an hour or so a day for dinner, even on the weekends. We have a great time together when he's home, but I haven't made a good group of friends here yet, and he doesn't seem to understand how lonely and bored I get when he's constantly out of the house. He's a really great guy and I know he loves me, but I feel like I constantly have to compete for his time. He's infamous for taking me to parties with him and then leaving me alone in rooms full of people I don't know, and although this doesn't normally bother me, after 4 years I feel like he should be wanting to spend more time with me than his huge group of friends, especially considering he's planning to ask me to marry him. 

He's taking his boards in a few weeks, so he's been studying almost 16 hours a day with another girl, quizzing each other and working through practice tests. He knows I am not comfortable with him spending so much time with her, especially since I see him so little and he's agreed in the future not to study one on one with a girl. He has a three-week break once this test is over, and I've been really looking forward to finally having time with him since he won't have any commitments, but he's already talking about filling up those weeks with trips to see his friends from home, his parents, and things he wants to do with his current school friends. It seems like all the time we could have spent together is slowly being eaten away. I told him again how frustrating it is that I feel like I have to tie him down to get him to spend time with me, and he says he gets it, but I know he feels torn between seeing me and wanting to do all these other things. 

We currently live together, and we are planning to get married in two years when he graduates, but I'm worried it will always be like this, and I'm going to end up resenting him because I always feel like his last priority. Any thoughts or perspective would be helpful!

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Hjb927 Hjb927 5 years
I might have a clue or two about how u may be feeling right now. My fiancé is in med school and is about to take his board exam this Saturday and it couldn't come any sooner. He wakes up at 730 am and doesn't finish studying until 10 pm!!! I see him every once in a while and we live together. I've become super crafty these past couple of weeks. Painting, repurposing odds and ends, organizing closets, etc... All I can advise you to do is stay strong and be supportive until he takes his boards. Then afterwards ( even right after) pull him aside and have a heart to heart with him. You don't want to seem like you aren't being supportive bc those med students can be smart about the sciences but can totally miss blatant emotional hints and things of the like. So, just stay strong then give him a reality check after his exam ; )
nachteule nachteule 5 years
This sounds VERY familiar, as my boyfriend was acting a lot like this as he was finishing law school, taking his exams, schmoozing around for jobs, and also just enjoying the excitement of the time with his other newly minted lawyer friends. I tried to be understanding about what he both wanted and needed to do at that point, but I also expressed many times the fact that I felt, as you said, like I was his last priority, and that I wasn't okay with that. I understood there were many important things he needed to be doing and many things that were special to that time ("graduation" parties for example) but like he would choose even the most unimportant things over spending time with me, maybe because he knew (thought) I would always be there, so if he didn't get a better offer, then okay cool I'd be his backup plan for the night... Well anyway, since talking this over with him didn't seem to make any difference in his behavior despite the fact that he said he understood where I was coming from, my solution was to (as Katialoves said) give him a taste of his own medicine. I worked hard on developing my own life, meeting new people, and generally just going out to do everything and meet everyone I could, like I did when I was single. Like you, I had a much less rich life than my bf because I had moved to this country only 6 months before we got together, while he's been here his whole life. So this was, for me, a win-win situation, because I didn't *want* to be jealous and clingy, but I also didn't want to be sitting at home alone wondering if he was ever going to grace me with his presence. I wasn't trying to do this (just) to spite him, I truly did want to make my life more active (without him) so that I wouldn't have to 'bother him' by expecting him to spend more time with me than he wanted to or could. But in order not to feel bitter about it, I needed to do things I really wanted to do (i.e. go to parties/events/etc. that *I* was interested in, not awkwardly flounder around at parties with *his* crowd while his focus was elsewhere).What happened though, is he certainly did get a taste of his own medicine, and he REALLY didn't like it. We got in lots of fights about it, but they actually kind of made me happy because then I could point out what a hypocrite he was being and that if he was always studying/partying/schmoozing/eating out with/etc. other people (especially other girls, even if it WAS "innocent") then he should have no problem with me doing the same, and that I was doing this all because I knew it was unfair of me to expect him to take so much time out of his very busy life to spend with me, so I was trying to make it easier on us both by putting my attention elsewhere as well.Well after a period of him being jealous but still spending lots of time elsewhere (but apologizing for it sometimes rather than acting like I was being a controlling clingy bitch), something seemed to click (it could also be a little bit because the post-law school atmosphere calmed down a little bit) and I started feeling much higher on his priority list (and he would usually check with me about his plans with others because he actually said he wanted to make me his first priority now). Now he's working full time and is very busy with that, but we spend most of our time together on the weekends, and evenings, even if they are short, are also usually spent together unless we've checked with the other about having other plans and make sure they know about it ahead of time and don't feel left out or whatever.The problem is, while I was putting my plan into action I kind of *liked* the life I was building, and made lots of friends who I now have to turn down offers from a lot because I don't want my bf to feel how I felt before, now that I feel like he's really made a change in priorities. But our time together is a lot more enjoyable now that I feel like it's not just because he didn't have any more interesting offers that he's spending that time with me, that he really does want to be there with me.So yeah, I'd say give it a go, and see how he reacts to getting a taste of his own medicine. Don't be irrational (i.e. understand what he's going through with med school etc), but also don't let him take you for granted because there's no excuse for that. And if he doesn't seem to care/still makes you his last priority after you've gone out and gotten your own life separate from his, well then maybe it's time to move on, and hopefully you'll have met some cool new friends and/or cute new guys who can help you do that.
nachteule nachteule 5 years
This sounds VERY familiar, as my boyfriend was acting a lot like this as he was finishing law school, taking his exams, schmoozing around for jobs, and also just enjoying the excitement of the time with his other newly minted lawyer friends. I tried to be understanding about what he both wanted and needed to do at that point, but I also expressed many times the fact that I felt, as you said, like I was his last priority, and that I wasn't okay with that. I understood there were many important things he needed to be doing and many things that were special to that time ("graduation" parties for example) but like he would choose even the most unimportant things over spending time with me, maybe because he knew (thought) I would always be there, so if he didn't get a better offer, then okay cool I'd be his backup plan for the night... Well anyway, since talking this over with him didn't seem to make any difference in his behavior despite the fact that he said he understood where I was coming from, my solution was to (as Katialoves said) give him a taste of his own medicine. I worked hard on developing my own life, meeting new people, and generally just going out to do everything and meet everyone I could, like I did when I was single. Like you, I had a much less rich life than my bf because I had moved to this country only 6 months before we got together, while he's been here his whole life. So this was, for me, a win-win situation, because I didn't *want* to be jealous and clingy, but I also didn't want to be sitting at home alone wondering if he was ever going to grace me with his presence. I wasn't trying to do this (just) to spite him, I truly did want to make my life more active (without him) so that I wouldn't have to 'bother him' by expecting him to spend more time with me than he wanted to or could. But in order not to feel bitter about it, I needed to do things I really wanted to do (i.e. go to parties/events/etc. that *I* was interested in, not awkwardly flounder around at parties with *his* crowd while his focus was elsewhere). What happened though, is he certainly did get a taste of his own medicine, and he REALLY didn't like it. We got in lots of fights about it, but they actually kind of made me happy because then I could point out what a hypocrite he was being and that if he was always studying/partying/schmoozing/eating out with/etc. other people (especially other girls, even if it WAS "innocent") then he should have no problem with me doing the same, and that I was doing this all because I knew it was unfair of me to expect him to take so much time out of his very busy life to spend with me, so I was trying to make it easier on us both by putting my attention elsewhere as well. Well after a period of him being jealous but still spending lots of time elsewhere (but apologizing for it sometimes rather than acting like I was being a controlling clingy bitch), something seemed to click (it could also be a little bit because the post-law school atmosphere calmed down a little bit) and I started feeling much higher on his priority list (and he would usually check with me about his plans with others because he actually said he wanted to make me his first priority now). Now he's working full time and is very busy with that, but we spend most of our time together on the weekends, and evenings, even if they are short, are also usually spent together unless we've checked with the other about having other plans and make sure they know about it ahead of time and don't feel left out or whatever. The problem is, while I was putting my plan into action I kind of *liked* the life I was building, and made lots of friends who I now have to turn down offers from a lot because I don't want my bf to feel how I felt before, now that I feel like he's really made a change in priorities. But our time together is a lot more enjoyable now that I feel like it's not just because he didn't have any more interesting offers that he's spending that time with me, that he really does want to be there with me. So yeah, I'd say give it a go, and see how he reacts to getting a taste of his own medicine. Don't be irrational (i.e. understand what he's going through with med school etc), but also don't let him take you for granted because there's no excuse for that. And if he doesn't seem to care/still makes you his last priority after you've gone out and gotten your own life separate from his, well then maybe it's time to move on, and hopefully you'll have met some cool new friends and/or cute new guys who can help you do that.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 5 years
I'm going to agree with sourcherry. When he takes you to a party, he's giving you an opportunity to meet people while he does some mandatory fun. Stop moping around and meet some people. Join a softball club, take a class, volunteer. You shouldn't rely on him for social fulfillment, ESPECIALLY when he's in medical school.
atraditionalist atraditionalist 5 years
My goodness you've been patiently waiting all this time-and another two years! I'm sorry but any man that can stand to wait another 2 years is too comfortable with his current living situation. You moved for him, you left your job, your friends, your family, your home to become a live in housekeeper at his. Don't set yourself up for this. There will always be the occasional blissful marriage after dating for years and years and living together beforehand but most of the time there isn't. Get a job, move out, get your own life until he's ready to merge his with yours
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
I mean this to be helpful not harsh, but it sounds like you left your life, moved in with him, and are now moping around in his life without friends, goals or direction. I'll bet you're kind of a downer to him right now, which doesn't make him want to spend time with you. I think it would be really good, as others have said, to focus on yourself. What about your career? What about making your own friends? You made a decision to base your life around his limited time for you, so now it's up to you to make the best of it.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
I mean this to be helpful not harsh, but it sounds like you left your life, moved in with him, and are now moping around in his life without friends, goals or direction. I'll bet you're kind of a downer to him right now, which doesn't make him want to spend time with you. I think it would be really good, as others have said, to focus on yourself. What about your career? What about making your own friends? You made a decision to base your life around his limited time for you, so now it's up to you to make the best of it.
katialoves katialoves 5 years
Do you have any goals, short-term or long-term that you could focus on? Meanwhile, if you're not sure if this is worth it, before jumping ship I suggest giving him a taste of his own medicine. How about traveling? Trip to somewhere hot and fun with your girlfriends from the other place? Dancing and drinks with new girlfriends even if you don't know them well? You're young and free just enjoy your life to the fullest and then you should know more clearly if he is worth the long uncomfortable waiting. It seems like he sees your role as supporting him and being patient ; maybe he thinks it's the least you can do as he plans to support you well financially for the rest of your life? Whether or not you like the way he is treating you I don't see much hope for change; only your attitude should change(either make do and be grateful or explore and let go of your neediness a bit)
GregS GregS 5 years
Personally, I think it was ill-advised to leave a job and friends to move to a place to be with your bf while he was in Med School. They never have time. Not even for sleep.As for leaving you in a room and him wandering off, I'd wonder what's really going on. You apparently don't travel in the same orbit as he does. I think it'll be totally up to you to find friends and things to do together, and then drag him to them.Good luck!
GregS GregS 5 years
Personally, I think it was ill-advised to leave a job and friends to move to a place to be with your bf while he was in Med School. They never have time. Not even for sleep. As for leaving you in a room and him wandering off, I'd wonder what's really going on. You apparently don't travel in the same orbit as he does. I think it'll be totally up to you to find friends and things to do together, and then drag him to them. Good luck!
jenkrum jenkrum 5 years
It sounds as though he's used to only seeing you once every month and he's still in that mode because it worked for him. From what I understand, med school is very busy and if he's attending school away from his home town he has obligations to see his family and friends on his off-time as well. You have to try and understand where he's coming from and not think of it as him making a list where you are towards the bottom. He is going to continue to keep himself busy because that is his personality. Asking him to slow down will probably only distance him from you; although he will slow down eventually. As for the party thing; why don't you strike up a conversation with someone you don't know and have fun with it rather than dwelling on the fact that he wants to see some of his other friends as well? That just makes you miserable and he's not going to understand why. He's probably a very social person and has no issue meeting people so he's not going to easily understand how hard it can be to approach people you don't know. However, that could be a way for you to meet people and make friends. It's hard at first but it gets easier. I understand how frustrating it can be to be in a relationship with a person who likes to keep busy. However, if you find friends and hobbies, it will be much easier for you and much less lonely. Look at the positive, you get to see him for at least an hour each day; make the best of it. There are some days where the only time I see my fiance is for the 30 minutes before we go to bed.
pax4pax pax4pax 5 years
Med school and all that's attached to that is at the center of his life. Since he has had you with no commitment or obligation, you are the part of his life that he can give or take for the more important things. How he treats you now reflects that others are more important to him than you. Since you gave it all to him without seeking a quid pro quo, he has nothing at risk. After med school, he will have internship and residency which will consume just as much time as med school, if not more. Then he has to be the low man on the totem pole in a practice. There will not a magic time when he will make time for you because all else slows down. He will continue to keep you third or fourth.
Helen-Danger Helen-Danger 5 years
It won't be like that forever, but it will be for a while. It's up to you how much you can take. It sounds like your boyfriend is working on setting up his life right now and can't concentrate much on a relationship. Either try to be ultra supportive, like the power behind the throne so to speak...or take some time apart. Asking for more of his time will only get you limited results. You deserve to be happy and it's possible you could be, five years down the road with him. Only you know whether it's worth it to wait.
juicebox07 juicebox07 5 years
I know how you feel. I've been with my boyfriend for 4 years, and I feel like I have to fight for his attention sometimes too. He only has so much time off work, so when he is off, he has to divide time between his family, friends, and me. Sometimes I get jealous, but I realize he has to make time for everybody. I like a lot of space/alone time, so in a way it works out.
Hiding55 Hiding55 5 years
Work on getting you own life going in this new place. Once you meet some new people and make some friends you'll feel better. Join a gym or a book club or something. Keep yourself busy so you're not always waiting on him to come home and hang with you.
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