Vail Relationships column: Romancing the stone
Note: This is one of Neil Rosenthal’s previously published columns.
Dear Neil: My boyfriend rarely calls or contacts me, rarely invites me to get together and seldom is romantic. He is preoccupied with his work, and because of that we seldom actually see each other. I want him to be my soul mate, but I’m not feeling special, valued or important to him, and I don’t know what to do about that. Please help.
Restless in New Jersey
Dear Restless: A man who’s interested in you will act in pretty predictable ways. He is attentive, he desires to take you places and do things with you, he values your feelings, he creates time to be with you no matter how busy he is and he pursues you.
If a man desires a relationship with you, then there’s little need for you to guess about how he feels because he’s obvious about it. On the other hand, if you’re not feeling treated as if you’re valued or wanted, then your chances for a healthy future relationship with him are dramatically diminished.
Here’s what you can do: Tell your boyfriend exactly how you feel, what you’re needing for him to do differently and what you anticipate you’re going to need from him in the foreseeable future. Be very clear and specific about what you want and need from him — and about what behavior is acceptable to you in a loving relationship — and what is unacceptable.
If you can tell he is making an honest effort to honor your requests, then there is hope. Perhaps all he needed was guidance and a nudge. But if he doesn’t make more of a concerted effort in doing what you say matters to you, or if he does it for a week and then drops the ball, or if he makes excuses as to why he can’t be more attentive, romantic and caring toward you, then he isn’t your soul mate after all because he isn’t treating you as if he values what you want or need.
A relationship needs time, effort, energy and reciprocity from both people. Both have to want each other, both have to make themselves emotionally available to the other and both have to give each other a genuine chance. If you don’t have two people saying “yes” to a relationship, then you can’t have that great relationship with him alone.
And you don’t want to spend your time, energy and hopes waiting around for someone who doesn’t actually want you. It’s a dead-end street, it keeps you from meeting someone else, it’s hard on the ego — and it hurts.
You need your boyfriend’s active participation in the relationship, and you don’t have that. Quit fighting this reality. If he can’t offer you what you want, then find someone who does want you — and wants what you do — and who has the willingness and the ability to offer it to you.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the bestselling book “Love, Sex, and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777 or visit neilrosenthal.com.