Ask the Therapist: My boyfriend’s job is more important than me

I came across one of the questions which I could relate to my life while I was searching for – what to do if you have a busy partner.

Actually I am in a relationship with a guy since 4 years now. We started off happily and we use to spend almost every single second of the day with each other – being physically present with each other or just talking on phone. I understand that it was just starting but we had a great connection since starting.

But things started to change, for me, since last year when he joined an over demanding job. He works almost as soon as he wakes up and keep on taking office calls till he drops me back home every evening after work.  I use to get really frustrated with him for not paying attention to me during our evening ‘our time’ keeping in mind that he isn’t able to get time throughout the day to speak with me because of his busy schedule of meetings with the clients as he is into sales.

Since last two months, during every weekend he has just blown off every plan that we have made. We decided to take mini vacation during the long weekend but he couldn’t make it because his boss didn’t gave him an off. This really pissed me off.

I have tried so many times to tell him how I feel because each time he blows off the plan, I feel neglected and as someone who is not his priority. He wants to spend time as per his convenience, that is, when he can take off I must take the same as well or if he is getting free early, I must make some excuse at office and meet him which I use to do as well, for his sake, thinking that since he is new at this company he might have to put in more hard work to show his worth. But it’s not always possible. It feels like I am making al the compromises whereas he is just not putting in any efforts to improve our quality time together.

I don’t feel cared for or sometimes even loved. He might spend time talking to his teammate and other colleagues happily but as soon as he meets me, he will just feels so tired that I would feel like a culprit for even trying to share about my day or anything that is bothering me with him.

Whenever I get angry and talk about it, he would try to be attentive for two or three days and then we’ll go back to the same routine.  Our lives have become boring because he is always too tired to do anything.

I have been trying since last one year and have written this letter in desperation to sought some kind of solution as to how I can resolve this because I really don’t know what to do.

Lisa’s Thoughts:

It sounds like things were good for the majority of your relationship, three out of the four years.  But it’s also clear that a shift occurred in his attitude and bandwidth for the relationship with the onset of his job a year ago.  He sounds inundated. Perhaps he really likes it or he’s motivated by fear of not living up to the job’s standards.  Regardless, his relationship with you is suffering

If you’ve really tried to be understanding of his work yet feel the the effort is one-sided – and you’ve tried to constructively tell him how you feel (ideally, not from an angry place but a loving, concerned and heartfelt place), he might ultimately be making a choice right now.  I can see you are angry and perhaps your approach to him has not been ideal but in a healthy relationship both parties feel comfortable discussing their needs, particularly when they are not being met and feelings are getting hurt.  If he is not willing or able to meet the needs of a relationship right now, it might be up to you to decide whether it works.  A year is a long time to be frustrated in this way and not a happy place to be with your partner.

If he is really important to you, try to find out if he sees an end to the intensity at which he is working.  If there is a time, can you wait and be patient?  Do you see any validation or empathy for your position and what it must be like for you?  Is he willing to re-shuffle his priorities to nurture the relationship again?

If the answer is no to the above, it might be up to you to pull the rip cord.