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Ask Lisa: My boyfriend feels he’s not getting enough space

I had a question about relationships and spending time together.

When my boyfriend gets home from work it is usually around like 7-8 and I usually cook dinner then we just watch tv.  We don’t really interact.  He complains that I don’t give him enough space and he needs more “me” time.  I tell him I am unhappy with the amount of time we get to spend together because I sit at home all day bored and we never do anything.  He says its my choice to sit at home and be stubborn not to take some sort of job and I shouldn’t complain to him about sitting at home because he is doing all he has to do.  He thinks I should leave is that’s what I want instead of sitting at home bored and blaming him.  He said he does need space and I am ridiculous for bringing it up and he doesn’t get enough because I am always waiting on him.  And he’s taking more so I should get used to it.  I don’t know what I should do or say.  Is our relationship fixable?  Or does he just not care.  Or am I being too needy?

This week, we hung out on Saturday at a Halloween party, then when we came home I asked if we could cuddle and watch a movie and he said yes but he wanted to make a phone call and then talk to the roommates for a bit in the living room then he would be in.  (This was at 2 am, so I turned off the light and went to bed, when I woke up at 5 I told him to come to bed which he did, but was mad at me because he shouldnt be told when to come to bed.)  Then we hung out on Sunday watching football (although he frequently went from room to room as my roommates were in the living room) and around 4:30 I went to my friends, then he went to the gym and did whatever and he came over to my friends at 7:30, where we ate dinner and hung out.  Monday I saw him for an hour then left and stayed at a hotel for work so he had the night to himself.  Tuesday I was supposed to be gone til 9 but ended up getting home sooner and he wanted to go for a beer with his friend after work but didn’t invite me because he wanted “me” time.  His friends girlfriend was there and I made a big deal about him not inviting me so he invited me though I didn’t end up going because he only invited me so I wasn’t mad.  He was home by 8 for dinner, then after we ate he talked on the phone with his dad and asked if he could go to the gym for 2 hours.  I said no I wanted to hang out, so he did some exercises on the floor and we eventually watched a movie and went to bed.  Tonight, he will be home about 7:30-8 and I have to leave at 9 for work.  Tomorrow, he signed up for an acting seminar that goes until 9 and I work tomorrow night as well so I wont see him at all.  Then Friday I have off and as of now I am not aware of him doing anything.  Saturday he has acting all day and I work at night.  Sunday he has acting all day as well.  He signed up for another seminar next thursday and will still do the gym and acting class etc.  with the exception of no weekend.

Even with this weeks schedule, he feels he is not getting enough space.  It bothers me because he doesn’t ever ask what I want to do or if he can do the seminars etc., he just signs up for them and tells me he is doing them.  Same goes for when he is going out with his friends, he calls or texts me and just says I am meeting up with this person for a drink.  What is your opinion?

Lisa’s thoughts…

A few things came up for me when I read this…

You have too much time on your hands to think and worry about when you’re going to get time with him.  He’s partially right in that if you were better at filling your free time rather than “bored” or waiting for him, you might not be so focused on the deficiency you feel in the relationship.  He’s clearly got an active life – and there’s nothing wrong with you plugging in activities and interests as well!

That being said, your boyfriend doesn’t appear to be very sensitive to your needs and not particularly focused on getting time with you.  His behavior seems disrespectful and rude (the Halloween night example).

In relationships, it’s important for both partners to feel emotionally safe with the other, that they matter and can rely on each other.  Do you feel emotionally safe with him?  Can you try talking to him through this lens instead?  As it usually is, you both appear to have a role in your relationship struggles.

Can he be more sensitive to your needs and can you rely on more than him for your happiness?  If not, perhaps it’s time to rethink.

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Need advice?  Consider a Relationship Consultation for guidance.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of LoveAndLifeToolbox.com with tools for emotional and relationship health and is the author of Therapy-At-Home Workbooks® for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in CNN.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MensHealth.com and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers online therapy to residents of California.