Are You Making Too Much Time For Your Relationship?


* Client stories have been shared with permission and names have been changed.

It’s Friday night and Erin is home alone again. She hoped he’d call. He said he might. He didn’t. So, she’s got Netflix and a glass of wine in her PJ’s. She scrolls the Instagram feed. She’s jealous of her friends who are all out at a local bar listening to live music. It looks like they are having a really good time. They used to invite her to go places. They don’t so much anymore. She said no too many times. She has a boyfriend after all.

He texts her about 11:00. He doesn’t even ask to come over this time. He tells her he’ll touch bases with her tomorrow to make plans. He doesn’t do that either. He does call her Sunday afternoon though. They talk for awhile. He ends up coming over. She cooks him dinner. They watch football. He stays the night. Erin was happy she finally got some time with him.

Monday morning at work everyone is talking about their weekend. Most of her co-workers did really cool things. Sailing, hiking, live music, an art exhibit. Erin sat around looking at Instagram, watching her phone for a text message, watched football, and got laid. She doesn’t like how she feels but she doesn’t know what to do.

Casey has been married for six years. She’s got a beautiful home and a job she likes but she’s bored. She watches him sitting on the couch buried in his laptop. He rarely looks up. He went hunting last weekend so she’s hoping they can do something together next weekend but she doesn’t ask. He tells her he’s working, but she can clearly see he’s watching videos and reading articles from FB. Even though she’s sitting next to him most of the evening, most every evening, she feels very lonely.

She tells him she’s going to bed. He tells her he’ll be there in a little bit. She takes her time getting ready to crawl into bed. She showers, brushes her hair, she even puts on a little makeup. She hopes he will notice her. However, at 2 a.m. when he finally crawls into bed, she barely stirs. She’s been asleep for more than two hours.

She doesn’t think he’s having an affair. She doesn’t think he’s flirting with anyone online. She just thinks surfing videos and articles about investing are more interesting than she is. She can’t blame him, but she’s angry anyway.

The next day at work it’s announced there is a position coming available at her firm. It would be a promotion for her. It’s pretty much her dream job. She reads the job description, takes a deep breath and closes the email. She’s not sure she’s good enough. She doesn’t feel like taking risks right now. She decides not to apply.

Erin and Casey have very different lives but they have some things in common. They both feel invisible in their relationships. They’ve both been ghosted by partners that haven’t actually left. They’ve both put their lives on hold hoping a man will give them some attention and entertain them. They are both lonely because they’ve bet on a man who isn’t delivering connection, or much of anything else.

A few days ago, I talked to a man. We’ll call him Scott. Scott has been with his girlfriend for almost a year. He’s thinking about ending it but he’s torn. He says he still has feelings for her. When I asked him why he might want to end it he replied, “She used to be so interesting. She was the most interesting woman in any room. She always had something going on. We could talk for hours about anything. In the beginning I couldn’t wait to see her. She wasn’t always available. She spent a lot of time with her friends and family. But somewhere along the line the Friday night, Saturday night date became assumed. She quit going to her yoga class. She quit taking her art lessons. She quit going hiking with her friends. I feel responsible for her. I don’t like that feeling. We just don’t talk like we used to. I hate to say it, but she’s boring me.”

When a man says he’s bored with a woman, women almost always think he means sexually. That’s almost never the case, at least in the beginning. It can creep into that territory pretty quick, but it usually starts with him being bored with her in general because she has given up everything that made her interesting to clear the decks for him. I have a close friend who gave up every weekend for almost a decade waiting for a phone call that rarely came and didn’t even notice she’d disappeared from her own life. I’ve been guilty of it more times than I care to count in smaller but still corrosive ways.

A man will lose interest in a woman who’s waiting around. Some would say it’s about that game of pursuit that men seem to like so much. However, I think it’s more fundamental than that. Waiting around is boring and it makes for a boring woman. A woman that puts her life on hold for a man stops being as attractive because her light dims. It doesn’t matter if she’s dating him for a few weeks or if she’s been married for a decade.

If you want him to love you they way he did in the beginning, be the woman he fell in love with. Chances are pretty high, that woman had a life.