Does Boyfriend Expect Too Much or is it Me?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been dating a man over 20 years my senior for the past 2 years. My family and friends approve of him and he is generally a nice person. However, I feel that he tends to overlook me alot. Even though I have a full time job, I am constantly doing things for him – making him lunch/dinner, doing his washing, buying him little gifts, making or writing cards, cleaning and general housekeeping, verbally expressing how much I care about him, trying to look nice for him, helping him with business projects – all in an effort to show him that I care.

However my acts of service are rarely acknowledged. He will not say thank you even if I have spent a whole day cleaning or doing PA type work for him. He doesn’t seem to care to do little things for me (and complains when I don’t want to have sex with him), when I ask him if dinner is ok his typical response is: ‘it’s fine’, he has never once bought me flowers or small trinket or gift as a romantic gesture, he won’t be very affectionate unless he wants to have sex, he does not seem to go to effort to present himself well (often wearing torn or dirty clothes when we go out), refuses to discuss marriage or children, says he can’t say ‘I love you’, and will often tell me i m wrong or ‘that’s not how it is’… It causes me alot of dissatisfaction in the relationship.

That said I like him alot. He does try to listen when I need something, and if I ask for help for something really important he is usually there.
I wonder if my expectations of him are too high, or he is just a little artless and doesn’t see how his inaction hurts me. I have raised these issues with him before, he is generally open to discussing it, and sometimes he is more attentive for day or so, but then forgets about me again. He has had a large sexual history (about 40 women) – could he just be too set in his bachelor ways? Is this someone I should be with?

A: Only you can decide if he is someone you should be with. I do have to wonder, though, why someone so young (24) is satisfied with so little in a relationship. It’s as if you are spending the day lifting boulders for him and then being grateful when he hands you a pebble! He is showing you in every way possible that you can’t expect more of him. At 44, he has apparently lived this way for a long time and sees no reason to change. He isn’t interested in marriage because you give him all the benefits of married life with none of the obligations.

Personally, I think you deserve a whole lot more than this. You should be getting flowers, poems, and romantic dinners. Your partner should be just that — a partner. That means taking his share of the housekeeping and respecting your work as much as his own.

Please take a hard look at why your self-esteem is so low that you cooperate with this guy’s idea of a relationship. Some therapy might help you understand yourself better and develop the courage to go for what you really want and deserve.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Aug 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Does Boyfriend Expect Too Much or is it Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/08/06/does-boyfriend-expect-too-much-or-is-it-me/