Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I have been in an off/on long distance relationship with my boyfriend for about 4 years now. I don’t feel that he respects my time or gives me the adequate attention to make our relationship work. At the moment, we just rekindled, but he is back to his old habit which I absolutely detest. He would promise to call and won’t do so in the timeframe he promised. Or, we could be talking and he will say I will call you back and will never do. Whenever he does call back, he just carries on as if he didn’t break his promise nor does he ever apologize for not calling back as promised. This may seem petty but this bothers me a lot. If he cannot fully commit to something as small as calling, how can he commit to a marriage? He recently asked me to marry him, but I refused until we can work out our issues. I do love him dearly and can’t imagine my life with anyone else, but I just don’t want to be taken for granted. One of my love languages is attention, and he seems to get that. Should I leave him and hope for someone who respects my time and is a man of his word or do I try to work through this? And how do I work through this?
It is refreshing to hear that you know your love language. Understanding and knowing what you need in a relationship is very important. The need for respect and attention are very basic needs, but are essential to building a healthy relationship. Your concerns are not petty and I am glad that you are thinking about your boyfriend’s behavior prior to agreeing to marriage. Commitment, consideration and communication are very important and your boyfriend appears to be struggling with all three. I agree that you should take some time to work through your relationship issues and recommend that you hold him accountable before moving forward. Being in love is good, but you must realize that love in and of itself is not enough to build and sustain a relationship that will last forever. Please be mindful that any relationship that lacks respect, thoughtfulness and commitment will eventually end in pain and suffering. Remember Tina Turner’s song, “What’s Love Got to Do with It”. It was and still is a great song because it reminds women that love cannot compensate for poor interpersonal skills and character flaws.
Although you have been with your boyfriend for 4 years and he continues to act out occasionally, I recommend that you ask him to attend professional counseling before walking away. I believe that everyone can grow and learn new skills if they are willing to work. Also, counseling will give you an opportunity to learn more about his thinking and behavioral patterns. A professional counselor such as me can assess his willingness and ability to meet your needs.
If your boyfriend refuses to seek help so that he can work on his disrespect, lack of thoughtfulness and ineffective communication style, you should simply remove yourself from the relationship. Checkout a copy of my book Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single. I wrote the book for women who are dealing with men who have great qualities, but lack the right qualities for marriage.
Best regards, Dr. Buckingham
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post