Reader Asks: What Should I Do When I’m Starving for Time and Attention?

Dear Neil: I am very bored and lonely. This is a problem—because I am in a relationship. We have been together 10 years, and we share the same house. He says it’s not fair for me to expect him to spend time with me. He has things to do and can’t get them done if he’s spending time with me. I keep myself busy pursuing a master’s degree online, working 50 hours a week and doing volunteer work—but I still feel like I’m starving to death. What should I do differently?

Lonely in Westminster, Colorado

Dear Westminster: A man who is routinely too busy to spend time with you doesn’t want you. He may want someone to keep him warm at night, but he doesn’t want to put himself, his energy or his heart into doing the things that a relationship requires. He wants a relationship that doesn’t ask anything of him—and there is no relationship that is happy or satisfying that fits that description.

Try one thing. Tell him of your hurt and loneliness. Tell him you feel as if you are emotionally starving to death—and then tell him specifically what you would need in order to feel happy with him, valued, cared for and cherished.

If he takes what you say to heart and makes greater effort to nurture your happiness and sense of connection, wonderful. If he doesn’t—if he doesn’t honor your needs and wants as equal to his own—then you’re condemning yourself to feel alone and lonely indefinitely. Is that what you want?

A man who is routinely too busy to spend time with you doesn’t want you. That is the reality you’ve been trying to avoid or ignore. Of course you’re starving to death.

Dear Neil: I earned a master’s degree as the recent recession started. I have been unemployed on and off for the past year and a half. I don’t know how many applications I’ve submitted in my field, but I’ve had no luck at all. I hate discussing my employment situation with women I’m interested in. It seems like they vanish or lose interest after they discover that I’m unemployed. How would you suggest I deal with this issue?

Getting Rejected in San Francisco

Dear San Francisco: A woman will consider a man who is hopeful and optimistic in looking for a job—especially if she thinks his potential job is interesting, or if it has long-term possibilities. A woman is less likely to be interested in you if you present yourself as a down-on-your-luck guy who can’t find a job.

It’s OK to let her know you’re looking for work, but if you’re trying to begin a relationship, don’t talk about how hard it is or about how disappointed or dispirited you feel about it. She wants to know you’re motivated, you’re trying hard and that you can still be a lot of fun to be around.

So look for ways of inviting a woman to have fun with you. Go for a hike together. Invite her to go dancing. Cook her dinner. Try tennis. Give her a single rose. Invite her to play pool in a pool hall or a bar.

And keep your chin up. This is a rough market for a job search. Don’t give up.

Dear Neil: From the beginning my boyfriend said that he wanted to marry and have kids. But after being together for a year, I learned that he was afraid of commitment, he kept his life secret, he didn’t introduce me to his friends and family, he got very busy and he pulled away and wanted a lot of space when we got close. Finally he said he had no feelings for me. So I said OK, I’m leaving. He said he couldn’t believe I was leaving him. What’s your take on this?

Not Quite Understanding in Turkey

Dear Turkey: He doesn’t want you, or he’s so conflicted about what he wants that he’s attempting to keep you around with no strings attached. He does not sound like he’s a promising possibility for a long-term relationship. He sounds like pain.

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