Feeling Left Out

Dear Dr. Love: I am not the kind of person to write in for advice, but I am feeling overwhelmed and desperate. I hope that your advice can help me make the best decision for all parties involved.

I am dating a wonderful man. We have shared a wonderful nine months, and both agree that this is a one of a kind relationship. He is truly the man that I have been looking for. The problem is that he is separated from his wife, and has been for about a year and half. They have a sweet little boy together. Both mom and his son live out of state.

My boyfriend is a good father, and tries to spend as much time with his son as possible. The problem is that I am feeling left out, and screwed by his efforts to maintain his bond with his son. He tells me that all of his trips are about his son, and that he has no feelings for his soon to be ex, but he still stays at her house when he visits his son, and this has be feeling very hurt. He turns his cell phone off while he is there so he won't upset her, which means I can't contact him for days at a time. He only calls me when he manages to sneak out of the house without her knowing.

I have tried very hard to be understanding and supportive, but more than I have been is impossible. I realize that I am not top priority, and I appreciate his efforts to be a good father, but I am beginning to think I am wasting my time. He says he loves me, and that we will have a great future together as soon as he gets all of this solved, but I don't know if I am strong enough to endure more of this.

Please help if you can.

Answer: 

You aren't just feeling left out, you are being left out! You are also feeling deprived.

Your husband spends time with work-mates, especially female ones, and seems to avoid contact with you. Life with him is like begging for crumbs. I hope you realize that you are giving him all the power to feed or starve you. You ask for his attention and sit home waiting.

Have you considered going out and getting your needs met elsewhere by making friends, taking a course, joining a club. He's taking care of his needs, but you aren't taking care of yours. He isn't the only game in town. When he realizes that you aren't going to waste your life waiting for him, he will respect you more and take your needs more seriously.

The fact that you ask if you're being unreasonable tells me just how unentitled you think you are. You are supposed to have your needs met and you are supposed to be with a partner who makes you feel that your needs are important to him. He isn't treating you properly. You aren't going to be a position to ask for more or better treatment until you feel more entitled.

The best way to get more entitled is to get some therapy. In therapy you will come to understand why you accept so little and think that you are unreasonable for wanting what you want. When you feel better about yourself and more entitled to be treated with consideration, your husband will know that you mean business, which will make him take your requests more seriously.

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