Advice: A Lopsided Relationship

Hara Estroff Marano gives advice on the issues behind a non-reciprocating partner.

By Hara Estroff Marano, published on January 1, 2004 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

I'm very attached to someone I have been seeing for the past two years. When I am with him he is loving, thoughtful and affectionate. But he leaves the calling to me. The only effort he puts out is to ask me to come over. Then he abruptly stops seeing me for weeks at a time. He says he doesn't want to get too attached since he is moving away within the next few years. I feel a big sense of rejection. I have made him a large part of my life.

Why are you so heavily interested in someone who isn't reciprocating interest in an active way and repeatedly delivers fresh blows of rejection?

Do you think relationships are supposed to be difficult or that guys are supposed to be reluctant partners?

It's possible that Rejectionboy doesn't understand that relationships require effort. Maybe he really does have a deep-seated fear of emotional attachment. But don't you wonder what he's doing all those weeks he stops seeing you? Is he married or seeing someone else (male or female)?

You need to know what's really going on. Try ratcheting down your level of activity to around his level of interest for several weeks—don't call, don't take the initiative. If that doesn't motivate him to assume more responsibility for contact, that's a strong clue to move on. Remember: Not everything that goes wrong in a relationship is about you. Maybe he just has other issues to sort out in his life.