DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: My girlfriend and I have been together for a little over a year and have been living together for 2 months.
The constant feeling that I have is that I am not getting enough attention and at times I don’t feel the love from her that I think we should have at a year. While I am trying to plan things to do together, to connect, she tends to plan activities with groups.
She has a hectic schedule so at times it is hard to find time to do fun things and so I understand her wanting to see people she doesn’t see everyday (like me). However, we are planning a long weekend get away just the two of us (it will be our first) and she asked if her friend could come down for a day because they live close by (it is fine if I say no though).
I felt extremely hurt by this. I get she hasn’t seen this person in a while but I also felt like I was no longer the priority. I thought that we finally had a chance to be alone and travel and spend time connecting and it just doesn’t seem as important to her. I don’t seem as important to her, despite her saying she loves me and wants me around.
At this point I am not quite sure what to do. We have had one or two conversations about how I am not feeling great about this and that I am not feeling like a priority but I didn’t think I had to ask so much for alone time with my girlfriend. Any advice? How long do I keep going feeling like things haven’t changed? Am I being too emotional or sensitive?
Am I All Out of Love?
DEAR AM I ALL OUT OF LOVE: I think the problem here is that you’re coming at this from two very different directions, AIAOL. You two are looking at the same situation and seeing things very differently. You’re seeing this upcoming trip as an opportunity for the two of you to relax and savor some time together. It’s an opportunity to carve out time for the two of you to just enjoy yourselves, reaffirm and strengthen the bond and intimacy you two have and generally just enjoy some much-needed togetherness away from the hustle and bustle of your daily lives. Your girlfriend, on the other hand, sees this as a chance to see a friend she never gets to see because hey, they live so far away. And — in your girlfriend’s mind — it’s not that big of a deal to invite them along because it’s just for a day. And probably not even a full day, if you factor in the time it’d take for them to get there and when they’d have to leave.
I suspect the issue is the way you express and receive affection for one another; your love-languages, as it were. Because you’re (metaphorically) speaking different languages, there’s a disconnect in what you’re each saying and what the other is hearing. If we take the Five Love Languages metaphor, then part of how you express affection for someone is quality time. You want to spend time with just them because that time is just about the two of you. But if that’s not the way your girlfriend sees or receives affection, then she may not understand what this means for you. It very well may be that she sees her time with you differently. She sees you regularly — you live together, after all — but she doesn’t have as much time to see her friends and so that feels like the bigger lack. She doesn’t necessarily recognize that in trying to plan things with groups and maximize the amount of time she has to see her friends is conflicting with the way you express affection. Meanwhile, you may not necessarily recognize the way that she expresses affection for you because she’s functionally speaking a different language. As a result, you’re shouting love at one another, but neither of you are understanding it. Now you’re getting frustrated because you’re not getting what you asked for, while your girlfriend is confused and frustrated because she thinks she’s showing you exactly what you want.
This is why I think the two of you need to have another conversation, AIAOL… but this time you need to do more than tell her that you don’t feel like you’re a priority to your girlfriend. I think you need to prepare to have an Awkward Conversation where you lay out not just what you need from your girlfriend — more consideration, more time, feeling like more of a priority — but also how she can best give those things to you. If she feels like you have all this quality time already because you live together, then you need to explain the difference between your daily life together and taking your first trip together as a couple. The more you can help her understand the ways that you receive love and affection from someone — the ways that you’re most likely to understand — the easier it is for your girlfriend to give you what you need and the more satisfied you’ll be.
However, after you share your side of things, you need to give your girlfriend the chance to share how she gives and receives love and affection. Because while you may feel like you’re not a priority to her, it may well be that she’s expressing her feelings for you in ways you aren’t necessarily picking up on. Learning how to speak her languages and how to recognize when she’s showing love to you will also help because now you’ll better understand those times when she’s demonstrating how she feels for you. And while it can be frustrating when you both speak different languages — as it were — learning how to receive love from each other in the ways you show it, the better your relationship will be overall.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org