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Give Your Man Relationship Space

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Dear Mona,

I love my boyfriend very much, and I know that he loves me; however, since we moved in together he seems to take me for granted, he expects me to sacrifice things, which i have no problem doing, although he doesn't feel as though he should. He isn't mean to me or unfaithful, I trust him completely. I just feel a little used.

We both moved to New Orleans a little while ago and had to move to Florida due to Hurricane Katrina. We are currently staying with my parents. He doesn't even take a day off unless I beg him to. This upsets me not only because I don't get to see him but because it makes me think he doesn't care that he doesn't get to see me.

He doesn't earn much money, and wants us to move into our own place here in FL, but can't afford to pay 1/2 the bills. I wouldn't mind this if it felt like he appreciated me more, but it doesn't. Do I stay around hoping that things will change or do I cut and run?


Dear Nagging Wife,

It's not uncommon for things to go south once you've moved in with our boi toi. I should know, I've been there a couple of times. You guys were of course inseparable before he packed his bags, but now he can't wait to leave the house. This doesn't necessarily mean he's over you and the relationship- it sounds like he's looking for space.

Moving in with someone is a life-changing event that carries with it an extreme amount of stress. We also learn new things about our boyfriends that we didn't know prior to the move. Sure, you were at his house (or him yours) all the time, but living together is an entirely different scenario. Your lifestyles are adjusted, your habits modified and most importantly, your relationship now has permanence. Add the stress of a natural disaster and a move to your parents and you have a mess of a boyfriend. Something is troubling your man- it could be you, your family, the move or just plain stress. We all deal with this stress differently, but some men need space or time to recharge their batteries.

When we are with a man that needs space, our tendency is to constantly prod him for information. We become obsessed with knowing what's wrong. We gauge every action and aggressively or passive-aggressively demand to know what has caused the discord. This only drives him further away. Believe it not, he probably works all the time because that's the only time he gets to himself. Plus, he could be a little embarrassed about being broke in your parent's home. Parents have a knack for making even the best man feel like a bum.

The best way to battle a distant man is with distance. Sit him down and let him know that you love him and care about what's going on in his life. Tell him you want to make it work and leave it at that. A 5 minute conversation will do. Try not to force him into a full blown tear fest. Once you've given him your disclaimer of commitment, back off a bit. Let him work out his frustrations, but periodically reassure him that you care.

How he reacts to your new hands off approach will tell you all you need to know. If he continues to pull away, then you might want to reevaluate what you are getting out of the relationship. Hopefully, he will see that he needs to open up in order for you both to work through your problems. Until then, put the brakes on your giving nature. Hold off on getting a place until you are sure he can meet you halfway (at least emotionally).

I'm not an advocate of one-sided relationships, but sometimes one or the other needs a little room to be selfish. Give him some space, but make sure it's not too much for too long. If things don't change, then it might be time to give yourself a little room to breathe.

Yours in love,
Mona
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