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“He Told Me He’s Too Busy for Me. Should I MOA?”

I met a great guy a few months ago. He has a lot going for him in all aspects and is genuinely a wonderful man. Unfortunately, since he attends a great university and is a leader in several student organizations, he has limited free time, which he spends going to events with his frat brothers, catching up on sleep and finishing his school work. We don’t talk on a daily basis and we barely text, but when we are together (which is once every 2-3 weeks) we have a fabulous time and we can talk for hours. I have been pushing him to talk to me and see me more often, but he claims he has no time and he will be more free in the future. When I told him he’s probably not ready for a relationship he responded that although he is extremely productive and doesn’t have time for a relationship, he doesn’t want to let a good opportunity (being with me) pass by and have another man “steal” me away from him.

In his past, his ex-girlfriend was with him on a daily basis (even while he was extremely busy) and he felt his personal space was invaded. I don’t want to invade his personal space at this early of a time by forcing him to hang out with me more. But at the same time, we have known each other for three months and are exclusively seeing each other, so is his request for space an indicator I need to move on? By straightforwardly admitting he doesn’t want to miss his chance with me (even though he is extremely busy), is he being selfish? I am lost and confused if I should really wait for this “free time” he will have in the future or if this guy is just wasting my time. — Non Space-Invader


Yes, of course, this guy is being selfish! He wants you to be exclusive to him so he won’t lose you to someone else, yet he’s unwilling to give you any of his limited free time, preferring instead to spend it with his frat bros? If not selfish, what else would you call that kind of behavior? And you’re totally enabling him. Why in the world are you settling for these “crumbs of a relationship”?

I’ve got news for you: this guy isn’t all that special. It sounds like he — and you — thinks he is, but this whole “I’m so busy” bullshit he keeps spewing is just that: bullshit. I mean, sure, maybe he’s busy, but guess what: we all are. Aren’t you busy? I know I am. I won’t even bore you with the details of how time-consuming running this site is — from creating content, reading and replying to the numerous letters I receive each day, managing ads and affiliates, promoting the site, monitoring comments, blah, blah, blah. And that’s just the work side of my life. I also have friendships to juggle, relationships with my family and in-laws to maintain, a home to keep clean, meals to prepare every day, birthdays to remember, gifts to buy, plants to water, travel plans to make, episodes of “Breaking Bad” to catch up on, and, oh yeah, a baby to prepare for. And you know what? I still make plenty of time for my husband. Why? Because I want to. Because people who want to be in relationships make time for them.

Clearly, this guy you’re seeing doesn’t want to be with you. He may recognize that you’re a great catch. He may realize you’re a cool person who, if he were looking for a girlfriend, would make an ideal one. But that’s not what he wants. If he did, he’d make time for you. End of story. You sticking with him — excluding all other options — is just … well, it’s kind of pathetic. I mean, what the hell do you get out of it? Nothing. Just the feeling that you’re of little value. And don’t tell me you don’t feel that way. How could you not when you’re exclusively dating a guy who’d rather sleep than hang out with you? The fact that you actually used the phrase “force him to hang out with me” should be an indicator of the value he places you at. MOA, darlin’, and stick with people who don’t have to be coerced into spending time with you.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar callmehobo June 6, 2011, 12:13 pm

Amen, Wendy.

LW, you deserve to feel wanted. “Force him to hang out” with you??? YOU ARE NOT A PUNISHMENT!

This is almost a maxim on this site, but if a guy wants to be your boyfriend he won’t waste time acting like anything else. Dude is selfish. Go hang out with some people who realize how awesome you are.

leilani leilani June 6, 2011, 12:22 pm

LW, you’re making this way too easy for him. You’re willing to be exclusive to him while he keeps you on the back burner behind all of his other priorities. Why would he want to let that kind of opportunity pass him by?? He gets to have his cake and eat it too, while you remain completely unsatisfied. If you’re willing to settle for that little, that’s what you’re going to get. I think you need to express to him that the way things are going are not cutting it for you, and that you’re ready to move on if he isn’t prepared for a bigger time commitment. If he really doesn’t want to lose the chance to be with you, he’s doing it wrong, because you (hopefully) aren’t going to put up with being treated like this for very long. If all goes the best it can, it will be the kick in the pants he needs to realize that if he wants a relationship with you, he needs to put in the effort that is expected of any guy you’re dating. More realistically, he’ll tell you again that he doesn’t have time to be your boyfriend, and hopefully, you’ll listen.

avatar Brooklyn June 6, 2011, 7:15 pm

Truthfully, I think she should just start dating other people. Usually I’m all for talking things out, but in this case I’m not sure its worth it. Best case scenario: he will decide to date you. But in the end he will probably feel forced into it and then resent you later on.

Date others and still date him if you want. When you aren’t so available to him and he asks why, tell him the truth. The truth that you knew he didn’t have time to be your boyfriend and others asked you out so you decided to since you were interested in them too and they were willing to make time. Maybe he will get his act together, maybe he won’t, but either way you won’t be waiting around for some dude that doesn’t deserve you.

avatar The_Yellow_Dart June 6, 2011, 12:23 pm

I definitely agree with Wendy. Even though this guy might have an enviable education, leadership roles in several organizations, and a swoon-worthy presence when you are together, can you really call a guy who unabashedly neglects you a “great guy”? I think not. MOA and spend some time determining what your “great guy” really needs to have – from your letter, it seems like “respect” and “willingness to spend time together” should be near the top of the list.

avatar Bethany June 6, 2011, 12:26 pm

I didn’t actually read the letter yet, but if that’s really what he said, I don’t need to. Clearly the answer is YES-MOA!!!

avatar Spark June 6, 2011, 12:27 pm

No matter how busy we are, it is ALWAYS possible to make time for the things we truly care about. If he wanted to make time for you, he could. It almost sounds like he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, so he is leading you on by saying how great you are and how he doesn’t want to lose you. I know it hurts to hear, but I don’t think his heart is in this one. :-(

avatar melikeycheesecake June 6, 2011, 12:30 pm

This is becoming a common question on this site.

If he won’t.. not can’t… because everyone CAN make time for the people they care for.. anyways.. if he won’t make time for you then MOA… I promise you there are men out there that will give you the time and attention you deserve.

avatar Jshizzle June 6, 2011, 12:31 pm

Next time he wants to hang out tell him that you feel your personal space is being invaded, that you wish to cut back to once every couple of months, and that you will be seeing other people, but you don’t wish to lose him to someone else.

avatar Seattle _lili June 6, 2011, 12:34 pm

WOW. This letter could be written by my ex’s new gal-minus the school stuff. I agree with Wendy’s response, any man that isn’t making time for you doesn’t value being with you enough. I must admit that I like the ex-gf in the letter probably did ‘invade his space’ a bit, but its a deceptive web these men weave with their so-called importance. I say for the sake of YOUR self esteem, MOA. It really starts to wear on you being given these crumbs as Wendy mentions and then you start to think of him as being ‘better than you’ because so many people want a piece of him anything he gives you is oh so special. Its crap. This is just a guy who can’t say no and IF he values you enough, he SHOULD WANT TO hang out more often. Schedules for men like him never really ‘free up’ it HAS to be something he arranges, and neglecting you this early on is NOT a good sign.

avatar PFG-SCR June 6, 2011, 12:35 pm

“…he responded that although he is extremely productive and doesn’t have time for a relationship, he doesn’t want to let a good opportunity (being with me) pass by and have another man “steal” me away from him.”

Just because he says a semi-sweet comment doesn’t make that overall statement endearing in any way – he is being selfish. He’s trying to call “dibs” on you without even making any effort whatsoever, and by doing that, it keeps you waiting for him, only to get his attention and time when he is interested. To be quite blunt – if he liked you enough, he’d make time. Trust me, he would. But, he doesn’t, and you’re getting nothing from this relationship that you want. So, stop wasting your time and stop allowing him to disrespect you in this way. And, stop letting him think that he can calls “dibs” on girls because he’s so “amazingly awesome” that they’ll just accept what little he gives them.

TheLadyE Emma Woodhouse June 6, 2011, 12:37 pm

Yep, I’d definitely say MOA! Let him miss you. He’s not ready for a girlfriend right now and you’re obviously not in the same place in your lives. If and when the timing is right, it will happen, and he WILL make time for you because he’ll have grown up and will understand how vital that is. If not, you’ll find someone who is ready to treat you the way you deserve to be treated and you’ll be so much better off for it.

avatar phoenix287 June 6, 2011, 12:43 pm

Amen Wendy!!!
“Because people who want to be in relationships make time for them.”

I wish there was a way to burn this line into everyone’s mind so that no one would ever settle for the crumbs of a relationship.

avatar ReginaRey June 6, 2011, 12:43 pm

It’s such a simple rule, but so many of us women just CAN’T see or understand it.

Right now he is making time for everything he WANTS to make time for – classes, school work, extracurricular activities. Don’t be fooled into thinking everything he does is an obligation that he’d really rather NOT do. If that were the case, he’d be even more eager to spend time with you – something that is NOT an obligation, and something that is purely enjoyable and fulfilling. He’s telling you he doesn’t have time because he doesn’t WANT to make the time for you. If he was head-over-heels, dying to be with you, he would be sacrificing sleep, some time with those frat buddies, and a few other things in order to make it happen. Guys are pretty hard to stop when they want to be with someone.

Right now, for instance, one of my best friends just started seeing a very busy grad student. He has a job, a huge grant proposal due this week, and he has STILL asked my friend multiple times when she’s available to hang out.

And you know what? Keeping in touch with someone you want to keep in touch with isn’t that hard! Texting isn’t that damn hard! If he wanted to, he could! It’s easy and quick and you can do it while you work/study/hang out with friends. Guarantee you he’s texting his friends to set up times to hang out with THEM. Girl, MOA. Stop settling for the few hours this guy is deigning to give you.

katie Katie June 6, 2011, 10:22 pm

“Guys are pretty hard to stop when they want to be with someone.”

I think that is especially true! I knew guys in high school who would completely cut off all other things (friends, sports, whatever) to be with a girl. a friend of mine in college would save up all the money he could (ie. not hanging out with us if we were spending any money whatsoever) so he could drive to see his girlfriend a couple times a month. now granted, girls do this to, but i feel like there is definitely a little bit of a different way that guys do it.

avatar Maracuya June 6, 2011, 1:01 pm

This is kind of an open and shut case, isn’t it? I’m sure he dumped his ex-girlfriend because his version of ‘invading his personal space’ equates with anyone else’s ‘wants to be acknowledged.’ Hanging out with you doesn’t preclude him from hanging out with his bros.

At best, you see each other bimonthly. At worst, once a month. You guys go to the same school. You are literally a walk away and he can’t be bothered to say, “Hey, let’s grab a quick dinner or lunch together at the [cafeteria, dining hall, student union.]“

avatar lexie.b June 6, 2011, 1:12 pm

If he wants to be with you, he will find a way to be with you. I’m sure there have been times in your life when you were dating someone and had a million things on your plate already, but still managed to make time for the guy you were seeing. Isn’t it only fair that we should expect the same?

I know I was in a similar situation and I let it go on way to long. By the time I ended the relationship I felt so worthless and unwanted because he never did come around to giving me the attention I was hoping for. You’re better on MOA because these types of situations are a high risk to damaging your self esteem, and ultimately it’s just not worth it!

avatar cdobbs June 6, 2011, 1:12 pm

Classic example of a guy who “wants his cake and eat it too!”. LW, MOA and find a guy who isn’t a selfish jerk!

avatar lk June 6, 2011, 1:30 pm

My highschool sweetheart became exactly like this once he joined a fraternity. By the end of sophomore year, I had to instigate a new date-night policy where – in addition to emails/lunch/study breaks – we had to have one committed night together. He blew it off one week, I told him I needed 2 weeks no contact to give us both time to think about what we needed during that transitional time. He blew it off again, and that was the end of our 3-year relationship. It was hard because I loved him and I could tell he really was trying to do the right thing by being “productive” and make the most out of his college experience.

LW, this guy is not a bad guy but his priority right now is not you (you don’t even make the top 10!) and that won’t work.

avatar SpaceySteph June 6, 2011, 1:49 pm

“this guy is not a bad guy but his priority right now is not you (you don’t even make the top 10!) and that won’t work”

Maybe agree with this (the “not a bad guy” part). It is possible that he really just lacks the self-awareness to see that what he’s asking of you is unfair. In college you think your life is so jam packed* only to find after college that you had tons of free time that you mostly spent sleeping or goofing off. If you tell this guy that you are not going to wait around for him to decide to have time for you, he may wake up and realize that he CAN make time for you. Or he may, a few months down the road actually find time for you. If this is the case, he might deserve a chance. But I would tread carefully, because this “I’m too busy” has all the makings of a line used to get what he wants without any sacrifices and that is not something anyone wants in a partner.

*This doesn’t go for everyone– the people who are working full time or have kids and are taking a heavy courseload or have other special circumstances have my utmost respect; frat bros who string girls along do not.

avatar lk June 6, 2011, 2:21 pm

^^ Agree.

Whether he’s using her for…um…”a fabulous time” or if he really does enjoy that they can “talk for hours” (pillow talk??)…either way, MOA.

avatar missarissa June 10, 2011, 2:59 pm

The “date night” thing really important with super busy people. And you can actually be too busy to spend a “reasonable” amount of time with someone, but you BOTH have to figure out the solution to that problem.

My BF just started a two year grad school program that takes up every other weekend, in addition to his 50+ hour work week. I’m no better, as I work on average 60+ hours a week, including most weekends. We’ve talked to people who have gone through his program before, and others like it, and they all stress the importance of “date night” where you focus on your partner and don’t let anything get in the way. (The unfortunate thing is that I am the one who can’t commit to never cancelling date night (the all-powerful blackberry reigns supreme above all else)). He just started and we have only had one date night so far, but it seems like its going to be key. (And he understands that date night can only be cancelled for work-reasons, not school reasons, as the goal is to make sure our relationship doesn’t get lost, not to wreck our careers).

Wish me luck?

(we also live together, so at least we can curl up to the other person

avatar SpaceySteph June 6, 2011, 1:38 pm

I would like to point to that beacon of American cinematic brilliance, John Tucker Must Die: In this movie, the titular character tells girls he’s too busy with school and basketball to have a relationship, so he doesn’t want to publicize their relationship or call her his girlfriend. Because he just gave that line to two other girls who also fell for it.

This guy is not your boyfriend. Nor does he want to be. At best he’s just kinda oblivious to how ridiculous he is, at worst he’s using you and possibly several other girls. MOA!

avatar Seattle _lili June 6, 2011, 1:46 pm

Oh ya…since we had an ‘amicable’ breakup, my ex wanted to remain friends and still meet up occasionally. He met up with me for drinks almost weekly during the same time he first started going out with his new girl. I told him we had to stop meeting once I found out about her, because if he really is as pressed for time as he says, why is he spending any of his free time with me, the ex? Shouldn’t he save all of that precious free time for her. I think he was keeping me around for booty calls now that I look back and am disgusted at his arrogance in juggling us both but it goes to show how much my self esteem suffered while i was with this ‘important and busy’ man…

avatar Krissy June 6, 2011, 1:51 pm

Yep! I’ve heard this line before also. He was just SO busy with all the important work he had to do… Turns out he had a girlfriend…

avatar spaceboy761 June 6, 2011, 1:47 pm

He’s using you for sex and doesn’t care about you at all.

avatar PFG-SCR June 6, 2011, 1:57 pm

And, that’s obviously not even that often since they only see each other every 2-3 weeks!

avatar lk June 6, 2011, 2:25 pm

Totally only worth it if you’re getting used for sex >1x/week

avatar PFG-SCR June 6, 2011, 2:44 pm

Once a week? No way I’d be used for sex unless it was at least once a day. Sheesh, a girl has needs.

avatar SGMcG June 6, 2011, 11:29 pm

So what species jerk is he?

avatar redessa June 6, 2011, 1:48 pm

I think this is the very definition of stringing someone along.

He’s got other priorities in his life right now besides dating and that’s fine. That doesn’t make him a bad guy. What *does* make him kinda douchy is this idea that he wants you to put your life on hold until he is ready for a relationship. There’s nothing about this that that should be okay with you. If you really think he’s the kind of person your could eventually build something with, then tell him to call you when he’s ready to be a real partner to someone. If you happen to be single, maybe you’ll consider going out with him again. But for heaven’s sake, don’t sit around waiting for that day to come.

avatar katiebird June 6, 2011, 1:56 pm

LW, my boyfriend sounds just like yours, fraternity, involved in a bunch of campus organizations, busy academic schedule, except for one thing; he makes time for me because our relationship is important to him. It *is* possible to balance all those things your listed and a relationship, so don’t listen to him when he says it isn’t. No matter how busy your guy may say he is, if he wanted to make time for you, he would and could do it. MOA, you deserve a lot better.