“He Only Gives Me Crumbs of a Relationship”

I have been dating this guy for about five months now. Things have been very non-traditional, to say the least. He is 26, I am 27. We knew each other as kids, and recently re-connected after 10 years. Both of us were fresh out of relationships that had ended poorly. We ended up being very compatible, and one thing led to another. Due to the baggage though — I would say more so his baggage — things got complicated.

About two months ago I told him I was in love with him. I’m mature enough to not need an answer, but after two months, I was hoping he would make more room for me, by which I mean: plan ahead of time to see me, make weekend plans with me (even if it’s just ONE weekend a month). He is a busy man and works long hours, which is why I understand why he wouldn’t spend every free moment he has with me. All I am asking though is that I’m not a last minute plan.

I enjoy the time I spend with him, and it’s great to have someone who values honesty as much as I do, but he says “his emotional restrictions, and my emotional expectations seem to be our biggest problem.” Well, I feel like he feels more emotional expectations from me than I really give him. So despite my strong feelings for him, I decided it was time I do something different.

If what I want is to go out on a date and feel pretty, then I would go out on a date and feel pretty. Not only did I go out on a date with another man, but I told him about it. We have had this exclusive dating policy since we first started seeing each other, but the other policy was to always be honest, and if we were to start dating someone else, we had to be open about it. So I told him about it, and he seemed to get upset. I’m not surprised; I would be upset as well.

I really care about him, but I can’t stay in limbo land with him forever just HOPING for more, or even ASKING for more. This is such a PATTERN for me. I take it longer than I should to move on, finally I walk away, and then weeks or months down the line they come back. I could use some solid advice. — Crumbs

Why are you still hanging on to this guy? What are you waiting for? Your boyfriend has flat-out told you he can’t meet your expectations. Just because you happen to think those expectations are pretty minimal — and they are! — doesn’t mean after five months, he’s suddenly going to come around and agree with you. He is already giving you all he’s interested in and/or able to give you. If it’s not enough for you — and clearly it isn’t — MOA! I mean, come on.

And break the pattern this time. Walk away for good. Practice self-respect. Don’t take back some dude who never gave you what you wanted in the first place. Quit settling for less than what you want. Keep looking for the guy who is going to make room in his life for you. It will take approximately 2-3 weeks to know whether a guy has space for you. He’ll make weekend dates with you. He’ll be in touch a few times a week. He’ll show interest in making plans in the future.

If he doesn’t do those things within those first few weeks, move on. Life is too short to hang around waiting for some dude to turn into what you want him to be when there are other guys out there who already are what you want them to be. Quit wasting time with the ones who aren’t what you’re looking for and be more aggressive in finding the ones who are. That’s the only way you’ll break your pattern and find true happiness.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. I agree with Wendy. This guy isn’t at a place in his life where he can give you what you want. It sounds like there is the potential for this to be a good relationship, but not right now. If you want to have a chance with him in the future, tell him what you need and end things and maybe he’ll come back to you when he knows he can give you what you want. And if you’re beyond fed up and don’t want a future with him, wait until he finally calls you and plans a date and break-up with him on that date. Cruel, but quite poetic.

    1. I don’t know if there’s any reason for her to unnecessarily twist the knife. She already went out with someone else while exclusively seeing this guy. If she wants to break up w/him, just do it. Break ups are hard enough for everyone. He’s already stated what he can give and what he can’t. It doesn’t make him a bad person to not have time for her. He doesn’t sound like an abuser or a cheater or anything, just a workaholic who still hasn’t processed the BS from his last relationship. And it doesn’t make HER a bad person to want more from a boyfriend. They both just need to find more compatible people.

      1. Dear lord. When did comments become so serious around here? I swear there needs to be a “THIS IS A JOKE. NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND SHOULD ACTUALLY DO THIS” font.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        How dare you justpeachy!?!?! If you don’t like it, don’t comment at all. (This post is written in the ‘Amiright? THIS IS A JOKE. NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND SHOULD ACTUALLY DO THIS” font’).

      3. There is….”amiright”

      4. I must have missed the memo on that one, but I fully intend on employing it WAY too often now.

  2. ForeverYoung says:

    I am always amazed at how long it takes people to move on. He can’t/won’t plan a freaking date in advance with you and you’ve dated him for 5 months? Wendy is so right with this specific timetable – if someone has room for you in their life – you will know in 2-3 weeks. He clearly didn’t. Retake your life and move on to someone who won’t wait until the last minute to hang out with you in case something or someone better comes along.

  3. Love Wendy’s response. I wish more women truly understood this. I wish more of my good girlfriends truly took this to heart. If the guy you’re with isn’t the guy you want, someone else out there IS. We all get so caught up in trying to make flawed relationships work, when sometimes what we really need to do is to stop trying and start figuring out what we really want in a relationship.

    When I broke up with my ex boyfriend who never had time for me, after all the tears and heartbreak had subsided, I suddenly felt like the whole world had opened up. Instead of trying so hard to squeeze myself into his busy life, which he obviously didn’t want, I could find someone who actually wanted to spend time with me. I think we all need to be clear with ourselves as to what we are looking for in a partner, and it’s not all about hair color and height and taste in movies. High on that list should be values and priorities and yes, even available time compatibility. Only then, when we’ve taken the time to acknowledge what is really important, will we be open to finding someone who will WANT to give us the whole cake and not just the crumbs.

    1. spanishdoll says:

      Exactly! I recently broke up with an boy who I loved very much, but who could never quite carve out enough time for me. Now that I’m single, I feel like the world is mine to conquer, as I’m no longer planning my life around his stupid workaholic schedule!

    2. lets_be_honest says:

      Its so nice when you go from one to the other too and realize what it is to be treated right.

  4. TheOtherMe says:

    Why don’t you just ask him to agree to a compromise, like seeing each other 1 weekend day per week or something. That way he can still do all his other stuff that gets pushed aside during his extremely busy work week.

    1. Good point. It isn’t completely clear they have really communicated a way to fix this…but holy crap I would dump a chick for trying to make me jealous like that.

      1. Yeah, I mean if you are going to go on a date with another dude when we are exclusive, at least tell me so I can break up with you.

      2. Totally agree. It was extremely immature of her to do that. He’s no angel, but she had childish intentions with that… She could’ve gotten her point across in a more level-headed way.

  5. silver_dragon_girl says:

    Totally agree with Wendy, and nothing to add of my own, except the ubiquitous…

    “A guy who wants to be your boyfriend won’t spend much time acting like anything else.”

    1. Things I really wished they taught in sex ed, and I got the comprehensive version.

    2. WatersEdge says:

      that’s going to be my DW legacy! 🙂

  6. Nothing to add to Wendy’s advice, I just had to say that that pic made me REALLy hungry!

  7. Nothing to add- Wendy got it right. When someone wants to be your boyfriend they ACT LIKE THEY”RE YOUR BOYFRIEND.

    He’s not doing this and it sounds to me like he won’t in the future.


  8. “Emotional restrictions?” Wow…that’s a bullshit response if I ever heard one. LW, maybe you have a higher sense of what to expect in your relationship milestones due to your shared history together, but I personally don’t think you’re being unreasonable at all asking for ONE planned weekend together a month for the time you’ve been dating. If you want to do something different and no longer be exclusive with him anymore because of his indecisiveness, you have every right to do so. Just make sure that you make it clear to him why you’ll be seeing other people and keep the honest thing going.

    But be sure to be honest with yourself in the process. You mentioned that you already told him you loved him. Yet you didn’t give any indication that he said it back. I think this is really bothering more that you want us to believe. If this guy is someone you seriously want to have a lasting relationship with, make it known to him. If he can’t come to an understanding about what you want or let you know that he can potentially feel the same way himself regarding you, then don’t waste your time and MOA. Don’t pussyfoot about it with the idea of you going with someone else – just MOA.

    One final thing about your letter that really annoyed me. You’re 27…and you’re not getting any younger?!? Woman, please! Contrary to those who say otherwise, life does NOT end at 30. Yes, there may be some biological changes in your body that may pose challenges to having children (if that’s what you want), but it still can be done. You’re life hasn’t even really started yet, so stop putting your life in these series of expectations to be fulfilled – only because you don’t even know what you’re going to face yet.

  9. lets_be_honest says:

    Can I throw something in here totally off-topic…any of you ever go on pinterest?

    1. 6napkinburger says:

      No but i want link/ability to go on so bad!! do you have an extra?

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        I’m confused…you just need the link, right? Its pinterest.com. And I’m Obsessed with a capital O.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        And sorry Wendy, should’ve put this on the open thread that asked for internet sites to kill time with.

      3. TheOtherMe says:

        Never be sorry for going off topic, it brings a lot of extra posts, I do it all the time, I’m sure Wendy doesn’t mind 😉

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        Well, well Ms. TheOtherMe, seems someone hasn’t read the FAQs for DW. Tisk, tisk. Off topic posts will be deleted! DELETED!! (I’ve had too much coffee today)

      5. TheOtherMe says:

        Well then i am soooo screwed !!!

      6. 6napkinburger says:

        I thought it was like gmail was originally — you couldn’t set up a board unless you were invited by someone already on it

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        You can request an invite on the website. I got one the next day.

  10. 6napkinburger says:

    On-topic, but not really to the LW: In defense of busy schedules

    I am about to re-enter the dating pool, and I just want to say that there are some people’s jobs who do not allow them to plan without the (really strong) possibility of cancelling. I cannot make plans for a weeknight without 80/20 chance that they will be cancelled, and about 50/50 on the weekends. It is because I do not dictate my schedule — there is no “no, i’m sorry, I have dinner plans” at the bottom of the corporate ladde. So when I start dating, all my plans will be tentative. I can imagine some guys who feel bad about cancelling not wanting to make dates until they know for sure they can go (as in, lets go right now!). I think this is silly, and that they should make dates, full well telling the person that there’s a good chance they’ll cancel. This absolutely sucks, but its life for them(/us).

    That said, its ridiculous that he hasn’t presented the situation like this to her, saying something like “there’s a 75% chance of cancelling, but if i don’t have to work, lets go to a late dinner next sat night. can I call if I get out this sat night too, but I totally understand if you’re busy?” Which makes me think he’s not into it, as he would TRY to meet up with her as often/planned as possible. Its the lack of effort that shows that he’s not worth it.

    But some people really are THAT busy. Its fair to choose not to date them because of it, but it doesn’t always show inconsiderateness or non-interest. (although I think it does here).

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Good points! You know what used to make me nuts though…when I would text someone that would only need a quick one or two word response/answer and they wouldn’t get back to me for hours bc they were too busy. That I understand. But then I’d check facebook (you know, the end all, be all of humanity that only serves to help people’s friendships and relationships) and see they posted nonsense when they were “busy.”

      1. 6napkinburger says:

        Speaking on behalf of all busy people, 97% there is time for a quick response text, as long as the person will not get offended if there is only one quick response. Sometimes, there is literally not even the time/mental bandwidth to pay attention to the buzzing phone, but 97% of the time, there is. There just isn’t enough time for the back and forth of a text convo. And I’m with you, i freaking hate it. “Home by 9?” should get a response. But “How’s work?” usually prompts in my head a “super busy, ttyl”, which can make people feel bad. So maybe that’s why people choose to wait (which i think is cruel). I send the “super busy, prob home by 1:30, ttyl” and hate when people don’t.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        OK, good, its not just me. I guess I will delete the letter to Wendy about how to handle my rude friends who never reply to texts in a timely manner hehe 😉

      3. I find when I get texts when I’m super busy or in the middle of something I can forget them before I can respond because the notification goes away…they should add a feature that lets it re-send the notification for a message if you have time to check, but can’t reply.

    2. I’ve been married for over a decade, my husband calls/text if he is running late/can’t meet up with us. It’s called being considerate. With communication being available in ways it wasn’t 15 years ago, unless he a miner working in a cave. Busy people have ways to be considerate, even if they have to cancel often.

  11. Britannia says:

    Maybe he’s been hurt in the past and finds it hard to open up his heart to someone? I wish LW had really given this guy a chance to explain himself before going out with another guy. I think that if it is trust issues that this guy has, LW has shot to hell any chance of eventually getting him to be emotionally open… And may have even made things worse for him. At the very least, LW, you should explain to him why you did all you have done. He needs to hear it if he hopes to eventually be able to be in love.

    1. If that is the case, then this guy needs a therapist, not a girlfriend. It’s not the LW’s job to “fix” him … especially since he has shown no sign that he wishes to change. I agree she should explain why she is breaking up with him, but that’s all.

  12. Good response for sure. Nothing to add really except I’m surprised he didn’t call it off with you for your dating ploy.

  13. denial week continues – maybe this should also be the topic for the Weekend Thread….

  14. I’d tell him, “I really don’t want to hurt you, but this relationship isn’t satisfying for me. I should have let you know before I went out on a date, but for now at least I’m not ready to have a monogamous dating relationship with you. I’d be happy to continue to make plans with you, but I’m going to be making plans with other men as well because my goals involve finding a real life partner at this point in time.” (& I’d also say, “I don’t want to be physically intimate with you or anyone else while I’m dating multiple people,” but that’s your choice.)

    If he wants to, he’ll make sure he’s the only guy you end up dating. I think your impulse is correct, however, to get out & keep looking, because this guy probably isn’t it.

  15. I’m confused about what the problem is here… you’re unhappy in your relationship to the point of seeing other men. What more proof do you want or need that your 5-month boyfriend is donezo here?
    You’re not even asking if it’s time to MOA — you already did, by seeing someone else despite being “exclusive” and “honest.” You’ve got one foot out the door, now get the other one out and go find someone who will actually make time for you 🙂

  16. This is what you shoul say to him LW:

    “This relationship isn’t satisfying for me. I should have let you know before I went out on that date. I’m sorry I hurt you by doing that. I don’t want to hurt you, but I want a boyfriend that is there for me emotionally, will make time to see me on weekends, wants to be with me, loves me and can’t wait to see me again. You have made it clear that you don’t want this so I have to leave. If you do want what I want then maybe we can work it out, otherwise I’m going to be dating other men and eventually find that person that will give me the statisfying relationship I need.”

    This is honesty and you have to do this!

  17. artsygirl says:

    LW – I am sorry that this relationship is not working out – and let be honest this relationship is not really a relationship. It sounds like you meet him when both of you were on the rebound and while you are ready to begin a new relationship he is still stuck in neutral. So break it off with him. I would suggest no more contact since it would be easy for him to make an overture (ANY overture) and you would see it as him making an effort to be with you, but in realty it would most likely be empty. Go meet new people and find potential partners in someone who is not ready to be with you.

    p.s. I know it is immature but I make a SQUEEE sound whenever the ‘crumbs of relationship’ line is used. I didn’t realize it would resonate so well with everyone.

    1. I was gonna say it sounds more like a FWB deal than a relationship. I mean, to my knowledge, people in relationship makes plans/time to see each other a lot. She doesn’t even see him one weekend a month??

  18. ReginaRey says:

    Awesome advice, Wendy. And as another commenter said above, and as we often say around here, people who want to be your boyfriend will ACT LIKE YOUR BOYFRIEND. I’m so, so tired of women settling for nothing, and trying to justify it with statements like “He has baggage” and “He’s really busy.” How many times do we have to say it – We’re ALL busy, and we ALL have baggage! But guess what, that doesn’t prevent the vast majority of us from having solid, healthy, meaningful, long-lasting relationships with other human beings. Because if you care about someone enough, you work through your baggage, you make time for them, and you prioritize them in your life. If you aren’t doing those things – it ain’t the right relationship for you.

    You can’t turn this dude into the boyfriend you want him to be. The fact that you’re manipulating the situation – by going out with other dudes – to try to get this guy to be the partner you want him to be is a SURE sign that you need to move on. If you’ve resorted to going out with other people in hopes of making your relationship BETTER (backward, much?!)…it’s time to MOA.

    1. ape_escape says:

      Girl, your advice, so solid.

      I think everyone is right and I agree with the idea that a dude who wants to be your boyfriend will spent time acting like your boyfriend. My question is, at what point *does* one make time for / prioritize the other person in their life?

      Not expecting an answer, but curiously trying to figure ish out 🙂

  19. Yeah, I didn’t get the part where they were actually IN a relationship in the first place. They were friends, then they both ended relationships, then “one thing led to another”… dot dot dot? Next thing, LW says she professed her love for him (and it sounds like he didn’t say it back), and THEN expected him to change his tune (as in, hey babe, now you have to spend more time with me). When he didn’t, she went on a date with someone else. She says that they had an “exclusive dating policy” but also an “honesty policy” which included letting each other know if they DID date someone else……?

    I’m just very confused.

    In any case, she’s not getting what she wants from the relationship and he straight up TOLD her that his “emotional restrictions” are going to prevent him from meeting her “emotional expectations”, so….. It’s over. Move along.

  20. This guy isn’t your boyfriend. Not sure what he is, but I am sure that continuing to date him is going to be a long miserable road. If you want to feel pretty, get dressed up, & have a guy take you out, devote time to you, that’s great! Do it! Without this guy in your life… He already knows you’re there, that you’ve been there for 5 months putting up with his crap, so he’s not going to try any harder. He doesn’t want to & frankly he doesn’t have to. Why do you think you have to settle for “crumbs”? What are you getting out of this? Nothing! Except for headaches & heartaches, absolutely nothing. Don’t revolve your world around trying to make him “give you more,” you’re only making him feel more important. Revolve your world around making YOURSELF feel important. Be strong, cut your losses. This guy is NOT going to change, at least not for a long time & def. not while he’s with you. As Wendy said, break your pattern.

  21. Alright, I’m gettin super cerebral right now because I just had a cafe mocha and some red vines and because of the sugar I can’t stop vibrating and mumbling to myself. Here we go:

    Short answer: dump him.

    Now that we got that over with, what caught my interest most was when you mentioned this was a pattern with you. Why do you care so much about a man who obviously doesn’t care as much for you back? Staying in relationships too long that aren’t emotionally satisfying for you and then having bfs come back to you when you do make the break is a pattern with you. The question is, why? Maybe there’s a part of you that needs to feel like the more attached one?

    And that whole business about going on a date with another man because you wanted to feel pretty and appreciated. Newp, that wasn’t it, Wendy was exactly right, you did it to get a rise out of your boyfriend. Making your boyfriend jealous to show his affection is so much more emotionally safe than actually asking for it, isn’t it? So, add these two bits of info, here’s my belief:

    You are scared to ask for emotionally investment from men because you don’t think you’ll get it, so you use different techniques other than asking for it to get it and you always come up short handed. And because you’ve become used to the short handiness of the arrangement, its become comfortable for you and you’ve become used to settling for men you should have passed up long ago. Your statement, “I’m mature enough to not need an answer” to “I love you” isn’t maturity, its accepting that you will always be more involved in the relationship than your partner.

    In the future, act on your needs. You need more attention and love? Ask for it. If you don’t get it, walk away, don’t play games to try to fool him into giving it to you. If you stay in a relationship knowing you wont get it, you are guaranteeing that you’ll get rejected. Why do that to yourself?

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Bizarre pet peeve alert- calling twizzlers red vines. Is it a regional thing? I never even heard of red vines til a few years ago.

      1. There is an actual type of red licorice that is called Red Vines. The package has “Red Vines” written on it and everything.

      2. Guys, Red Vines are the SH*T. Twizzlers are NOWHERE near as good. They are the waxy bastards of Red Vines. Haven’t you ever seen that big plastic container they sell at like Costco and what not? Is nobody else on the west coast to support my licorice namesake?!?!!

      3. no, sarah, no!!!

        twizzlers are amazing, because they are strawberry, and red vines are cherry, i think… and i hate cherry, hate red vines, but i looove strawberry and i love twizzlers.

        red vines taste like kids couch medicine, i think. lol

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        While I’ve never had these imposter twizzlers you speak of, I will say I PREFER stale twizzlers. I’ve always looked at twizzlers like band-aids. Even though they are brand names, there THE name for the product. Same for play-doh (which to this day is impossible to not want to eat if you ask me).

    2. ReginaRey says:

      YES. I love this whole response, but in particular: “Your statement, “I’m mature enough to not need an answer” to “I love you” isn’t maturity, its accepting that you will always be more involved in the relationship than your partner.”

      I wanted to comment on that part, but I think I got sidetracked earlier. Yes, yes, yes! The “I’m so mature I don’t need to hear I love you!” is NOT maturity nor confidence. In fact it is a pale, sickly imitation of confidence! It’s insecurity rearing it’s ugly head. It’s CONFIDENT to have needs! It’s mature to say “This isn’t working for me you. You can’t give me what I want and need, goodbye!”

  22. Betty Boop says:

    Not that you should necessarily stay with him, but LW, did you ever actually talk to your boyfriend about this? Because everything in your letter is about hoping it would get better and you can’t expect him to know it’s a problem or make an effort to fix things if you don’t actually tell him! Though, really, if you’ve gone on a date despite being in an exclusive relationship, you should move one because I don’t see how you come back from that kind of mistake. Lesson to learn from your described pattern: Don’t HOPE for more, ASK for more and if it’s not gonna happen, MOVE ON.

  23. Wendy, I thought you were very restrained… I would’ve made this a shortcut.

  24. Oh dear. Dear dear dear. I’m going to use your cake analogy again because I like cake. 🙂

    Out of your relationships, you want a hypothetical piece of delicious devil’s food cake. Moist, rich, and delectable.

    You go to another man out of spite because you want attention. Other man gives you a decent piece of spongy lemon cake–ok, but not ultimately what you’re after.

    And your guy? He is giving you that “no fat, low calorie” piece of healthy carrot cake that’s been left in the oven too long so it’s dry as cardboard. And no frosting. Gross.

    LW, you want to go for the yummy devil’s food but let me tell you, your man is NOT going to give it to you. MOA and go find your cake and eat it somewhere else.

    1. silver_dragon_girl says:

      Damnit, now I want cake.

  25. i would really like to know how you love someone after two months if you only see him rarely… you complain about him not even giving one weekend a month, how can you fall in love with someone who you pretty much never see?

    i dont understand that.

    i completely agree with everyone who has said that you need to find someone who will meet your needs, and you need to voice your needs. maybe not on the first date, say I need X, X and X in order to be happy, but atleast be grown up enough to say, you know what? this isn’t working. IM NOT HAPPY. i am leaving.

    i think you should not date anyone until you work through those issues… and mature a little bit. that whole going on a date while still being with your boyfriend thing? totally immature.

  26. SpyGlassez says:

    Read “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Because this guy isn’t.

    1. ReginaRey says:

      As much as some people think that book is old and tired, I still learned loads from it. And there are some women (this LW DEFINITELY included) who could benefit from picking it up.

  27. GET out Fast —- you spare part girl friend — use you up and take you to bed too – IF HE CAN then you stuck for 20 years PLENTY ‘Fish in the sea ” . bye

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