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‘He said he loves me but he does not look forward to seeing me’

Ask Roe: I believed he was my match and I am not sure how to glue my heart together

Dear Roe, 

I am a successful woman and a year ago I met a lovely man, who was my first love. We hit it off quickly, and I asked for the “girlfriend status” a week after we met. To my surprise he said yes, and things progressed great. I was now hoping they would have progressed further by meeting his mam, but he kept postponing. I asked about it every now and then, but didn’t think much of it until he broke up with me yesterday. 

He said he loves me but he does not look forward to seeing me as he does other friends. He said he has no reason to break up other than we have a non-balanced relationship where I do most of the work in keeping us together. I ended up nearly consoling him for breaking up with me. 

I really believed he was a match with me and I am not sure how to glue my heart together now. I have many hobbies, but nothing seems worth my time right now. What should I do?


What you should do is take a close, hard look at this relationship and the chasm that existed between what you want and what you actually settled for – and make sure you don’t settle again.

Your ex-boyfriend has done you a kindness by providing you with a very clear analysis of your relationship dynamic. He told you explicitly that this relationship was unbalanced and one-sided, with you doing all the work. You have confirmed this in your description of the break-up – you were not the one who left, and yet ended up comforting him. This happened because you have normalised the idea that your partner’s feelings are more important than yours, and that you need to be “of service” in a relationship or else you are of no value.

This even seems clear from your relationship origin story, where you pushed for girlfriend status almost immediately. Falling for someone quickly is not inherently a problem – whirlwind romances happen and can be glorious. But it is worrying that you were surprised that he agreed to be in a relationship with you. Feelings can creep up on you, love can be unexpected, romance can be unplanned – but relationships should never come as a surprise. Relationships are about commitment, communication, a vision of some shared future. By nature, healthy relationships require that both people know what they mean to each other, and know what they want their relationship to be.

That you found yourself surprised to be in a relationship indicates that you didn’t have any of these conversations with your boyfriend before asking for girlfriend status. And yet you asked for a relationship anyway, while not expecting him to say yes. This approach was always going to fail you. If he said no, as expected, you would have felt rejected. Or – as did happen – he said yes, and you were so shocked and grateful to be given a status you felt you hadn’t earned yet that you put yourself in the position of having to prove yourself worthy of this new title: the title of girlfriend.

Do you see how, by asking for a commitment that you didn’t feel you deserved, you set yourself up to be hurt either way? You entered into a relationship with imposter syndrome; the belief that you didn’t deserve to be there, that your boyfriend held all the power. And so you did all the work, believing you needed to earn your keep.

Status symbol

The fact that you refer to the “girlfriend status” is telling here. Being in a relationship is not a status symbol. It’s not some boost to a higher social level or a signifier of your self-worth. And being called someone’s girlfriend will not make you feel happy or more secure if the relationship itself doesn’t make you happy or more secure. Focusing on acquiring the title of girlfriend indicates some insecurity on your part – you’re looking for superficial ways to boost your self-esteem without focusing on what would actually make you happy. You’re letting other people define your self-worth, instead of building it up yourself.

You knew you weren't feeling valued or appreciated or loved, and yet you stayed

I know hearing that he wasn’t excited to see you is incredibly hard to hear, but it is important, because I suspect that on some level, you knew this. You knew that his responses to you were lacklustre and were centred on accepting the attention and love you gave him without giving much back. You knew you weren’t feeling valued or appreciated or loved, and yet you stayed, convinced that if you could just try harder, do the work, always be agreeable, always be helpful, if you could just shrink yourself down and repress your own needs in favour of his, then maybe you could convince him to love you back.

You cannot convince anyone to love you. You shouldn’t want to try. You should want to be in a relationship not for the sake of it, or the title, but because the relationship offers you something; it’s fun and fulfilling and loving and – importantly – equal.


Take this time now to stay single, and focus on who you are and what you are worth as an individual, on your own. Refocus on your hobbies and interests and friendships and the things that you enjoy, because your life is not just something to wait out while you’re between relationships.  Your life is where you get to explore what excites you and inspires you and what you value – so that you can then understand how a relationship could further enrich your life, instead of depending on a relationship status to bring your life meaning.

You invested a lot of energy into your relationship, to ensure your boyfriend felt loved and supported and happy. Do that for yourself now. Believe that you are worth it. And in your next relationship, don’t settle for anyone else who doesn’t agree.

Roe McDermott is a writer and Fulbright scholar with an MA in sexuality studies from San Francisco State University. She is researching a PhD in gendered and sexual citizenship at the Open University and Oxford.

If you have a problem or query you would like her to answer, you can submit it anonymously at