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If you’re starting to feel like your boyfriend is taking you for granted, you might be wondering what to do about it.
It’s a tricky one once you’ve realized that you’re in this situation, but there are definitely steps you can take to get out of it.
We’ll run through the best way to approach it, and when to simply call it quits and move on.
Caveat: if your boyfriend is controlling or in any way abusive, be careful how you approach the situation. Some of the tips below might backfire and lead to aggression or worse. If you are in this situation, you might like to read our article on how to leave a toxic relationship.
1. Wait it out.
The first thing to do is wait and see how things pan out. It might be that he is in a bit of a rut or the relationship is just going through a rough patch – it happens.
Of course, that doesn’t make it okay for him to treat you badly, but it might explain things, and reassure you that it’s short-term.
Relationships, just like people, go through phases and changes. It might be that the two of you are going through a bit of a sticky phase and you just need to ride it out.
If your boyfriend is going through a lot in his personal life (like job stress or family issues), it’s understandable that he might have dropped off a bit in some aspects, including how he treats you and how much he pulls his weight.
Try not to take it personally, but don’t allow him to walk all over you or have unreasonable expectations of you just because he’s going through a hard time.
2. Tell him how you feel.
As we’ve said above, there might be some genuine reasons behind your boyfriend taking you for granted. That doesn’t justify it, and you still don’t deserve it, but it might give you some insight into a conversation you need to have.
Choose a good time to have an open conversation about how you feel – how you both feel.
Ask if he’s having a hard time as you’ve noticed his behavior has changed and you’re worried about him.
Don’t accuse him or threaten him, but come from a place of care and consideration. He might be surprised to realize how much his behavior is impacting you, and will likely feel some guilt over it.
He might not admit it straight away, as he might feel a bit criticized and backed into a corner.
Give him a little bit of time to sort his head out, but, if things don’t feel like they’re going to change or he makes no effort to alter his behavior, consider walking away for good.
3. Make it clear what you want.
Nobody can read minds, least of all your boyfriend. Now, that’s not an excuse for his poor behavior, but it might be time to re-establish some expectations and boundaries.
If your boyfriend is taking you for granted, it’s often hard to know the best way to move forwards, but sometimes you almost need to move backwards first.
Imagine you’re back at the beginning of your relationship and think about all the things you wish you would have acted on rather than just letting them go.
We often let things slide or hope something is just a phase when we first notice that something isn’t quite right. It can be hard to pinpoint exactly when things changed, or when we started feeling negatively about our partner or relationship.
Start enforcing your expectations now, based on what you know of your current relationship.
You can start by no longer accepting certain behaviors, for example. You can stop doing everything around the house, or you can say no when you feel like you’re being unfairly bossed around.
You’ve probably both gotten so used to him calling the shots, or him not acknowledging the things that you do, that it feels normal now. He might not even realize he’s doing it, or he might now know that it bothers you because you’ve never spoken about it before.
By bringing things up now, you can start to establish some clearer boundaries and expectations for your future relationship together. It might feel daunting, but go slow and steady and you’ll both find your way to a healthy balance that works.
4. Use positive reinforcements.
Along with establishing new boundaries, you can actively encourage ‘good behavior.’
Yes, that might sound a bit patronizing – we know you’re not training a dog – but this positive reinforcement can make a huge difference.
Next time your boyfriend thanks you for cooking, for example, tell him how good that makes you feel. Tell him you love it when he notices the things you do for him, and you find it really attractive that he is caring.
This will give him a little ego boost, and he’ll feel like a good guy for doing it. He’ll also appreciate being told when something he’s done is good more than he’ll appreciate being ‘nagged’ about doing something you don’t like.
It’s a good way to keep the peace, keep things calm, and make you both feel more positive about the relationship in general too.
You can do this when he says thank you, or when he does something you would normally do.
If you come home to find he’s tidied up or taken the dog for a walk, for example, you can give him a huge kiss and tell him how much it means to you that he’s helping keep things going while you’re busy.
This shows him how much you value him doing these kinds of things, and he’ll then feel valued by default, making everything a lot calmer and happier for you both.
And, if he feels appreciated, not only might he proactively do more things to help, he might also show his appreciation of you more often.
Sure, it might sound unfair on you to reward him for the tiniest things when you are doing so much more, but stick with it and you might see the kind of change in him you are hoping for.
5. Get to the bottom of it.
If you’re not sure where this behavior is coming from, it might be worth really digging deep and trying to find a root cause.
Again, this is not an excuse for his behavior but it will help you work out what’s really going on.
If the open conversations haven’t resulted in anything majorly insightful and you’re not ready to move on just yet, you might want to do some investigating.
Maybe he has been like this in past relationships, in which case you’re unlikely to see any change and it might be best to call it quits and move on as soon as you can.
He might confide in you that he’s also been the victim of a partner taking advantage of him – he might not understand how to have a healthy relationship and he’s still figuring out boundaries and realistic expectations and behavior.
Once you explore the reasons behind this behavior, you can take more steps toward working on it – together or alone.
He may prefer to speak to a professional therapist about some deeper issues, or he may want a bit more space from time to time to process how he’s feeling. Be patient – we all have things we need to heal from in order to grow!
6. Get some space.
Sometimes, guys need to be shown what they’re missing in order to realize what they have.
We’re not saying you should give him an ultimatum or threaten him, but it can be useful to give the relationship some breathing room.
It can give you both some time and space to reevaluate how you both feel – and it might make him realize just how much he likes you and how much you add to his life.
Being alone more will make him realize all the things he needs to do for himself now that you’re no longer doing them for him!
He’ll quickly realize how much time goes into different activities, or how lonely he feels without you to cuddle up with on the sofa.
He’ll start to notice how much value you add to his life, and he’ll be very keen to get that back – and acknowledge just how great it is to have you around!
7. Give him a taste of it.
We don’t like game-playing, but you can highlight his behavior in ways that he’ll understand more easily. Again, don’t start treating him really badly, but you can make it clear just where things are falling short.
If he never does the dishes and always expects you to sort it out, stop doing it. You can still clean up after yourself, but stop doing everything for him.
He’ll quickly realize how messy things get when you make the same level of effort as he does – none!
Equally, stop going out of your way to please him in special, thoughtful ways and he’ll soon start to realize just how much he’s taking you for granted.
It’s sad but some men just need to see what life would be like without their partners before they realize just how great they’ve already got it.
8. Give yourself the love you deserve.
One of the best ways you can stop yourself from feeling so rubbish about your boyfriend is by giving yourself the love you deserve.
This helps in several ways – it helps you realize exactly what is lacking in your relationship and just how much you’re worth, it makes you feel better in a situation that might have made you feel pretty awful, and it shows your boyfriend that you know your worth and expect more.
Start spending more time on your own and pursuing your own hobbies. The more invested you are in your own life, the less pressure there is on you to keep up the pretence of this ‘perfect’ relationship.
He’ll also start to realize that you’re not going to stand for his behavior and will be more likely to change his behavior to match your new-found expectations.
He’ll also see that you really respect yourself and will stop treating like you’re a pushover – because you’ve stopped acting like a pushover.
If your boyfriend is taking you for granted, you might feel as though you’re at breaking point. It’s demoralizing and soul-destroying to feel like someone you love and do so much for just doesn’t appreciate any of it – or appreciate you.
By working through the suggestions above, you can hopefully move toward a better, healthier relationship.
Some things take time, so try to be patient and see if things feel like they’re starting to change.
If you’re starting to doubt how capable he is of changing his behavior, you have to know when to walk away. It’s sad, but so is staying in a relationship that no longer serves you. The choice is yours – and you know the answer.
Still not sure what to do about being taken for granted by your boyfriend? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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