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How to Handle Your Boyfriend’s Lack of Effort

my boyfriend doesn't do anything special for me

You love your boyfriend, but he stopped making an effort in your relationship. You’re starting to wonder about his feelings for you, and perhaps even worry that he no longer loves you the way he used to.

Does your boyfriend still care about you? Why isn’t he trying harder to show his love? You don’t want to over-react, but you’re starting to worry that maybe your boyfriend stopped making an effort because his feelings have changed.

One of the best things to do when you’re confused about your relationship is to pull back and try to see yourself — and your boyfriend — more objectively. Here, you’ll find several questions and tips to help you evaluate your relationship and make a good decision about your boyfriend. You’ll learn how to respond when your boyfriend stops texting you. And if you need help deciding what to do about a boyfriend who isn’t making an effort in your relationship, you can share your story in the comments section below.


Putting yourself in your boyfriend’s shoes (and life) is important when you’re wondering what to do about his lack of effort. If, for example, your boyfriend is dealing with work stress, emotional health issues or family problems then you can might want to give him some time and space. But if you have no idea why your boyfriend stopped making an effort in your relationship, you may need to talk to him openly and honestly.

Be objective: how well do you know your boyfriend? How much do you know about his life, family, friends and job? On a scale of 1 to 10, would you rate your relationship a 1 (you started dating within the last couple of months and are still in the beginning phases of getting to know each other) or a 10 (you’ve been dating for 20 years and know each other inside and out)? The middle of this “relationship scale” is a 5: you’ve been dating for a year or more, and you know each other fairly well. Still, surprises still pop up often enough to keep you on your toes.

5 Things to Do When Your Boyfriend Stops Making an Effort

Did your boyfriend stop making an effort because he’s distracted or stressed about something else in his life? If so, you have to trust that your relationship can handle this temporary lull in affection and attention.

If, however, your boyfriend really has lost interest in you, then you may have to be painfully honest with yourself. You may have to loosen your attachment and allow your boyfriend to withdraw or even leave. The worst thing you can do is become a desperate, emotionally suffocating girlfriend who is scared to lose her boyfriend.

1. Accept that you can’t change your boyfriend

No matter how much you wish your boyfriend was making more of an effort in your relationship, you have to remember that there’s nothing you can do to change him. You want him to want you. You wish your boyfriend was as attentive and loving as he was at the beginning of your relationship. Of course you want him to make an effort to wine and dine you; his time, effort, and energy shows he cares about you.

Don’t let your wishes control your thoughts and feelings. If you succumb to what you wish your relationship and boyfriend was, then you’ll find yourself begging or manipulating your boyfriend into making an effort in your relationship. Instead of wishing things were different, practice accepting the fact that you can’t change your boyfriend or make him want to spend time with you.

Accept your boyfriend for who he is today.

2. Remember who you can change

If you’re depressed by my first tip on what to do when your boyfriend makes no effort in your relationship (accept him for who he is right now), I’ve got good news for you! You have the power to change someone very important in your life. You can change how you respond to your boyfriend and everything else in your life. You can adjust your expectations and change your reactions. You can’t control your feelings, but you can control what you say and do.

You don’t have to change your personality, but you may need to change your expectations. Are you expecting more from your boyfriend than he can give? If you depend on him for your self-identity and self-image, then you have to learn how to be an emotionally strong woman in your relationships. If your self-image is shattered because your boyfriend stopped making an effort, then you’re expecting too much from him.

Here’s what to do: write down the three strongest emotions you feel about your boyfriend’s lack of effort in your relationship. Write in your journal or diary, or share in the comments section below. Writing down your expectations will not only help you gain clarity and insight into yourself, it’ll also help you see if you need to change what you expect of your boyfriend.

3. Don’t settle for less than you deserve in a relationship

After you write down your expectations of your boyfriend, ask yourself if they’re realistic. For example, do you expect your boyfriend to text you five times a day or call you first thing in the morning and last thing before you fall asleep? Maybe what you see as your boyfriend’s “lack of effort” is simply a normal part of being in a solid, comfortable relationship.

On the other hand, maybe your boyfriend’s lack of effort means that he only calls you once a month or texts you once every two months. That’s not enough for any relationship! Maybe you feel grateful when your boyfriend finally decides to stop by at 10 pm, without calling first. Maybe he always expects you to be waiting for him, ready to do whatever he wants. Those aren’t just low relationship expectations, they’re unhealthy patterns of behavior. If you’re last on your boyfriend’s list of priorities, then you need to stop wondering what to do when he makes no effort in your relationship. You need to recognize that you’re settling for less than you deserve. And you need to figure out why you’re not asking him to treat you better.


4. Look at your boyfriend’s life through his eyes

my boyfriend doesn't do anything special for me
When Your Boyfriend Stops Making an Effort

Are circumstances in your boyfriend’s life affecting how he relates to you and others? This is where my first question comes in: how well do you know your boyfriend? If you’ve been together for a long time (a 7 or 8 on that “relationship scale” at the beginning of this article), then maybe you can see that your boyfriend isn’t making an effort because he’s dealing with serious issues in other parts of his life.

If you haven’t been dating long — or if your relationship is less than a year old — you may not know your boyfriend well enough to determine why he stopped making an effort. Is your boyfriend an emotionally unavailable man? Maybe he’s coping with financial problems in his professional or personal life, or grieving the los of someone he loves. Maybe he’s too heavy into the party, drugs, and alcohol scene. Or maybe your boyfriend is dealing with an ex-wife and custody issues, and just doesn’t have the time or energy to make an effort in your relationship.

5. Talk to him without getting angry or upset

It doesn’t have to be a big, heavy “relationship talk”! How you approach your boyfriend depends on his personality, your style of communication, and your relationship. If you almost never see each other, then sitting down to talk about your relationship – or his lack of effort – would look much different than if you live together.

Find a low-key, nonthreatening way to approach him. Try not to get upset, irritated, or emotional. Ask your boyfriend open-ended questions about how he thinks your relationship is going, and if there’s anything you both can do to bring you closer together. What you talk about really does depend on the issues you’re facing, how long you’ve been together, and why your boyfriend isn’t making an effort in your relationship.

If your boyfriend never made an effort to begin with, then he may simply be lazy or indifferent to building and maintaining a relationship with you. Perhaps he wasn’t taught how to love a woman, and he hasn’t taken time to learn what goes into a happy, healthy relationship. Perhaps he thinks guys don’t need to make an effort in relationships, and girlfriends should do all the work.

See why it’s so important for you to know your boyfriend — and know yourself — before deciding what to do when he doesn’t make an effort? All relationships are unique. And, your definition of “not making an effort” may not match your boyfriend’s definition…which means you’re operating from a completely different set of expectations.

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below! I have no answers, but you may find it helpful to write about your relationship. Writing can help you discover if you’re expecting too much, or if your boyfriend stopped making an effort because your relationship doesn’t mean much to him.

If your boyfriend or others say that you’re expecting too much, read 11 Ways to Stop Being the “Clingy Girlfriend” in a Relationship.


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55 thoughts on “How to Handle Your Boyfriend’s Lack of Effort”

  1. My boyfriend of 3 years and I broke up recently, but within a few days, he decided he wanted to get back together to work things out. He has never been one to open up about problems he has with himself or our relationship. He said the reason we broke up was because of different love languages, arguing, and that he was not as emotionally available as I need him to be. Although he did not tell me this beforehand, we have been trying to work on these issues and improve our relationship. Well, a few weeks have gone by and the love languages and arguing and overall communication has been better. But, he still seems emotionally unavailable in that he doesn’t know how to express his feelings for me, or reassure me. He doesn’t know WHY he can’t put in the effort that he wants to put in. He says he feels out of touch with his emotions, and he doesn’t know how to think or handle them. He doesn’t know how to express himself anymore. For the first year or two with him, I never had any problems with needing reassurance and words of affirmation from him because he always did it so well. This past year has been a struggle, and I don’t know what it means. He has been going through a lot, with an unsupportive family, a broken ankle, financial troubles, depression…but I have been steady and I have been supportive…I have loved him so well. Why can’t he put in the effort? is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

  2. 2 years ago I started dating this guy and I knew then with him about a year and a 1/2 ago he made it clear that he still loves his ex wife but due to my health circumstances I had no choice but to move in I had nowhere else to go for me and my kids. Now he won’t go anywhere with me he won’t touch me in front of anyone we don’t do anything and he refuses to do anything fun the only thing we do is work he don’t go to the kids is events or anything but it is X need something he’ll drop everything And do it. Not just his X But his friends to and the kids. Always come lastAnd it’sbreaking My heartthat I don’t know what to do Financially I’m not able to move And my son doesn’t want to Any advice?

  3. My boyfriend and I started a relationship 3 months ago. He is separated with 4 kids and a selfish demanding ex wife who took everything she could from him while they were together. He spoiled her before they had kids then stopped completely as the kids needed his resources. (Probably why she fell in love with another man) now it’s like he is determined for me to not become selfish. So he does nothing. I visit him at work a couple nights a week and bring him dinner as he works second shift. I go to his house on Sundays and help with his kids. I buy him presents, I shower him with so much love. I even dressed like a naughty teacher when we had sex. Anything and Everything in hopes he would think maybe he should do the same. But no. No dates, no presents, no initiating anything or trying to make me feel special. He bought her a Mothers Day card. It shouldn’t have bothered me except the fact he didn’t get me one. He didn’t get me anything. I asked him to spend Memorial Day with me shocker he forgot and made other plans. He said I did agree to go to the park this weekend. Well today came and guess who backed out of the park?? Ugh. When we are together he is so sweet and wonderful. He loves me and I love him. I just want to feel special!! I’ve talked to him about it twice to no avail. I just don’t know what to do.

  4. Hi im kushi, 25yrs old.. My boyfriend and I have been in our relationship for 3yrs now.. This is my first affair and his 2nd. We were really happy and things happended so good. But one day accidently I saw that his facebook conversation with a girl. I got so angry and disappointed after that. Actually they havnt shared any sexual pictures or that was not very sexual conversation. (he was asked from her what are u doing, when she replied studying, he texted shall i come to study with u, and she replied there are my friends at my room, and he replied its k.no matter i ll come) But anyway after i saw it i lost my trust on him. And i couldn’t forget it. I talk about this with him. And i blamed him roudly.. And he promised me that his intention was nit to cheat me and said sorry. And so on. I truely love him i said i ll forgive. But i couldnt regain my trust for him again. This all happended 1 1/2yrs back.. From that day on, several times we discussed this. Because i often say this to him when i get angry. He is not often visit to me. And we rarly go outing..but i wanted to be spend my time with him. Even after arising that issue betwn us, he didnt make any efforrs to regain my trust for him. When i and my parents call him to come home(as our culture) he dont bother about him.. That was another thing to disappoint me more. And im as asian girl. I reslect to my culture. Living togeter or having sex before marriage is not accepted in my family and i also iddnt want to do that. But he want to intimate with me. He say that he dosnt want to sex with me. But he appriciate my participation in some kind of sexul things. He dosnt wnt to sex i know that well. When he wants to intimate with me i have told him severl times i do not trust you,because i couldnt forget that incident. And also i didnt want to behave with him like that.but i loved him so much and i did every thing i can di for him. But he say he is not in happy… After this all, at some point he started to chnge himself. Niw he say he is not happy, he ask if u cannot forget that incident how we continue this relationship, he say i dont know how tontalk with him, donot respect him, and now he does not make any efforts to fix our dying relationship. But i want to fix this again. Please tell me whatbi should do. Now i think ill do my best to be nice to him for some time and if he doesn’t change i leave him.. Is it ok for wait and see for his cahnge? Im ready to forget everything he did to me and start to trust him.. Wht are the things i can do to bring back trust, spark, and energy to our relationship… Please help me.. Thnk u so much.

  5. I am 20 years old, and I’ve been on and off with my boyfriend since we were both 13. He really hurt me in the past (when we weren’t together) regarding other girls but he’s never actually done anything when we’ve been going out. As of now, we have been back together in a relationship for about a year and a half. I love him so so much and I LOVE spending time with him. However, he has never been one to put in huge amounts of effort. I’m always the one asking him to do something, I’m always planning my work schedules around his and swapping shifts etc… I just feel like it’s so one sided sometimes. We both still live at home and even tho he’s nearly 21, his parents still have some control over him, he doesn’t talk back to them and they’re weird about him staying in my house and doing stuff with me (sometimes not all the time!) so I do have to take that into account, and when his parents go away for the summer it’s wayyyy easier to spend more time with him, he becomes so laid back. But I’ve just always felt like im not one of his priorities. He loves the gym and usually chooses that over me, hanging out with his friends etc… but then when we do actually spend time together he’s all over me and appreciates me so much and makes me feel amazing. He just doesn’t make an effort to ask me to do things. We never do anything spontaneous or fun, and I’m the type of person who loves that stuff. We just hang out in my house. When we’re on nights out and there’s drink involved, he has a habit of literally disappearing for the whole day (with other people he knows that aren’t in my circle) and he doesn’t contact me, when I try to contact him he usually does answer but after talking to him I never see any sign of him. He doesn’t check up on me to see if I’m okay or if I get home okay, and it just hurts me that he never wants to spend time with me when we’re out drinking with our friends? I love drinking with him and having a laugh but he doesn’t seem to feel the same. Lastly, he is obsessed with social media. He loves Instagram and has a fitness page, and is constantly posting pics on it and putting up stories of his everyday life…. but he never ever ever takes any pictures of me to show me off. I know that may seem shallow of me to care about social media that much, but it’s only because he posts every aspect of his life online and there’s never anything about me? It just makes me feel so not good enough for him. Every time I try to tell him how i feel about him not making an effort in general and on nights out, and social media etc, he usually gets angry/annoyed and makes me feel so bad. When I try to talk to him about my feelings he never ever knows how to react and just completely closes off from me. The crazy thing about all this is that even tho I’m the one craving attention and love and effort in the relationship, he actually relies on me a lot. I help him with college work a lot, and he often expresses to me how he feels so much calmer and relaxed when we’re together (which is true because his mood just completely changes and he’s always so happy). Also, the hard thing is, we’re in the same college course. We’re both going to France in September as part of college and we’re going to different parts of France. I really think this will be a good thing for us because I’ll be able to have my own independence and maybe make him see that I can be happy without him (even tho as of right now we are planning on staying together and commuting to each other when we can). Most people reading this right now are probably thinking oh my god you’re so young and u have so much time! Which I know I do and I’ve thought about sooooo much, but my problem is is that I actually can’t imagine my life without him, he’s been in it so deeply since we were 13/14 and I love him so much…. I would appreciate any advice!

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