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How to Handle Your Boyfriend’s Lack of Effort

You love your boyfriend and you think (or know!) he loves you back…but he stopped making an effort in your relationship. You’re starting to wonder about your boyfriend’s feelings for you. Maybe you’re even worried 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.

Fix Your Marriage

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

  1. Can’t believe how common my situation is right now. I’m dating this guy for 3 years now. For the past few months I noticed he stopped making effort. He used to come over to my place so often no matter what day what time. But since last year, he stopped doing that. He came up with a lot of excuses such as “traffic is bad”, “I have homework” (he’s a grad school), oh and the one that always gets on my nerve “I’m tired”.
    Fine, don’t come. Then, at least FaceTime? But nope as well. Again, tons of excuses. His golden excuse is “I’m busy”. But then he keeps telling me he loves me, he cares for me, I’m matter and important to him. I really love him and he is my first. Could it be that he lost interest in me?

  2. This is really helpful. My boyfriend and I started with a lot of stress in our relationship. I recently said I needed a romantic date, and other things kept coming up. I met his mom for the first time when his parents stopped by, we took his dog paddle boarding. It’s not that those things aren’t wonderful, it’s just that I. Need. A. Romantic. Date. So I dug in my heels, and he had a stressful day at work, so it ended with him yelling that I was bipolar and he needed a break before I left and he went back to work.
    Since then my boyfriend has made no effort in our relationship. I think I should take a relationship break but don’t want to lose him. What should I do?

  3. We are an older couple early 60’s. I love my boyfriend, but just can’t get the feeling that he feels the same. We have been together about a year and a half, when we are together we have fun and our intimacy is great. Then, all of the sudden the bottom drops out and he is unresponsive. Text messages are very slow to respond, I don’t text him ten times a day either. Communication is not good. He gets very quiet and is hard to talk to. Then we usually get in an argument and sometimes we break off for about a week. Then we start texting, he seems fine again and things are good and a month or so later it happens again. I have no idea what this is all about, but the roller coaster needs to stop, it’s too hard for me to deal with. He does have some medical issues, but seems to be taking care of most of them, he also says he does suffer from depression and I am wondering if this is what is happening. I don’t want to give this up if there is an underlying issue that we can resolve, but I can’t put my finger on it.