How to Respond When Your Boyfriend Makes No Effort

You love your boyfriend, but he doesn’t make an effort in your relationship. Here’s what to do when you start to wonder about his feelings for you.

Does your boyfriend still love you? Why isn’t he trying harder to show how much he cares? What do you do when your boyfriend makes no effort to please you or make you happy?

It’s time to pull back from your relationship for a few minutes, so you can see yourself — and your boyfriend — more objectively. Here, you’ll find several questions and tips to help you evaluate your love life and make a good decision about your future. 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.

How well do you know your boyfriend? 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…but surprises still crop up here and there!

Thinking about how well you know him is an important factor when you’re deciding what to do when your boyfriend makes no effort in your relationship. Why? Because it’ll help you decide if he’s going through a season of withdrawal because of work stress, emotional health issues, or family problems. If so, you’ll respond to your boyfriend’s lack of effort differently than if he’s just lost interest in your relationship.

How to Respond When Your Boyfriend Isn’t Making an Effort

Do you know your boyfriend well enough to determine if he’s not making an effort because of a temporary life situation he’s dealing with, or if he has lost interest in you? Knowing this will help you work your way through these tips…

1. Accept that you can’t change him

You’re normal if you wish your boyfriend would make more of an effort in your relationship! It’s natural to want him to want you, to yearn for his attention, approval, and affection. This is a healthy part of being in a relationship. Of course you want him to try, because his time, effort, and energy shows he cares about you.

But it’s also crucial to remember that you can’t change your boyfriend. You can’t convince, beg, or force him to make an effort in your relationship. You can’t make him love you more, or make him try harder, or make him want to spend time with you. You can’t cast a magic spell or find psychological techniques to make your boyfriend change.

Accept your boyfriend for who he is, because the changes that he’ll change are very small.

2. Remember who you can change

If you’re depressed by first tip for what to do when your boyfriend makes no effort in your relationship, I’ve got good news for you. You can change the most important person in your life: you. You can look at your expectations, and adjust them if necessary. You can look at your boyfriend’s behavior in your relationship, and decide what to do about your future.

Don’t change your personality. Rather, change your expectations of your boyfriend. Learn how to be an emotionally strong woman in your relationships. If you’re disappointed and sad because your boyfriend isn’t making an effort to love or be with you, examine what you expect from him. What do you want your boyfriend to do, say, or be? How do you want him to show he cares about your relationship? What do you want him to do differently?

Write down three things you expect your boyfriend to do or be in your relationship. Use your private journal or diary, or share your thoughts 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, maybe you expect your boyfriend to text you five times a day, and call you first thing in the morning and last thing before you fall asleep. You can probably see that those relationship expectations aren’t realistic!

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But maybe you expect your boyfriend to make an effort by calling you once a week, or texting you once a month. Maybe you feel grateful when he finally decides to stop by — at 10 pm, without calling first — or he always expects you to just be waiting for him. Those relationship expectations are way too low. 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 holding yourself in higher esteem.

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

What’s going on for your boyfriend? This is where my first question comes in: how well do you know him?

What to Do When Your Boyfriend Makes No Effort in Your Relationship

What to Do When Your Boyfriend Makes No Effort in Your Relationship

If you’ve been together for a long time (a 7 or 8 on that “relationship scale” at the beginning of this post), then maybe you can see that your boyfriend isn’t making an effort right now because he’s dealing with serious issues in other aspects 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.

What’s happening in your boyfriend’s life? That may help you see why he’s not making any effort towards you. And, it may help you decide how to respond.

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 girlfriend, 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.

If you think you’re smothering your boyfriend, read 11 Ways to Stop Being the “Clingy Girlfriend” in a Relationship.

What do you think, how do you feel? I welcome your thoughts in the comments section below! I can’t tell you what to do about a boyfriend who doesn’t make an effort in your relationship, but you will find it helpful to share your story. Writing is how we make sense of things, and how we see our relationships more clearly.


Are you unhappy in your relationship? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage and FREE relationship advice from Mort Fertel, founder of the Marriage Fitness Program.

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19 thoughts on “How to Respond When Your Boyfriend Makes No Effort

  • Millie

    I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost 3 years now, i love him and I know he loves me back but, my biggest insecurity is him changing and being lazy in the relationship, which I have noticed he has been doing lately. He has always been so sweet and consistent. Surprising me with letters, giving me flowers and just little things like opening the door for me. Now he doesn’t do any of those, and I miss how it was before. I really i am lost and don’t know what to do, love only gets old if he allows it, I have been trying to do sweet things for him aswell by making him a nice meal and texting him good morning and just checking up on him but I guess he seems rather bored. We currently are not speaking it’s been three days, and this has been the longest fight we’ve ever had, since we always try fixing it right away and I feel like we’ve just gotten so exhausted and I’ve just been so sad over the lack of effort he used to give.

  • Brenda

    These tips actually worked. First off I pulled back without warning. It took him 2 days to notice something. Then he texted me to see how I was doing. I said “fine”. Then nothing. Next thing I woke up to a text. A lovely text of him telling me that we can talk everyday when I wake up in the morning. It’s long distance and he is 8 hours ahead of me. I said ok. He did call me every morning like he said for a week. I asked why the sudden change? He said that the only thing I require of him is to give me attention. And the only way we can get closer is by communicating as much as we can. He said that I’ve been making effort so can he. He’s been consistent so far. I make sure I put into the relationship as much as I get. It has created a balance to where I don’t feel exhausted with trying to keep things going.

    Ladies lay back and observe. That’s the only way you will know how he truly feels. Also be prepared to lose him. Meaning if he doesn’t step up when you pull back. Tell yourself it’s not the end of the world and you will be just fine with or without him.

    Then keep being the fabulous person that you are.


  • anonymous

    thank you so much for posting this article since i really need clarity for my mind . My boyfriend and I been together for a few months ,we dated not really long time ago and now we are in long distance. I haven’t see each other for 2months which it is really upsetting. Recently,he told me he’ll be busy with work and i tried to understand our situation right now..But he i feel like he doesn’t seems to give much effort for this relationship to get closer. He’s really bad at texting and sometimes we don’t really talk on the phone cause he said he was tired. But there’s one time where I got really mad and told him what i feel about everything and he said he was sorry and he tell me how much he loves me. I do really love him even we just got together. It’s so hard due to his work ,he still trying his best to see me at least thats what he told me. I hope everything goes well for both us to get this relationship last. But do you guys think it’s worth it?

  • Glo babs

    Thank you for creating this platform. So my boyfriend and I will have been together for a year this november. I would say he fell in love(infatuated?) with me very quickly after meeting me. He told me he loved me within weeks of us meeting. He was very affectionate and gentle towards me and would make it a point to call me every day, the first maybe 2-3 months of our relationship. We ended up living together briefly because he did not want to be apart from me. However, somewhere after the 4-5 month mark, he got another job and started working two jobs. He nolonger would make as much effort, like call or text to check on me. I went through a period of unemployment and he was not emotionally supportive through this period. I would get so frustrated with him because I really was not asking for much, just a phone call to check on your girlfriend surely is not asking for much. Anyway I would talk about these things with him and he would make progress, but then get right back to the same place shortly after. It is almost like I was forcing him to show that he cared. So i moved out and got my own place and we continued dating. He still did not make much of an effort as far as even coming to visit me. I would be the one driving to go see him, but I still over looked it and gave him benefit of doubt. When i pull back abit, i notice it is when he makes an effort. He does not take me out for surprise outings or does not plan anything for us to do as a couple, but still i do not complain much about that. i just wish he would be more emotionally available. There are sometimes I try to talk to him about my day, and he is listening but he doesnt engage or seem interested. From what i have learned about him, I know he is someone who does not really know what dating is. He does not feel like he should go the extra mile to do anything as long as you know he loves you. That should be enough. I have tried so many times to let the relationship go and have broken up with him, but he does not want to let me go. I really get frustrated with him often because he does not want to let me go, but yet he can not do what I ask of him. Please advice and apologize for the long narration.

  • Briseida Alcaraz

    So me and my bf have been dating fur about 5 months now. But for about two of those months, we’ve been in a long distance relationship due to him being relocated for work and we’ve only really seen each other about two or three times irl. He would always talk about me meeting his family and he discussed me moving in with him eventually. I’m about to turn 20 in a few months and he’s 25, I’m afraid i might be a little too naive or wayyy too vulnerable for someone like him. The thing is there seemed to be no problem in our relationship, i love him and i feel like it’s mutual but about two weeks ago he began to claim that i was cheating on him (which I’m not) and well ik its happened to him before. And now he hasnt talked to me in almost three weeks. I’ll call him daily or send him texts but he only leaves me on seen and doesnt reply. Idk if he’s extremely busy or what’s happening but he doesn’t communicate at all with me. I’m very worried and actually considering going to where he is and seeking answers. Please help?

    • Brenda

      Honestly if you’ve tried messaging him and he isn’t responding I would just stop. I’ll leave him alone. Let him come to you. No texting. No calling. Nothing. Just stay silent.

  • Amy

    I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about a year and a half now. We’ve had a roller coaster of a relationship. He always used to put his friends before me, lied to me, involved in gangs and drugs. He has changed massively and does not do any of those things now. However I have had major trust issues since I was young and still find it hard to trust him in certain situations. So I like to know what he’s doing or who he’s with for peace of mind. He gets angry and it’s caused a lot of fights lately. I feel like now he’s doing things to purposely piss me off like not talk to me all day or say that I’m always starting shit. For our year and a half anniversary I didn’t have money at the time and we were fighting a lot but I made him a good luck bracelet and wrote him a very personal card. He was grateful but got me nothing. He has way more money than me and said he didn’t do anything because he was angry at me. I’ve been upset ever since and it’s only been a week but I’m feeling really low and I have bad anxiety in general but it’s been worse lately because of him. Advice? X

  • Nancy

    For the first time in my life,i met someone who truly loves me,he gives me everything i want,he goes out of his way to do anything for me,but because i have being in so many bad relationships,i find it hard to trust him,lately we were having so many issues,cos i couldn’t trust him and thought he was cheating! Lately he seem a bit distant,he will pick my calls and reply my messages when he is in a meeting,now he complains that it upsets him a bit when i text him when he is in a meeting.. He used to call me at night before he sleeps,now he doesn’t anymore,he takes days to reply my whatsapp messages. He barely calls me back when he sees my miss calls,i talked to him about it,he told me he is just stressed up with work.. Now he tries to call me at night or text me before he sleeps,he returns my calls,but things are not like before.. I miss him and who he use to be,at the same time am preparing myself for the worst! I know it was all my fault and wish i could fix things! He sent a text yesterday telling me,he is still with me and will always be with me,he loves me and needs me,but he is still a bit distant! I don’t want to lose him,i made a mistake and have learnt to trust him now! I just want the real him back! 😭

    • Brenda

      Yep. I’m going through the same thing now. I told him I loved him and the only reason why I would ever leave him is if he cheated on me. But I needed to know if he still wanted the relationship with me because he has been so distant. He said he did. But the communication thing has really slowed down. My birthday weekend was really rough. I talked to him early in the day (he was out of town). That was on Friday. I didn’t hear from him till early Sunday morning when I drunk texted him. LOL. It wasn’t any thing bad.
      So guess what? I decided to pull back and just sit and watch. Its exhausting when you are the one doing the heavy lifting. I have trust issues as well. But I look at him for him. I trust him but I just wish he would give me more time. I just don’t feel like a priority any more. So I am working on adjusting my expectations so I don’t get disappointed. The last time I told him about him not making me a priority, he said felt he wasn’t good enough for me. Made me feel so bad.
      My brother did tell me that he may be going through some things in his personal life that he is not ready to share with me. So that could also be taking up his time and mind. Either way I have decided to just sit back and live my life. Go back to doing the things I use to do before I met him. I miss him terribly.

  • Esther

    I love my boyfriend so much, we’ve been together for a year now. I pay d bills, I buy him stuffs give him money, I practically do everything in d relationship . But he has never considered making me happy for once. The worst of all, He’s so Unforgiven, if we have misunderstanding i”ll sent a text of apology, after that i”ll try to call him, but, he won’t pickup on several occasions…. Should I quit or continue with the relationship? ‘m tired n don’t know what to do anymore!

  • Lindsay

    I’ve been dating Wes for about 6-7 months. Around the 5th month, he asked me to be his girlfriend but then he quickly retracted it after realizing how serious we were about to be. He said he wanted to have a deeper talk about expectations and his four years old son before we can be official. We continue dating but not once did he ever bring up talking about all that he mentioned. The same month, I started my PhD program but I still made the time to see him. He started withdrawing from me after I asked him 2-3 times to hang out and do things with me. He said he’s tired or too busy. After I voiced my frustration, he said he’s been busy with trying to get a promotion at work and on his free time he spends it with his son. He said he was seeking for personal growth and happiness. About 2 weeks or so after, I voiced my concerns again about his lack of effort in making quality time. I said we work on it or we end it. He sense my seriousness and took me out on a date, told me he will make more time to spend with me once a week (I’m busy too so once a week is good for me.) He told me about his insecurity that I seem to have a plan and moving forward with my life and career, while he’s not and he fears the future ahead. Afterwards he’s been making the time but only when I remind him. Also he always respond but he’s texting less. I’m still dissatisfied I guess. I don’t know what to do. Forgive me for my writing as it is 1 am.

  • Trish

    I really love this article. Im dating my bf for a year and a half and we have had many calm as well as heated conversations about our relationship on our priority list. High on mine, low on his. I am the first gf my bf ever had and theres only so much I can pin on that reason. But I decided to tell my bf what makes me happy. Not material things, but being romantic on special occasions. Anniversaries, birthdays etc. But he still makes no effort in even recognizing relationship milestones like anniversaries, but he has done romantic things for the girl he chased for 6 years. But refuses to do that for me. He is quite affectionate and does make sure the bills are paid etc. But he would rather break up than try to understand what makes me happy and make an effort. I sometimes think my expectations are too high. So I dropped them and only expected him to make an effort on anniversaries but still nothing. Advice please? Should I just leave and find someone that can give me those things?

  • Eva

    I met my boyfriend at work. We recently broke up with him due to the fact that, despite my efforts to express how I didn’t feel like a priority, and him apologizing, him not making an effort to see me during the week (“Works been crazy”) and saying he would call me at night, but not, he did not change and I gave it 2 1/2 weeks.

    I felt confident with my decision to part. As stated above, knowing what your boyfriend is going through (ex trauma, personal grief, work load) is important and all, but also knowing how you would act if you were in a similar situation gives you answers and peace. I have three jobs…he has one, I’ve been threatened in relationships/emotionally abused…he was cheated on…. and I can say that I would of made more of an effort. He said he would change, but he said that before.

    You can spend a lifetime figuring out a person’s situation and analyze things, but at the end of the day, actions are louder than words, and if a man/women REALLY wants to be with you, they will move mountains. A relationship is 50/50. Know your worth and don’t settle for a man who doesn’t act like he’s got you pinned down, get a man who treats you like he can’t get enough of you.

    • Sarah

      Love your reply and I agree with it all I’m struggling right now as I’m conflicted with wht to do how long do you wait how long do you keep understanding he has issues he is dealing with but makes minimal effort with our relationship.. I’m just sad angry and confused

  • Laurie Post author

    Thank you for being here, and for being so honest about your relationship difficulties! It’s so frustrating and difficult when you love a man – your boyfriend – and he doesn’t make any effort to see you, love you, or even respect you. It’s also heartbreaking, especially when you want to be with him.

    You can’t change your boyfriend. You can’t “make” him love you, or force him to make an effort in your relationship. All you can do is give him space to love you the way he wants. If this doesn’t work for you – if he disrespects, ignores, or even abuses you – then you need to decide what to do. Do you want to stay with your boyfriend, just the way he is right now? You can’t change how he acts toward you…you can only change your expectations.

    I say I never give advice, but this is one thing I want you to know: you have to build a life outside your relationship with your boyfriend. You can’t let him be the center of your life! You need to rest your hopes, dreams and future on a love that never fails, a river that never runs dry. This isn’t a man. No boyfriend in the world can fill the emptiness that only God can fill.

    Get emotionally and spiritually healthy. Open your heart to Jesus; listen to His call on your life. Then, you’ll have the wisdom and guidance you need. Then, you’ll know what to do when your boyfriend makes no effort in your relationship.

    What do you think?


  • Madi

    So, my boyfriend and i have known each other our entire lives. We’re both in high school now. I’m going to be a junior in a few months and he’ll be a freshman in college. It’s been bugging me for a while but I finally decided to do something about the fact that he doesn’t really seem to make an effort to see me. Like, I’ve planned 90% of our dates. We live like 30-35 minutes away but I have friends who have relationships similar and they see their boyfriends all the time. We only see each other every one or two weeks at the most. Recently, and at a time where my mental state has been absolute crap and I really needed some comfort, we didn’t see each other for about a month and a half. Oh, also he keeps poking my stomach and at first it was funny and cute but now it’s genuinely annoying and I’m trying to tell him to stop but he doesn’t take me seriously and just kind of turns it into a joke. Help me please I have no idea what to do.

    • Samantha

      Hi, I really need help/advice
      Me and my boyfriend have been together for 9months and we really do love each other but a couple weeks ago we just didn’t talk as much or communicate in person & I asked him if he wants this relationship and he said he’s lost feelings for me (but he doesn’t know and his heads abit lost) and it doesn’t feel like we’re together anymore because the conversation is “dead”. And I told him we can figure it out together after 1/2 weeks I asked him again and go if you don’t want to be with me just say it and he said he doesn’t want to be a di**head and I said fine and I tried ending it because the way I was getting replies I felt as if he didn’t want this no more. But then he started talking to me normally and we was fine for a couple weeks but it’s been 3 weeks now he just hasn’t been putting effort in and leaves me on read and blancs my messages (on snapchat we have a streak and that’s when he snaps me) & I texted him saying hiya and he left me on read I just don’t know what to do anymore my friends have told me to end this but I really do love him what shall I do?

  • Jennifer Smith

    This helps me to decide that I can’t wear rose colored glasses with my current relationship .thanks for helping me see what I have to remove from my life .