My boyfriend and I have been dating for five years. I feel so confused because he gives me a stupid stuffed animal for every holiday that comes around while I actually put thought into his gifts. We have no problem in our age difference (about 12 years), but lately I’ve been feeling as if he doesn’t care and thinks that this will just gratify me as if I were a little kid. I love him and feel that his feelings should have progressed by now. I don’t ask for a single thing, just an occasional compliment or signs of affection, which he seems to feel as if he doesn’t need to give. I got my hair done and he honestly looked at me and laughed and then said, “What happened to the curls?” I make sacrifices for him, but he seems to always have a problem with making them for me. I know everything is pointing to breakup, but I just can’t do it. I love him so much more than he’ll ever know. I am about to tell him that if he can’t give me anything else for the upcoming Valentine’s Day then just don’t get me anything at all. I cannot bear to get another stuffed animal. Would this be wrong to say? — Had Enough and Ready to Go
If you’ve got a boyfriend who doesn’t show you any signs of affection, doesn’t pay you any compliments, and laughs at your hair when you get it done, you’ve got far bigger problems than a stuffed animal collection you wish you never had. If after five years you’re thinking your boyfriend’s feelings “should have progressed by now,” that’s a pretty good sign you’re in the wrong relationship. Despite what a lot of pop songs tell us, love isn’t supposed to make you feel like crap. It’s not supposed to leave you feeling despair, or like the person you’re with doesn’t get you or appreciate you.
Without knowing you or anything else about your relationship than what you described in your letter, I can tell you that what you’re feeling probably isn’t love. I’m sure it feels like it now, but one day, when you’re with someone who shows you the kind of respect you crave, who gives you the affection you want, who makes you feel special without you begging for it, you’ll know that real love doesn’t hurt. And it definitely doesn’t give you a stuffed animal for every occasion unless you’ve made it perfectly clear that’s what you want.
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.