My boyfriend is unable to both give me the love and attention that I need and look after his elderly mother. What should I do? - AgingCare.com

My boyfriend is unable to both give me the love and attention that I need and look after his elderly mother. What should I do?

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My boyfriend and I have been dating for over a year. When I first met him he was much more available. As time progressed his mother's serious health issues have taken over. He still lives at home and cares for his mother who is mentally unstable and very selfish and needy. He has an older sister who moved out before their mother's health issues got serious. She is now married and starting a life with her husband in a new city and is not involved in caring for their mother.
Whenever I try to tell him that he deserves that life too, he feels to guilty to leave his dad to deal with his mom.
The future conversation has come up several times with my boyfriend and I and he has said that he will never leave his parents. Eventually his mom will pass but he feels too guilty to leave his father. I always remind him that people have children to be able to go have their own lives and that it is not fair to let his parents consume his whole life. He has mentioned wanting to live with his father in the future and this is not something that I am open to. I have told him this and said that if we want different things in life, it's better to realize that sooner than later, then he finally agrees that yes one day he wants to live with me. I know he really does but I also know when the time comes he will never want to leave his father.
He also cared for his elderly Aunt regularly. Between his mom and his aunt, living at home and being treated like a child, having his whole schedule controlled by someone else, I just don't feel like there is any room for me.
I have been unhappy in the relationship and tried to talk to him about it, but it just overwhelms him. I try to tell him my expectations and instead of listening he gets mad at me and says that it's never enough for me. He is so consumed with other demands that he has no space left to think about me. I just want him to understand how I feel and put in more effort to make me feel loved in the time we do have together, but he just doesn't get it.
It's been increasingly challenging for me to understand what he is going through. I don't want to be insensitive but he won't make a change and I am not happy. I love him so much but his friends are also awful so it is hard for me to want to hang out with them. I don't mind once in a while but I tried to set up a date night and a separate guys night and this upsets him saying that I won't even try to like his friends and what did they ever do to me? In general he is pretty bad at time management and I know me not enjoying accompanying him on guy's nights makes it harder for him to fit in friends and me in free time but I just feel like if he loved me he would crave time alone with me and make more of an effort to somewhere find time in his busy schedule.
You know typing this out and thinking about it all signs point to the obvious- breakup. But as Im sure many of you can understand, I love this person. I want to be with him but even if I am not with him, it hurts me to know that he cannot grow up and have his own life. Between his controlling needy family and his immature friends who are nothing but a bad influence I always feel like I come in last priority. Of course he doesn't just ditch me for his friends all the time, not at all. But when he sees his friends it's like so much excitement and happiness it brings to him and when he sees me, I now he loves me but he is not expressive about it. It leaves me feeling like Im just stuck out alone in the cold and the worst part is he doesn't understand how I could feel this way about any of this. I try to explain it to him and it just always ends up in a fight. I just want it to be easy. I want him to get me.
To make matters more difficult his grandfather just passed away. This is the first close death that he has experienced and is hitting him hard. I'm trying so hard to be understanding and sensitive to him but I just feel like I try so hard to keep the relationship good and be there for him and he is too consumed to make an effort for me and understanding how I feel and caring about my needs.

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needingadvice, welcome to life. If your parents are still part of your life, you eventually will feel the need to go help them. Then and only then will you understand what your boyfriend had to go through. I know for myself, I never knew how difficult caregiving was until I was thrown in the trenches.

Time for you and the boyfriend to go off in separate directions. Boyfriend has enough on his plate right now to give you the time and attention that you want. Even if you find someone new, there will be speed-bumps in that relationship. That is just how life is.
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Reply to freqflyer
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Dear Needing,, we see a post like this several times a year,, and yep. by your own admission it points to breakup. You are not happy, with him, his family or his friends. time to move on before you invest even more here.. or you will find yourself stuck with his elder care, living with his parents,, you get the picture,. Find someone or something that makes you HAPPY.. this is not working for you. I am sorry
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Reply to pamzimmrrt
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Needing, just move on.

He can't give you what you want in a relationship right now. Go date others.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Needing, it sounds by your post as if you are very emotionally in love with your boyfriend, yet I want to point something out. When you marry someone, you vow things like "for better or worse, till death do us part." But are you and your boyfriend even engaged? I say this from the point of view of 28 years of marriage and now dealing with my elderly mother's and my father-in-law's dementia. When you marry someone, you accept their great strengths and their great weaknesses. My mother's mental and health breakdown become my wife's responsibility, and her father's mental/physical breakdown become mine. But if you are only dating, despite the emotional attachment, you are not ethically bound to allow your boyfriend's elderly parent problems to become yours. Only you can make that decision, but consider your own physical and mental well being. It sounds like you are accepting responsibilities that may well belong to a wife, but you are not his wife. If you want to marry him, by all means to do so realizing fully the situation you will inherit and accept as your own. If you do not want those problems, and right now you are not bound to accept them as yours, then you should consider parting ways.
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Reply to rwbpiano
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I am going to take a different approach here.

needingadvice - I think you ought to stay and tough it out. He is worth it.

Let's see. Here are the problems that you have.

You don't like his mom.
You don't like his dad.
You don't like his aunt.
You don't like him taking care of any of the above.
You don't like his life being consumed and controled by the above.
You don't like his plan to move in with his father after his mom passes.
You don't like his friends.
You don't like him showing so much excitement and happiness with his friends.
You don't like that he doesn't express his feelings for you.
You don't like that he doesn't grow up and have his own life
You don't like that he doesn't make time for you or put you first.
You don't like that there is no room for you in his life.

But you love him. What is it exactly that you love? No matter. We/You can change all of the above by plucking him right out of his world and plopping him somewhere in your universe where his mom, dad, aunt, sister, and friends don't exist.

I think you should hold your breath, threaten to break up, have more fights until he realizes the error of his ways and divorces everyone near and dear to him, then you can have him all to yourself. Happiness finally!

Sorry for being sarcastic, but sometimes it brings the point home more clearly.
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Reply to polarbear
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I'm gonna go out on a limb and say....I think when a man is like this with a woman, he is staying in the relationship mainly because he can get sex on a regular basis without the work of having to go out and find it.

No, I don't think that's all that's going on with him, and I'm not even saying that makes him a bad person. And it might not be how things started out when you two met, but I think it's where things have ended up. With all the pressure on him right now - yeah, to be totally blunt, I suspect he finds it easier to hang onto someone who fills his sexual needs, because sex is one of our most basic, fundamental drives, and it's one less thing he has to worry about.

I'm not even saying this is just a "guy thing" - some women do this too - but it's a thing that guys are more likely to do, just because they've been more socially free to do it, for a longer period of human history.  (This is going to balance out between the genders before too long.) I know guys who've gone so far as to buy rings for their girlfriends, with no intent of ever marrying them, just to keep them quiet and maintain their easy access to sex.  Heck, I know guys who have MARRIED for access to sex....and usually regretted it and ended up divorced. 

And frankly, I don't think being in a relationship for the sex is a bad thing, either, if that's what BOTH parties want out of it.

It's not what you want out of a relationship.

Maybe you think I'm wrong. But here's what I see.

When you first met, he was totally into you. (All new sexual relationships are like this.)

Now you feel like there's no room for you. (Trust your feelings.) Talking about the relationship overwhelms him. (Because he doesn't want to deal with it.) He has no space left to think about you. (This is not how true partnerships work.)

He doesn't really want to be alone with you; he wants to fit you in with his "friend time." (He gets his companionship from them, and sex at the end of an enjoyable evening.) He is excited and happy to be with his friends but he's not expressive with you. (See previous.)

Under the threat of losing what he has now, he's said he wants to live with you someday, but he's also said many times that he will never leave his father. (He's under pressure so he's throwing you a bone to keep you from walking away.)

He is "too consumed to make an effort for (you) and understanding how (you) feel and caring about (your) needs." (He is not in a serious relationship with you.)

Maybe others will disagree with me, and maybe you think I'm wrong. But I have a suspicion I'm right. 

Please don't hate me. I'm trying to help you see that it's definitely time to move on and look for the relationship you want, because this isn't it.  When you're full of the wrong thing, you have to let it go so you can make room for the right thing.
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Reply to Dorianne
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Needing, I'm sorry you're dealing with this, but it sounds as if you've already answered your own question.
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Reply to AnonymousMember
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Yep, the first statement, "My boyfriend is unable to give me the love and attention that I need..." pretty much answers the question.
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Reply to FrazzledMama
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Girl, he's just not that into you.

When a guy wants to be with you, he'll move mountains to be with you. He will AT THE VERY LEAST put you first and not let anything stand in his way. Why over-analyze everything and make excuses for him? He's clearly not The One, and we can all see that in your original post. 

Sorry to be the hard truther here, but you deserve so much better than this, and we all want you to have it.
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Reply to Dorianne
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A quote from my ex to one of my adult kids, on the subject of my current husband...

"Your mom just wants someone who thinks she's terrific, all the time".

Why yes, I do, thank you.

Need, you deserve to love someone who loves you back and who admires and appreciates you. You need to move on from the unreciprocated affair.

( Not that into sex?. My daughter had a boyfriend like that. He's gay. )
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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