Dear Alice,

I enjoy reading your column on-line every week and I would appreciate it if you could help me. How do you get a person to appreciate you? I always go out of my way for my boyfriend, but he never seems to do the same for me. For example, today he is leaving for the long weekend and instead of choosing to be with me last night, he went to a club and didn't call me until 3 o'clock in the morning. I'm at my breaking point. Can you help me?

Alex

Dear Alex,

Have you told your boyfriend how you feel? Let him know what's on your mind, and how his actions and behavior affect you. Do this at a "neutral" point in time -- you might want to tell him that you'd like to talk with him and set aside a time and place for your discussion. Choose a time when you know both of you will be relaxed, have enough time to have a meaningful conversation, and not be interrupted.

Before your talk, think about what you want to tell him -- it may be helpful for you to write down your thoughts and feelings. Don't be accusatory since this might only put him on the defensive, causing him not to be as open to what you are saying. Use "I" statements. "Last weekend, when you went to the club before leaving for the long weekend, I felt unwanted and unappreciated. I wondered why you went to the club instead of spending time with me." This may be more thought-provoking for him than if you were to say, "You never want to spend time with me and you don't ever appreciate anything I do for you."

So, that's the first step. The next step is his. Listen carefully to what he says and how he responds. Often, people give what they need. With this in mind, another approach might be to give a little less to this relationship for a while and see what happens. If you still feel unappreciated, then perhaps you need to move on. You can't make another person do anything or change in any way that you see fit. You can only let her/him in on your thoughts and feelings, and then see what s/he does with that insight.

Alice!
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