*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Finding someone you love and feel connected to in every way is a great thing, and the more you date them, the greater the chance to learn more and be sure you want to spend several years by their side.
But what happens when you take things to the next level, find a place to share, and then realize that didn't help your relationship at all? Is it ok for your partner to take you for granted once you're living together because they no longer have to convince you of anything?
My friend Gina has been dating her boyfriend Anthony for two years. They first met in college, just one month before graduation. They liked each other immediately and didn't spend more than a week being friends.
"What was the point in being friendly if we felt we wanted to be together? I liked him so much the first time we talked, and I felt he didn't look at me the way a friend would. There was a love connection right there. I didn't have to search for it and try and make it happen," Gina said.
They went out after that week, and the more time they spent together, the more convinced they were they had the same goals for the future.
"We both wanted a big family and to earn enough for a nice home. We didn't know much about cooking or house chores, but we were both willing to learn while being in love, so that was a great beginning," Gina said.
In the first year of their relationship, they went to different restaurants, planned hiking trips, and went for nature walks. They also met each other's parents and siblings.
Gina's mom and dad didn't like Anthony that much because he earned a lot less than Gina for his first full-time job after graduation.
"They were cautious since they had this rule about the man earning enough, so the woman didn't have to work when they had kids. But that won't be the case for Anthony and me. I intend to keep working and have kids. So, I didn't worry about them being a bit distant; I knew they'd come round once they realized our life would be very different from the way they raised my sisters and me," Gina said.
Anthony's parents were happy to get to know her, and they were very welcoming and friendly each time she visited them. He didn't have any siblings, so they were excited to think about their marriage and being grandparents one day.
"I was sure they'd be the best grandparents. They took care of the neighbors' toddlers from time to time; they read stories and played with them," Gina said.
Everything went well, and Anthony also managed to get a raise at work after a few months, so Gina's parents were more relaxed and willing to consider him as their future son-in-law.
He also felt it was time to take their relationship to the next level. So, after one year and a half of dating, he asked Gina to move in together. She's been living with her parents to save on bills and rent, but he already had an apartment. He used to share it with a friend, but now he wanted to change that and have Gina there instead.
"I considered it carefully since I didn't want to just live there at his expense. I postponed the move for two months until I could afford to pay half of everything. That was only fair," Gina said.
When she was ready and able to pay her share of expenses, Gina packed her things and left her parents' home to start her life with Anthony. Things were very different between them after that step. And in some ways, Gina feels she should have waited until they got married to do it.
"It's not that I mind sharing the space. That's fine with me. We both wake up early, and he helps me with laundry, doing the dishes, or dusting. We didn't cook and didn't feel like trying that, so getting takeouts was just fine," Gina said.
Despite his willingness to do his part of the housework, Gina noticed Anthony became a lot more relaxed when she was there. And that didn't mean he wasn't stressed out anymore. He stopped putting in any effort to make her feel special and loved.
"He didn't get me flowers, forgot to help me with grocery bags, never opened any doors for me, or brought me breakfast in bed. He used to do all those things when we were living in separate places, so why would moving in together mean no longer getting that? I felt sad and like I wasn't important to him anymore," Gina said.
Anthony has been doing overtime recently, so he comes home a lot later than usual. And he also doesn't do much around the house anymore. Whenever Gina asks him to help, he tells her he works longer and earns more, so he shouldn't be struggling at home too.
"He doesn't do anything for me after we moved in together; I'm not his maid. I know he wants to get promoted, and I'm all for that. But his being successful has nothing to do with ignoring me. I'm starting to wonder if he's still in love with me or just wants me to take over cleaning and cooking in the future. And he hasn't said anything about getting engaged or married," Gina said.
As time went by and he didn't change his behavior, Gina questioned whether Anthony was just being nice until he convinced her to live in the same place. All his special gestures toward her seem to have gone, and their talks haven't helped to make him more attentive to what she needs.
Gina's parents found out about what was going on, but since Anthony has a higher salary than the first time they met him, they think Gina shouldn't get upset about him forgetting to get her presents because he's a better choice for marriage now.
"He had no chance of keeping a household when he came to see us a year ago. Now he earns better so that matters a lot when planning a family. And Gina is probably overreacting over not getting flowers every week. That's how long relationships and marriages go. You can't be buying things all the time; there's a calm stage to any couple's life," Gina's mom said.
What do you think about this situation? Is Gina asking for too much, and should she expect Anthony to be less attentive because they've been together for a while? Should she tell him clearly she doesn't feel appreciated like before and that those romantic gestures meant a lot to her, and that she cares about them?
Comments / 8