I’ve been in a relationship for the past 5 years. My girlfriend just got into college 4 months ago, and recently she made some friends and, despite her busy schedule and assignments, she spends more time with them, and barely gives me any attention now. It’s difficult to communicate with her about this because she gets angry. It’s been happening for 2 weeks. Any help please?
Hi anonymous –
What you and she are going through is very normal, and really annoying, I know. She went into a new world, and probably leaned a lot on your support while adjusting to it. But now she’s there, she’s surrounded by it, and it’s her new universe. She can still love you, but all her attention is on the people she spends her days with. (Ironically, you’re going through what your parents probably went through with you a few years ago, when your attention veered from them to your schoolmates!)
I wish I could promise that she’ll put all her attention back onto you, but the truth is she’s on a journey that will likely lead many directions. Tomorrow she might want your company more than anybody’s in the world, and the next day she might be obsessing about an argument between two of her dorm-mates. And of course, at times, she’ll actually be focused on her studies!
And is it possible she could get more interested in someone special there too? Sure. I’m not saying that to make you feel bad, but just to say that nothing is predictable right now.
Nor should it be.
Are you going to be heading to a college in the future? If so, you’ll go through the same things she is now. And yes, a big part of the joys and difficulties of this experience involve your whole sense of your world changing.
(I should say, I haven’t had to go through this myself. I’ve only heard about it. But I know that my human friend Handsome going to college broke the hearts of his two dogs then. He’d come home of course, but it was never the same as it had been. Their lives were fine, but he’d been their most special human, and… well, you know what we dogs are like!)
So what can you do about this? One thing: Support Her In All She Does. Show interest in her friends, let her know you care about her life, even the parts you might not be crazy about. Be the best friend she has, the one she can always depend on.
But at the same time, build your own life too. Make more friends, get out more. Keep yourself from being “that guy” who’s so obsessive about her that she feels suffocated. And the more interesting stuff you have going on, the more likely she is to turn her focus to you. “Yeah I have a big exam tomorrow, but I can’t study without hearing about how your night singing in that coffee shop went!”
As I said before, nothing is predictable, nothing is guaranteed, right now. Except that she’s going to be on a rollercoaster of emotions and connections. And the further she pulls into that world out there, the more she’ll need the stability you offer.
It’s like when Handsome takes me to the dog park. I fly into pure ecstasy the second I get out of his car, and rush to sniff everything I can, meet all the pups, play with anyone who’ll play with me, and get someone to run all my thrilled energy with me! And then, suddenly, something happens. I realize, I’m out there, in a field full of strangers. I’m alone. I have no one. And… WHERE IS HE?! I run around, looking, and find him, and run straight to him. Jump on him. Get a reassuring cuddle and lick his face…
And that’s just enough for me to run off again.
But he knows I’ll always come back. Especially when he calls. Because I need him to want me, to need me. And to take me home where I can sleep off this glorious experience.
Your girlfriend is in something bigger, sure, but in a lot of ways she’s just playing in the dog park like me. So do what you need to do for yourself, and be there for her in any way you can. And hopefully, and most likely, she will appreciate having the best anonymous in the world, just as I appreciate my Handsome more than I can say.
Stay Strong! Vacation will come soon!