There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re doing all the work in a relationship.
If you're someone who gives all their time to friends, family, and romantic interests, you might be doing it because you think it's expected of you or the "right" thing to do.
However, when your partner, friend, or family member doesn't reciprocate, it just leaves you feeling unappreciated. It can feel terribly unjust and lead to major disappointment.
You find yourself dropping everything to be there for someone. You support people on bad days and make time on busy days. But as soon as you need something, they’re nowhere to be found. Sound familiar?
Things to know
- People make time for who they want and if someone wants you in their life, they'll make time for you.
- It's important to value self-care and alone time and not neglect your own needs.
- When people don't make time for you, it's important to rule out common reasons such as work-life balance, physical and mental health issues before jumping to conclusions.
This dynamic can leave you feeling devalued and ready to walk away from relationships. But don’t go just yet. There may be more to the story.
Read on to find out why people do or don’t make time for you and what you can do about it:
- People Make Time For Who They Want
- What Do You Do When People Don’t Have Time For You?
- How Do You Deal With People Who Don’t Value You?
- Remember: It's Them, Not You
People Make Time For Who They Want
If a person wants you in their life, they'll make time for you. Bad weather, a headache, or an invite to see other friends won’t stop them from putting you first.
That’s because people make time for who they want.
The right people value spending time with you. They make a conscious decision to carve out time for you. That doesn’t mean they’re never busy, but they'll see you when they can.
Some people feel guilty canceling plans - you might even be one of these people. Those who aren't wracked with guilt will be honest with you. If they have plans or don’t feel up to spending time together, they’ll tell you, so you’re not left wondering where you stand.
It's really important that you value self-care and alone time. Unfortunately, these essential needs are sometimes neglected out of guilt - yep, that's you fellow people pleasers of the world.
If you're going out of your way to attend events and gatherings, even though you'd rather have an evening in by yourself, it's probably time to recalibrate and realize that your needs are important too.
Once you realize this, you become happier for others to do the same.
While it's true that people make time for who they want, people also make time for themselves - which is something people pleasers would benefit from doing.
Nevertheless, it's not always clear whether someone's canceling to look after themselves or because they don't care about you. So, if you’re not sure if someone really wants to see you, take a look at their actions. Words can deceive. Anyone can say that you’re an important person in their life.
That's why we look at the little things.
Do they have a reserved slot in their schedule just for you? Or are they only hitting you up in their free time?
If you’re constantly being treated like a convenience, that could spell trouble for your relationships. Plus, it's just not good for you to be around people that don't value you. So, let's dive into what you should do if you feel like you're not a priority:
What Do You Do When People Don’t Have Time For You?
There could be a variety of reasons a person doesn't have time for you.
It’s possible that you’re not a priority to them, but there’s a good chance the real reason is a personal problem on their end.
Rule out some of these common reasons they might act distant before jumping to conclusions when people don’t have time for you:
They’re slammed at work
Never underestimate the strain a new job can put on a relationship.
In the United States, marriages to a workaholic partner have an estimated 55% divorce rate compared to 16% of non-workaholic couples. That’s because the spouse who gets left behind feels neglected by the one who doesn't make time for them.
If that’s you, tackle this issue now, not later. Taking a little time to hash out their work-life balance now will save you a lot of problems in the long run. If your partner is operating on only a few hours of sleep and putting in extra time at the office, ask them to take a deep breath and slow down.
It’s great that you’re dating a productive person, but make sure you get an appointment slot, too.
The same applies to friendships. It's excellent that your friends are ambitious, but they need to know that you're feeling left behind.
They’re dealing with a health problem
Have you noticed a major behavior change in someone besides just pulling away from you?
If the answer is yes, they could be struggling with health problems that are impacting your relationship.
If a person is dealing with a physical health issue, chronic pain can definitely cause them to withdraw.
No matter how much they want to make time for you, they can’t do it if they’re sick and fatigued. If they have a diagnosed condition, try to be patient with them. Come up with new ideas to spend time together that won’t be physically taxing.
A mental health condition can be just as debilitating. Does your partner or friend struggle with depression or anxiety? If they’re not taking care of their mental health, that can completely alter their personality.
Figure out if they’re getting enough sleep and eating well before you write them off as ignoring you.
Mental health conditions can require professional help. If they’re open to seeing a therapist, strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy might allow them to be more present in your relationship, too.
They don’t manage their time
You might not be the only person seeking more of someone’s time. If they struggle with time management, chances are they’re stretching themselves too thin across the board.
In this case, their intentions are pure. But their execution leaves you feeling less than special.
It’s great that they want to make everyone happy, but at the end of the day, this people pleaser needs to prioritize those who mean the most. You can try to help them get organized by giving them a productivity tip or two.
They don’t know they’re doing it
It may be hard to believe, but it’s possible that they’re truly clueless about how you’re feeling.
Everyone has different needs when it comes to spending time together. What may be enough time for one person might be too much for another. If you haven’t shared your perspective, they might think they’re doing a great job of treating you like a high priority.
That’s why it’s so important to talk directly with people who don’t value you.
How Do You Deal With People Who Don’t Value You?
When we start to feel insecure in our relationships, a funny thing happens. We try to solve the problem without speaking up. Instead of confronting the issue head-on, we play games to make it go away.
We clear our schedules to make it easier for them to see us. When that doesn’t work, we pull away and ignore them. Next, come the passive-aggressive comments. None of it helps.
We’re too afraid of rejection to find out the truth: am I a high priority, or am I just an option?
The truth is that none of these strategies will fix the issue. In fact, they might even make it worse. There’s only one efficient way to get an answer: take charge and talk to them.
Here are five steps to follow when dealing with people who don’t value you:
Start a conversation
The first thing you need to do when you feel like someone doesn’t make time for you is tell them.
Gently confront them and share how you’ve been feeling. They might be surprised to discover that you aren’t getting enough attention. Or they might get defensive and argue with you.
Either way, their response will tell you a lot about how much they value you. Pay attention to their initial reaction, and see if they warm up over the course of your conversation.
Find out what’s on their mind
When you talk to someone about how they’ve been spending less time with you, seek first to understand why.
Don’t fall into the trap of assuming they don’t care about you. If you outright accuse them of not valuing your relationship, then they might shut down and bring the whole conversation to a dead end.
Instead, ask them to share how they’ve been feeling lately. There’s a chance they’re dealing with personal problems you don’t know about. Maybe they are secretly struggling in their career or having health problems.
Finding out what’s on their mind can give you context for their distant behavior, and you may grow closer.
Ask for what you want
If you want to see a behavior change from your partner or friend, it’s important to tell them exactly what you need. Saying something vague like ‘you don’t spend enough time with me’ is a start, but it won’t get you the results you’re looking for in the long run.
Instead, offer specific steps they can take to set your mind at ease. Do you want to go out for dinner more? Are you asking for a text letting you know they’ll be working late? Is there a particular person they’re picking over you, like one of their family members?
Bring up detailed suggestions to help them better understand what you want. If you truly are important to them, they’ll appreciate the direction and try to make you happy.
Set up weekly date nights
Are you and your partner not sure where to start? Setting up a standing date for quality time together can be a great step forward.
Pick a day and time that works for both of you and commit to having alone time every week. Having a reserved slot helps create a structure to schedule your busy days around. This way, you can spend less time wishing your partner was around and more time getting excited about your next rendezvous.
It might not sound romantic, but setting aside a specific time for date night is an efficient way to reignite the spark and feel more connected when you’ve been apart.
Focus on yourself
Finally, the last step to follow when you deal with people who don’t value you is to put yourself first.
When you make yourself constantly available to someone who isn’t doing the same, you slowly start to lose your sense of confidence. You become more and more dejected, feeling like a fool for always jumping at their text or call after hours of being ignored.
It’s time to back off and meet your own needs. Don’t rely on someone else to make you happy. Even in the most balanced relationships, it’s critical to be independently responsible for your own contentment.
After you’ve talked to your partner or friend and set up a plan to move forward, take some alone time for yourself. Do the things you enjoy. Be a little selfish with your time and set boundaries when they ask you to drop what you’re doing for them. Putting your own needs first can bring you more satisfaction in both your romantic relationship and personal life.
Remember: It's Them, Not You
Oftentimes, if we don’t feel valued by someone there’s more to the story than we realize.
The average person doesn’t have complete control over their time. Everyday life can make anyone distracted from what’s important every now and then. It’s important to remember that when someone isn’t making themselves available, it’s not always about us.
Dig deeper and find out the real reason they’re being distant before jumping to extremes. Talk to the person in question and work together to fix the problem instead of pulling away. You might be surprised what a single conversation can do to transform your relationship.
And if they aren’t willing to change? Some people can’t see our value, no matter how hard we try to convince them of it. Learn the difference between someone who is stressed and someone who is selfish.
Whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a romantic partner, you deserve to feel appreciated. If they won’t step up to the plate, wait for the right person who will.