Ask Emma: How do I make my boyfriend care about me?

Clear expectations, boundaries can help lack of communication in romantic relationships



Dealing with a significant other who is mentally absent or difficult to communicate with can be the downfall of a good relationship.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

Dear Emma,

I have asked my boyfriend so many times to spend more time with me or put more effort into communicating with me, but he keeps doing the same things. It makes me feel like he just doesn’t care that much. 

How can I get him to either change how he’s acting toward me or how else can I fix the problem?


Time Waster

Dear Time Waster,

I’m sorry you’re going through this. I can only imagine how frustrating this situation is for you.

First of all, I want you to consider why you’re in this relationship. What keeps you with your boyfriend, even though you feel like he doesn’t care about you? Do you have solid reasons for staying in the relationship that outweigh the drawbacks you’re describing? If you don’t, it might be time to consider making a swift exit. 

If you really feel this guy is worth your valuable time — you love him and see a future with him — then I recommend establishing healthy boundaries and expectations and examining your own insecurities.

When it comes to expectations, be sure you are stating them clearly verbally or in writing — and make sure your boyfriend is paying attention when you talk about them. An example expectation could be sending you a good morning text or prioritizing a call with you over time with his friends. 

Boundaries can also be very helpful in a situation like this. Personally, I am a fan of procedural boundaries. I mainly use them at work, but I don’t see why you couldn’t extend them to your personal life. 

My procedure goes like this: first, I give the person a verbal warning when they are not meeting expectations. This usually involves a sit-down meeting where we can discuss their behavior or work performance. Second, if they fail to correct their behavior, I issue a written disciplinary statement. If they continue to mess up, I remove them from their position.

This is a classic three-strike policy with clear expectations on both ends. I expect the coworker to improve their work when I ask them to, and they can expect a clear pattern of verbal and written feedback from me. 

Maybe this is a little too professional for your personal situation, but you could very easily adapt this procedure for your boyfriend. Three strikes and he’s out.

Finally, I think it is important for you to examine your motivations and insecurities that could be contributing to this problem. Why do you get upset when your boyfriend fails to communicate or prioritize time with you? Does that make you feel inadequate or bring out some underlying fears? If yes, you need to simultaneously work on yourself while trying to improve communication with your significant other.

However, if you don’t feel this is coming from a place of insecurity, you simply might not be getting your social or romantic needs met by this person. If this is the case, allow me to quote the country-music wisdom of Old Dominion: “Break up with him.”

There’s no reason to stay in this relationship if you’re unhappy, you’re not getting your needs met and your partner is refusing to change. Peace out, Girl Scout.

I hope this helps,