My Overworked Boyfriend Doesn’t Want To See Me Anymore

Question:

My boyfriend has been working from 6pm – 6am, 6-days a week for the last month and it’s now causing major problems in our relationship. The shift work he’s doing is only temporary but we’ve gone from being a happy couple in love with each other to fighting every time we meet up. Suddenly he’s telling me I’m too emotionally complex and I get on his case about everything.

Now I’ll admit that I am being a little bit emotional right now, but that’s because he’s been so distant and not himself at all lately. Plus I’ve also seen him get into a temper recently, it’s not something I’d ever witnessed before and it’s not something I like. Even when I’m just trying to talk sense into him he can flip out and tell me to just leave him alone, etc. The other night I was asking him not to be on his phone so much and it caused a row. But then when we get home he was all kisses, cuddles and “I love you”.

So then I wake up this morning and I start crying because I won’t seen him all week and he tells me that he doesn’t feel the same way about me anymore, and that we’re “not on the same page”. This is the same guy who told me he wanted to marry me, but now he’s lost all interest. What do I do?

Brittany

Answer:

Hi Brittany,

Wow – that’s a pretty big change in a relationship in less than a month, but I have seen things like this happen before. Firstly if he’s really working 72-hours per week in his job he’s absolutely exhausted every day, so the last thing he’ll have energy for is demands not to use his phone or to do this or to do that based on you “talking sense into him”. I know that might sound harsh but anyone working over 60-hours in a week lives in a state of almost constant physical, mental and emotional exhaustion because they barely have time to sleep.

Secondly why is he working 72-hours per week? That’s illegal in any state I can think of, and is also dangerous from a health and safety point of view!

Is this his choice or is his employer making him do it?
Working shifts like that can cause serious emotional imbalances in a person, even leading to psychological problems in people who work too many long shifts for more than a few weeks.

Now that doesn’t excuse your boyfriend’s bad behaviour either – he has no right to treat you like that, no matter how tired he is. If he does flip out then he should be apologizing immediately afterwards, but it doesn’t sound like that’s happening?

The real problem you’re both having here is what’s typical of people who work different shifts to each other, and can be resolved if both people want to. If he once told you that he wanted to marry you (and he meant it) then he obviously has loved you enough to make that commitment.

Why not arrange a fun day together for the next time he’s off work, where you can relax together and do things you both enjoy? Just don’t make it too heavy on either of you and try to avoid serious conversations.

If he doesn’t want to do the “date” thing with you then ask him to tell you how he really feels and why. Most of the problems which exist between you both are actually being caused by his job and not by either of you, so it would be great for you both to sit down and talk about ways around this.

The sooner he gets back to working regular hours the better it will be for both of you!

Marlon

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