With the distance, I’m just a guest in his life

Hi Meredith!

I have some concerns about my relationship with my boyfriend. A little background about us; we have been together for almost two years, we started dating in college, and now we're both working professionals. My boyfriend works three hours away from me, so it has been pretty difficult transitioning from living three minutes away to living three hours away. We try to see each other every weekend because he goes home to stay with his family and I meet him there, but I can't help but feel like I am just tagging along to his life and that he doesn't actually want me there. He claims that he only travels home to see me, and that meeting him at his house makes it easier because it's closer than meeting at my place, but I feel like there is no balance. I have also made plans to visit him at his place near work, and those plans have overlapped with his family's vacation plans, which I was also invited to.

I appreciate the gesture and the fact that his family has taken me in and feels comfortable enough to invite me to things, but I still feel like I am just a guest in his life. I feel like this relationship strayed from being about me and him and building a life for us to being about him and his life and how I could fit in to it. I have brought up this concern to him a few times, and he brushes it off and says that if it weren't for me, he would just stay at his house near work. But am I wrong to feel like I am just intruding in his life? What can I do to make him understand the bigger picture? I don't know how to bring this relationship back to us as the focal point.

– Guest

I understand why you're going big picture with this, but sometimes small picture is great. Small-picture conversations allow you to bring up one goal and accomplish it. It's nice to ask a question that has an easy answer.

Your small-picture request might be to put one specific weekend on the calendar — maybe within the next month — that will involve seeing each other with no other people around. Doing that won't require a big talk about how you've been feeling, and him responding that you're an important part of his life. He's already made it clear that he's not intentionally forcing you out, and that he doesn't see you as an accessory to anything. You'll both be focused on the calendar and one weekend. Try to get that done.

If you're going to focus on the big picture, it might be more useful to talk about how this distance will change over time. What can be done about the three-hour gap? What kind of jobs or life choices might bring the two of you closer? Talking about that kind of plan might make you feel like you're a central part of this story, as opposed to family vacation guest.

– Meredith

Readers? Big picture?