Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Miss That Lovin’ Feelin'”

I’ve known my boyfriend about a year and a half. The first eight months were mostly long distance, and then I moved to be with him and we have lived together for ten months now. In the eight months when we were long distance and the first few months we lived together, I was SO attracted to him and thought about him all the time. But in the last year, he’s had horrible stomach problems (ulcers) and while he’s gone to the doctor and is undergoing treatment, there was a long time of constant gas, bowel movement issues, and vomit breath. At the same time, he told me things I definitely did not need or want to hear. He also occasionally guilts me into squeezing zits and stuff on his back, which I hate doing. Basically, he is not maintaining the mystery at ALL.

Though he’s incredibly handsome, takes very good care of himself, and dresses amazingly (he’s European), I’m finding myself not attracted to him anymore. I don’t look forward to sex with him, and am having dreams about leaving him for bigger built men (he’s shorter and smaller than guys I have dated in the past). Is this a result of him being WAY too comfortable around me? Is it because he’s not actually my type, being only two inches taller than me? We’re in our late 20s and I thought about us getting married. It seems like married people accept these kinds of things — after all the aging process isn’t pretty. But then again, we’ve only really been together less than a year and I think I should still be excited about him sexually. I moved across the world to be with him, and I’d like to stay in this country. Since we’re so good together, I don’t want to break up with him; I just want to get the spark back. Help? — Missin’ That Lovin’ Feelin’

If you were “SO attracted” to your boyfriend in the beginning, I wouldn’t say that your change in feelings toward him is because he’s short and “not actually your type.” He was short when you first started dating him, right? That part didn’t change. From your letter, it doesn’t seem apparent that your boyfriend’s looks have changed at all, so it’s pretty safe to rule out his appearance as the cause for your recent change of heart. Does that mean that his being “WAY too comfortable” around you is to blame? Well, as I said in this recent post, there’s a lot to be said for keeping a little mystery in a relationship, and asking your girlfriend to pop your back zits isn’t exactly cultivating it.

Fortunately, it isn’t too late to get back some of the romance you enjoyed in the beginning. First, you need to begin with a long overdue talk with your boyfriend about how uncomfortable you are knowing so much about his bodily functions. Remind him that you’re his girlfriend — not a doctor or a nurse — and it’s time for him to start treating you as such. Sure, people get sick and sometimes the maintenance of a relationship is pushed to the back burner while the maintenance of one’s health becomes a bigger priority, but come on. It’s not like you popping his zits it tantamount to your boyfriend’s recovery. Clearly, he has crossed a line and you need to let him know. By letting him “guilt you” into doing nasty things you don’t want to do — things that actively turn you off sexually — you are not only enabling him, you’re also an active participant in the deterioration of your relationship.

So, quit actively ruining your relationship. Take back your power. Learn to say “no” more easily. Speak up for yourself. Talk to your boyfriend about what’s bothering you, and follow some of these tips for getting your spark back. Finally, if your boyfriend is resistant to your efforts and he doesn’t take an active role in romancing you, despite your concerns for the relationship, it’s definitely time to MOA. Being a loving, supportive girlfriend is one thing. But being a nursemaid is something else altogether, and not a role you signed up for.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

21 comments… add one
  • LK7889

    LK7889 February 16, 2011, 3:43 pm

    Seeing as cultural expectations could be different and that some people don’t see what other people see as being “gross,” my bet is that the boyfriend probably doesn’t realize that what he is doing is grossing out the LW (especially since she doesn’t say in the letter that she’s talked to him about it). I don’t know how familiar that he is with American culture but he should probably be informed that most American women don’t think that sort of stuff is appropriate. Also, the LW needs to tell him that it’s nothing against him, it’s just that sort of thing is unattractive to her. I’m willing to bet that that talk will be an eye opener for him.

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    Margaret February 16, 2011, 4:20 pm

    I wonder – if in a few years she has a baby will talking about morning sickness, hemorrhoids, incontinence, etc – will that all be off limits for the LW to share? Life is messy and every dog has it’s day – I would want the LW to really think about what the future holds and what sharing a life and family with another person means. As for me? I think she’s being very short sighted.

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    Desiree February 16, 2011, 4:56 pm

    The issues of pregnancy are a medical fact, just as his ulcers were. But in both cases it is possible to keep certain details to oneself. For instance, it would be important for a woman to let her significant other know that she was experiencing morning sickness in general. But daily, detailed updates might be too much. I think a significant other only needs to know as much as necessary to be supportive and helpful and nothing else. Besides, “popping zits” is NOT medically necessary (or even medically advisable).

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    Margaret February 16, 2011, 5:03 pm

    Desiree – I do see your point. I do think keeping a difficult pregnancy to yourself is a mistake (imagine if a guy wrote in expecting his SO to keep the messy details to herself) – but I get the point.

    What that means is ulcers and any future ‘female issues’ aside – is this break up talk all comes down to several zits – and to me that’s a small thing.

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      Desiree February 16, 2011, 5:15 pm

      I can see your point, and I probably wouldn’t end my current relationship over the issue (though I am also deep in the medical field, so these things don’t bother me). However, anything interfering with the intimacy (and sex life) of a couple will inevitably become a larger problem. Frankly, it sounds like she just needs to introduce some open communication on the issue.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom February 16, 2011, 5:21 pm

    When you first meet someone and are attracted to them your brain has a chemical rush that makes you love them and be attracted to them while at the same time blocking parts of the brain that notice problems. After about 12 to 18 months those chemicals wear off or go back to their normal level and you see the person as they are. I think your chemicals have worn off and this is how you see the guy and how you will continue to see the guy and how you will continue to feel about this guy.

    I broke up with my first significant boyfriend at the 18 month mark even though at 12 months we were definitely talking marriage. I am so glad I didn’t continue that relationship and went on to meet my husband.

    I know that personally at that point in my relationship with my husband I was still very attracted to him and I still am 23 years after getting married. Your feelings are real and you should take note of them.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom February 16, 2011, 6:25 pm

      I should add that we’ve been through two pregnancies and childbirth and my husband has had cancer which included surgery and a month or radiation therapy. We’ve seen each other when we weren’t pretty and it didn’t change the way we felt.

      What I’m saying is I don’t think your change of feeling has anything to do with zits.

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        cdj0815 February 17, 2011, 8:34 am

        Very, very well said. I am like you Skyblossom, when I am in it, I am in it for the long haul zits popping and all. I have taken care of a dying fiance and a grandmother.

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        Jess February 17, 2011, 8:47 am

        she never said she loved him less, just that she wasn’t sexually attracted to him. were you really thinking about sex when your fiance was dying? and im not sure what a grandmother has to do with it?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom February 17, 2011, 11:14 am

        Yes, you are attracted to someone even when they are sick and I think that if you are no longer attracted to them you probably don’t love them either. I think it all goes together.

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        cdj0815 February 17, 2011, 10:08 am

        Which means I had to do some things that would gross out most people. But when you really love someone, it doesn’t matter.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom February 17, 2011, 11:15 am

        I definitely agree here.

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      PFG-SCR February 17, 2011, 11:18 am

      I totally agree skyblossom – I don’t think it’s the “lack of mystery” that has caused her to not feel attracted to him. Instead, she’s not attracted in him, and so the little things are annoying her. A year and a half into a relationship is not that long, and if she feels this way now, she needs to break up with him. There’s no use in trying to force her feelings for him since it will only prolong the inevitable.

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    kiwi47 February 16, 2011, 11:15 pm

    I have to say, I had severe gastrointestinal issues last year, so I understand what your boyfriend is going through, and it’s not always easy to keep the mystery when you’re living together and you have a serious medical condition that necessitates frequent trips to the bathroom. Luckily my boyfriend has been extremely understanding and has remained just as caring, affectionate and attracted to me throughout all this, thankfully. Being sick is hard enough as it is, without having the added worry of whether or not your partner is still attracted to you for something you have no control over. So try to cut him a little slack over the ulcer issues and remember it’s not his fault.

    The zit popping, on the other hand, it totally avoidable. And gross.

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    Amber February 17, 2011, 9:16 am

    I feel like she does need to give the guy a break with the ulcer stuff. I’m sure it’s difficult to deal with something like that. And I’m sure having vomit breath and going to the bathroom all the time is embarrassing for him as well.

    It’s the zit popping that I couldn’t handle. I would do anything for my bf if he was sick with cancer, a disease, etc, but just because he wants his zits popped. Some people are more senstitive (me included!) to things like that and if my bf repeatedly asked me to pop zits I would not be happy about it. I feel like there should be boundaries between couples…I don’t want you to leave the bathroom door open, ask me to pop zits, etc.

    I think the LW should sit down and reassure him that she wants to be there for him while he deals with his ulcer but that zit popping has just got to stop.

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  • avatar

    Steeze February 17, 2011, 2:46 pm

    I know this isn’t really relevant to the discussion but I love popping my boyfriend’s zits… and I know some other people who have confessed the same. Maybe I just hang out with some really gross people.

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      Laurel February 18, 2011, 12:00 am

      Me too!

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    Leyahn February 17, 2011, 3:19 pm

    If you love someone you help them deal with their medical issues and apply acne medicine to their back. If she cannot handle his health issues now, even “Though he’s incredibly handsome, takes very good care of himself, and dresses amazingly” then she would never be able to handle them if they marry and make it to old age together. She needs to MOA and realize that there comes a time in all adult relationships when the mystery wears off and you get down to the serious business of life. Sounds more like she really wanted to live in his country more than be with him.

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    • avatar

      Amber February 18, 2011, 8:40 am

      i mean i get applying acne medicine to his back, but popping zits?!? that’s something that really gets to me. i can make myself do things i know need to happen that i might be squeamish about but popping zits i just can not do.

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    convexexed February 17, 2011, 8:33 pm

    Hmm. I think it’s possible for the gross little details of the body to obscure attraction if a person is naturally a bit squeamish, especially if that person is also a bit uncomfortable with their own bodily awkwardness (I’m not assuming this is of the LW, just speaking generally). I don’t think this necessarily indicates she doesn’t love him. I think any blanket statement like, “Love means not ever finding the body gross” is too general to be useful, since so much depends on each person’s sensibilities and background. If this is the case, the loving thing to do is for the LW to approach her boyfriend openly and respectfully and encouragingly, rather than annoyance with him for showing no regard for ‘the mystery’.
    I once had a boyfriend who I popped the zits for, and waxed the unibrow for on request, and he did not have a discreet bathroom life. At the time I sighed and rolled my eyes with a mixture of love and mildly amused exasperation, and I was still attracted to him like hell. But recently I dated a man I was never wild about, and even his slightly enlarged pores moving in close for the kiss sent me into a mental bermuda triangle of revulsion, though objectively I and others found him attractive.
    My advice: don’t feel guilty about your feelings of disgust, but don’t consider the outcome determined yet. See how an honest heart-to-heart goes, and if the hygiene is tended to on his own time, keep an eye on yourself to see if your attraction rebounds.

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    Fairhaired Child February 19, 2011, 12:51 am

    This LW reminds me of some things that wendy has previously posted on the TheFrisky. One of the articles that she wrote (i’m pretty sure she wrote it) was about how you could be married and you dont realize it. And it pretty much discussed the whole zit popping, belching, and farting in front of your SO. And as how others have already mentioned the idea of keeping the ‘mystery’.

    I think though, depending on cultures and how people are raised when growing up. It’s something to be expected after living together for about 6 months. We no longer are on our “best polite behavior” and sometimes need to be told “hey that bothers me”in order to keep certain bodily functions or certain behaviors in check. I think that the LW def. needs to sit down with her boyfriend and have alittle heart to heart on why she’s feeling this way (be careful how you phrase it! he may get freaked out if there’s too much hinting towards your unhappiness with the relationship might be the end of it).

    And on the note of dreaming about other more tall and muscular guys, Wendy has written several articles on fantasy and reality and how just because you may dream about certain types of people may not mean that you NEED that in order to be happy in life.
    Besides, your “type” is what you make it. And love, in my mind, is blind to any “types”.

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