Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “Is the Honeymoon Over or Are We Not Meant For Each Other?”

I’ve been dating my best friend for one and a half years after knowing him for three years prior to our relationship. We met at work right before my freshman year in college. We dated people during our friendship and finally started to express romantic interest once the two of us were single at the same time in May of last year.

Since we were already best friends, we didn’t need to go through that awkward phase of impressing each other. We were able to talk about kids, marriage, and living together comfortably four or five months into our relationship. I felt undeniably happy every day with him. But lately, I’ve noticed a big change in our relationship. I’m not eager to lean in and kiss him as often, I don’t bounce off the walls anymore when I see him, I’m not as touchy-feely, and I hesitate to envision what life would be like together now. Then all of a sudden we have a “good” day where I feel the way I did when we first started dating, but it goes back to the same “sunken love” the following day. Pretty much a roller coaster of happy and boring…

He graduated from college this past June, and I am in my senior year now. Starting school again this past September, I feel passionate and involved in my work. I am big with setting goals and achieving them. My boyfriend, on the other hand, still hasn’t found a “real” job and seems to take it easy in his daily life now. He sends in job applications here and there for “experience,” but he does not work as hard in finding a “good” job in my eyes. I feel that if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t play video games every night and instead would be trying harder to earn a legitimate occupation.

I’m lost as to whether I’m experiencing the “comfortable” stage of our relationship where it is not the same as the honeymoon stage, whether I just see him as just a friend again, or whether I feel like I am being held back by the fact that he isn’t pushing himself as much as I’d like him to be. How do I/we move forward? — The Honeymoon’s Over

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13 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Ale October 20, 2016, 8:20 am

    Have you talked to him about this? If the answer is no, then maybe it’s time to see where he’s at.
    If the answer is yes, and nothing has changed, then I guess you sound incompatible. You’re exactly at the point in the relationship when you realize that love is not the only thing needed to make a relationship last, and people need to be in the same stage in life. When the mask comes off and everything is clearer and the chemical stage ends. Sometimes the mask comes off and you still see a future with him and no one else, but sometimes, like in your case, you are doubtful about spending the rest of your life with this person. That is, in my opinion, the most telling thing about your letter: “whether I feel like I am being held back by the fact that he isn’t pushing himself”. You feel like he is pushing you back. Those are not good feelings to have about someone.
    Have a talk with him first. Then decide: you are not happy currently with things the way they are, you are young and ambicious. Maybe you two are just in different stages in life.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 20, 2016, 8:44 am

    Have you asked him about his long term work goals and how his current job search will help him meet those goals.

    You might find he has no long term goals, just assumes everything will work out. You might find that he has big long term goals but hasn’t thought about how he will reach them. He could have big goals and think that small, experience jobs will reach those goals. Ask what he is thinking.

    I think you are seeing a basic difference in work-life balance between the two of you. You probably fall more on the work side and he on the life side of the work-life continuum. If the way he spends his time already annoys you it won’t get better. He may use video games as both relaxation and entertainment but if you don’t share that with him it may be something that makes you incompatible if you view it as a waste-of-time and maybe feel contempt for him when he is playing. If you are feeling contempt your relationship is probably nearly over. Contempt is a huge relationship killer.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover October 20, 2016, 8:59 am

      This is exactly what I thought. You don’t respect how he’s choosing to live his life. Maybe he’s just trying to take a bit of a breather between school and the work world, or maybe this is how he’s going to be. Either way, right now you’re not liking how he’s living his life, and that may be what’s affecting your emotions toward him.

      We all have a cooling-off eventually, where the passion and excitement aren’t the same as in the beginning, which you clearly realize. But this seems like more than just the normal settling-in that happens when the excitement phase is over. There should still be excitement and passion, just not at the fever pitch it started out at. And whatever’s lost should be replaced by a warmer, softer feeling. It shouldn’t feel like “just friends” like it seems to with you now. So I think something else is going on. As Ale suggested, talk to him about future plans and get an idea of whether this is just how he’s gonna be, or if he’s taking a break before jumping in. If he’s got real plans, then give him some time to start moving towards them. But if he just keeps doing this, think about how much more time you want to invest in someone who doesn’t match up with the kind of life goals you have.

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  • avatar

    Kate October 20, 2016, 8:55 am

    The above two commenters have really good points. I would also just like to tell you that “a roller coaster of happy and boring” isn’t normal or desirable.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie October 20, 2016, 9:22 am

    I think you’re hitting that “Is this it?” moment. You’re going to hit several – I had one when I was going into the office at 7 am and thinking : I’m going to do this for 40 years? Oh crap!

    It’s ok. It’s ok to realize that affection does not equal compatibility or that now that your circumstances have changed from two students to one student and one person in the ‘real world’ that you’re seeing a side of him that you didn’t before.

    But you should talk it out. He could be going for a break, or he could have very different levels of ambition than you. Some couples can make that work – some can’t. Some people are fine supporting a spouse or being the primary breadwinner while the other takes a greater share of the domestic side. Some people get very resentful if their spouse doesn’t work or works below their abilities (and I’m thinking specifically of two men who wrote in about their wives not working and feeling really resentful).

    Talk to him.

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    • avatar

      csp October 20, 2016, 12:18 pm

      This is a great answer! I totally agree. There were things in college that I loved about guys that didn’t transfer when I got out. Talk to your boyfriend and ask about long term plans, goals, and dreams. See how hard he is willing to work to achieve those things.

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  • avatar

    jilliebean October 20, 2016, 9:24 am

    I went through pretty much the exact situation with my college boyfriend after we graduated (we graduated at the same time and had been dating for a year, friends for three before that). I moved forward with a job in my field…he puttered around, barely applying for jobs, not even temping or working a part-time job to hold him over until he could find a “real” job. It didn’t bother me so much that he didn’t have a job…the economy sucked…but he wasn’t even trying. After a year of this, it became clear that our ambitions and goals were quite different, so I ended it. It was really hard because we loved each other and the relationship part was great. But we just weren’t headed in the same direction.

    I had a conversation with him many years later where I expressed regret that I had “not believed in him” and waited for him to find his way. He told me that he totally understood why I had ended things, and it was actually the kick in the pants he needed to get his life together so he had no resentment towards me for doing that. Was very nice to hear!!

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  • avatar

    K October 20, 2016, 10:21 am

    You said “I’m not eager to lean in and kiss him as often, I don’t bounce off the walls anymore when I see him, I’m not as touchy-feely, and I hesitate to envision what life would be like together now. ” I think that no longer “bouncing off the walls” when you see him after 1.5 years is normal. The other things though…those are a bit worrisome. You should still want to kiss your partner, touch them, and picture a life together, after 1.5 years in.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros October 20, 2016, 10:36 am

      This is exactly what I was thinking. She’s conflating two very distinct feelings. It’s normal to not be super giddy after dating for a while. But I think some people assume that the ending of the honeymoon phase means that it’s normal to be rather uninterested in the other person, which it doesn’t.

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      • avatar

        K October 20, 2016, 1:06 pm

        Yup, totally.

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  • avatar

    blink14 October 20, 2016, 10:23 am

    I think what you’re picking up on here is a lifestyle difference in your motivation levels or just personal drive in general. I don’t think he’s necessarily being lazy or unmotivated, but he’s approaching his career/job search at a lower level of energy than you would.

    It is perfectly fine to sort of just take what comes in life, as long as you can support yourself. You have very specific goals and plans in mind, but not everyone is like that. You may be realizing that you two just aren’t a good match in a romantic relationship, and his lack of motivation, in your eyes, is either exaggerated because you are already having some second thoughts.

    In my experience after college, I was burnt out and needed a mental break. I was fortunate to be able to live at home for about 9 months, worked part time, and then moved to a different city, and got a full time job there about 4 months after moving.

    Everyone is different and moves through life at their own pace. If his pace is not something you can deal with long term, you need to realize the relationship probably won’t last because of that.

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  • avatar

    Andrea G October 20, 2016, 10:58 am

    The whole “entering the real world” can cause a huge shift in a relationship because it changes people. I am not the same person I was in college by any stretch and you and your boyfriend won’t be either. Many people go on to marry their college sweetheart but most do not. You may have been compatible in regards to the ins and outs of college life but the ‘real world’ brings on new things like career, acceptable commuting time, finances, family boundaries, children, etc. etc. which you may not be on the same page. For now, focus on finishing up your last year of school and interning and figuring out you the parts of your post-college life that are unrelated to a boyfriend.
    In regards to whether or not the honeymoon phase is gone, feelings wax and wane through out a relationship. I’ve been with my SO for a little over 2 years. The pure excitement and adrenaline rush I experienced when we first started dating has faded but I’m still happy when I’m with him and when I lean in to kiss him. Sure there are times when I feel annoyed, or question is this is “the one” but more often than not I am happy.

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  • avatar

    for_cutie October 20, 2016, 12:05 pm

    LW, I think this is an important time to evaluate what type of partner you want to spend your life with. You say you are a go-getter. That’s great! Think about what that could look like later in life with responsibilities and other things weighing on you.

    Having a more relaxed partner can balance you out mentally and emotionally; they also may have more time to tend to these responsibilities so you can go all in with your goals.

    Maybe an ambitious partner is more your pace – you can relate to the struggles of striving and not feel guilty when you both miss dinnertime to stay in the office (or travel or whatever is needed of you to move ahead in your career). This dynamic is a whole different type of relationship and connectedness, with very different demands on your time and resources.

    Maybe you want to strive now, and settle in later. There is nothing wrong with wanting a partner who supports your goals – it is up to you whether you want a partner who also matches your style.

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