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“Are My Expectations About Love and Romance Too High?”

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  • #874760 Reply
    avatarDear Wendy

    From a LW:

    “I don’t know where to begin, I broke up with my boyfriend about a month ago and I’m starting to feel like maybe I’ve made a mistake.
    But to background our relationship, we started off as mates and we were living together and then we started sleeping together. After a couple of months feelings started developing but it was weird, a different sort of love- I don’t think I could ever say it was wildly passionate or I was infatuated but I was also definate ly in love and loved my boyfriend deeply- in think our bond was more of a compainoinate love bond. Anyway whatever the case we were a good fit and seemed to really compliment each other. Fast forward a year and a half and I broke up with him… mainly due to this fact that our chemistry is v nice but not super passionate. What’s weird is we do have a great sex life despite this and we’re a good fit together. Anyway, it’s been a month since our breakup and truly I’ve been v upset over it. Im beginning to think maybe I’ve just thrown away my best friend and love purely in search of something impermanent that doesn’t stick anyway: passion. I’m scared I’ve made the wrong decision although I’m also sure me and my ex will never have that type of chemistry. Doesn’t mean I don’t love him, I really truly and deeply do- have I just been led to believe myths about romance and love and my expectations are too high?
    Thanks- would appreciate thoughts!”

    #874762 Reply

    It really does sound like you walked away from something worth keeping. You were, by your statement, still very in love after a year-and-a-half, which puts you past the super passionate honeymoon period of a relationship. Often it is difficult to forge a strong, loving bond without that passionate honeymoon period. If you said the sex was blah, I’d say you didn’t walk away from anything worth keeping, but you define your sex life as great. You’ve only been apart a month. Perhaps you can get back together.

    #874763 Reply

    I don’t know. I don’t know if your expectations are off or if there’s something off about your relationship with this guy. I would say give it another shot, but there’s a high likelihood you’re going to find yourself right back in that same place within a couple months. When that happens, I think you need to promise yourself you’ll end it for good and walk away and stop putting yourselves through this. I guess I think bottom line, if you can’t sit down with him and look him in the eye and say what’s changed and why it will be different, don’t do it.

    #874764 Reply

    Also, I’m someone who has broken up multiple times with each of my former boyfriends. I always did the breaking up. And then would get back together because there were good things and I wanted it to work and there was love there. Not once have I broken up or felt like breaking up with my now husband. I want and need him. It’s different. I don’t think you walk away from something that’s really right for you.

    #874765 Reply

    Hard to say if you made the right decision, but I do know the common societal narrative that love is overwhelmingly passionate and that you “just know” right away is pretty destructive. Sure, it’s true for some people, but definitely not true for everyone. Not everyone has a honeymoon period, either. Sometimes a relationship just quietly, consistently works.

    I personally think that the “in love” feeling has more to do with the individuals’ personalities and desires than with the bond between two people. Like I have a friend who falls HARD for each girl he dates. Lots of passion, lots of spark. This has happened to him like 10 times in 15 years. So it’s obviously not anything special about the relationship, it’s how he is wired. Sometimes I’m jealous, because I never feel that passionately about… well, anything. But there’s a difference between passion and fulfillment, and I’ll take a fulfilling, supportive, engaging relationship with consistently good sex over some elusive feeling of passion any day.

    So I think you may want to do some soul searching and examine your own personality. Do you usually fall hard? Does that feeling lead you to make good decisions? If you’re a pretty passionate person and miss that feeling and have had it with other partners, keep looking! But if you tend to overanalyze and daydream about some perfect ideal relationship, you may want to turn back toward this boyfriend who worked well for you. Also, age is a factor. If you’re 20, passion is a great goal in a relationship. If you’re older, other qualities will start to matter more. Good luck!

    #874766 Reply

    Kate also makes a good point. Taking that step of breaking up meant you probably lacked some feeling of fulfillment in this particular relationship. It’s worth thinking back to how you were feeling when you broke up with him – what was standing out in your mind at that time? How would you work through those feelings if they came up again? If you asked him to get back together, would you be hoping for more of a spark? Is there anything you’d need from him that he wasn’t giving you before? It would be your responsibility to articulate what has changed for you and how you envision rebuilding your relationship.

    #874767 Reply

    I think Malta Kano has good points too. A lot of times there’s a “honeymoon high” period in a relationship, but then it always has to level out. If there’s really good strong chemistry there (read “Is He Mr. Right? by Mira Kirshenbaum to understand what chemistry looks like), there won’t be that much of a slide or fall. That honeymoon high or “passion” you’re talking about doesn’t last, but what’s there in its place should be something you don’t want to walk away from because it WORKS. Because you don’t have that feeling like you might be better off without him, or there might be something better for you.

    Actually I highly recommend you read that book. It was life-changing for me.

    #874768 Reply

    If be curious how old the LW is.

    #874774 Reply

    I called off my engagement to a perfectly great guy because we lacked chemistry. However, in my case, I never wanted to have sex with him. I loved him. I felt secure with him. But I literally didn’t want to have sex. At all. It was a hard decision, but I wanted him to be with someone who loved him fully. 8 years later, I met my husband. It works. I’m so happy I waited.

    Anyway, I agree with Kate and MaltaKano. Breaking up is hard and takes a lot of thought. Before you consider getting back together, I think you should fully explore why you decided to break up and why you think you made a mistake.

    Honestly, I started seeing a therapist when I was trying to figure out if I should marry my ex. It was a good decision because she didn’t know him. She wasn’t biased. All my friends and family loved him so they thought I was crazy for breaking up.

    #874776 Reply

    I tend to think maybe you should trust your instincts a little bit more. Most people don’t really break up and walk away from the right person, you know? There’s not that nagging feeling that you’re missing out on something better when it’s really the right fit. That’s my perspective, anyway. I wonder if you’re second guessing now because perhaps you are feeling a little lonely.

    I also was once in a long relationship with a guy great on paper, but it wasn’t right. There was passion in the beginning, but years later, it was totally gone. If I hadn’t left him, I’m sure we would’ve stayed together, being objectively fine but neither of us really very happy.

    We both found the right people afterwards. In my mind, when you feel that real urge to breakup, it’s not often wrong.

    #874853 Reply

    Well what is it that you miss – the companionship? the sex?

    While you were in the relationship you felt you were missing something.

    Perhaps you’re just missing the familiarity of the relationship. That will get easier over time.

    #874885 Reply

    It’s impossible for anyone to say if your beliefs about romance/love are skewed or if you made a mistake. I tend to agree with @MaltaKano — the narrative we’re fed about romance isn’t always what it looks like in real life, and everyone experiences love a little differently.

    I have an attachment style that skews anxious and I’ve found that when I am infatuated, it’s actually my anxiety going into overdrive because my needs aren’t being met. (There’s a book called Attached that actually explains why and how so many people mistake anxiety for passion.) This may apply to you… or it may not. For a long time I thought everyone was infatuated and that’s what made for good chemistry. But I’ve learned through my own experiences that a fulfilling relationship that doesn’t take up as much headspace is where I’m happiest — my needs are being met. I’ve also read the book @Kate mentioned and found it helpful, the author breaks down chemistry into five elements and goes through all of them.

    All that said, I get the feeling you’re pretty young and I think you’re fine. You felt something was off, something was missing. It’d be great if you can articulate what that was, but it’s not unusual for a relationship to simply run its course without anything being inherently wrong. Missing someone when a relationship ends doesn’t mean ending it was the wrong call. You may just need to date more to figure out what really works for you and what you’re looking for long-term.

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