I have always considered myself lucky in love. So far, I have been really fortunate to fall in love with kind, quality men who loved me back. The beginnings of all of these relationships were amazing and I couldn’t believe how head over heels I was for them. However, in each relationship after about 8-12 months, my feelings would start to change; I would get bored, the sex would slow down, and I would become unhappy. It would then take me another six months to actually break up with them because I was attached, and did love them, and kept hoping things would go back to the way they were.
I’ve never had a relationship that lasted longer than a year and a half. I always assumed one day I would meet a man and this getting bored thing wouldn’t happen and that’s how I would know this person was the one I should marry. This pattern was okay when I was younger but I’m nearly 30 and I’d like to build a life with someone. I want to be able to think about the traveling-the-world and ‘creating-a-home’ experiences of my life and have them be with my husband, not distributed over my many ex-boyfriends!
I’ve been with my current boyfriend a little over a year now and the butterflies are starting to fade. Up until now I’ve thought *this must be it!* but now I’m having second thoughts. I’m graduating from grad school in August, and have been debating moving back to my home town and old company (which would mean ending this relationship, as it would be very long distance if I moved). I’m just not sure he is *the one* anymore, or that a relationship with him is worth living so far away from my family. Maybe I could meet someone else closer to home whom I’d love just as much, or even more. Or maybe I’d never find love like this again, this is as good as it gets, and I’d regret leaving him forever.
From a logical standpoint my current boyfriend has all the qualities that would make a wonderful husband for me, we’d have a great life (apart from living far away from my family), and he’d make a great father. But honestly, I could say the same for several of my exes. I just don’t understand how many people say they knew their husband was the one after only six months, because really I felt that way about most of my ex-boyfriends after that amount of time. Am I just spoiled and throwing away good relationships for the thrill of something new? Or have these guys really not been right for me and with the right guy, I won’t ever feel this way? — Addicted to New Love
I’m not so sure it’s necessarily the “beginnings” of relationships you’re addicted to so much as the excitement. You like the butterflies — who doesn’t? — and the adventure. You like the unveiling of one another, and the creativity you feel when you begin to meld two lives together. The problem is, you’ve somehow convinced yourself that these things only exist in new relationships. Your own personal experiences have shown you that eventually, relationships get boring and stale, and that at some point it’s inevitable that you’ll question whether you’re truly with the “right” person. What’s more, you seem to think that in simply questioning whether you’re with the “right” person, on some level you’re admitting defeat — failure in making the perfect choice; failure in creating the perfect relationship.
But, here’s the thing: no one person is going to be perfect for your all the time. No relationship is always going to be exactly what you want. Like anything — friendships, your career, hobbies, personal interests, even vacations — there are moments that are better than others, and there are periods that require a little more work that maybe make you question your choices. But those questions are healthy. It’s important to re-evaluate where we are in life every once in awhile. It’s necessary for personal fulfillment and satisfaction to take stock of what we have and what we want and make sure we’re on the right road to achieving our goals. Relationships are no different.
So, rather than simply dump a boyfriend when you begin questioning whether he’s “right” for you, what if you started questioning how you could make the relationship more of what you want? If excitement is what you need, then instead of always turning to a new relationship to scratch that itch, think about how to inject excitement in your current relationship. Rather than “hoping things will go back to the way they were,” take an active role in actually spicing things up.
For example, I’d think moving with your boyfriend to a new town would certainly shake things up a bit. You say you’re graduating from grad school in August and considering moving back home, but that you wouldn’t want to have a long distance relationship with your boyfriend. Well, have you considered asking him to move with you? Or, have you thought about how a short-term LDR might give you much-needed perspective? Perhaps, if you moved home on a trial basis — say six months — before deciding whether to not to pull the plug on your relationship, you’d have a better sense of whether you’re happier with or without your boyfriend in your immediate, day-to-day life.
Then again, it’s certainly possible that at “nearly-30,” you really haven’t met anyone you could build a happy life with. But the way you say it, that isn’t the case. It sounds like you’ve dated numerous men who have fit the bill of what you’re looking for in a long-term partner, but you haven’t been able to wrap your head around the idea that sometimes relationships get a little boring. Sometimes, when the newness wears off, it takes an active investment on the part of the people in the relationship to keep things exciting. What have you done to remain active in creating your ideal relationship? How have you taken charge in creating your own happiness? Because happiness doesn’t just happen to people. Hell, even winning the lottery doesn’t just happen. You have to actually go out and buy the ticket. So, are you buying the ticket, my dear? Are you taking some responsibility in creating the destiny you want?
As you have discovered, finding “the one” isn’t the hard part. There are lots of “ones” out there for each of us. The hard part is sustaining a happy and fulfilling relationship with any of those numerous “ones” we meet. And that takes five things: timing, effort, compromise, creativity and commitment. So ask yourself not whether you’ve found the “right” person, but whether you’ve got those five things on your side. You may find many Mr. Rights, but until you have those five things — the latter four of which are totally in your control — you’ll never ever sustain the relationship you really desire for the long haul … no matter how many times you start over.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.
AnitaBath May 24, 2011, 3:06 pm
Get the fuck out of my head, LW!
_jsw_ May 24, 2011, 4:27 pm
See if it’s still your head when you’re 30. I think it’s a common frame of mind for those in their very early 20s. 🙂
And, well, men who are not yet dead.
PFG-SCR May 24, 2011, 5:15 pm
Callifax May 24, 2011, 4:31 pm
Oh man I thought the same thing. I’m in a serious, pushing two-year relationship now, but she sounds EXACTLY like me a few years ago. I followed that pattern through four relationships so I can totally relate.
Callifax May 24, 2011, 4:32 pm
Oh and JSW you are very right. For me, that tendency disappeared as I got closer to 30 than 20.
LTC039 May 24, 2011, 3:15 pm
I couldn’t have said it better myself…Really, I was pretty stumped when I read this letter.
LW, take Wendy’s advice…Def. go back home on a trial basis! I think that’ll be a good “shake up” so that you can decide whether or not this is the man for you.
cdobbs May 24, 2011, 3:25 pm
Wow, I could have wrote this letter. I have had numerous relationships and it always seemed like after the first three months is when things started to go south and I got bored. I think relationships take alot of work to keep the excitement up. I think it is worth a shot to try and inject some spice into the relationship (but this requires active participation by both partners) since the LW says her current boyfriend has all the qualities she is looking for in a long term relationship. But you have to understand that no relationship is going to maintain that level of excitement when you first get together, its just impossible. And don’t stay with someone if you aren’t happy, just because you don’t want the relationship to “fail”.
Skyblossom May 24, 2011, 3:28 pm
I agree with Wendy about what a long term committed relationship requires and like she said what are you doing to maintain your relationship? How do you keep it from becoming boring because relationships require maintenance? How have you nurtured your relationship? What do you do for him to show him he’s special? Do you confide in each other? Talking and sharing your day builds great intimacy between partners because it helps you to know each other better, understand each other and support each other.
The other thought I had was to wonder if the guys you’ve been seeing seem perfect at the beginning but maybe aren’t right for you. Maybe you’re basing your choices on traits like good looks and their great jobs but missing out on a personality that compliments you. There are loads of great guys out there who will make someone an excellent husband but that doesn’t mean that they’re your excellent husband. Maybe you need to think about what personality traits you need in a long term partner. Maybe you need to pick differently in the first place. Maybe you find an initial attraction without noticing it doesn’t have the depth you need, the qualities and traits that compliment you. If you have lots in common with these guys, doing fun things together and they still fizzle then maybe the problem is your inability to form or nurture a long term relationship. If your relationships have mainly been physical attraction without mutual interests and goals then maybe you’re picking the wrong guys.
justpeachy May 24, 2011, 3:31 pm
I agree with you. I think that if she can’t/doesn’t make it work with this guy, she needs to take some time for herself, and then start casually dating guys who specially aren’t her type. Maybe she’ll find someone who it actually works with, rather than someone who she thinks it should work with.
MJH May 24, 2011, 3:58 pm
I am having a great time with a guy who I NEVER would’ve picked for myself a few years ago. He dropped out of high school, works a blue collar job, has a drama-filled past that keeps rearing its head… this isn’t going to go anywhere long term, for a lot of reasons, but I’m having a good time.
So I think it’s possible to find a good balance between the guy who looks perfect on paper and is fun until you get bored and the guy who is not who you would’ve picked but with whom you might have differences that keep things interesting. Try going out with the bad-on-paper guys and see what happens!
MonMon May 24, 2011, 10:53 pm
Just curious, MJH, what’s your purpose for this relationship? You say, “this isn’t going anywhere long term..”.
I didn’t find a single ounce of sound advice for the LW in your comment. She is telling us that she wants “to build a life with someone”. How is your example of dating “bad-on-paper” guys going to help her find someone to share her life with, if you yourself are admitting that your relationship is not going anywhere?
sia May 25, 2011, 3:34 am
Yeah, totally know how you feel. Sometimes, I like to put either my own or some dude’s feelings on the line too, just to pass the time. The rush from knowing that I’m lowering my standard and wasting my time, makes it even more fun.
Congratulations on a comment so inane, it brought me out of lurkerdom, BTW.
G May 25, 2011, 9:14 am
I understand dating the “bad on paper guy”… such as dating someone you’d normal be cautious about (someone a little younger or someone that has children) and then finding out he is completely wonderful.
But, does this boyfriend of yours KNOW that you see it going nowhere?
That’s kind of mean to string him along…
rabbit May 25, 2011, 12:05 pm
I agree, especially with the second paragraph.
I was the letter writer for many years and had a number of 1-3 year relationships in which I got bored at the 1-1.5 year mark. All these guys were wonderful, wonderful people who had all the qualities that I thought I wanted in a long-term partner (kind, considerate, loyal, intelligent, great jobs, would be excellent fathers and dinner-party-having-partners…). In each case I got bored and wanted to leave at about a year, but was fearful that I would never find someone better because the common wisdom (reflected in Wendy’s letter) is that this kind of transition from excitement to practicality happens in every relationship, and I’d just have to deal with it. In the end, I never ‘settled’ for one of these guys because I was young enough to justify to myself that leaving such a good relationship at this age was not insane.
I then went away to a foreign country for several years where dating was impossible and reformulated my entire sense of self in relationships. I realized that in my case, my strategy/pattern was to go after guys that I perceived would be easy to get. They tended to be awesome but shy guys who were nearly all virgins, and I sensed that they would be easier-than-average to ‘conquer,’ reducing my chances of rejection. But then later on in the relationship a dynamic developed where I had more control/power and this would accelerate getting bored. I always came to fear that I would cheat on them at some undetermined point in the future. It’s really ugly and I’m not proud of it, but I don’t think this kind of dating pattern is all that uncommon for some people. I’m not sure if it’s what the LW does, but she may have some similar kind of process where she chooses the guys she *thinks* she wants, without really delving into herself about what she *actually* wants.
When I came back to the US, I met someone who I’m still incredibly, deeply and broadly in love with after many years. We are compatible on all the metrics I thought I needed and compatibile on a bunch more metrics that I didn’t realize I needed. There is no catch with this relationship – the feelings are all there, still, and yet we’re more compatible and better at building a life together than I ever would have imagined was possible.
So I think you may not have met your someone/one of your someones who really *does* it for you, and I believe it *is* possible to have that. But I’m also a pragmatist – there are only so many of these people in the world, and we may never happen to meet them (I feel so lucky I did). If you are at the age where you feel you can’t keep looking, and have things (like kids) that you want in a short time period, there may be a ‘case for settling for Mr. Good Enough’ (as that awful book title suggests). In that case, I think acknowledging that to yourself, and not buying into the *need* for a relationship mythology of being each others’ one and only match, can be helpful. If you feel like you need to keep looking, do so, but my advice would be to spend some time off dating first, and get to know yourself well enough to know exactly the kind of guy you’re really looking for.
BoomChakaLaka May 24, 2011, 3:28 pm
LW, you’ve pretty much experience the end of the infatuation stage and the beginning of reality. This is when the foundations for real relationships begin to form as you’ve taken off the love goggles and you are starting to see your partner for who they really are. That laugh that you thought was cute, might actually be a cackle that is quite annoying. The shirt that s/he always wears when lounging around the house? Yup, has holes in it and smells actually. And lets not forget the jokes/stories. You’ve heard them before…at least thrice before.
Relationships take work. They take a lot of work. Ask anyone that has been married for over 20 years. That said, LW, do you know of anyone that has been with anyone for that long…even 10 years will do? Ask them what made them *stay.* I’m willing to bet top dollar that no one says its because s/he was the one. It’ll range from I’m willing to fight my battles with the other to something as small as s/he makes me laugh every day.
I personally believe that there isn’t just “ONE” person for us. There are many out there that have can fit the bill of what we’re looking for in a partner. You’ve been super lucky to experience good relationships with good guys. For the one you have now, can you see a future? Can you see going through the ups and downs of life with him? If you want kids, do you see him as a great father? If so, then maybe you want to keep this one around. That might mean inviting him to live with you, doing a short term LDR, or even going somewhere completely new with him.
Whatever you end up doing, just know that from here on out, it isn’t easy. Relationships do take a lot of work, but with the right person, it can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life.
MonMon May 24, 2011, 10:54 pm
AHHH, Boom, you said it perfectly. 🙂
leilani May 24, 2011, 3:30 pm
You seem to be really afraid of commitment, not because you don’t want something serious, but you’re constantly thinking about if something better might come along. As soon as things aren’t fireworks and cuddles all the time, you start to wonder if this is the best you can get. My advice to you would be to stop comparing something real with imagined possibilities. Stop comparing your current boyfriend to your exes, or your current state to your state 6 months ago, or your actual relationship to your fantasy relationship. Focus on the options you actually have in front of you–a great guy and a solid relationship, or a breakup and single-hood. If you would rather be single than be with him, go for it. But I don’t think its wise to throw your relationship away for a fantasy guy that you might never find. If this guy makes you happy, but you’re not paying attention because you’re constantly looking for something that will make you ridiculously ecstatic, you’ll be missing out on all the joy that you could’ve had with him.
kerrycontrary May 24, 2011, 3:53 pm
Good point. I think that a lot of people compare their current relationship to this ideal that simply can’t exist all the time. No one’s relationship feels as good every single day as it does in the first couple of months. Some days you are going to want to leave. Some days you are going to be so annoyed with your husband that you can’t even look at him. But guess what? There will hopefully be more good days than bad. Focus on the positive things about your relationship and take Wendy’s advice to “spice things up”. This may include things in the bedroom, but it can also be something like making sure you try new activities together or set a date night every week (sitting on the couch together DOES make a relationship boring). Stop looking for something better and think about all that you do have!!
spanishdoll May 24, 2011, 3:31 pm
I totally get this. After the 6 month mark I started going through this with my boyfriend…up until that point, I had been convinced that the intense butterflies meant that he was “the One.” But, honestly, after your 300th date your body just eventually ditches the butterflies and replaces them with a happy warmth in the pit of your stomach. It’s a nice trade, really, since you can’t keep up the crazy nerves for that long.
I’ve been putting myself through the emotional wringer, though, debating whether my doubts mean that I’m not committed to him. But Wendy is right, having doubts about your relationship is not the sign of a problem. A real problem is seeing where your relationship is failing and not doing anything to mend it. It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn, that even the best relationships take real commitment and continuous work. They’re not always perfect and you won’t always be feeling head-over-heels.
It’s helped me to consider all of my relationships with my best girl friends. Have they always been perfect? No. Have we run into rough patches where I doubted the strength of our friendship? Yes. But those relationships were worth keeping, and both parties put in the effort to keep the friendship strong. Love relationships aren’t much different, except there’s sex involved 😉
Quakergirl May 24, 2011, 3:37 pm
Amen, Wendy. LW, life–along with the relationships you forge in your life– isn’t really all that thrilling unless you make it that way. Sure, there are crazy things that just happen to you that are exciting, but they’re few and far between. And with relationships, the beginning is so exciting because new and exciting things are constantly happening to you. The first year or so is always full of firsts– your first kiss, the first time you say “I love you,” your first holiday season, your first family outing, your first apartment together, etc. That stuff is so much fun. But yeah, the fifth family Thanksgiving at his aunt’s house is less exciting. The goodbye kiss on the way out the door the 1,357th time you leave for work isn’t as firework-inducing as the first kiss after a great date.
So, like Wendy said, make an effort to keep a relationship exciting. Do new things together, like traveling, taking classes, reading a new book every month. Hopefully, these things will help you not only keep things interesting, but also form a deeper and closer bond with your boyfriend. Maybe that’s where you’re having trouble– you just don’t feel all that close to these guys. I’d say definitely talk to your boyfriend about the possibility of moving with you, because maybe that experience of creating a whole new life for yourselves together will help you feel more connected to him and sure about the staying power of your relationship.
moonflowers May 24, 2011, 3:40 pm
In Helen Fisher’s book “Why We Love,” she talks about the biological basis of love – the immediate excitement and joy of meeting someone new is due to a massive release of dopamine, the “novelty” hormone, while the gentler, long-lasting bond of a 60th-anniversary couple is due to oxytocin, the “attachment” hormone.
Dopamine highs last from 3 months to a maximum of 18 months, which corresponds to that first heady period of a relationship where it feels like walking on clouds. After a year and a half, it inevitably begins to fade. Our biology just isn’t built to keep us perpetually hoppin’. The dopamine high feels really good, though (it’s the basis of dope addictions, for instance).
Some people mistake the dopamine high for “true love,” with all the sweeping passion and desperately romantic gestures. But the stuff that long-term relationships, “til death do us part,” is made of is the oxytocin bond. It’s quieter, more subtle stuff, but it’s also more long-lasting. The more a person pair-bonds with his/her partner (having sex, cuddling), the more oxytocin s/he produces, which reinforces the relationship.
It’s possible to keep dopamine relatively high by doing lots of new things together – like Wendy mentioned, moving to a new town. But the LW’s dopamine level will eventually have to come down to a more stable level, so losing the “excitement” doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with the relationship fundamentally. Maybe all LW needs is to recognize and accept the quieter, less dramatic bond of the oxytocin relationship as another form of love.
PFG-SCR May 24, 2011, 3:55 pm
“Sometimes, when the newness wears off, it takes an active investment on the part of the people in the relationship to keep things exciting.”
This line is perfect. By nature, the first part of the relationship is constantly fun and exciting because it’s new, and there’s so much to learn about one another. Typically, both people are putting a huge amount of time and attention into the relationship. But as time goes on, life starts to take away some of that time and attention, and the relationship can feel like it’s less of a focus and not as special. This is a reason why being friends is so important in a healthy relationship, because in addition to all of the chemistry and attraction, you really need to like the person and have common interests.
But, like Wendy’s comment above, you can get that feeling back. Any happy couple that has been together long-term will tell you that they’ve had to work to bring excitement back into their relationship at various points. You need to recognize the different stages that love goes through, and that you won’t always feel that same level of intensity about each other. But, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. You can definitely focus to bring it back and make the relationship special in that “new” way again.
That certainly doesn’t mean that this guy is the right one for you long-term. He may be, but he may not be, but the point being that the intensity of a new relationship will not be sustained indefinitely with anyone without some work.
Laurel May 24, 2011, 4:10 pm
I’ve definitely felt this way, so I’m really enjoying and appreciating Wendy’s advice and the comments. 😀
In my last relationship, the 8-months doubts started when I really got to know my boyfriend better and the veneer of newness wore off. He was pretty good looking, tall, and I was thrilled to be having sex regularly. But he was also self-centered, obnoxiously loud, and had some values that really clashed with mine. I stuck it out with him WAYYY longer than I should have hoping that things would “go back to how they were”. Obviously this was a case where after the newness wore off we didn’t have a good foundation for a relationship.
With my boyfriend now (we’ve been dating for almost a year and a half), I don’t get the butterflies like I did for the first 6-8 months and if I dwell on it too much it’ll bother me a little. We also moved in together at the start of this year, so since we see each other every day there isn’t the “I’ve missed you all week” feeling I used to get. But I remind myself how happy I am to see him every day, how I love sharing a bed with him, and how instead of the nervous butterflies it’s a kind of pleasant contentment.
Alittlelux May 24, 2011, 4:55 pm
“Pleasant contentment” is lovely and right on!
demoiselle May 24, 2011, 4:16 pm
Relationships are hard. The beginning is made easier because of the chemical and sexual response, but those feelings fade in time and then have to be cultivated and nurtured. I knew my husband was the one because:
— He is a truly good, kind, and generous person. His brother calls him the most generous person he’s ever met.
— He’s frighteningly smart. Perhaps the smartest person I’ve ever known.
— He’s committed to family but also ambitious.
— We have similar goals and values, both financial and moral.
— I trust him completely.
— He knows how to compromise and how to say he’s sorry.
— We both have esoteric interests and can respect them and share them.
— He will be a wonderful father if we ever have kids.
— I know he will fight for me/us and never give up.
And of course I fell in love with him. The love-feeling and sexual chemistry was wonderful. The butterflies in the stomach were/are too.
But the things which told me that he was “the one” had to do with his personal qualities, not the way he made me feel. I learned a lot more from the day when my cat got his claw stuck in hubby’s brand new, hand knit sweater and he didn’t get angry than I ever could from the feeling of excitement from the newness of a relationship…
It sounds to me like the LW is a bit confused about what long term love looks like and how it works. It isn’t just a feeling that happens. It’s also a choice, a commitment, and an ongoing process.
oldie May 24, 2011, 4:26 pm
LW seems to subscribe to a lot of myths. The biggest myth in relationships is that there is one ‘the one’. There isn’t. Especially for the youngish, there are a fair number of very compatible people, any of whom can develop into ‘the one’ for you. You grow toward the direction dictated by your relationship and the combination of your skills and attitudes. The young are more flexible in this than the middle aged, who are much more rigid in their views and less able or interested in making major changes in their interests and skill sets. As you stay together, determine that you hold a lot of shared values and goals, and your relationship matures, you both change and hopefully grow together, developing shared and complimentary additional interests, skills, hobbies, and friends. Along with your initial hot lustful chemistry, which will mellow with time, this is what a great long-term relationship is based upon. It’s possible that all of these guys that you had a great year with could have become ‘the one’ with the proper work and attitude on your part.
At least at this stage in your life, you may not be emotionally suited for permanent or more than year-long relationships. If what you crave most is the initial year hot sizzle that transports you from the normalcy of life, then perhaps you are best doing what you’ve been doing, but being upfront with these guys, so you’re not just a major heart-breaker. It doesn’t sound like you’re ready to settle down and this, as well as the natural decline of the start-of-relationship lust, is what causes you to flee when you reach the time of needing to make both a commitment and an effort to sustain the relationship.
WatersEdge May 24, 2011, 4:38 pm
This letter is why I so often say to letter writers, “Is a person with X bad trait really someone you want to get married and have kids with?”. Long-term relationships involve compromise and sacrifice, combined with a less-than-vibrant sense of the butterflies. They are hard work! Comfort and security are very subtle feelings. They don’t knock you over the head and keep reminding you that they’re there. They’re more of a whirring in the background as you go along with your daily life. So it’s hard to fight to keep your comfort and security in the face of more exciting options.
I don’t think you’re choosing the wrong guys, and one day you’ll meet someone new and “you’ll know”. I actually don’t believe in any of that crap. I believe in compatibility and hard work. I also think that our generation puts so much of the burden of a happy life on our romantic relationship. Long-term relationships are not the place to find excitement and novel intellectual/emotional stimulation, period. You will always have to find it elsewhere, no matter who you choose to marry. So your job now is to find ways to get that stimulation so that your relationship, and your life, stays fulfilling. Get new hobbies, make new friends, travel to new locations, find new ways to be successful in your career. Look to your whole life, the big picture, for excitement and fulfillment. And get romantic in your relationship, too. Bring that excitement and passion into your relationship. Try exotic foods together. Go skydiving together. Plan a trip to Africa together. You get the idea. Stop looking to your relationship to provide your life’s zing. Go out into the world, find the zing, and incorporate it into your relationship.
Katie May 24, 2011, 9:10 pm
this is totally what I was thinking- this girl sounds extremely bored in her life! she honestly sounds like I think I did in like junior high, when you were so obsessed with guys and having a “boyfriend’ because it was all new territory at that age.
if a new relationship is her only source of happiness, or excitement, or any number of things that you can get from a lot of sources, that is her main problem. I could not imagine having a life with a relationship so totally at the center of everything.
ladybug May 24, 2011, 4:42 pm
At least the LW had the decency to end the relationships. My ex had these feelings too – always looking for the excitement and the newness. So he cheated on me constantly, getting double the relationships and more than enough excitement. To this day, he is alone (he still followed that pattern) as every other woman dumped HIM. To the LW – the grass isn’t always greener. The grass is what YOU make it.
Rachelgrace53 May 24, 2011, 4:42 pm
I think the key here is that deciding someone is “The One” has very little to do with feelings. Feelings fade, and if you want to be in a LTR, your feelings will inevitably evolve. And in the long run, it’s not how a person makes you feel, but how they treat you and what kind of person they are that will make you happy and fulfilled in your relationship. I’ve been with my guy for 18 months, and we’re definitely coming into a place of things not being new anymore, but we actively pursue keeping our connection alive. To me, it really is something you just have to change your thinking about. It’s a lot less about feelings and a lot more about making decisions every day to love someone and continue to care about them. That doesn’t sound romantic, but thinking ONLY of romantic notions is a big reason people get divorced. They expect everything to be rainbows and sunshine, and don’t like the realities that come with a real relationship.
Anyway, I’m getting off track, but my advice to the LW is to try to change your thinking about how you decide if someone is right for you. Consider how much you respect them and how they treat you, instead of getting so fixated on losing those butterflies. And like Wendy said, inject some adventure into your relationship to keep it from getting stagnant. Good luck with the decision!
spaceboy761 May 24, 2011, 4:43 pm
The LW has a very hard time distinguishing love from intensity. In general, this is a fairly destructive trait and will undermine every relationship she’s in until she learns how to stop substituting one for the other either through maturity or sheer will. I hate to be harsh, but it’s pretty much relationship cyanide. There’s no other way to put it.
SGMcG May 24, 2011, 4:45 pm
LW, in your descriptions of your past relationships, you mention a lot of things that make your ex-boyfriends and your current boyfriend a potentially wonderful husband, give you a great life full of travel and creating a home experiences, as well as make a great father for your potential children. Yet with all those credentials that make them look good on paper, I haven’t heard a thing about what these guys do for your soul. Do these guys make you laugh? Do they ground you when you’re moving too fast? Do they give you a perspective you’ve never considered, or do you find peace when you sleep next to them at night?
I’m asking questions because I’m wondering if you have yet to distinguish the excitement of a new relationship with the excitement of building a life together yet. It’s one thing to enjoy seeing things with new eyes and seeing the butterflies take flight, but have you also stepped back and also evaluated the field of flowers they’re flying over? Besides the timing, effort, compromise, creativity and commitment to guide you to stay in a relationship, I think you need to step back and find for yourself what you deem to be uncompromisable in a relationship. For me, I consider devotion, loyalty, patience, passion, a sense of humor, confidence, compassion and empathetic sensitivity things that I need from my partner – your list may be different from mine LW. I think LW, you would benefit from stopping your cycle of serial monogomy if only to evaluate better where you stand as an individual and what you would need from a partner in return.
Amy May 24, 2011, 7:10 pm
EXACTLY!!!! I call it SUBSTANCE AND SPARKLE. Good men that would make good husbands are a dime a dozen – but I want one that I connect with very deeply. Of course relationships evolve from new and exciting to more deep relationships – but that can be exciting too – so long as the time you spent peeling back the layers of the man you are with – revealed something special to your soul.
Budjer May 24, 2011, 4:51 pm
Everything is relative and people put different meanings on different words. Your definition of boring is reading to me as a lack of interest in your partner. I think you may have been getting wrapped up in the feelings of a blossoming relationship more-so than the actual person it was with.
Relationships take work, yeah, but there is a difference between putting enough time and thought into a relationship / deciding to stay committed to somebody and just plain not feeling it with someone once the chemicals fade. If you are constantly finding yourself eventually breaking up with someone because of boredom then I think you should really focus on finding someone that makes you happy – whatever that entails – rather than traits that make them a good boy friend / husband. Use those good bf traits to gauge whether or not the guys a keeper since the personality traits synonymous with being a good boy friend can, unfortunately, also be boring.
Desiree May 24, 2011, 4:53 pm
What the LW is experiencing is inevitable, and it isn’t necessarily bad. The “romantic movie” type feelings dissipate, but they can be replaced with trust and comfort. And through new activities and experiences, even the spark can be kept. I always ask myself, about a year in, “are my needs being met? am I continuing to grow as a person in this relationship? do we find joy together?”
spaceboy761 May 24, 2011, 4:58 pm
Sorry to be the asshole in the punch bowl here, but I’m having a hard time finding sympathy for the LW on this one. I keep thinking about the trail of men left in her wake and how they must have felt after doing what they can to make her happy just to be left with, “Sorry, bro. Just not feeling it any more.”
It’s like watching a drug addict come down in slow motion. The LW is addicted to the initial excitement of the relationship and that’s enough to keep her happy for a little while. Once the high is over and the crash starts, she just takes a fresh hit of Boyfriend to mask the horrible crash feelings and the cycle repeats.
Or to answer her second to last question, yes.
BoomChakaLaka May 24, 2011, 5:28 pm
But at least she has the decency to end and not lead them on, right? You have to give her credit for that. And I’m sure all of those great guys went on to find more mature women who were willing to put in work for them and the relationship, so they probably aren’t missing much anyway.
PFG-SCR May 24, 2011, 5:29 pm
While I don’t disagree with you, at least she’s realizing that it might be her issue, and she’s looking for ways to not let this happen to her current relationship. And, she does mention that she has thought that he’s “The One”, so hopefully she can work through this and not throw away something that has real long-term potential.
spaceboy761 May 25, 2011, 9:33 am
That’s true. LW recognizing the issue is a good first step.
oldie May 24, 2011, 6:06 pm
I feel more for her exes than for her. She’s seems to be enjoying this immensely, the only problem being a nagging thought that she ‘ought to’ settle down by 30. Not everyone does settle down by 30, or ever, male or female. Yes, she is letting the exes down when she no longer feels it and that is honest, but she’s done this many times and is always the one to break things off. That sort of makes it fairly early up-front warning territory. Just like many women reach a point of not wanting to waste time on guys who will never commit, so do a lot of guys. She’s wasting these guys’ time if they are ready to settle down. There are plenty of guys, likely including a lot of guys she’ll find compatible, who would love a no-strings-attached let’s be together for a year until the initial excitement starts to wane relationship. Guys are not the only ones who can be semi-emotionally-abusive in relationships. LW seems close to that category.
To Boomchakalaka — she seems to lead them on for a half year before the decency to end it thing cuts in. Knowing her own history, one could argue she leads them on for most of the course of the relationship, because by now she knows how things end up with her.
HmC May 25, 2011, 2:23 am
Sure, it would be nice of her to give significant others a heads up about possible commitment issues she may have. But I don’t think that failing to be a perfect partner is necessarily emotionally abusive or even semi-emotionally abusive. LW is doing what everyone does- dates around to see who fits. And she seems to be giving the long-term thing genuine effort and making it a pretty decent amount of time with these guys, because she truly wants it to work.
BoomChakaLaka May 25, 2011, 12:32 pm
I don’t know if I would go that far. I think she was genuinely looking for that “feeling” of “a-ha, I finally found him” only to not find it after a year or so. That said, there are many other people that would just continue dragging it out, even WHEN they knew it wasn’t going to work out because they aren’t emotionally strong enough to let go or because they like to have their cake and eat it too. In both cases, I wouldnt have one ounce of pity. But the LW is seriously, however cheesily, looking for love, yet isn’t aware that love takes time and work.
oldie May 25, 2011, 4:50 pm
I don’t disagree with that, but I get the impression from the letter that she approaches each new bf as if he is ‘the one’ until the honeymoon period ends and the fizzle fades. It is different to be in the dating, exploratory phase than to be in the ‘likely the one’ phase for a year. It sounds like she is harvesting the fizz and good vibes of this initial period and not working at building a relationship. In the meantime, she is undoubtedly conveying the vibe that she sees a long-term deal with her bf. More self-honesty leads to more honesty with partner and less grief to others. If this has happened once or twice with her, I’d say no big deal, she’s just had matches that weren’t quite right. She seems to be talking about more serials than that.
HmC May 25, 2011, 1:57 am
All is fair in love and war. Ok, I don’t actually believe that. But I do think that grown adults entering into relationships are knowingly opening themselves up to that relationship ending. She didn’t cheat on them. She didn’t go out of her way to harm them (that we know of, anyway). If you can’t survive being dumped, you shouldn’t be dating. And this is coming from someone that thought she would never survive an extremely painful break up. If those guys were great people, I’m sure they found new loves and/or are perfectly fine. And if they aren’t, I don’t think that’s the LW’s fault.
SpaceySteph May 24, 2011, 4:59 pm
For our anniversary, my boyfriend and I went to dinner. We drove an hour away to try this new restaurant that I had heard alot of good things about, particularly that it was more a dining experience than just “dinner.” Though this was far, its maybe not as far as you think- Houston is a huge area, such that we just went from the south side of the metropolitan area to the north side, never really leaving civilization to get there (I know in some places driving for an hour can get you to the next state, for instance).
But the reason we did this is because you have to do something to make it interesting. We have had hundreds of dinners together, hundreds of dates. We wanted to make this one a little special. If you want to stay in any relationship long term, this is what you have to do. We found something new and different to try together, a way to make the everyday act (having dinner with your SO) a little more interesting.
I completely agree with the advice above me. Relationships are mundane. Being with the same person forever is not so exciting. You have to actively look for new things to do, to keep the feeling alive. So do it… find a new restaurant. One of those dinner theaters maybe? Go try something new with that boy. You may not recapture exactly the rush of that first kiss feeling, but you should get enough of a jolt to remind you why you fell in love with him in the first place.
SpaceySteph May 24, 2011, 5:03 pm
However, the other thing I’d say is… Your boyfriend deserves to be with someone who loves him. All our pep talks don’t go just for the girls. He’s kinda getting the crumbs of a relationship right now. So if you really don’t feel it, do him a favor and let him go to find someone who will.
But before you do that, I do think you need to give a shot at reigniting the fire, just like the rest of us do throught the length of a long term relationship. You may find you enjoy that part too.
Quakergirl May 24, 2011, 5:10 pm
“You may not recapture exactly the rush of that first kiss feeling, but you should get enough of a jolt to remind you why you fell in love with him in the first place.”
Love this line. You never get back those honeymoon-phase feelings, but you should constantly be reminded of why you fell in love in the first place. I had the weirdest experience with that this weekend watching Quakerboy put together an IKEA tv bench in our apartment because it reminded me of him putting together a new armoire for his grandmother about a year into our relationship. It just reminded me how devoted he is and how much he loves his family, which is one of the things I really love about him.
LW, if you continue to have these new experiences with longer term boyfriends and you feel nothing (not safety, not excitement, not love), then maybe you are just with the wrong guys. Or maybe you don’t love them as much as you love the idea of them and the newness of the relationship.
francesk May 24, 2011, 6:02 pm
This. I also want to add know yourself and know what you want out of a relationship. Don’t stay with someone just because he or she looks great on paper, as you said a lot of your exes would. Stay with someone who will make you happy. Of course, that person won’t make you happy all the time – life happens – but there should be reasons you want to stay with that person during the not so great times.
sobriquet May 24, 2011, 5:43 pm
“You haven’t been able to wrap your head around the idea that sometimes relationships get a little boring. Sometimes, when the newness wears off, it takes an active investment on the part of the people in the relationship to keep things exciting.”
This is something that took me awhile to figure out. I’ve always been a little off balance when it comes to happiness. If we’re using a 10 point scale where 10 is elation and 0 is depression, I’d say I spend most of my time teetering between 4-6. Not happy, not sad. That’s my normal. Yet, during the first 6 months or so of a new relationship, my happiness is consistently at an 8-10. Like, waking up with a huge smile and singing in the shower ecstatic. So when those feelings wear off and I’m back to my normal “5” self, I used to think I should just move on and find a man who will make me feel like a 9 or 10 every day.
I understand that will never happen, though. That’s just not how I’m built. It took me awhile to realize that when the spark fades and I’m back to normal, it’s my responsibility to do fun things in my relationship that make me happy. I discovered that you can love someone without wanting to be with them every day. And I learned that it’s okay and NATURAL to be scared about spending my life with only one person- this one person I’ve already met. And as long as my boyfriend/husband makes my happiness shoot up to a 9 or 10 every once in awhile, I know I’m doing okay.
I also think you have to reach a point where you’re truly ready for commitment in order to be okay with a little bit of mundane.
Laurel May 24, 2011, 11:44 pm
Yes yes yes! Your comment is so perfect.
Katie May 24, 2011, 9:17 pm
LW, you sound extremely bored in your life. If there is nothing else in your life that gives you excitement, or happiness, or the butterflys of a new relationship, then a new relationship, I think that is the real problem.
AnitaBath May 24, 2011, 9:28 pm
Where do you get the idea that she’s bored with her life? I hardly see her mention any aspect of her life other than her relationship. Heaven forbid she feel happy in a two-year relationship…
Katie May 24, 2011, 10:18 pm
to me, it seems as though she sees these new times of a relationship almost as a drug- its fun, the whole butterflies thing, excitement, and then as the feeling leaves she needs to find another fix. I think that a normal healthy person should get these kinds of happinesses from other places. for me, when me and my friends go out and dance, there are moments inside the club where i feel completely euphoric, better then any drug in the world in my opinion, and better then any feeling i have felt after meeting a new boyfriend. i believe people should have more sources of happiness in their life then their relationships.
AnitaBath May 24, 2011, 10:39 pm
Who says she doesn’t? She seemed optimistic and realistic about a lot of other aspects of life, I thought perhaps she’s so used to feeling happy in all areas so that, when her relationships isn’t as great as it once was, it really throws her off. You can be plenty happy and have tons of fun with your friends and still be unhappy in your relationship, that doesn’t mean one area of unhappiness negates the other.
Katie May 24, 2011, 10:51 pm
yea, thats definitely true. i guess i just read her letter as “i am only happy in the beginnings of a relationship, and after that feeling is gone i find a new relationship, which then makes me happy again.” as if she cannot be happy, or content in her life, without that new relationship feeling. that to me seems unhealthy.
AnitaBath May 24, 2011, 9:24 pm
I think everyone’s being too hard on the LW, but maybe that’s because I’m in a similar position right now. I didn’t think she was being childish or petty at all. To me, she seemed to want to know if there was a distinction between “getting bored” in a relationship and falling out of love. Everyone seems to be acting as though, if there’s nothing obviously “wrong” in the relationship, she’s being immature and wanting all of the pizazz of a new relationship without any of the work.
WatersEdge May 25, 2011, 2:58 pm
I would like to very kindly and gently point out that just because you’re doing it too, does not mean that it’s not immature of the LW. Maybe it’s a lesson you need to learn too. If this is the first time this has happened to you, then that’s one thing. But if you find yourself in the same pattern for 10 years, then you too need to change if you want to stay in a long-term relationship.
I really, really don’t mean any offense! I’m just trying to push you to be a little introspective.
Christina May 24, 2011, 11:48 pm
To give advice on one of the LW’s points….if I had it all to do over again, I would have stayed closer to home and family. I have had several long term boyfriends and think that there can be more than one great match out there for you. I’m halfway across the country from my family and the area where I was raised. I miss it terribly sometimes but I also have close long time friends and enjoy my life here so it wouldn’t be easy to go back home. If you are thinking of being closer to home and you are ready, go back and build a great new life there. Invite your current man or meet a new one back home.
Turtledove May 25, 2011, 12:16 am
I too am one of those people who absolutely adores the fizzy feeling of a brand new relationship.. but I’ve also been with my husband for 7 years. The trick to it has been to recognize the softer feelings I have for him as the kind of love that sustains a relationship and to keep up the excitement level in my life in other ways. I invent my own new adventures, both with my husband and alone or with friends. Having exciting things going on in my life energizes our relationship and takes the pressure off the relationship to provide me with extra excitement.
The fact that the frequency of your lovemaking has slowed down isn’t necessarily a sign of a relationship in distress (unless it’s fallen off a cliff) It’s a sign that, as your familiarity grows and the newness lessens, sometimes life intrudes or you can be content to simply be in one another’s company. I would be more concerned if you were having sex all the time so you don’t have to actually talk to each other.
And when you feel you need some sparks, read a book/watch a movie/play a video game where the main character falls in love and you can put yourself in their shoes for a bit. You get the fluttery feelings for a little while and nobody gets hurt (you don’t even have to tell if you find it embarrassing)
HmC May 25, 2011, 1:37 am
In addition to everyone else’s great advice, I’d recommend that the LW take a quick look at a book called We by Robert Johnson. I think you could get some good ideas just skimming it. Basically, it discusses the extreme and unrealistic pressures that modern Western society puts on this highly idealized concept of romantic love. And while we may live up to these extreme ideals and emotional thrills in the very beginning stages of love, a successful long term relationship is based on entirely different things. Essentially, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure, by believing that “the one” is supposed to complete us, and challenge and excite us constantly for the rest of our lives. And as soon as someone doesn’t live up to perfection, we cut and run.
The book goes on to examine Eastern (and other) views of long-term love, and emphasizes that alternative views of love and marriage have succeeded, at least in part, because they tend to view romantic love as only one part of a tapestry of human affection and fulfillment that we are meant to experience. When we don’t expect a partner to complete all of our shortcomings and be every reason for our own happiness, we can enjoy romantic love under much less pressure.
LW- everyone that has ever been in a long-term relationship has experienced some loss of excitement as time goes by. But if you genuinely want a life partner, and are ready and willing to commit to the right person, you should find that the fulfillment, comfort, and joy that your partner brings you *after* the excitement has died down a bit is even more amazing than those beginning months. It’s a more rare and special place to be, because it takes a lot more compatibility and commitment to truly love (and like!) someone once the hormones have died down.
Flake May 25, 2011, 9:59 am
🙂 The only thing I could think of is wait until you have a career, a house to take care of, and little kids… That will really put things in perspective for you. The last thing you need then is ”excitement”…. And for someone around 30, you should really consider those things (if they are a part of your future plan). You will really appreciate a ”boring” partner who is stable and responsible and patient, not someone who keeps you constantly on your toes… But that is just my opinion 🙂
Any good relationship has a tendency to evolve, and there is a beauty at every stage. It’s just like growing older.. I am sure your tastes have changed since you were, lets say, 20. You can grow with it, or stay in denial, but it will catch up to you eventually. Like you say, you have been lucky so far, to have enjoyed so many relationships with good, decent men. You may not want to push it 🙂
Also, out of curiosity, I would ask your current BF (or your friends, or even a few exes, if you’re still on good terms with them) what do/es he/they think. I am sure the guys go through the same phases. Just ask your BF how does he deal with your relationship no longer being as ‘hot’ and ‘exciting’ as it was in the beginning. You may find out that he is actually looking forward to this warm and comfortable stage, when neither he nor you have to jump through hoops to impress each other. You can just relax and enjoy the ride and appreciate the scenery for a change. Relationships rarely get easier, they just become important and worth the effort.
And actually, that is probably the most important part. Do you think this relationship is worthy of your time and effort, or is it no different from the ones you had before. If it is, you will find a way to make it work. If it isn’t, I am sure the next great guy is just around the corner.
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com May 25, 2011, 10:33 am
I like these 5 things Wendy lists. Especially Creativity. That’s one that often gets overlooked. Surprises and changes are great in long-term relationships.
anna728 June 1, 2011, 3:25 am
Why must all her excitement come from her relationships? There are other sources of it in life.