Do I love him? Turns out, it's a complex question.
November 4, 2008 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Relationship Filter: Are we just not good for each other, or am I actually just screwed up from my family and last relationship?

I am engaged to an awesome guy. We are very compatible and have wonderful times together; we like a lot of the same things, go and do things together, have mutual friends, etc. It seems pretty well perfect, and we have lived together for over a year now, quite happily. But not everything is happy, at least not for me. The trouble is, I don't know if that is because of something legitimately wrong with our relationship (i.e., I don't want to be with him) or because I am messed up/upset from the past.

I love my SO. I really do. And he loves me. Unfortunately, I do wonder if I am in love with him sometimes. The trouble is that I can't actually tell! (And my past circumstances make the old adage of, "if you're asking yourself whether you love him, then you don't" worthless.)

Since moving in together, I've found myself becoming more and more distant from my SO, sexually and emotionally. We still have a really good time together, which is good since we work from home as well and see each other all the time pretty much, but it's not what I would like it to be. I have discussed this with him a little, but it is very, very difficult, because he is truly head-over-heels about me and 100% happy, so he doesn't seem too good about understanding when I've got a problem with something. (Don't take this to mean he doesn't listen or is mean; it's just he truly doesn't get it.)

I also feel a bit bad when I bring up stuff, because in the two years that we've been together, he's not once brought up anything about me that he wishes was different/wants to work on; it makes me seem like a bit of a nag, which I don't want. Because of this communication problem, I've also noticed I sometimes psychologically view myself as single somewhat and don't like to wear my engagement ring and still think (though don't act, of course) as if I'm single, as in thinking I'd like to date someone if I feel the least bit of a spark with someone else. (This is magnified since I don't feel much in the way of 'sparks' with my SO--read on about that, though, please, because it's complicated.)

So I'm looking at things and thinking, Should I get married to him? Do I even love him? I really don't know, and, as said before, things are more complicated by my past. Here's what makes it hard(er) for me to tell:

MY FAMILY:
I come from an abusive family, where my father was emotionally/mentally and sometimes physically abusive to my mother and me. (My father is severely mentally ill/psychotic.) I lived in the middle of absolute storms, all the time, until I was able to get out at 19. Seeing my parents' relationship was a really negative thing, maybe particularly as an only child who ended up cleaning messes far too often. I tend to have a rather cynical view toward relationships, because of this, and I find I don't get as emotional about them as most people, in general. This makes me a bit sad, considering I am an artist and plenty emotional in other parts of my life, but it doesn't seem like something I can change, even when I write sweet love letters and do other things that should encourage that side of me to come out. So there's issue #1: I don't "feel" as much, anyway, so my "am-I-in-love meter" probably isn't too good. I still deal with a lot of the emotions from my family life; it screws up my perspective. (And yes, I've been to see psychologists, but they haven't helped much.)

MY LAST RELATIONSHIP:
The last relationship I was in was very negative. I think I pretty well went for someone that was like my dad, to be honest. I DID, most certainly, have strong-strong feelings in this relationship, but I realized two years into it that something wasn't right with him. (Perhaps all the emotional abuse was a friggin' clue!) Unfortunately, I've not felt this strongly about anyone since, and I wonder if I can. I am not hung up on my ex, himself, in the least. It's more like I'm still affected by the fact that I fell in love with someone like my father, and that, in all actuality, this was the only time I was ever head over heels for someone. It bothers me a lot. It also makes me wonder if, emotionally, I am drawn to the psychotic/chaotic type, even if my head/logic knows I should be with someone like my current SO. And, if that's the case, it might mean my head and heart will always go in opposite directions, which tends to make me think, "Damn, I should just be alone and get some cats."

MY SO:
As said, my SO is great and we have an absolute ton in common. I have some niggling, minor annoyances with him (mainly household chore stuff!), but then, who doesn't, when they live together? The one major downside with him is I feel he's...well...boring sometimes. Really fucking boring. He lives so appropriately, so safely, that it drives me bonkers at times. I'm far, far from risky, myself, but he is a million times worse than I am. He doesn't drink, no drugs, doesn't even really like going to pubs, has a 10-year-plan, saves nearly all his money, doesn't laugh at too much because he's serious, etc. I'm always passive aggressively poking fun at him to try new things (like a new food), but it takes a lot of passive prodding, let me tell you.

Because of his ultra-sensible, no-risk take on life, I worry that this contributes that much more to my uncertainty about my love for him and our upcoming nuptials (no date set yet, though). Between the issues of my family and my ex, my SO's lack of risk-taking and passion is drier to me than it would be normally, I think. He's not romantic, either. He's sweet, but there are few tokens of affection, and I pretty well have to spell things out if I want to go on a dinnerdate or do a couple thing (which sucks). This is a 180-turn from the crazy-passionate love you get with people who are farked in the head. I've told him I would like for him to be more romantic, but the conversation turns into a lesson on love and affection, sadly, where he's basically just asking for me to give him ideas! He isn't very creative. Again, it sucks. (If anyone knows how I can help him 'learn' to be more romantic, please tell me.)

But I do love him. I care for him more, in my head, than anyone I've ever been with. I know, from a completely logical standpoint, he is perfect and stable for me. Emotionally, though...there's just companionship. This is great, but it means I'm not as happy as I could be. I need passion. Everyone needs the occasional "swept off their feet" moments, no matter how little they are.

So, after this long spiel (sorry 'bout that), what do you think I should do? Do we stick it out, get married, and I just try to work things out (discuss more) with my SO? Or do I break up with him and move on, potentially putting myself in another relationship like my last one, because I feel more emotionally in them?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
DTMFA.

Only, he's not really a mother fucker of course. But you both deserve to be in relationships where your partner, and you, are crazy in love. Let him go and give both of yourselves that opportunity.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:48 PM on November 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you in therapy? I think you should look into talk therapy for this sort of question. It certainly sounds like the issues, or potential issues, in your current relationship arise not from the relationship itself, but from your experiences outside of it. Which means you probably need to focus on dealing with you - not him or it. Only you will be able to come to a conclusion as to whether he's the right one for you or not. But a therapist can help you by asking you the questions that can, hopefully, lead you to that answer. It probably won't happen quickly, but I think it will help. Good luck!
posted by smallstatic at 12:49 PM on November 4, 2008


I'd suggest going to pre-marital counseling, to make sure that the two of you are on the same page on life goals and overall compatibility. I'd advise this for all couples who are about to get married.

Also, I'd emphasize that crazy-passionate love does not a long-term relationship make. Crazy-passionate love doesn't pay bills, help raise children, and support you in all the ups and downs of life. Make sure you know what you really want before making a decision.
posted by jasonhong at 12:59 PM on November 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't think I'd break it off at this point, but I for damn sure wouldn't marry him right now. If'you've got a date in mind, consider deferring it. If that date is soon, absolutely defer it. These problems aren't going to go away by themselves, and you're not going to get more enthusiastic about living with them. You absolutely have to be able to talk about this stuff with him. This isn't nagging, it's being honest and open. To do otherwise reduces this to a marriage of convenience, comfort and conflict-avoidance, which will only diminish both of you before it finally falls apart.

As compassionately as you can, man up and admit your misgivings to him. Don't let them be dismissed as insignificant, because they're not.
posted by jon1270 at 1:01 PM on November 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am an extreme romantic on issues like this, so keep that in mind, but... No.

If you're not certain, and comfortable in that certainty, then it's not right. That doesn't mean you can't be adequately happy with him, but this probably isn't the best person/time for you to get all married up!

As the Jedi chick with the great name says, you deserve to be crazy in love. Why settle?
posted by rokusan at 1:04 PM on November 4, 2008


Well, maybe wait. I personally don't think that romantic glow lasts beyond a year (okay, so stone me), and I know what you mean about being the one seeking improvement in a relationship. My guy is so laid back I could quit showering and he wouldn't complain, but maybe after a month he might ask, what's that smell? It took me a while to get the idea that just because he doesn't have a problem, doesn't mean I don't. And (okay, this surprised me) he said, "if you have a problem, we both do, so I need to know." You can address problems without nagging, provided you always use courtesy.

But this idealised love thing, mostly a construct of the movies in my opinion. Staying together is hard! It involves sacrifice and compromise and partnership and teamwork and getting angry and getting over it and being prepared to be committed enough to say and mean, "no matter what happens here, we're both in this for the long haul, so I won't be afraid to argue, I won't be afraid to bring up problems and I will work on them, and I will be honest and not play games and..." okay, you get the idea.

So in closing, this "in love" thing, there's no test for it, it's an idea that may or may not be tied directly to lust. I wouldn't pay much attention to it. Love, now, do you love him? Does he love you?

Now, regarding the list of romantic ideas, that's another Askme, and one worth asking.
posted by b33j at 1:24 PM on November 4, 2008 [10 favorites]


1. You are engaged. You've been with him long enough that sparks aren't going to fly on a daily basis. Have you ever felt passion in this relationship? If so, you can feel it again.

2. Because of your abusive childhood you may have problems with intimacy and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. This may be why you have such a tough time of knowing whether you're "in love."

3. You are individuals with different personalities. You cannot make him be more romantic. He will probably never be Mr. Romance. You can appreciate the small gestures he does make and praise him for it. He's asking you for ideas. This is very sweet and romantic. He's trying. He wants to please you. I've tried to change my partner and wish that he were more like this, or more like that, and I will warn you, it is a mistake. It's an immature way to behave. Love your partner for who he is, if you can. I I don't necessarily have regrets, because life is a process and I've grown quite a bit, but I do wish I would have accepted my partner's personality (which is wonderful) instead of wishing it was different. Every time your partner makes a romantic suggestion, or asks you to dinner, or does anything romantic-like, be agreeable, open, and let him know how much you appreciate it. He will ask you out more and do more romantic things. Don't get caught up in analyzing or critiquing his every move, or every lack of. Try not to be disappointed if he doesn't do things just right.

4. If you are feeling more "emotions" in a tumultuous relationship you may be confusing drama with love. Negative excitement is not love.
posted by Fairchild at 1:27 PM on November 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Seconding talk therapy before you break things off. I think you could use a neutral third party's input. I know you've talked to people in the past, but they may not have been the right people. It can sometimes take a while to find someone who is a good fit.

Is it possible you are getting cold feet because you are afraid of marriage? Given how your father was, and what your parents' marriage was like, it would not be surprising for you not to trust your current relationship, to hold yourself back and not want to get too committed to it (saves you from being hurt), to emotionally withdraw and look for flaws or do some sabotaging, consciously or otherwise, so as to avoid the trap your mother was in. I am just speculating, of course, and only you can tell, but it seems to me that you have portrayed your current relationship as good enough that you may want to put some effort into trying to save it, before you pull the plug.

PhoBWanKenobi, the crazy in love thing only lasts but so long in a relationship. I love my SO with all my heart, but it is not the same kind of infatuation now, at year 28, as it was in the first six months "falling in love" stage.
posted by gudrun at 1:31 PM on November 4, 2008


Kids raised by an abusive parent -- OR a mentally ill parent -- learn early on that their feelings don't matter or that they're unwelcome. Same for children of alcoholics and addicts. With effort, they can eventually feel their own feelings, and honor them. Therapy helps hugely with that.

You don't feel things that much. Your fiance might be a wonderful partner for you, but how would you know, if your heart's not in the habit of telling you such things? Or he might be a bad match for you, but you wouldn't know that, either. You'd be busy totting up the pros and cons, not having the benefit of trusting your intuition.

Completely separate from the relationship issues, you'd probably benefit a lot from therapy. It doesn't need to take a long time, necessarily. Even if you went just long enough to let some of your feelings see the light of day, you'd be on your way. It takes practice, though, to tolerate the anxiety or whatever is keeping your feelings tamped down. And in regard to the relationship, therapy can help you honor your doubts, instead of just believing you're emotionally defective. It can be very helpful with any kind of decision-making.
posted by wryly at 1:31 PM on November 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


I too was raised in an abusive, chaotic household, and I really identify with what you are saying about your relationship with your fiancee. My ex husband was much the same: unemotional, measured, non-drinker, and crazy about me. I won't try and tell you that this won't work, but you need to realize that your emotional receptors are tuned to a completely different frequency than those of people who did not have your upbringing. (Imagine a person who drinks a quart of Tobasco a day and then tries to switch to a diet of tofu.) If you want to stay with this guy, I highly urge you to find a therapist that can help you tune into your feelings. I too played the "pretend you're single" game - I never cheated on him physically, but mentally it was a whole other ballgame - and finally after 10 years, I walked out on him - trust me, you don't want that guilt.

Regardless, you should find a therapist who can help you decide what you really do want - I wish I'd known to do that 13 years ago - now's your chance to avoid a decade worth of mistakes.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:03 PM on November 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I come from a similar background to yours and thankfully married a very "safe" man, with the bonus of a great sense of humor. There were sparks at first, but they've toned down to just real, trusting love. I recall my mother telling me, wistfully, (she was married to my horrific father--not insane, but pretty scary--) that "kindness and courtesy and respect" count for a lot more than sparks in a relationship. I've always remembered it. Those of us who are habituated to equate love with uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and a rush to please feel empty at first in a relationship where these emotions are not incited in us by our beloved. Fairchild has it right...growing and maturing into deeply appreciating the one who loves you for who you are is so rewarding.

We grew up in unpredictable and terrifying environments so are trained to feel that this low-key, stable sort of relationship is somehow missing something. Well, it is, and it's something that kept my stomach in knots and sent me running for cover, or rushing to pour oil on stormy waters until I met someone who made me feel so loved and safe that I re-defined love and healthy relationship eventually, through the prism of a love marked by smooth sailing, kindness, courtesy and respect, and the occasional mild waves that reminded me how much waves used to get me seasick...and how bad that felt.

I have learned to be very communicative with my husband, not expecting him to be a mind reader, and he's learned to be responsive to me in ways that work for me and for him. There is so much more to say I feel like this is barely brushing the surface. If you can find a therapist that you feel "gets" you, I really advise spending some time just talking through this stuff...I did, and later my husband came to therapy with me...Many years later I still use things I learned in that setting to navigate my relationship with my husband...and I know he does, too.

I don't want to suggest this guy is THE guy...but I'll hazard an educated guess that like Smallstatic suggests, this is more about the relationship you were born into and experienced for most of your life, and not so much about the man you're with now. Wryly said well the difficulties and rewards of even a short time in therapy. I am not certain if, without therapy my marriage would have survived my own fears and confusion at living with someone who provided a life of safety, security, comfort, and caring; in short, real love. Certainly I learned to relax, and enjoy and actually revel in it a lot sooner! You deserve a loving life now and in the future. Trust me, it's worth learning to get accustomed to! Blessings to you.
posted by mumstheword at 2:16 PM on November 4, 2008 [16 favorites]


You definitely need to postpone the wedding and consider some more therapy for yourself.

I'll be honest - it sounds like you're trying to convince yourself that "things are perfect," when everything you've written indicates the opposite. It will not be fair to either of you to get married hoping to work things out. You need to do that work before you get married - if you decide to get married.

You are second-guessing your emotions based on a single previous relationship. It's good that you finally realized that it was a destructive relationship - we can indeed fall in love with people who are terrible matches for us. And we can also not love people who - in our head - seem perfect. Yet that's no reason to dismiss your own unhappiness - rather it is an invitation to look closer. To me, I see a lot of frustration peeking out from behind the facade.

I'm always passive aggressively poking fun at him to try new things (like a new food), but it takes a lot of passive prodding, let me tell you.

If he's very attached to his routines, or the familiar, and you're eager to try new things, no wonder this is a friction point - and let me tell you, I'd never be able to eat a really picky eater. So much of life revolves around food, it would suck to be relegated to a single type of cuisine because my partner didn't like anything else, and had to be prodded to do so!
The fact that you're reduced to passive-aggressiveness is a big sign that your mutual interest in new and different things is... well, very different.

He's not romantic, either. He's sweet, but there are few tokens of affection, and I pretty well have to spell things out if I want to go on a dinnerdate or do a couple thing (which sucks).

What counts as a dinner date or a couple thing to you? Is he completely in his own world, and never interesting in dining out with you, or are you looking for fancy French restaurant with a glass of wine? A movie on a Friday or a trip to the Opera?

We still have a really good time together, which is good since we work from home as well
and see each other all the time pretty much, but it's not what I would like it to be. I have discussed this with him a little, but it is very, very difficult, because he is truly head-over-heels about me and 100% happy, so he doesn't seem too good about understanding when I've got a problem with something. (Don't take this to mean he doesn't listen or is mean; it's just he truly doesn't get it.)


But does he try and act on this new knowledge? Or does he just look to you for directions?
If you feel you're talking and nothing changes... that is a problem. A big problem.

You guys probably need some space (seeing each other all the time? No wonder you find him boring - you have nothing to talk about!). Have you ever felt passionate about him? I'm going to guess and say no - he feels safe. Has he ever been passionate for you? I'm going to guess no.

What does passion mean to you? A year in any relationship, the crazy passion cools, and if you're lucky, the bond of love transmutes into something even more enduring, if less flashy.

I love my wife, and she loves me dearly, but closing on seven years together, three married, our passion is imbued in the minutiae of daily life. Silly in-jokes nobody else gets. Picking up little treats on our way home. Not leaving clothes all over the house. We kiss and snuggle and have a pretty happy daily life, but it's quite different from the days where we'd spend days in bed.

Most importantly, we try new things for each other, gently stretching our familiar little worlds to let in new ideas and foods and places. We listen when the other is upset, and try to find ways to a middle ground when we have opposite opinions on something that matters.

You'll get better at recognizing toxic relationships as you get older and more experienced in evaluating whether the relationship is healthy despite the giddy feelings. Leaving this one does not mean you will be doomed to repeat the past.
posted by canine epigram at 2:20 PM on November 4, 2008


It sounds like your guy is a really good guy for starting a life with. That doesn't mean that he's the right guy for YOU to start a life with. Passion lasts different amounts of times in different relationships, but if it's important to you, then it shouldn't matter that this thread will be filled with people telling you how little importance passion plays in building a life together.

Everyone's version of happiness is painted with different colors, and just because yours includes "passion" doesn't mean that you should have to be happy with a happy picture that might be perfect for someone else. It's not impossible to find a person who has more of the qualities that you feel are important.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi, the crazy in love thing only lasts but so long in a relationship. I love my SO with all my heart, but it is not the same kind of infatuation now, at year 28, as it was in the first six months "falling in love" stage.

I've been with my significant other for six years, so it's not as if I'm talking out of my butt. While I agree that these things ebb and flow and go through stages, and that's normal, and I also know that the quality of "crazy in love" changes substantially when you move from limerance to a more mature form of appreciation/love, I still feel sparks with my significant other on a fairly regular basis six years in. Not every day, of course, and I recognize that all sparks might be obliterated twenty two years from now (though I hope otherwise), but OP isn't feeling any sparks. In fact, she finds him boring when she states that one of her basic relationship needs is passion. With her history of abuse, I can't help but wonder if she feels she doesn't deserve to feel that with another person. This isn't necessarily the case, but it's a shame. I think it's certainly possible to find someone who treats you well who you don't simultaneously find a total drag, and she deserves to find that. And her SO deserves someone who doesn't think he's boring.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:03 PM on November 4, 2008


Man, I dunno. If not for your past, I'd probably say only, "the guy sounds boring to you, end it." Much as it will be reviled for me to mention Sex and the City, if you're actively thinking of yourself as single and don't want to wear the ring and kinda hide that whole engaged thing...bad sign. And really, if he's boring now, he ain't gonna get more interesting later.

On the other hand, if the only guy who ever made you feel passion was abusive, I can't in all good conscience say, "Go for whoever makes your heart sing!", because, um... that's also bad.

Really, this is all gonna boil down to "therapy, therapy, therapy." But I suspect this guy is not 100% the right one for you. He sounds like Guy You Should Settle For Because Abused Girl Can't Pick/Do Any Better more than anything else.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:16 PM on November 4, 2008


I'm with jenfullmoon.

It is one thing to want a little more romance. But I would be worried that you are confusing "romance and passion" with "drama and abuse", and some part of your head connects passion and crazy-in-love with also giant fights and terrible behavior. The primary relationships of your life have had some element of adrenaline and scariness.

I don't think it is bad to want a guy who takes a little risk, though, but your meter for "He likes skydiving" and "He beats me" may be off. I would highly suggest counseling, for yourself and pre-marital counseling for the two of you.

As for little ideas, instead of passive prodding you need to be more direct. Some people will never get the romantic gesture. You need to be very clear to him how important occasionally getting flowers or whatever is to you, and spell it out. It is not as romantic as in the movies, but it will make for a happier relationship. Also, my SO and I have had great luck with an idea I read on these boards: we each come up with a list of ten things we want to do, write each idea on a slip of paper, and then about every two weeks we pull a slip of paper out of the bag and we have to do whatever that is in a two-week period. If it is something bigger, like a vacation, we have to make plans for it in the two-week period. It gets us out of the house and trying things we otherwise wouldn't.
posted by schroedinger at 4:43 PM on November 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Passion, drama, spontanaeity, grand romantic gestures, "rip your clothes off" sex tend to occur in very new relationships (of all sorts), and in relationships that also involve huge arguments, destructive behaviour and unhappiness. In the long term (i.e. marriage) you don't get the big highs without the big lows.

So I'm not recommending that you ditch your fiance because he's not exciting enough. Exciting has its downsides - and they're the kind of downsides that don't bode well for raising a family or being happily sitting on the verandah together when you're 80. You are unlikely to get the sort of relationship that leads to a happy family life and celebrating your ruby wedding anniversary from a relationship that is sometimes hugely passionate and intense but sometimes equally intense but in a negative way.

The reality is that any long term relationship isn't sustained by passion, but by companionship and shared goals / values. And it sounds like the two of you have that.

But there does need to be a spark - was there ever a spark with your fiance? If so, you can get that back. He'll need to participate in that. Pre-marital counselling isn't a bad idea.

You're not going to change his basic nature, but if you want him to be a bit more romantic and spontaneous, let him know. Planned spontanaeity on his part - surprising you with candles and dinner when you get home from a meeting, or a weekend away, aren't such a stretch if he knows that the occasional surprise is important to you.
posted by finding.perdita at 4:53 PM on November 4, 2008


Wait. That's the best advice: wait.

Don't marry him until and unless you know it's the right thing for you. Both of you.

That doesn't mean to cut and run. It doesn't mean that you move out tomorrow and break up. But if you're not extremely certain that you want to be married to him, wait. Don't do it.

Figure out your own stuff - therapy helps, of course - and do some couples counseling too. He deserves to know that you have concerns and questions and issues that you need to figure out before you can leap into his arms with a great big "I do!"

He needs to be part of working it out, too, even if he's positive that you're the best thing since sliced bread because marriage is a partnership. It's "team you" against the world.. That means that both of you have to be open and honest with each other and talk about things and figure it out together..
posted by VioletU at 5:45 PM on November 4, 2008


Out of love and respect for him and his future, please wait and do not marry him while entertaining these thoughts. It would not be fair to him.

I'm sorry to hear that therapy hasn't helped in the past, but don't give up. There's mending to be done here...don't assume it'll never happen. And let the SO be a part of it.
posted by agentwills at 6:22 PM on November 4, 2008


I think if you start from the assumption that he is "really fucking boring" then there's no way out of this except postponing the marriage. I don't know, personally, I would avoid describing someone that way. People are interesting. Maybe he's not romantic. Okay. That's something he can work on. Just like you were saying you don't get emotionally involved, or whatever, it kind of sounds like you're the same in that respect. This is a really hard question to answer. Do let us know how it turns out!
posted by metastability at 7:02 PM on November 4, 2008


The truth is, it doesn't matter why you feel the way you do, whether it's a lack of compatibility or your past mucking with your present or moon pies that are past their due date; whatever the cause, you're feeling uncertain, and if you go into it feeling this way, it will sabotage your relationship.

So be up front with him about your concerns, go get counseling, and see whether you both want to proceed afterwards. Hopefully it'll turn out to be an issue you can get past, and if not...damn those moon pies!

Good luck.
posted by davejay at 10:51 PM on November 4, 2008


We grew up in unpredictable and terrifying environments so are trained to feel that this low-key, stable sort of relationship is somehow missing something.

This bears repeating. As another child of an abusive relationship, I know that it lead me to believe that relationships are about huge emotional highs and lows. Had you told this to me years ago, I would have denied that I was looking for a relationship like my parents'; it was so upsetting and horrible. But I still had the perception that passion was drama, and that whenever really horrible things happen -- even domestic abuse -- the upside is that afterward, when you regret it, you reaffirm your love for each other. That's absolutely unhealthy in reality, but it's definitely what I had in my head. I never would stand for being physically abused, but I would put up with some drama and subconsciously find things to get irritated about just so I could start something.

In comparison to that latent idea, a safe, stable relationship seems like it's lacking "sparks." And thank god it is.

I agree with the compliments the above posters have given your SO. He is trying, and he sounds like a great person. That doesn't mean he's necessarily the one for you, but it's worth considering if you're holding on to some dramatic, volatile vision of love that, in reality, is just an emotional wringer. Once you've been with someone for a while, the initial uncertainties wear off, there is less emotional anxiety, and it's difficult to feel as strongly passionate as you did when it was new. Back then, you were putting your emotions on the line and it felt great and surprising to be rewarded instead of rejected. As time goes on, and you no longer have anything to fear, the emotional intensity goes down a bit.

To put it bluntly, you can't get to truly know a person and feel secure with them without giving up the high of confronting something powerfully scary and coming out a winner. Some emotional highs absolutely leave.

If you stick it out, you may find other, different emotional highs to take its place.

I don't think you should marry him right now. Postpone any wedding date until you've talked to him about this, seen a marriage counselor, possibly undertaken additional therapy, and done some serious introspection as to what ideas you have of love and what you expect from a relationship. I'm willing to bet it has much less to do with you "not feeling much" than your not feeling like this idea in your head tells you that you're supposed to feel.
posted by Nattie at 2:14 AM on November 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


1. There is nothing wrong with being alone and having cats, and that might be good for you right now.

2. Don't underestimate the impact household chores have on a relationship.

3. You don't have to marry anyone, so why marry someone who's perfect to marry if it isn't perfect for you? Does that make sense? I hope so.

4. One relationship with one crazy guy is not a pattern, really. You've figured out how to date non-crazy people (YAY) now you just have to find a non-crazy person who is also someone whom you love unreservedly.

Good luck, and remember--it takes a day to get married and a hell of a lot longer to get unmarried.
posted by sondrialiac at 1:14 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have you been on your own?

I'm not saying end it with your current SO, I'm just saying maybe there are things you need to work out with you, and the current living situation is a little crowded.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:43 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


your entire question read like a litany of disclaimers, backpedalling & excuses.

ok, maybe that was just mood, or the things weighing on your mind, or something, but it certainly doesn't strike me as somebody hopeful & expectant of a wonderful future.

take a bit of time before you do anything.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:31 AM on November 6, 2008


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