Marry or break up?
March 31, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Marry or break up?

Our culture and media have given us an image of what a meaningful relationship is.

I'm talking about the feel-good heart-warming movies and stories. The growing-old together stories. The Notebook. Twilight. Anything with Hugh Grant. The ones where you fall completely in love and have a lifetime of emotional loveliness. Yes, there are fights and hard times and pain and stress, but every night, you and the love of your life will make up and look at each other, knowing the other person is the most wonderful person in the world and you pray that you will never be driven apart. THIS has been the concept that has been driven into my mind like a railroad spike. And I'm starting to somewhat doubt it.

For sure, I wish with all my being for that to be the case. But now I'm confused.

I have a girlfriend. She's gorgeous. I love hanging out with her and I enjoy physical aspects of our relationship. We can confide in each other and be honest with each other. We're there for each other. Basically we have an excellent friendship and a similar outlook on life.

But there's something missing... I love her and am committed to her, but I'm not "in love" with her as we would define it. I don't get weak in the knees, I don't think about her day and night, I don't cherish being on holiday with her, I'm don't usually miss her when she's away. When I realize this, I feel like I'm at a crossroads.

I can either:

(a) Break up with her based on the belief that marriage wouldn't work out because I'm not in love in the idealic sense.
(b) I can continue to pursue the relationship and eventually marry her, believing that I can grow and be happy with her forever.

Tortured by this for the last five years, I wonder, is this normal? Am I analysing too much? Or should I simply do the right thing, get my coat, move out and let us both move on?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (84 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
Marry or break up?

Dude, I didn't even need to read the rest of your question. When your title is "Marry or break up?" the answer is pretty much always "break up." Don't marry someone unless you're willing to bet the farm on being unbelievably happy with them, and vice versa.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:30 AM on March 31, 2010 [58 favorites]


Have you spent any time apart? Extended. How did it feel? It's easy to find the things you don't like about a person when you're with them 24/7, but stepping away for a while makes you realize just the opposite -- what you love about that person. Sure, there are things about my wife that I wish were different, and I know she thinks the same about me. That's natural and completely normal. But we couldn't imagine ever being apart, and that's one of the many reasons we got married. We rely on each other, failures and everything.
posted by nitsuj at 7:32 AM on March 31, 2010


Sounds like you've got a whole lot of physical and a little bit of emotional going on here.
Physical will fade, and you'll be left with a little bit of emotional in your golden years.
And you will feel very, very alone.

Maybe, I, too, have drank the kool-aid, but I believe that you'd be better off discussing your feelings with her, get her point of view, and then go from there, which will probably put you on the path to b) break up.
posted by willmize at 7:33 AM on March 31, 2010


The best advice I ever received about marriage came from a friend's mother. I paraphrase, but here it is: "Is this the person you want by your side as you give birth? Do you trust him with your life if you become seriously ill? Is this the man you want to parent with? No? THEN DON'T MARRY HIM."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:35 AM on March 31, 2010 [28 favorites]


You've been with her for five years, the sex is still good, you still love her, and you're worried because you "don't think about her day and night"? Dude, life isn't the movies. Unless you think that you can't stand the idea of never having a shot of NRE (new relationship energy) again, it sounds like you've got the real thing already, and never mind what the rom-coms and (*ack*) Twilight tell you.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:35 AM on March 31, 2010 [48 favorites]


It sounds like you are already "married" to this fine lady!

Marriage is not about feeling weak in the knees or obsessing about someone day and night.

I advise you to not break up!
posted by jchaw at 7:35 AM on March 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


The madly-in-love feeling you describe is limerance, and it doesn't usually last past the first couple of years of a relationship. After those initial sparks begin to fade away, if you are lucky you are left with much the sort of relationship you describe with your girlfriend.

Some people simply don't experience limerance. If you've had a few relationships and never felt that "crazy in love" feeling with anyone, if you've never had a major crush on anyone, then you might be a non-limerant. If so, you'd probably be perfectly content in your current relationship long-term.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:39 AM on March 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


I am going to break away from the rest of the answers here and let you know that the only person that matters here is you. Have you been drinking from the Hollywood cool aid juice long enough that for YOU it matters to be in Absolute love? If that is the case then you may need to break up....however many cultures and many people within our culture get married because they feel warm and fuzzy without feeling all goo-ga-ga over someone....Did you ever feel like you have a crush on this person? If you did then maybe you (like me) are the type of person that loves that initial rush and hopes for it to stay forever..

In short...you need to find out what matters to you, whether it is through therapy, reading books, this is something you can explore in the next couple of months, I advise to figure it out and dont make any sudden decissions.

P.S: I feel I am one of those persons who HAS to be in love but due to the failures I have had with those who I have felt I was "in love" and the relative success i have had with those of whom I have merely "loved" that I am taking the time to explore which one works for me....
posted by The1andonly at 7:40 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I, personally, think that being weak in the knees and obsessing over someone day and night is a fairly temporary feeling that generally doesn't last after a year or two.

But I still think it's a really, really, really bad idea for you to get married to this girl, since you aren't 1000% at peace with that idea yet.

Question: have you ever been with someone who gave you that obsessed, weak in the knees feeling? And -- more importantly -- have you been with that person long enough, at least several years, to watch that feeling die out? (And, ideally, be replaced with something deeper/more real, but less intense).

If you haven't had that experience (or even if you have) -- what's going to happen if you do get married, and a year in you meet someone who seems great in every way AND gives you that crazy in love feeling?

Getting married to your current gf sounds like a recipe for a lot of pain for everyone.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:41 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love her and am committed to her, but I'm not "in love" with her as we would define it. I don't get weak in the knees, I don't think about her day and night, I don't cherish being on holiday with her, I'm don't usually miss her when she's away. When I realize this, I feel like I'm at a crossroads.

Sorry, your question made me laugh. Have you talked to real people who are married and love their spouses? Realistically, if you obsess about someone day and night, you're insane and need mental help.

Don't live in your daydreams. Ground yourself. Look around at real relationships. Real life doesn't generally look good compared to fantasy, but real life doesn't need to be rejected in favor of fantasy.

I have a girlfriend. She's gorgeous. I love hanging out with her and I enjoy physical aspects of our relationship. We can confide in each other and be honest with each other. We're there for each other. Basically we have an excellent friendship and a similar outlook on life.

You sound like you recognize how lucky you are. She sounds like a catch.
posted by anniecat at 7:45 AM on March 31, 2010 [15 favorites]


Despite the fact that we're presented with a single fairytale image of marriage, the reality is widely varied. Here are a couple of my insights as a guy who's still happily married 17 years on:
  • Your relationship is just one of many facets of your life. It cannot, all by itself, make you a happy, fully actualised person.
  • Furthermore, I find that my own tendency to feel "loving" is directly linked to my moods. Often, when I'm not feeling close, I realise I am depressed about something else that has nothing to do with her. Zoomorphic's litmus test (does she make you "unbelievably happy") is unfair to her and takes away your own responsibility for your happiness.
  • You probably already know this if you've been together for 5 years, but relationships take work. People who expect it to be a breeze never end up finding the magic person who makes that true.
  • For me, this is the biggest one: On the day when you stand there together and say words like "forever" or "always," you are slices of 4-D beings who are doomed to grow and shrink and change in all sorts of ways as time passes. Your shared view of your relationship needs to take this into account - the commitment is to allow each other to change, and learn to love the new person as the changes pile up.
All of this is not to say that you should take one path or the other. But I hope it helps you choose wisely.
posted by richyoung at 7:48 AM on March 31, 2010 [48 favorites]


BTW, I had that "crazy in love" feeling and ended up with the person who gave me that, but I'm so grateful I don't feel crazy like that anymore. I could barely eat. I was so giddy, I could barely focus. And I was in a master's program at the time. It was hard to study and not just go be with him. I felt like I was on drugs, and I am so glad I am not on that high anymore. I'm still in love with him, but I'm able to do things, like have a job, eat dinner, sit through a whole dinner with friends without aching to see him, focus at work, not walk in a haze until I see him again. Yes, it was that bad. I could barely sit still. I was annoying to everybody.
posted by anniecat at 7:51 AM on March 31, 2010 [10 favorites]


I cringe every time I hear someone doubt their relationship because they're not "in love." It is a completely unrealistic standard to set for a marriage.

MonkeyToes has it right: "Is this the person you want by your side as you give birth? Do you trust him with your life if you become seriously ill? Is this the man you want to parent with?"

Those are the questions you should be asking yourself, not "Am I in love with this person?" The successful couples I know still have times when they feel in love with their partners, but it's certainly not a constant state of being and also something they work at.
posted by iceprincess324 at 7:51 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're asking if you should throw away a known good for some nebulous possibility? Dude. Go and do something nice for her right now, and smack yourself for overthinking a plate of beans.
posted by Pragmatica at 7:53 AM on March 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


MonkeyToes has it right: "Is this the person you want by your side as you give birth? Do you trust him with your life if you become seriously ill? Is this the man you want to parent with?"

Assuming you want children at all. I'm sure you could trust your girlfriend to take care of you if you were in the hospital.
posted by anniecat at 7:53 AM on March 31, 2010


You're starting to somewhat doubt the drivel that Hollywood has been shoveling at us forever? Hollywood where Happy Couples like Brad and Angelina get together and raise a family? Did you forget that Brad had a wife when he supposedly fell in love with Angelina?

Or maybe you mean the latest Hollywood love story of Sandra Bullock and Jesse James (and his mistresses).

It's FICTION.

It's how we wish love would be, but it's not.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:53 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I, personally, think that being weak in the knees and obsessing over someone day and night is a fairly temporary feeling that generally doesn't last after a year or two

I read somewhere the obsessing, weak knees, separation depression, etc stage only lasts 2-3 years because at that point, traditionally, a child would already have been born and entering the toddler stage, thus evolution doesn't care anymore and there's no selection pressure to keep up the feel good endorphins past that stage.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:55 AM on March 31, 2010


I have a girlfriend. She's gorgeous.

The first quality you mention about her is her physical appearance. What happens when that fades? This is disturbing. I know that "men fall in love with their eyes", but after however many years you've been together, if that's still the first quality you think of about her, then it doesn't bode well for the future.

But mostly, I agree with zoomorphic . If you have to ask, then the answer is pretty much "break up". Because if the answer was "marry", you'd know beyond a shadow of a doubt.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:55 AM on March 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


I married my best friend and we rarely fight (maybe four or five times in 19 years), we're ridiculously in love, and I cannot imagine my life without him. On the other hand, he drives me crazy in little ways almost every day, I don't have butterflies when I see him (anymore; I did in the beginning), and there are aspects of his personality that I've had to come to terms with (he's much more introverted than I am which makes it difficult at times to have a social life with him).

So you can find someone you're head-over-heels about but you must realize that those feelings don't last forever. Those crazy, heart-pounding emotions evolve into deep contentment and feelings of comfort over time. I think it would be exhausting to have crazy-in-love, obsessed feelings about someone day in, day out, for years and years and years.
posted by cooker girl at 7:55 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're asking if you should throw away a known good for some nebulous possibility?

This needs repeating.
posted by procrastination at 7:56 AM on March 31, 2010


Break up! Now!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:57 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find that my own tendency to feel "loving" is directly linked to my moods. Often, when I'm not feeling close, I realise I am depressed about something else that has nothing to do with her. Zoomorphic's litmus test (does she make you "unbelievably happy") is unfair to her and takes away your own responsibility for your happiness.

Copied for emphasis. This is so important to get your head around.

"Weak in the knees" goes away as a relationship becomes more mature. People that chase this feeling are the people that can't stay together with anyone, because they're in it for the newness. Decide whether you want to be that person or not.
posted by jbickers at 7:59 AM on March 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


There's this passage in High Fidelity that I can't recall or find word-for-word right now, but the gist of it is that in a good relationship, the two people go through life side by side, rather than back to back facing each other. I think that's pretty accurate. I mean, it's life and you're people; you have things to do besides being starry-eyed.

(I am constantly quoting High Fidelity because in my mind it has some of the most astute observations about relationships that I've found in pop culture; orders of magnitude more accurate and insightful than fucking Twilight. Go read it or at least rent the movie.)

Ultimately, it's your call and your feelings, but there's a reason most love stories are about new exciting romances and don't go beyond "happily ever after." The first part is exciting and dramatic, the happily ever after is pleasant but doesn't make for an exciting story.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:02 AM on March 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


Just to throw a different perspective in here, marriage is not necessarily about being "weak in the knees" or knowing that she is "the one". It is also the most important financial decision you will make in your life.

It is a legally binding contract that (if not orchestrated in a specific fashion) has fiscal implications. This is outside of the obvious emotional, or soft vices/virtues that are often lauded in popular culture.

Strangely, it is hardly ever mentioned. ;)

Certainly, marry for love and commitment etc. If you are having doubts in those areas but are still on the fence, cast your glance a bit wider at the more practical implications of that decision.
posted by purephase at 8:07 AM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I really love my husband and I love spending time with him (Usually. Right now I'm kind of furious with him, but at the same time we both know it will work out because we want it to work out). When we first moved in together though, he would call me on his way home from work. Now, we lived in LA, and admittedly his commute sucked, but I got home around four and that time between four and five-thirty was my "me" time and I didn't get a lot of that anymore. So I had to say "Look, I love you, but DON'T CALL ME."

I'm just telling that story because as others have said long term relationships are not all about hearts and roses. I do miss him when he's gone, but I also really enjoy time by myself and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way when I'm not around. The real question is whether you can see yourself building a life with this woman. Do you have compatible goals? Do you feel like it's worth it to work through hard times with her? Do you like the man you are when you're with her, does she help make you a better person? Or is she just hot and comfortable?
posted by Kimberly at 8:07 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


It may be simply that the time is out of joint, and you could grow to love her more, but it is almost impossible to do this intellectually. You can't learn it from books or movies. You need to have your heart broken a few times. It hurts so much, but it makes your heart bigger in the long run. You need to have experiences in life to make you realize what you have lost or overlooked. Right now she deserves better. She may find it, or she may end up in the reversed situation with someone else. It's a tough call. Love is seldom in perfect balance. You both sound young. You have lots of time.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:17 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here is a list of some movies with what I consider to be really, good, really real relationships in a variety of ways. Sure, they're Hollywood-esque, but they come, in my opinion, really close to how real love is between real people. Since the movies seem to be where you draw some of what love should be like, here are some that may take a different view than what you're used to seeing.

"Dan in Real Life"--- I ADORE the relationship Dan's parents have in this movie. It's heartfelt. It's real. It's down to earth. Even the romance part of the story, while grounded in some of the mythical ideal, is also rather down to earth and within the realm of possibility.

"Big Eden" --- the relationship between Henry and Pike is really sweet, and again, in many ways very real.

"Love Actually" --- sure, some of it is glamorized, but it approaches love from all sorts of angles and it's not always glorious.

"The Family Stone" --- again, the relationship between the parents is pretty darn good and normal.

My point with pointing these out is longevity in a relationship hardly rests on the feelings of being "in love." "In love" is a rush. It's a whirlwind. It's a carnival ride. People --- most people --- can't live on carnival rides, or even at the carnival itself. Longterm relationships require something steadier --- the day in and day out moments, a familiar touch, a silent comfort, a knowing look from across the playground, having hot chocolate ready when the other gets home on a rainy cold day, making cookies together, picking up Baby Zizzle from daycare together--- with the occasional visit to the carnival. A real good example of a good relationship for me is if you can spend a day together reading on the couch, not really saying much, and then at about 4 in the afternoon, look at each other and say, "Should we get some food?"

I don't know enough about your relationship with this girl to say whether you should marry her. But I think you'd be greatly missing the forest for the saplings if you break up with her and I'm concerned that we'll see a, "I broke up with my girlfriend of five years three months ago, and I realize it was the biggest mistake of my life" AskMe from you later on. No one here can say if you should marry her --- only you and she can say that. But breaking up when you're happy for an ideal that just isn't sustainable and that there's no guarantee you'll find seems like a recipe for some deep regrets.
posted by zizzle at 8:20 AM on March 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


I made it a rule to stay away from people who made me weak in the knees. In my experience those people drive you bat-shit insane.

There are probably thousands of people that would make great spouses for each and everyone one of us. That doesn't mean you keep looking. You simply decide when you are done looking. It sounds to me like you're not done looking.

Adrenaline junkies have no place in long-term relationships. Don't confuse the kindling with the longer burning wood.
posted by jasondigitized at 8:24 AM on March 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


Our culture and media have given us an image of what a meaningful relationship is.

The media has given you an image of what an interesting relationship is; a relationship you'll tune in for a while to. They don't care about meaning; they care about your attention span. You won't watch a TV show about two people in a day-to-day, functional relationship.

Take very few cues from movies and TV on how you should live your life; they're meant to be spectacular so that you can leave your functional life and enter the mysterious world of make-believe where you watch people act and react without real consequences.
posted by Hiker at 8:32 AM on March 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm talking about the feel-good heart-warming movies and stories. The growing-old together stories. The Notebook. Twilight.

The relationship in Twilight is an abusive one. Just a heads-up on your expectations there. And I think the biggest threats to your relationship are those unrealistic expectations that after five years, you still feel weak-kneed and etc etc. I mean, look, it's clear that you're not satisfied in some real basic way, so I'm going to go ahead and say "break up," but I think you're really going to regret it. Maybe you need that loss and regret to calibrate your ideas of what love is. I wish you luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:37 AM on March 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


You've described my relationship with my wife, and I'd marry her again in a heartbeat.
You've got a good thing. Don't throw it away because you feel like you're not in a Hugh Grant movie.
posted by rocket88 at 8:40 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here is a book that might give you some things to think about. I have seen it recommended on AskMeFi before.

I wonder how many of the people recommending breaking up are actually married, versus the people recommending staying together. After being married a while, the weak-kneed feeling goes away, and a deeper, more stable and comfortable feeling grows. If you always break up when the excitement goes, you never get to that part.
posted by carpographer at 8:41 AM on March 31, 2010


Honestly if "break up" is a legitimate option then its the right one for everyone involved.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:44 AM on March 31, 2010


If what you want is a lifetime of super-high highs followed by soul-crushing lows when the weak-in-the-knees drama unfolds (which it never does in the movies, but it always does in real life), so be it. Some people need that.

But if that is how you feel, please let your girlfriend who is

--"gorgeous",
--honest ("we can ...be honest with each other"),
--sexy (" I enjoy physical aspects of our relationship")
--similarly-minded ("we have...a similar outlook on life")
--a fun companion (" I love hanging out with her") and
-- an"excellent friend"

know how you feel so that she can find someone who wants an adult relationship.
posted by murrey at 8:45 AM on March 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


The following contains sciency-flavored advice, not to be taken as gospel or anything other than interesting. I'm not a scientist, psychologist, or anything other than a happily long term co-habitating person in love.

Falling in love is an chemical reaction. First there is initial attraction, lusty limerance feelings, related to testosterone, estrogen and a big hit of dopamine. You can't ride this high forever, you develop tolerances to it, like any other drug. You eventually come down from this high, and hopefully, you're left with Oxytocin, the "bonding love" hormone. You get a hit of this each time you orgasm or have physical contact. (it's also related to breast feeding, labor and other parental/ familial bonding things)

Humans, unlike a select few mammals, don't have a "lifetime monogamy" response like Prairie Voles, who mate for life. We've just got Oxytocin to help us out. I don't at all mean to imply that humans are not supposed to be monogamous. In fact, I think the exact opposite. We get to choose to stay monogamous. Poor Mr. Prairie Vole doesn't have a choice in the matter, the first mate he has, he's stuck with for life and will defend his mate to the death.

So, understand that you're not going to be in that crazy high of initial attraction for your whole life, even if you do seek out multiple affairs or new partners. Theres no such thing as destiny or soul mates. You've got choice. Maybe there are other people that could make you as happy and be as compatible as your current girlfriend. That doesn't mean you shouldn't marry her, or that you should marry anyone else. In fact, there's no "should" involved at all, it's "want"!

Do you want to marry her? Then do it! There's no sign to look for, no test, no checklist. You get to make this choice with all your lusty hormones but also your brain. I think that's more romantic than cupid's arrows sticking you together. How deeply flattering is it to know "I choose you", not because there's no one else for me, but "I choose you" over all others?

It sounds like you have a good relationship, and you've developed the "tools" for long term relationships. Maybe your bond has become less strong, and should you choose to strengthen it, the prescription is more sex and cuddling.
posted by fontophilic at 8:46 AM on March 31, 2010 [16 favorites]


Wow. These answers are not what I was expecting. Yes, the "weak in the knees" feeling fades, but after 5 years together you should probably miss your girlfriend when she is away.

That said, I agree with Zizzle and don't think I can say it much better than that. It sounds like the physical side of your relationship is strong, which is great and necessary to sustain a long relationship, but do you feel emotionally supported by her, and she by you?
posted by apricot at 8:51 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


See again what the previous answerer said about Limerence. I am not a relationship expert by any means, but I do feel qualified to say I know a bit about Limerence:

-It is not real. It is what possibly healthy High Schooler's feel in a relationship and unhealthy adults crave in adult relationships
-If you feel "weak in the knees" and feel you MUST feel weak in the knees for years on end you are not "in love"; you are a love addict on, or craving, a fix.
-It is not "meaningful" or "functional", it didn't even exist until about the 1400's with western literature, and it has been flogged to death by poets, playwrights and movie producers ever since.
-It cannot make you a "happy person", though you may feel happy for a little while, and if you are lucky when it wears off you will have chosen a person who you can be happy with.

Basically, if your Me-Fi had been "I Feel madly in love with this girl I have known from [1 to 18] months, should I marry her?" My humble advice would be to wait until you have seen here without the limereant equivalent of "beer goggles". Make sure you share an outlook on life, are really good friends, and actually LIKE her.

It sounds like you have done that and actually have a real, lasting relationship with a good person. As a recovering Limerence addict, I envy you.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 8:52 AM on March 31, 2010


There's a reason there are two contradictory cliches -- "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," but "Out of sight, out of mind." Some people are in agony (or claim to be) whenever they're away from their lover; other people are "out of sight, out of mind." Anyone who tells you that you have to be the former type is, at best, projecting their own personality quirks onto you. In fact, the latter type is more fortunate: if you have a great time when you're with her and a fine time when you're away from her, you have a higher overall level of happiness than if you have a great time when you're with her but a miserable time when you're away from her."

Based on the text you've written up for us (and recognizing that we're all writing in extreme ignorance of what the situation is actually like), it sounds like you have a fantastic relationship. And you have some really naive ideas of what a relationship is supposed to be like, which cause you to slightly undervalue the fantasticness of your relationship. If you break up, you'll lose the fantastic relationship and replace it with some other relationship, which might be equally fantastic or less fantastic, but still won't live up to your idealized notions. And you'll still have the same old idealized notions weighing you down. So, breaking up does not sound like progress.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:55 AM on March 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


(sorry, there's no need for that quotation mark at the end of my first paragraph)
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:59 AM on March 31, 2010


Marry or break up?

neither. talk to one another.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:03 AM on March 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


No offense, but if you're basing your idea of true love on the pap that's shown in Hollywood movies, you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointing relationships. Marriage is hard fucking work. (It's probably the hardest job you'll ever have next to being a parent.) It's also one of the most fulfilling and soul-enriching adventures you'll ever experience if you do it right.

It seems like you need to recalibrate your ideas about love and relationships in general before you even start thinking about marriage.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:10 AM on March 31, 2010


I've been in long term relationships, short term relationships, had intense love in relationships, had loveless relationships, and I've been married and gotten divorced. I'm 27. Not an expert in relationships, but I'm beyond looking for puppy love at least.

The thing about long term relationships when you're inexperienced (made evident by your perspective) is that in the later years you feel like you're missing out on something intense and passionate. Yeah, that can feel awesome, but it's not a sensation that lasts (as previously stated). And it's hard to come by - you'll probably have to go through a lot of dud relationships before something else works out, and you'll have your heart broken more than a few times along the way. And in the end, all you'll really be looking for is someone who you find attractive and interesting, with the same general life goals as you, whom you get along with fabulously, and that she feels the same way about you. You already have this.

Breaking up with someone shouldn't be because things are only 99% perfect and you want that extra 1%. It should be because you would be happier being alone than being with that person, or because ultimately you won't be able to find a satistfactory compromise in diverging objectives in life.

If you're not feeling in love with her, perhaps you've stopped paying attention to her in some key ways and I recommend you ask for help on getting to know her again instead.
posted by lizbunny at 9:19 AM on March 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


Also, I think you threw everyone off with the editorialized intro about rom-coms. Yeah, life isn't a montage. But if I were your girlfriend and I read this, I'd dump your silly ass and find myself someone who didn't entertain juvenile expectations of how adult relationships work.

I don't really care if you think life should be a romantic comedy. You just sound so terribly lackluster about this woman. You don't miss her at all when she's not there? You don't like spending vacation with her? You can't even define yourself as "in love" with her? No. You might be ruining a relationship that you could have made into worthy marriage-material with all this overthinking and emotional dilly-dallying, but the point stands: this relationship isn't marriage material. You, honestly, do not sound like marriage material.

Your girlfriend has the right to be with someone who will be okay when she's occasionally be boring, or gets spinach in her teeth, or says something that irks the hell out of you, and she deserves to be with someone who can definitely say that he is in love with her. No quotes. Because your girlfriend is a flesh-and-blood human, not a smiling actress on the movie screen.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:23 AM on March 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Echoing others, 99.9% of marriages between real, unscripted people with thoughts and feelings aren't like the movies you're referencing.

I don't agree that because you're having this dilemma you shouldn't get married to this young lady. Uncertainty about such a big decision is normal, and it won't go away, no matter how happy you are and how long you are married. That's life.

I think it sounds like you have a fine relationship, and it's impossible to know what the future will hold, but just by asking yourself this question you're showing an important ability to ask questions about the state of your relationship. Asking questions leads to improvements, and there's no such thing as a relationship that can't be improved.
posted by elder18 at 9:24 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


My wife and I once discussed the fact that we did not feel for each other with the screaming intensity that we had, in the past, felt for other people. And we both felt perfectly fine and somewhat relieved by that. It's a lot of fun (when it's not horrifically painful) but it's not what lasting relationships are about.

That said, you also shouldn't mistake complacency and easy with lasting affection. Unfortunately it seems like you're going to have to sort out the difference between expectations for something that simply cannot last and lowered standards.

I don't get weak in the knees, I don't think about her day and night, I don't cherish being on holiday with her, I'm don't usually miss her when she's away. When I realize this, I feel like I'm at a crossroads.

Those first two? Irrelevant. The third? I don't really know what that means. That you don't wish you could grab her up and run off for two weeks, unbothered by anyone else? That could be as much about your attitude towards vacationing as anything else; personally I often prefer shorter and simpler getaways. If instead it means you dread being off with just the two of you, well, that's problematic.

Missing her when she's away? Also unclear. Some people are just like that. My wife feels my absence more than I feel hers if she has to travel for a few days but that's more about personal preference than affection - I still get to speak to her daily, the world being what it is now, and am more phlegmatic and patient than she is. When she's away I know she'll be back.

The barometer I think is more significant is how often do you want to tell her about things? I can't imagine a day when something doesn't happen that makes me think "oh man, I have to tell my wife about this." It's, in my opinion, a sign that interacting with her is important and integral to my life.

But really, this is all you buddy. If you don't buy what I have said above, or can't feel it, then maybe you should walk. We're not always ready for things when they happen to us and if you're not in a point in your life where you can accept this situation as the right one for you then it doesn't matter what the rest of us think Move on; free her up to meet someone who will appreciate the partner she is. Go chase that passion if you need it for a while.

Shit, maybe you need it forever. Some people are like that. It's not right or wrong except to the extent that you fuck over other people. Better than you end this now rather than be an unhappy and shitty partner for a decade or forever. Just do it based on what you need, not what we or hollywood tells you what you need.
posted by phearlez at 9:31 AM on March 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


Have you ever noticed that most of those movies end right after they fall in love?
posted by JaredSeth at 9:34 AM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I know that there are good arguments for either side but I would say that your lack of enthusiasm would indicate that marriage is not the right option. Yes, you're likely to have a very comfortable and successful marriage, but... what if you could have a really HAPPY marriage with somebody else? I think that, from what you've described, if you get married, you are "settling" and that one of you may regret it later. The friends and family that I know who are happy in their marriages are the ones who really WANTED to marry each other. The comfortable ones usually have lots of skeletons, infidelities, etc. If you don't know what you want for sure after 5 years, maybe it's time to step back. It's possible that after some time apart you may realize that it wasn't as good as it seemed on paper and that maybe there was a reason you didn't feel wholeheartedly committed in the first place.

Anecdotally, I was in the same position a few years back and decided to leave. I still sometimes miss him and the stability and comfort he provided but I don't regret moving on. I still haven't found somebody "better" but I'm confident that I made the right decision.
posted by Raichle at 9:37 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


The people telling you that marrigae isn't a hollywood love story are right, of course, but so what? These doubts that have been torturing you for five years aren't going to go away just because you get married. They'll get worse.

Marriage isn't a day at the beach. If you're this conflicted going into it, it probably won't last and divorce is a lot harder on everyone involved than the breakup of a five-year relationship.

Your choice shouldn't be "marry or break up"; marriage isn't going to fix anything. You should be choosing between breaking up now and working on your relationship (which could lead to marriage or breakup or something else entirely).
posted by timeistight at 9:45 AM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


All Hollywood romances should end like The Graduate. Just two people, riding a bus, quietly contemplating their future, maybe a little scared and unsure about the reality of what they've just gotten themselves into.
posted by rocket88 at 9:56 AM on March 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


Just throwing this out there: you may want to look carefully at yourself and ask whether you have issues with commitment. I suspect you realize that the "weak in the knees" feeling at 5 years is a pretty unrealistic expectation, but you're looking to set the bar as high as needed to avoid the responsibility and/or scariness that comes with taking your relationship to a serious and permanent place.
posted by naju at 10:06 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The barometer I think is more significant is how often do you want to tell her about things? I can't imagine a day when something doesn't happen that makes me think "oh man, I have to tell my wife about this." It's, in my opinion, a sign that interacting with her is important and integral to my life.

Yes, this. Ultimately, that's what a marriage comes down to. Most everything else will fade, but if you have someone you can't wait to discuss things with, then your life will be good.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:23 AM on March 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't get weak in the knees, I don't think about her day and night,

That's not "love", it's "limerance." and "obsession." There's nothing healthy about it--and in my experience, it's a complete curse I wouldn't wish on anybody.

Do you actually know what "getting weak in the knees" around someone feels like? Hell, not only did I get "weak in the knees", I turned pale, swooned, fainted and almost fell down! In the middle of a crowded concert hall...straight out of some kind of goddamned 19th century novel. Dreadful...humiliating. How are you supposed to develop a healthy, meaningful relationship when you're so jacked on adrenaline you're trembling in spite of yourself and your heart rate and pulse are so extreme you can barely speak? It sucks! Oh, and your sweat stinks like copper.

Trust me, this is NOT what you want.
posted by aquafortis at 10:32 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Stupid pop culture expectations. Why anyone would want a partner who makes them nervous or self-conscious is beyond me. High drama relationships are stressful and tiring. I don't know about marriage but I've had two long term relationships, one dramatic one not, and I never want to tie my happiness to another drama queen (drama king?) again. Every fight was an excuse for suicidal threats and screaming rage. That's why Romeo and Juliet ends so badly. Crazy passion leads to poor decisions. Think hard about whether you want that.

And, to answer your specific question, neither. No point in breaking up unless you or your gf are unhappy. No point in marriage unless you really want it. Nothing wrong with maintaining the status quo if it makes you happy.
posted by irisclara at 10:38 AM on March 31, 2010


Marry or break up?

Don't you think you should talk to her about this, rather than a group of strangers who don't anything about you, her or the relationship?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:39 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've had both a longterm relationship that was comfortable and wrapped me like a warm blanket, and the heart-pounding, think-about-you-every-second longterm relationship. Give me the comfortable, soothing one any time.

That weak in the knees feeling at the beginning of relationships is wonderful but it's not sustainable, or even realistic. Like others have said, when I'm 90, I want to know my best friend and love of my life will be there right next to me. Relationships like that are born from living life and sharing hopes, fears, and dreams -- not from frantically obsessing over someone 24/7.

Yes, the portrayal of "love" in movies looks fun, but it's not. Relationships like that are high-maintenance, high-intensity, can take an emotional toll, and flame out like a Roman candle when the novelty wears off.

If you want heart-pounding excitement, skip from girlfriend to girlfriend every few months. If you want a sustainable relationship that means something, stay with your girl and be glad you're sexually and emotionally compatible, and get a dear friend out of it, to boot.
posted by _Mona_ at 10:52 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


The most troubling thing about your question is that this has been bothering you for FIVE YEARS. No, you should not marry her. It sounds like you need a break from the relationship, which might mean losing her forever, but I don't see you ever getting past this feeling if you've been obsessing about it for five years. Seriously, you describe getting your coat so you can both move on as "doing the right thing," so that's exactly what you should do. She deserves better, and you need time to yourself to process all of this.
posted by wondermouse at 10:58 AM on March 31, 2010


Yikes. Some genuinely awful advice in this thread.

It sounds like the two of you have a fantastic relationship, and like you're not the sort of person to have extreme emotional highs or lows -- this is okay, and pretty common for guys. It's also incredibly common to get "jitters" once you realize that you're in a long-term relationship.

Stay with her, but don't get married unless it's something that both of you want. Given that it doesn't sound like she's actively pursuing marriage, I don't see the problem with maintaining the status quo.

I have friends/relatives who stayed with a significant other for 10-15 years without getting married. They eventually drifted apart, although neither of them seem to have any lingering regrets about the relationship, which seems a heck of a lot healthier and more fulfilling than most married couples that I know of.

Also, given that it sounds like your relationship is otherwise excellent, try talking things out with her. Choose your words wisely, but be honest.
posted by schmod at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2010


PS. Also chiming in to note that the relationship in Twilight is horribly abusive. I'm guessing you simply picked it off of the top of your head as an example.
posted by schmod at 11:19 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't really think of myself has having that amazing soulmate love when I got married. Our marriage works though.

Try this:

Imagine you break up. Picture yourself five years on. Are you happy? Picture her five years from now? Is she happy? Now imagine you get married. Same questions. Now: Think about the various scenarios. What do they tell you? Can you live without her? Can she live without you? Can you see yourself with her forever?

The year before I got married, and the year after, I wondered whether I was making a big mistake. For me, out of those questions, when I pictured us breaking up, I pictured me dealing with it, but my wife was inconsolable (in my imagined scenario). But here was the kicker for me: The fact that she was upset made me very upset and I realized that even though I wondered whether she was the "perfect woman" for me, I was really quite personally invested in her happiness.

25 years into the marriage, it's only gotten stronger. Yeah, we've had a few bumps in the road, but our chief motivation is making each other happy.

I'm not saying get married or break up, but just because you're not gobsmacked by the Hollywood version of love does not mean you haven't found true love.
posted by Doohickie at 11:24 AM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think you should break up. There are millions of sexy, wonderful, friendly, amazing people out there, but that doesn't mean all of them are right for you. When you are with the right person at the right time then you will know it and not have doubts. I think you owe it to you and her to break up.
posted by meepmeow at 11:44 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


When you are with the right person at the right time then you will know it and not have doubts.

This isn't necessarily true. Days before my marriage I was calling my friend in a fret and having a million gazillion nervous doubts. But the doubts were the doubts that one has when embarking on a huge life change. Doesn't mean I didn't love my husband and doesn't mean I didn't want to marry him.

I had the same doubts when I went to college. I was really afraid I had made the wrong choice in college. I really thought maybe I shouldn't go. But then I went and it was the exact right college for me.

I had the same doubts after my first week of experiencing fetal kicks. "OHMIGOD! THISISABABYINSIDEME!!! WHATAMIDOING? ISTHISAMISTAKE?" Major life change again. Lots of doubts about it.

Life changes come with doubts. Saying someone will not have doubts is very much a part of the Hollywood myth that is affecting the asker. Real people have doubts about almost anything --- even doubts about making the right decision, whatever that may be under whatever circumstances. It's not an issue of having or not having doubts, but the conclusions come to when the doubts are processed. In the case of my marriage freak out, my friend reminded me how much I love my husband, how good he is to me, how good I am for him, and how he had been together for so long that if things weren't good, she would certainly have known (because she knew just about everything about us since she was a friend of both of us).
posted by zizzle at 12:02 PM on March 31, 2010 [19 favorites]


Have you ever really been in love?
Has a relationship ever made you weak in the knees, after the initial puppy-love phase, that is?

It is possible that you're hoping for love beyond the capacity you possess to feel or share. Hopefully not... but... ?
posted by 2oh1 at 12:05 PM on March 31, 2010


My flip answer is that given the choices you've laid out you should break-up because I think you have a silly idea of what marriage should be. Don't feel bad though, you aren't the only one with such silly ideas, as evidence by some of these other comments...
Don't marry someone unless you're willing to bet the farm on being unbelievably happy with them, and vice versa.
How about this instead: Don't marry someone unless you're willing to bet the farm that you can get past not being unbelievably happy with them, and vice versa. Life brings both joy and sadness, and sometimes both at the same time. Being married, to me, means sticking with each other through bad as well as good (which isn't to say I don't think there aren't plenty of good reasons for divorce).

For me, it comes down to this:
I love hanging out with her and I enjoy physical aspects of our relationship. We can confide in each other and be honest with each other. We're there for each other. Basically we have an excellent friendship and a similar outlook on life.
You (and she) *might* be able to do better, but you're probably at least as likely to do worse. What you have right there is the foundation for growing closer and closer.
posted by Good Brain at 12:07 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not "in love" with her as we would define it. I don't get weak in the knees, I don't think about her day and night, I don't cherish being on holiday with her, I'm don't usually miss her when she's away. When I realize this, I feel like I'm at a crossroads.

The first three items in this list are Hollywood BS, but I think the last two are red flags. If you don't miss your girlfriend when she's gone, and you don't find anything particularly special about going on vacation with her, it doesn't sound like you're invested enough in the relationship to make it a life partnership.
posted by spinto at 12:08 PM on March 31, 2010


I don't usually miss her when she's away.
This really jumped out at me. True, marriage is not all sunshine and roses, but wanting to be with someone is the foundation of any type of relationship. Can you really say you want to be with her if it makes no difference if she is even there?
posted by purpletangerine at 12:43 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apologizing if I haven't read carefully enough, but here's my question: are your feelings fair to HER? In other words, are you withholding? Watching a bit from the sidelines?

SHE deserves someone who thinks she's all that, and it may not be you.
posted by dzaz at 12:56 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


SHE deserves someone who thinks she's all that

Well, good, because her boyfriend clearly does think she's "all that": "She's gorgeous. I love hanging out with her and I enjoy physical aspects of our relationship. We can confide in each other and be honest with each other. We're there for each other. Basically we have an excellent friendship and a similar outlook on life."

Who are we to say he's an inadequate boyfriend based on this? We know almost nothing about what their relationship is actually like. We can pile on the guy for expressing some rather trite doubts about it, but some of the comments here seem to be leaping to the "break up" conclusion simply because the OP (1) brought it up and (2) isn't perfect. Of course, the idea that "she deserves" to have a perfect boyfriend (when none of us know anything about her) is as much a Hollywood fantasy as anything the OP said.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:05 PM on March 31, 2010


At the time of posting, zoomorphic's "break up" has 36 favourites, whereas Halloween Jack's "marry! love is not like the movies" has 34 favourites. So, as you can see, even the MeFi community is pretty split evenly.

It's always interesting whenever one of these type of questions come up. This marry or break up question will be posted by a man (and almost always a man), who has been in a relationship for a long time, but can't bring himself to commit to the final step. From what I can tell, the man always ends up breaking up and is usually happier for it. Or a similar type of question is posted a man who has been in similar situations to yours and ended up marrying, but years later, committed infidelities or is very strongly attracted to someone else.

Love shouldn't be like the movies, but look at the couples who are happily married around you, those who have been married for a good number of years. My parents have been married for 25 years and they still flirt with each other (thankfully, not when I'm around).

Marriage should be something that you commit with your whole entire heart, something you are fundamentally happy and deeply satisfied with. Marriage is a commitment that you WANT to engage in. Whether you don't have sufficient emotional maturity for marriage yet, or whether this girl is not right for you at all, whether this is a temporary or permanent feeling, you are clearly not ready for marriage. Wait, maybe even break up, and see whether you feel differently. Either way, you will have your answer.
posted by moiraine at 1:12 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


OK, I *hate* doing this, but my experience may help.

I am twice divorced. Yuck. I say "yuck" because I am a romantic and I never wanted to get divorced once, much less twice.

What @moiraine said is true, but ... ahh ... I *did*. I did commit to it with my "whole entire heart", both times. I was completely convinced that this was *it*. In my most recent marriage, I literally went past any reasonable bounds in trying to keep us together. I went too far, trying, to be honest. I was spat on for my efforts, made to feel the fool.

Over and over, friends, girlfriends, whatever, claim that I am the best boyfriend/husband ever. Yet, on the marriage front I am a big loser. There is *quite* a big stigma against divorced men, especially twice-divorced. We must be insensitive assholes, you see. Maybe we are.

For me marriage doesn't work, at least so far. People change, people lie, blah blah blah. If I was convinced it could be a storybook marriage, I'd propose right now to my current girlfriend. She lives with me, she's great, she's not like my ex-wives, but it is not going to happen. I wish it would, but ... no. If she leaves me because I won't propose, I'll be sad. Not as sad as if I'd married her, but truly sad.

In other words, why mess with something that is working? You are happy, she is happy, why add the stress of marriage? There are very few tax advantages, it sounds like she's not going to leave you, why mess with it?
posted by Invoke at 1:40 PM on March 31, 2010


why add the stress of marriage?

Marriage isn't necessarily stressful. In fact, marriage can make your life less stressful.

Invoke, I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. I think marriage and the idea of marriage is getting a pretty bad rap when it could be a great thing, provided everyone is on the same page or desires to get on the same page.
posted by anniecat at 1:54 PM on March 31, 2010


I've been married for two years. My husband and I are best friends, and I think that's what makes our marriage work. We just enjoy hanging out together, and the rest is just icing on the cake. There's times when we'd trade each other for a Diet Coke if we could. But at the end of the day, he's the one I want to be with forever. We complete one another.

I never got the 'weak in the knees' feeling with him either, and I don't think he did with me. We just knew we wanted to be together for good. I hate to sound cliched, but you really do 'just know'. Even if you're terrified of it deep down.

We even fought on our honeymoon (mainly from being so tired from wedding stress), but never once did I think "Oh no, what have I done?". Because we knew there would be good and bad days from the get-go.

I think if anyone waits for the butterflies feeling, they'll be waiting a loooong time and will want to bail as soon as it's gone.
posted by miltoncat at 2:23 PM on March 31, 2010


From what I can tell, the man always ends up breaking up and is usually happier for it. Or a similar type of question is posted a man who has been in similar situations to yours and ended up marrying, but years later, committed infidelities or is very strongly attracted to someone else.

I have to call selection bias on this one. Men who are happy in a relationship are not going to be posting questions about it, so you will never see them as data points. Really, what would they ask? "Dear Metafilter, I am happily in a relationship and don't want to break up. What should I do?".
posted by procrastination at 2:51 PM on March 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


procrastination, isn't that moiraine's point?

In your own words: "Men who are happy in a relationship are not going to be posting questions about it..."
posted by keep it under cover at 3:15 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you decide to agree with those who say "you got a good thing going, don't throw it away"and decide to marry her, then only do it if (1) you *know* you're not gonna leave her or cheat on her because of some crush you'll have some day who will make you feel those tingly feelings - those tingly feeling will fade and if you have a good relationship it's more important, and (2) you won't one day change your mind or get bored with being with just your girlfriend and start looking for that thrill from someone else. If you know yourself well enough and want to and know that you can stay with her, then why not?
posted by KateHasQuestions at 4:06 PM on March 31, 2010


some of the comments here seem to be leaping to the "break up" conclusion simply because the OP (1) brought it up and (2) isn't perfect. Of course, the idea that "she deserves" to have a perfect boyfriend (when none of us know anything about her) is as much a Hollywood fantasy as anything the OP said.

I was using his own words about her and his own description of how he feels. He says all these great things about her, yet these feelings of not-in-love have been "torturing" him for five years. That's five years of, in his words, torture. And he did not say how long he's actually been in this relationship, only that he's felt this way for five years, and that leaving her would be the right thing to do.

As for the perfect boyfriend, I don't think anyone's suggested he needs to be perfect. Of course that isn't realistic. But I feel bad for this girl if she thinks he's in love with her, while all he can think about while she's away is how much he doesn't miss her, and all he can think about while they go on trips together is how much he isn't cherishing his time with her. He sees movies that feature intense love stories and wonders why his relationship isn't like that. He is being tortured by these feelings. I sure as hell wouldn't want to be with a guy who feels that way about me.
posted by wondermouse at 5:24 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, thanks to the horrible relationship models that Hollywood has provided us, you may not able to see how good you have it. Hollywood, capitalist culture always tell us we should want more, we should strive to get the best, blah blah. Like if we don’t have all this drama in our lives (“you pray that you will never be driven apart” and feeling weak in the knees), something is missing. We have so few good, healthy relationship models in this culture. I feel like you may have succumbed to this kind of thinking and may not totally appreciate what you have. My worry is that you will throw away something perfectly good just because you think it “should” be like something else. You might want to have a look at some of these resources to help you deconstruct what you’ve been force fed by Hollywood.

On the other hand, maybe things have become too comfortable and perhaps predictable – maybe this is why you’re doubting things. Maybe you’re just better off being friends with her. But you should really have a talk with her about all this.

On another hand, maybe you need some time to be out of a relationship to grow on your own and get to know yourself better. If something is missing, and you don’t know what it is, maybe it has to do with knowing yourself. I believe that healthy relationships are based on knowing what your needs are, accepting the extent that your partner can meet them, understanding your partner's needs, and being willing to meet theirs. It is also about intimacy, the process of being known and knowing someone else. I've come to this understanding through my experiences with relationships and this dysfunctional, relationship-addictive culture, but haven't had experience in a long-term, healthy relationship yet, just FYI.
posted by foxjacket at 6:04 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


He says all these great things about her, yet these feelings of not-in-love have been "torturing" him for five years.

OP, this is a good point. You write with a lot of hyperbolic emotion, and I can see why you're so confused--are you naturally attracted to drama or fantasy? Is the way you write reflective of how you think? It can't be fun to swing from one end to the other all the time. I think you should only consider getting married if you're able to moderate your emotional landscape, because something is going to have to change in the way you're thinking about your life. If what you wrote is reflective of your thinking, then you might want to check in with a counselor who can go over your thought patterns. The way you frame something and the rhetoric you choose can mess up the way you behave and the decisions you make.
posted by anniecat at 7:58 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You need to improve the relationship. It sounds like you have 80% of what you want but are not fully connecting in a few areas. This doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing. Read some books, talk more, see a counselor. If it is an all or nothing thing, though, you should break up, because your daily experience is that the doubt outweighs the happiness. But just barely. Which is why I advise you to work together and by yourself to address problems in the relationship, fears of intimacy, old baggage, and so forth.
posted by salvia at 8:31 PM on March 31, 2010


Read Marriage Clinic by Gottman (or his other books if you're short on time)

Research limerance (limerence?)

Maybe you just don't like the idea of marriage

Take yourself less seriously

Give her more kisses

Find something else to focus on, if this is torturing you, you have too much free time

Good luck!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:45 PM on March 31, 2010


I don't get weak in the knees - you want to be like that all day every day for the rest of your life? Not going to happen.


I don't think about her day and night - see above.

I don't cherish being on holiday with her - you aren't 100% compatible with her, cherish independance when travelling... guess what? So do a lot of other happily coupled up people.

I'm don't usually miss her when she's away - You like some alone time, nothing wrong with that.

If its more serious that all that, then consider things carefully. Otherwise, as you were!
posted by Admira at 11:09 PM on March 31, 2010


Man, you don't deserve her. That's the only reason you should break up. Get your act together.

Stop whining. Be happy.

Lucky bastard.
posted by IZ at 4:57 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marry or break up?

Is there really nothing in between. I guess you need to decide if you are unhappy now. If not, why worry about the bullshit Hollywood is selling you? For starters, you don't have to define love the way they do.

Basically we have an excellent friendship and a similar outlook on life.

Go team!
posted by chunking express at 2:41 PM on April 1, 2010


I should say I hardly have this figured out myself, but from reading far too many human relations questions on askme and my own life, I've found that there are basically two types of people when it comes to marriage.

The first is very practical. They want marriage or children or the type of stability and all the benefits that come along with a lifetime commitment. Above all they are looking for compatibility. Similar goals. Similar outlook. As one of my friends who is very type 1 put it, "marriage is really just about finding someone who wants the same thing as you at the same time and deciding to make that commitment."

To me this comment from jasondigitized really summed up the approach of Type 1 people:

There are probably thousands of people that would make great spouses for each and everyone one of us. That doesn't mean you keep looking. You simply decide when you are done looking.

For type 1 people love is something that grows and evolves out of shared goals and a serious commitment.

The second type of people find the right person and then marriage (or a lifetime commitment) is the natural result of their intense love for the other person. Think, "I never wanted to get married or have kids until I met X." For type 2 people it's about some undefinable connection between themselves and the other person. This connection takes precedence over basic compatibility or it overcomes incompatibility (or it doesn't...) For Type 2 people there are not thousands or thousands of potentially great spouses. There may not be "the one" but probably less than a dozen. And even then serious incompatibility and other practical considerations will likely end many of these relationships.

Type 1 people think Type 2 people are immature and delusional. Type 2 people think Type 1 people are settling. I don't think Type 2 people are actually immature or delusional. I just think they have very different emotional needs than Type 1 people. And I don't think Type 1 people are settling, at least not in a negative sense. Type 1 people want to be settled and they are finding an appropriate person to do just that with.

To me you sound like a Type 2 person trying to be a Type 1 person. I really can't tell you when it is possible to go from the romantic to the realistic, it's something I certainly struggle with, but I think that is the question you need to ask yourself. Are you the kind of person who wants to be married most importantly? And if you do want to be married, do you want to have a marriage that is based upon compatibility, honesty, friendship, and attraction? Or are you looking for a marriage that is all those things, but also looking for an indescribable connection? That something more? And could you live, forever, without that something more? Keep in mind you may never find that something more because Type 2 people have a much tougher set of criteria to meet than Type 1 people.

But there you go, if you are Type 1 person you will likely be very happy with your girlfriend. If you are Type 2, then you probably need to move on or find a way to become more of a Type 1 person.
posted by whoaali at 3:08 PM on April 1, 2010 [14 favorites]


re: whatever whoaali said.

i should also add, this is probably the key difference between Thinking versus Feeling people (or as whoaali puts it, Type 1 versus Type 2 people), as per Myers-Briggs categorization.

Thinking people make their decisions based on logic: "I logically conclude that I am happy, therefore, I am happy."

Feeling people make their decisions based on feelings: "I feel that I am happy, therefore, I am happy."

You should decide what type of person you are.
posted by moiraine at 3:44 PM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


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