What if I don't feel intensity in my relationship?
January 26, 2012 10:54 PM   Subscribe

Is it bad if I don't feel an intense/passionate kind of love in my relationship?

I've been with my boyfriend officially for 6 months but we dated and were exclusive 6 months prior to becoming official. So it's been almost a year since I've known him. When I first saw him, I had the biggest crush on him and it's never been like that with anyone else. As I got to know him I realize he is a great guy. He is so unselfish, he's protective of those he love, he makes me laugh, whenever I see him I smile so hard, he makes me feel secure, he's everything I want in a guy, he's adventurous and motivates me. Although it is everything I want, WHY...do I not feel that intensity for him as I did with my first relationship? It feels more lukewarm...warm, happy, comfortable. I do NOT want to break up with him and I'm afraid that because I do not feel intensely for him, we'll fail.

My first love was when I was 16. We dated for almost 6 years. My relationship with him was stressful but I loved him so much. I would have done anything and everything for him; maybe I was naive but I thought we'd be together forever. I thought about him constantly about what he was doing. I was insecure in our relationship, I feared he'd leave me. I would even cry really hard if I couldn't get a hold of him on the phone...cry as if it were the end of the world. I was crazy. He brought out insane emotions in me: when it was bad it was very bad...when it was good it was very good... but I was stressed/sad 80% of the time because we are very different people (incompatible)

So how is it that this relationship that was bad for me made me feel intensely for him...was it drama? My bf and I do not have drama or fights at all... I use to think I'd die of heart break if my ex left me... but I overcame that. I think I'd be fine if my bf left me but I don't want him to leave me. People tell me that this is a kind of "mature" love but some people tell me "If you don't feel that passion/fire run away now!" Is not feeling intensely for someone bad?? I did feel "intense" for my bf but that was during the infatuation phases. Any advice??
posted by Asian_Hunnie to Human Relations (27 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

Response by poster: I began reading articles about this type of love...and I'm beginning to think it's because things are too perfect. We don't argue, we don't yell, we don't get mad at each other about anything. He tries to please me in any way he can. When we have differences, we give each other the silent treatment for a few minutes and talk it through. If it were my other relationship I'd be yelling at him to try to understand me.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 11:07 PM on January 26, 2012

"My first love was... stressful but I loved him so much."

Hon, you are conflating the excitement of High Drama with the deep and abiding feelings of Romantic Love.

It's a common mistake. High Drama is engaging! It's exciting! It's addictive and obsessive! In short, it's why we human's love to watch soap operas on TV.

Think on this for a while. You'll see what I mean after a time.

We've all been there.
posted by jbenben at 11:19 PM on January 26, 2012 [19 favorites]

Response by poster: Yeah, I was wondering if I'm mistaking that for intensity or passion. I've never been in a secure feeling relationship...and I'm just wondering what other couples in GOOD relationships feel for their partner?

When we're apart, I don't pine to be with him. I don't feel the need to call him. If we're apart for a day or two of not talking or seeing each other then I'll miss him. Maybe we spend too much time together, I don'' know. We see each other almost every day and he texts me throughout the day. Maybe I'm looking for a challenge?

He treats me perfectly but on the one occasion he made me cry (I'm a sensitive person) by seeming annoyed by me for the first time ever and then was sorry about it. I kind of feel like these types of things remind me how much an affect someone has on me.

Is that odd?
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 11:29 PM on January 26, 2012

Response by poster: I feel like I'm an idiot for feeling this way, how can I not justify my own emotions? I see it alllllll the time with my female friends and sisters...how most of them see the "perfect good guy" as a friend and chase the men that have all the drama. *sigh* lol Again, I know I'd hate to be in a drama relationship because of how crappy it made me feel...my ex.

My sister mentioned maybe I'm not yet over my ex because how much it bothered me to see him engaged to some girl he knew for only 2 months. I don't want to be with him though but it makes me jealous a bit.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 11:32 PM on January 26, 2012

Your first love was based on hormones.

Your new love appears to be based on comfort, support, and compassion. These are the qualities needed to sustain a long-term relationship.
posted by mleigh at 11:36 PM on January 26, 2012 [23 favorites]

I once read something along the lines of "bad relationships are hard, good relationships are easy". There's a lot of truth in that. Certainly, every relationship requires work and maintenance to maintain and grow it. But it shouldn't take so much effort and anxiety and stress and conflict and sheer work just to keep it going and it sounds like your first relationship was this sort, whereas your current relationship is the easy sort. There can be a certain appeal to the heightened drama of the more difficult relationship but I think with time most people tend to appreciate the easy sorts of relationships more.

Another issue that I've seen is sometimes people who enter long-term relationships at a young age, and a six year relationship starting at 16 definitely qualifies, sometimes these people end up being a little less emotionally mature compared to those that dated more, spent more time on their own, figured out what kinds of things they want and don't want in a partner, and generally developed a more adult sense of self. Whereas sometimes the young-LTR folks are still kind of stuck where they were as teenagers. Not always, but sometimes this happens.

This new relationship is probably a good one to experience; even if it's not a forever relationship it will help you learn and grow and develop, and those are all positive things.
posted by 6550 at 11:40 PM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: But how do if I'm staying in the relationship for the wrong reasons, ya know? How do I know if I'm not just "settling"? I feel like I do have options out there but in my eyes I don't think any of them would be as good as him. I don't want to gamble away a good guy who cares about me, my feelings, and makes me laugh. We laugh a lot together and have fun. Just one kiss turns me on.

I'd like to hear everyone else's experience.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 11:49 PM on January 26, 2012

Response by poster: I guess I feel guilty that I don't long for him when we're apart and that I wouldn't move mountains for him like I would have for my ex. Honestly I haven't dated around much, guys asked me out but because of my interest in my boyfriend at the time I have met him I turned them down. Sometimes I wonder if I would've appreciated this more if I had dated the guys I didn't like lol
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 11:51 PM on January 26, 2012

Drat I knew I forgot something. Here's another one.

Look, I have all these links bookmarked because I've been there. If I could give advice to my past self, it would be: Let go of the drama. It's fun but it drove you crazy. It was unhealthy. What you have now is a good, healthy, stable, long-term thing. Welcome to grown-up relationships!

Now ask yourself this: You say there's no "fire", but what are you doing to re-kindle it? Relationships take work. Here's a little trick/tip from a fellow "receiver" (as opposed to our boyfriends being the "givers"): Do more nice things for him. Make it your goal everyday to do at least one thoughtful, caring thing for him. It's a little bit of the Benjamin Franklin effect: The more nice things you do for a person, the more you'll feel involved. Then maybe that spark you're looking for will start to show up again. Try it! It works for me.

Best of luck.

PS. Try not to thread sit. Go on and read the other threads I linked to. You'll come up with your own answer from there.
posted by pimli at 11:52 PM on January 26, 2012 [18 favorites]

I am in a really similar-sounding relationship; I worried at the beginning that I just wasn't attracted enough to him. He didn't really make me nervous or on edge and we were in constant contact and just got along very well. We've been dating for about 6 months now and on a recent visit (we're long-distance) we were out at a bar and I looked around and realized that I thought he was more attractive than any other guy in the place. After our first date I came home and told my roommate that he was cute, but I'd never pick him out from across the bar as a guy I thought was attractive.

We've been fighting a bit recently about unrelated stuff, but when we're not fighting, I feel like he is my best friend, he cares a lot about how I feel, we're good at listening to and supporting each other, and the relationship is far healthier than any I have been in the past where I often felt obsessive and up-and-down.

I think it's a good thing.
posted by queens86 at 11:54 PM on January 26, 2012

Might I suggest a wonderful book, much heralded. It helps people to understand what cognitive distortions they embed into relationships, and how to overcome them. This book is written by one of the preeminent psychiatrists of our time and follows proven principles discovered in labs. It's not a New Age solution, or "positive thinking" approach.

The book is for "troubled" relationships, and although it appears that you have very good relationship, you are troubled by that. I hope you find this book helpful.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:56 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That kind of intense, wild, dramatic, insecure, consuming relationship that makes you sick most of the time and thrills you like crazy just almost often enough is exactly like doing drugs. You can try it and decide it's not really how you want to live every day of your life and move on to someone much better. Or you can get addicted and wind up actually doing "anything and everything" to have that.

I think you're lucky you found out you're not the type to enjoy addiction and you are well out of it. Build some memories and something good in the world with your good guy. Love is about that and not so much about the overwhelming passion. If you're good together, you can trust each other and discover how to create some exciting times that the two of you both want. Excitement doesn't have to mean the risk of loss or danger. It can be creation and success.

Don't judge your relationship and yourself by the silly standards of a soap opera or romance novel. Anxiety, pain and drama are not indicators of love. Maybe the adult world is where you belong. It sounds to me like you have a good relationship.

One of the nicest things I ever heard anyone say about her husband was my nurse on the night shift when I was in the hospital. I asked her about her marriage and she said, "We were really poor when we got married we couldn't afford a trip or a reception. We came home and lit a candle on the table and toasted ourselves by splitting one beer. Now we have two children and we both work really hard to take care of them and to try to get ahead. We're beginning to succeed a little bit now and it's not as hard as it was. We're so lucky to have each other. Sometimes when we wake up in the morning we just look at each other and start laughing."

I felt like crying when she said that last line. I've had some dramatic love affairs, three marriages, and more excitement than is good for anyone but I never once had a partner that I woke up with and felt like laughing. If that's anything to go by, your present relationship sounds like it has a much better chance of getting there that the one before.
posted by Anitanola at 12:19 AM on January 27, 2012 [74 favorites]

The question is the problem. There is no 'bad'. Ok, I mean, yes abuse is bad, but the reason it's abuse is because one person has the power and the other doesn't, not because of actions like 'hitting' or 'yelling' necessarily. Ok so hitting isn't ideal, but imagine if two macho Viking men fell in love, and they loved beer and cussing and battle... there'd be some punching in that relationship, probably. They're macho! They're Vikings!

Ok, I'm really stretching it, but my point is that no one can tell you what your values are, period. It's funny (a little frustrating, but funny) just how much this (very common) question gets people to say 'oh yes, this is what mature healthy relationships are', as if that's not a value-judgment but rather a truth of relationships and existence. It's not. 'Healthy' is a million shades of grey, with the only constant being honesty, openness and self/other-acceptance. If you need drama in your life, you know it, and you get it. That is not most people, perhaps, but that is some people.

Honesty and openness doesn't have to be easy or fuzzy or sweet-- really, true intimacy is difficult and often frustrating. This is what I wish to communicate most of all-- that a truly intimate and 'easy' relationship will involve doubt and passion, because even when you feel safe, your very status as a human being, the fact that you're always growing and learning and changing-- if you're honest and open, that means your intimate relationships will always include doubt just as a devout, honest person's faith always includes doubt of God. You cannot love without pain because you cannot live without pain.

In other words, if your relationship is 'too easy', it's not that you're too close or too intimate, but that you're still-- still!-- not intimate enough. Try harder to understand, to be vulnerable, to be honest, to explore boundaries and fantasies, to challenge his opinions and your own, to embrace conflict or disagreement rather than paper it over, to celebrate diversity and acknowledge difference of all kinds. We all disagree on some major things even with those we're closest to. Almost always. Don't fight that-- that's good.

Anyway, one of my favorite quotes/poems about any true love:

A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.

-- W. H. Auden
posted by reenka at 12:23 AM on January 27, 2012 [21 favorites]

Mod note: Asian_Hunny, moderator here. You need to stop responding so much, and just consider the answers you are getting. Ask Metafilter is not for chatting back and forth about your situation. You post your question, and just allow people to answer. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:29 AM on January 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

"When we're apart, I don't pine to be with him. I don't feel the need to call him."

Just so we're clear, I had a tough tough life. Shitty upbringing, lots of fall-out. I am divorced, once.

Then.. Mr. Jbenben!

Famously here on the Askme's is the story about how my husband and I married after knowing each other for 2 months, dated for 2 weeks, now we are married for 3 years and have a 9 month old son.



I don't think about it, snoop, or ask the "usual" questions about his day because he's that trustworthy and solid. It's absolutely almost comical. Since we've been married, we've never spent a night apart, but honestly, we don't micromanage each other's lives.

Our marriage is Low Drama. We trust each other. I don't need to worry or even question what's going on with my husband. If it concerns us or him, he'll tell me. Otherwise, we just hang out and enjoy each other. Life is there to be LIVED.

It's so nice not to have to micromanage the person you rely on most because they are perfect.


It sounds like your guy is perfect. Roll with that!
posted by jbenben at 12:45 AM on January 27, 2012 [8 favorites]

Well, I think you have a choice to make. Do you want your life to be All About Him, or about him, you and everything else? If you want to focus your life on the emotions you feel about your lover, you're in the wrong relationship. If you want a companion to share life with, you're golden. Or could be, this one sounds like he might qualify.

After all of the high drama you spent six of your adolescent years experiencing, I think you may be a bit shellshocked. You've accustomed yourself to a relationship that runs on adrenaline - and everything is tame after that. It takes time, but you really can wean yourself off this drug, and once you have you will never want to look back. So, choice: break up and return to Being Consumed with generic ex replacement, or stay with this particular individual and grow together.

One last thing. Fun. Have fun. Highly underrated signifier of suitability. Who's fun to be with? Are you?
posted by likeso at 3:46 AM on January 27, 2012 [8 favorites]

Consider the "fire" metaphor: if you want to keep two people warm for the long run, you don't want a bright, all-consuming fire. You want a steady, manageable glow.

If you're used to the fiery relationships, you'll feel a little freaked out the first time you get to the steady glow, because (1) you've come to think of the fire as standard and you're not sure this stage is right, (2) you realize you're somewhere good and you're terrified of fucking it up.

When you start to feel uneasy or insecure about this, keep in mind that your boyfriend's being patient and allowing you wiggle room, and you can give the same to yourself. Feels pretty nice, right?
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:37 AM on January 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

You get to ser your own values, that's exactly right. So if you prefer 80% of the time feeling terrible, that's your right.

But its also your right to not feel bad 80% of the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:50 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

But how do if I'm staying in the relationship for the wrong reasons, ya know? How do I know if I'm not just "settling"?

This is not a good way to think about things! Relationships are not used cars!

If you're happy, count your blessings and kiss your partner. If you're not happy, work it out or move on. It ain't rocket science!
posted by wrok at 6:13 AM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you're more mature now. No problems with that.
posted by MangyCarface at 6:14 AM on January 27, 2012

My first love was when I was 16. We dated for almost 6 years. My relationship with him was stressful but I loved him so much. I would have done anything and everything for him; maybe I was naive but I thought we'd be together forever. I thought about him constantly about what he was doing. I was insecure in our relationship, I feared he'd leave me. I would even cry really hard if I couldn't get a hold of him on the phone...cry as if it were the end of the world. I was crazy.

I see what's going on here. Your first relationship was a nightmare of stress and anxiety, but because you were only 16 and had nothing else to compare it to, you used that to set the pattern for what a good relationship should be like. You're in a good relationship now. Everything that you describe as a problem, or as something that you feel guilty about is the absence of distress. That's a good thing - good relationships don't make you feel bad all the time. Believe me, you will be lucky if you never again have another relationship like the one you had at 16.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:39 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is it bad if I don't feel an intense/passionate kind of love in my relationship?

whenever I see him I smile so hard

It sounds like you do still have "a passionate kind of love".

Every good relationship you ever have will follow this trajectory, more or less. A lot of people ruin a lot of good things chasing after something that can only happen in the beginning of a relationship.
posted by spaltavian at 8:07 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay not every single time that happens but a good amount of times. Thank you everyone for your responses. I will take each of your advice to heart.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 10:17 AM on January 27, 2012

This quote really struck a chord with me when I was having similar worries about my relationship (I married the "boring" guy and God I love my life and our relationship!)

"I was so used to the agony and anxiety of unrequited love that I thought agony and anxiety were love. It wasn't enough for someone to make my pulse race, he had to make me sick. One boyfriend, Mr.My Filthy Home Is My Castle, actually gave me migraines; he was my hero. The pain of it all was also an antidote to the tedium, masking the most banal of connections with time-sucking, brain-freezing uncertainty. Why talk about politics or books or anything when you can talk about whether or not this is a relationship? Or why not just have sex." -Cynthia Kaplan

My experience has been abiding, awesome love that you can trust and grow in and with contains very little agony.
posted by Saminal at 4:01 PM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't think anyone can tell you if your love is love, or the right kind of love, or if it will last. Your current relationship sounds good (certainly better for you than your first), and just like the kind of thing that people seem to come to appreciate (or crave) after they've made their half a life's worth of mistakes. But other people's mistakes can't teach you other people's desires. You still need to decide for yourself whether what you have now is what you want now, and you are you the only one who can do so with any authority. Fortunately, you're young, right? Please just relax and take your time figuring it all out. When it comes to big commitments, make them when you can do so whole-heartedly. Do things you want to do, not that you want to want to do. And be good to your boyfriend and make sure he's good to you. I hope it works out - good luck.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:52 PM on January 28, 2012

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
Just wanted to finalize and say it grows over time...well at least for me. 4 years later, I say we are a lot stronger than when I posted this and they way I feel. It just took time, especially when I was recently out of a long relationship at the time. Hoping maybe someone that is in this situation will see my final comments and see it can be ok.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:53 AM on October 14, 2015

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