Just all around confused about my relationship
February 20, 2012 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Really, totally confused about my relationship. Suddenly, I've lost all desire to see her, and I don't know why. I honestly don't. I would really appreciate any insight. I'm just lost.

I'm having an extremely difficult time articulating my question, let alone even a brief synopsis of my relationship. So please forgive me for going all-out bullet points here:

-We've been together for two years. The first 1.5 years were awesome. The last .5 have been alright. Namely, the past .25 have been terrible.

-She's great. She's beautiful, loving, she's funny, she understands me well. I love her so much. She hasn't changed a bit over the course of our relationship, and she's like a best bud to me.

-For some reason, I lost all desire to be with her at around the beginning of last December. I really don't know why. One day, she came to visit for the weekend, and all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with an intense aversion to spend time together. Like, within minutes of her arrival. I wanted to be alone. I felt trapped, stuck, and I didn't find her sexually appealing at all. Kissing her, hugging her, our bodies felt magnetically repellent.

-As time has gone on, new feelings have sprung up: a sense of "guilt" for "leading her on"; a feeling of alienation around her family, who I normally got along with famously; an increased desire to be "my own person," to be psychologically "free," to not have to think of anyone but myself; a loss of desire to do most of the things we liked to do together; a feeling of non-interest in all of the things we are mutually interested in; an awkwardness around our mutual friends.

-The odd thing is, I vividly remember looking forward to seeing her just a few days prior to that fateful visit. I really, really missed her. I was really, really excited to spend time together. Hell, I even planned a number of things for us to do, I wanted it to be fun and special. That's how utterly foreign and unexpected my feelings of non-attraction were to me. And that's why in the previous bullet point I put all of those words in scare quotes. All of these feelings have taken me completely by surprise. I don't understand where they are coming from or why.

-Despite feeling trapped and stuck, she's actually very easy going and never tries to control me. We're both largely independent of each other, and don't mind going for long periods of time without our seeing or talking to one other. It's been a very relaxed and comfortable relationship. As I mentioned before, she's like my best bud. We don't get jealous or insecure or controlling or needy. We just chill and have fun when we have the time and opportunity to be together.

-But ever since that one weekend, I have either dreaded spending time together, or felt unmotivated and dispassionate altogether about seeing her. I don't really find her attractive anymore, although I still know in an objective sense that she is physically beautiful. When we kiss, I feel like I am kissing out of friendship and compassion, rather than passion and sexual hunger. As if I'm kissing a family member. I have a very hard time finding things to talk about. This is mostly because I am just not interested in talking anymore.

-She is still deeply in love with me.

-I have some loose theory as to what's happened. We're both recent college graduates. I feel like our relationship always emphasized leisure, humor and fun. When we were in school, the time we spent chilling and relaxing always provided great counterbalance to the stress and rigor of hardcore studying and homework. Now that school's over, the challenge and stress factor in my life has been reduced to almost nil. Which means that the leisure and fun in our relationship have lost some of its substance, taking on the aspect of inertia. But I usually like inertia. I don't get bored easily. I like being comfortable. So I'm skeptical of this line of argument, though I'm open to it.

-I really don't know what else to say to explain my feelings. I feel like I am forcing myself to come up with false reasons for why the relationship has gone sour. It's much easier for me to give reasons for why I should stay together with her, and to list all the attributes I admire and love in her. We've never had a fight, we don't get on each other's nerves. We're open and honest and comfortable around each other. We had very common interests and desires, up until they all inexplicably went up in smoke last December. But the feelings are no longer there.

-I find myself increasingly attracted to random other women.

-I've never really understood the concept that relationships take "hard work." I've always felt that if people are right for each other, there isn't a self-conscious effort to keep the love and attraction alive. But she is really my best friend. She's the person I care most about in my life. Sometimes, I feel her unhappiness more sharply than my own. I trust no one more than her. We've had such a good run for almost the entirety of our being together, I feel like I should make *some* sort of effort to keep this thing alive, to keep each other in our life. But I don't know what to do. And I don't know if my feelings of sudden non-attraction could be attributed to factors outside our relationship.

-I'm leaning very close to breaking up, very soon. But a big part of me is terrified that I'm throwing it all away prematurely.

-Which brings me here: have you guys ever been blind-sighted by your own feelings of non-attraction? What do you think it told you about your relationship? What did you do about it? Any experiences, insights, and such would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
posted by Sine_Agraphia to Human Relations (44 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like the beginning of depression which would coincide with losing the structure and purpose of school. How are you doing these days?
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:02 PM on February 20, 2012 [25 favorites]

Best answer: Aw, man, this sounds an awful like the dissolution of my first long-term relationship, right around the same age. She was my best bud, for sure, and we lived together and were great roommates, but I just... stopped feeling it. And started feeling it for other people in a way I hadn't before.

We broke up, in not the best possible way, but without a huge massive amount of drama, and it was really the best choice. We mutually agreed to avoid the hell out of one another for six months, and then slowly resumed contact. This was ten years ago. We're still best buds. But neither one of us, I think, has the least desire for any romance between us anymore. That was the part of our relationship that worked the least well, and dropping it only helped us.

Now, this may not be your situation. You may have other things going on. How's the rest of your life? Still enjoying your hobbies? Feeling pretty good? If not - if everything, not just your relationship, has gone sort of flat, you may want to hold off major life decisions while you sort out your headspace. But if everything else is cruising along and you're generally feeling happy and fulfilled, then... yeah, it may be time to think about ending the romantic part of your relationship.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:03 PM on February 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

Relationships really do take work, even when you find someone who feels like a long-lost soulmate or whatever.

I would encourage you to introspect a bit more about what else was going on in your life and in your head when the yum suddenly turned to yuk. It's unusual for someone to suddenly do a 180 like that.

I think you should break up with this lady. She deserves better than some guy who is grossed out about her and the relationship for reasons he doesn't understand.

Best of luck in trying to sort out the reasons behind your sudden change of heart. I can understand why you feel "blindsided" for sure, but I encourage you to work on figuring it out for your own peace of mind and for the sake of future relationships.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:12 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

It really sucks when you find out that your partner has been brooding over if and how to break up with you for many months. Do it now, for the sake of both of you.
posted by TheRedArmy at 1:26 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with the young-rope-rider that it sounds like it could be depression or some similar issue. When I'm depressed, it sometimes feels like all my senses and emotions are dulled, and I tend to reject/resent human companionship. What you're describing seems so sudden, and the fact that you feel alienated by her family for no reason raises red flags.

On the other hand, it also sounds like the relationship has run its course and you've fallen out of love. Maybe she just represents a different time in your life, and you've moved on/grown apart in some indefinable way.

The bottom line is that she needs to know you feel this way about her as soon as humanly possible. You're describing a pretty intense rejection of her very person that she can probably sense, but doesn't understand. I think it's normal to be confused about your feelings and try to figure them out, but it's not very fair to take her along with you without a heads-up that things have drastically changed on your end. You have to let her decide how she wants to deal with that.
posted by sundaydriver at 1:28 PM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Nthing that this sounds like depression, although that is not mutually exclusive with needing to break up with your girlfriend (both could be true).
posted by downing street memo at 1:30 PM on February 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

Relationships in your younger years will often correspond directly to very specific life stages: "my highschool boyfriend" and "my college girlfriend" being the biggest and most obvious examples. Life and circumstances change and relationships change accordingly.

You don't need a specific reason or a catastrophic event to fall out of love and end a relationship; some relationships just run their course. I think your relationship with your college girlfriend has run its course.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

We're both recent college graduates.

I imagine that would be playing a large role here. The end of the phase opens the possibility for changes all throughout out lives so it stands to reason that you are questioning your relationship and its validity as well.

As others have said, you don't have to hate one another to break up - all relationships have a time limit in some form - and once you realize that a relationship has run its course it's a really good idea to move on before it gets to the hateful stage.

I really suggest that you move on from her because it would be awful for her to find out that you've lost all motivation and passion for her if you continue any further - she needs to be able to find a relationship that is built on truth and passion as much as you do.
posted by mleigh at 1:36 PM on February 20, 2012

Do you feel a similar need to break loose from other people close to you, like friends, relatives, coworkers? Or are there things in your life that you've gradually lost a passion for, like hobbies or sports? Best case, you just needed some time to recharge the batteries as it were, although it has been more than a couple months now...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:36 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you feel that it is difficult to untangle how you really "feel" towards her and how you feel about not feeling things towards her? Perhaps her, the person, has become the tangible target of the anxiety? You're obviously very anxious about this loss of attraction. Is it really simple loss of attraction that you feel guilty about or have been so confused by your sudden lack of feeling that it has become an ordeal unto itself? I'm having a hard time articulating this but I'll use ED as an analogy: a man can't maintain an erection and then the worries that it may happen again so much that sex is no longer just sex, it starts to be associating with failure, shame and anxiety and he is doubly unable to perform. Possible?

Sometimes the flame of passion just dies out. Two years into a relationship is not an unusual place for it to die. I don't personally believe this, but there is some literature out there that people in relationships usually go through an actual hormonal shift right around 18 months. This moves passionate love to compassionate love. You're young; if you want passionate love that's nothing to be ashamed of. You can have it. If compassionate love is unappealing to you in a relationship now you should end things with your girlfriend. I only hesitate because I detect so much anxiety in your question. It's hard to tell if it's coming from the guilt around your lack of attraction, your feeling ending things is not compellingly justifiable, or if it's life stress/depression creeping in and glomming onto these confusing feelings.
posted by Katine at 1:38 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tell her. As soon as you can. Be honest about what you are feeling, and be as gentle as your honesty will allow.
You need time to figure your life out, she needs the courtesy of not being lied to. I can't fathom a situation in which "toughing it out" will be fair or useful for either of you.
Relationships do take hard work, but forcing yourself to still be in love with someone is not the kind of work you should be doing.
Fallling out of love does not make you a bad person, but pretending to still be in love crosses the line. As (almost) always is the case, honesty is the best policy here.
Good luck! :)
posted by Dorinda at 1:41 PM on February 20, 2012

Best answer: Allow 2 weeks to pass. If those positive feelings don't return, then you need to tell her.

As for an explanation: don't read too much into the why - this has affected men since the dawn of time. You are not falling into depression - your internal genetics & makeup are motivating you to explore the world of women beyond your current girlfriend. For many men, the "turn off" can be quick and sudden, just as the ability to love many women at the same time, for a long time.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:46 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do think that if you realize that this may be about your life in general (whether or not you're clinically depressed) then yes, you should talk to her, but it will probably work better for everybody if you approach it as "hey, I realized I've been kind of off, emotionally, for the last month or two, and I'm going to work on that. Please tell me if I'm doing things that are making you unhappy." rather than "hey, so I've been depressed and it's making me think you're gross and icky and maybe we should break up right now."
posted by restless_nomad at 1:48 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Actually, there is some work showing the the bubbly hormone hey bay-be attraction typically ends at around the two-year period. However, I don't really understand how science types are measuring attraction so I haven't ready closely and can't pull up the key cites.

That said- you are certainly allowed to break up at any time for any reason, you need to tell the gf that you are in a weird place/not sure what's next/she is not imaging that you are acting differently, and you should indeed consider that you are depressed or in flux and not entirely yourself.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:51 PM on February 20, 2012

Response by poster: Just for the record, namely in response to Dorinda, mleigh and Sundaydriver:

She immediately detected that something was off in me, since day one. At the time, the feelings were so new and so intense that I really didn't know how to articulate them to myself, let alone to her. I also figured that, considering how great our relationship had been, and with the huge roles we play in each other's life, I owed both of us the courtesy to test the waters and see if perhaps things might improve with time. I know honesty is the best policy--especially at this point--but I'm a proponent of not rocking the boat unless it's really necessary. Like I said, we're both fairly independent and real easy going, and tend to handle our problems on our own. From all I could tell, at the time, this was primarily my problem, and I just needed my time to understand it better, and to fix it. Only recently have I accepted the possibility that breaking might be the solution.

But yeah, she's not unaware that my feelings have changed. We've talked about it a number of times, but the conversations haven't helped elucidate anything. I don't think she knows that I've been considering the possibility of breaking up. I think she's convinced it's possibly a matter of depression, or some other external, and fixable, dilemma in my life.
posted by Sine_Agraphia at 1:58 PM on February 20, 2012

I'm going to take a different tack and advise you not to make any sudden decisions. This could be a hormonal issue with your histocompatibility. Has your girlfriend started the Pill recently? If so, her hormonal profile could have changed to one you find less pheromonally attractive. If that's not the case, I would still say wait it out. It could be depression or even something hormonal with you. You could end up making a decision you ultimately regret. It's only been three months since you started feeling this way, and you have nearly two years of not feeling that way. It seems like such a sudden change, and that is highly unusual. I'm not sure I'd write it off as the normal waning of limerence. Explore all the physical reasons this might be happening first. If it were me, I would give it at least another three months.
posted by xenophile at 2:07 PM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

The entire OP could have been written almost word-for-word by my most recent ex when we were 1.5 years in (not that I knew the extent of the issues at the time). Unfortunately we stayed together for another 2 years. Do not do that.

If you value the sanity of either of you, find some objective measure to see whether things improve at all (and soon), rather than hoping feelings will magically change. This doesn't exclude checking yourself out for depression/other potential causes, and knowing the cause is useful, but it doesn't really help if the situation never improves. It's easy to tell yourself you can wait it out, but if you don't give yourself a deadline up front, you can keep waiting for years in a miserable situation.
posted by randomnity at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2012

Best answer: It sounds like the two of you are in a long distance relationship. Did you have plans to be in the same city before your feelings for her evaporated? Did you make concrete plans for your future together? 1.5 years is not too long to make those decisions. Most of the young marrieds I know got married after a year or two of courtship.

If not, it sounds like the relationship wasn't and isn't compelling enough to continue. That's not to say that it isn't a very special relationship or worth attempting to save. It's just that it's probably not the relationship you want to be in for the rest of your life, despite the fact that it is a very good one.

I had a very similar emotional experience to yours. After graduating from college, I moved away for graduate school without concrete plans for our future. We just assumed that we would always be together, because we worked so well and were so in love with each other. We grew apart so slowly and stealthily that it was a huge shock when he came to visit and I realized I felt no passion for him anymore. I felt repulsed, as you did. Up until then I'd been a very steady person, but the immense freedom that I experienced after graduating changed me in ways that I could only barely articulate to myself. I also felt a great deal of pressure to define myself and find my calling. When I asked myself those hard questions, I realized that I didn't necessarily want to be with him for the rest of my life. The guilt I felt at that was the source of repulsion I felt towards being with and around him. It wasn't that he was any less attractive; it was that I knew it was over and didn't want to face it. We limped along for a few months after that realization, but I fell in love with someone else and broke us up for good. It was messy and we don't speak anymore. I regret handling things that way; I wish I'd been self-aware enough and strong enough to face facts.

I'm sorry. It's a tough thing to go through. You're by no means alone, though; many of my friends have gone through the same thing. I haven't seen any long distance relationships survive this sudden lack of feeling. It's been six years since that relationship ended, and I don't regret it.
posted by millions of peaches at 2:20 PM on February 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think this is one that can't be done over askme. I'll throw out a completely different possibility: you repeated a couple of times how easy-going and non-committal the both of you are. What if you're protesting too much, and what if you're pre-emptively withdrawing from her because you can't deal with your own feelings of dependence on her? What if you're the one who's deeply in love with her, and you're worried it isn't reciprocated? I put it to you that this is one of the most common reasons for dudes wanting to suddenly bail on great relationships, and I don't believe it can be ruled out based on what you've divulged here.
posted by facetious at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

the same thing happened to my (ex) boyfriend once. I think young hearts are fickle.
posted by costanza at 2:42 PM on February 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This is odd but I see a few possible explanations:

1) You said you're both very independent and easy-going. Independence is good but it's all a matter of degree. I think some degree of dependency is also necessary in a relationship in order to form a close bond. Because your feelings went cold so fast I'm guessing your attachment wasn't that deep to begin with, and maybe this is why. If you are very independent in general it may also be difficult for you to form deep attachments to people. Do you generally find this to be the case? Also, if your relationship was mostly easy-going it may not have been very deep. I think a relationship needs both light and heavy moments in order to stick.

2) Another possibility is that the part of you that is trying to move forward with your life after college is rejecting everything associated with your past, including her. This would be unfortunate since it has nothing to do with her, but it sometimes happens and there isn't much that can be done.

I agree with others that you should break up with her now and save her more pain. It's been three months and your feelings haven't changed.
posted by timsneezed at 2:47 PM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think young hearts are fickle.

Yes. This kind of sudden, inexplicable falling out of love is one of the saddest things that can happen in a relationship. It's why I think more people should hold off on serious relationships until they're in their mid twenties.
posted by timsneezed at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd guess that when you were quite young, you experienced abrupt separation, perhaps more than once, from someone very important to you, probably your mother, went through hell as a result, and then learned to protect yourself by cutting off all feeling and all sources of feeling for the absent person-- you developed a kind of emotional circuit-breaker, as it were.

It's an admirable protective strategy, but it wasn't voluntary in your case-- I'm not sure it ever is or can be-- and will tend to ruin any relationship that triggers it, just as it's destroying your love affair.

I think it could have been triggered for you and your girlfriend simply by the separation that took place after college, even though that may have been mutually agreed upon and perhaps inevitable.

In technical terms, you have an attachment disorder, specifically, I'd say, inhibited reactive attachment disorder:
Inhibited symptoms of reactive attachment disorder. The child is extremely withdrawn, emotionally detached, and resistant to comforting. The child is aware of what’s going on around him or her—hypervigilant even—but doesn’t react or respond. He or she may push others away, ignore them, or even act out in aggression when others try to get close.
Compare this to your description of how you feel about your girlfriend, particularly this paragraph:
-But ever since that one weekend, I have either dreaded spending time together, or felt unmotivated and dispassionate altogether about seeing her. I don't really find her attractive anymore, although I still know in an objective sense that she is physically beautiful. When we kiss, I feel like I am kissing out of friendship and compassion, rather than passion and sexual hunger. As if I'm kissing a family member. I have a very hard time finding things to talk about. This is mostly because I am just not interested in talking anymore.
Lots of therapists specialize in this these days, and with your insight and ability to articulate, I imagine you'd do extremely well with a good therapist.
posted by jamjam at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've felt that before, and I'm sure my wife has felt that way toward me many times over the years. Being in a life-long relationship is about behaving lovingly even when you don't feel the love, accepting that our feelings play tricks on us, put us in jeopardy, determining to behave with constant love and affection for the rest of your life, not allowing feelings to determine whether or not you will stay.

There are many advantages to committing to a life-long relationship, but it isn't for everyone.
posted by jwhite1979 at 2:52 PM on February 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

accepting that our feelings play tricks on us

Yes! Sometimes I wonder in situations like this how much our feelings for another person are a matter of luck. For example maybe the OP was in a weird mood when his girlfriend came to visit that time, which caused him to feel detached. But what might have been a passing mood was solidified in his brain by mulling over it, feeling guilty, wringing his hands, retracing the same neural pathways until he couldn't get unstuck and it was a permanent change in his feelings. Had he been in a better mood that day when he visited maybe none of this would have happened at all. Feelings are weird.
posted by timsneezed at 2:57 PM on February 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

Considering your update, you should probably just let go of the relationship. Especially if she's holding on because things or you might go back to normal, maybe with her support. I would do the same in her shoes (to a point). If you've already talked about all this it's not going to be as much of a shock, and it's likely crossed her mind as well.

Nthing one of the worst things about getting dumped is wondering how long it was in the works. If that's where your heart is, do it kindly as soon as you are able.
posted by sundaydriver at 2:59 PM on February 20, 2012

Best answer: We're both largely independent of each other, and don't mind going for long periods of time without our seeing or talking to one other.

I think it's really impossible for most people to keep a close relationship in good shape while this is the mindset and behavior. You have to be together physically and/or emotionally and communicate intimately or else the whole thing will fizzle. After the infatuation dies, there is nothing left.

Also, I don't think this sounds like the typical "settling into deeper companionship after early-stage infatuation". It's more than that. Really, it's over, your mind and body say so.

Something for you to consider: was she *really* in your life because you didn't want to be single during college and/or she was the best you felt you could get at the time? Maybe you *never* liked her quite as much as you thought, and if school hadn't been a factor she wouldn't ever have been your gf. Also, maybe you like the idea of a SO as a convenience, rather than a partner, and this is your way of reinforcing it. Not sure. Attachment issues? Only you can tell.

And, hell, maybe your subconscious just mulled it over and pulled the plug. It happens.
posted by devymetal at 3:00 PM on February 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

Considering your updates, I really think you owe it to both of you to end the relationship as quickly and kindly as possible. Then--and this is important--she deserves whatever space and time she needs to recover from the suckerpunch of your sudden breakup and move on to a new normal without you. If you care for her, please give her that space. It sounds like your own feelings are pretty mixed-up right now, and involving her at all while you sort through them might make this ending even more confusing and painful for her. If you need to end it, do, but then make the kindest, most decisive exit possible and leave her alone. Sometimes these things happen, and you need to honor your own feelings here if it's time to end it, but don't drag it on for her if you know she is still in love with you.
posted by anonnymoose at 3:08 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

For me this was just post college blues and wondering what made a "good" or "complete" life. Ending the relationship before we got married we both agree years later was our greatest mistake.

For her she didn't know if she could be "alone" or if she needed to. For me, I was finally not the awkward, shy guy I'd been through high school and college and ladies like me. We were both so dumb.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 3:23 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It concerns me that you never had a problem not being in contact for long periods of time, even before your feelings changed
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:32 PM on February 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Eh. It could be depression. An attachment disorder seems like a stretch. It could also be garden variety ambivalence. On the surface it seems like a fickle heart, but isn't quite the same thing - ambivalence runs deeper. What you're ambivalent about is up to you to figure out, but start there.
posted by space_cookie at 4:03 PM on February 20, 2012

I think the hardest thing I see here is that you guys are in a long distance relationship and you're expressing feelings of boredom or feelings of being in a relationship with a needy SO. But you guys aren't seeing each other every day and it doesn't appear that your girlfriend is any way needy or overbearing. Sometimes, people can grow apart. Maybe you've changed over the last year and half. Heck, maybe she's changed...even though you say she hasn't. And of course, there's always the possibility that you're depressed as others have said. But at the end of the day, you may just be experiencing a loss of attraction to your girlfriend and it may never come back. While I think the end result here could be the end of your relationship, I'm gonna go against what some others have said here....I don't think you should break up with her right away. Give it another 2 months. Actively try focusing on simply having fun with your girlfriend. Try to get back to what first made her attractive to you. Enjoy the times that you don't spend together...and then enjoy the times you do spend together. Don't pressure yourself. I don't think you'd be a dick if you broke up 2 months from now. By giving it another 2 months you're showing respect to what appears to be a pretty dam good relationship and at least giving it a shot to get back to where things were...or at least get better. I'll go further to say that in 50 years from now, all the physical attraction in the world isn't going to be what keeps you together with your wife. Being best buds...that's what keeps people together. Looks fade...personalities rarely change.
posted by ljs30 at 4:10 PM on February 20, 2012

Aside from the parts where you're in a long distance relationship and both just graduated, this sounds like my most recent ex could have written this.

That guy STILL doesn't know what he wants. He doesn't want to be with me, but doesn't like the idea of not having me in his life, but isn't capable of actually being a good friend to me right now, and I'm still in love with him but I'm so terribly angry at the bullshit he's put me through over the past several months... so we're just smearing the blood around, and hurting each other copiously in the process.

Don't be like us. If you can't see yourself regaining those loving feelings for her, and FAST, break up right now. And then go no contact for AT LEAST A YEAR. Under no circumstances should you try to be friends until a significant amount of time has passed, so that you both have a chance to heal and move on.

I hope things end up better for you than they have for me... I wish you both the best of luck.
posted by palomar at 4:21 PM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Things cannot -- and should not -- always be so chill. Not having any fights isn't a sign of things going well; it means you haven't achieved meaningful intimacy or taken emotional risks.

Maybe one or both of you held back for a good reason. But be watchful of this tendency in future relationships.

Nobody can tell from reading your post that you have attachment disorder. IANAD but attachment disorder is a specific condition caused by childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. You are obviously not feeling attached to your girlfriend right now but that is well within the bounds of emotional health. In fact, growing out of someone (or out of a limited relationship) is a sign that you are growing emotionally.

Above all, trust yourself. I think your soul is trying to get an important message through here.
posted by gentian at 4:31 PM on February 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: That happened to me in my first serious relationship. After about 18 months together, I went overseas for two months, and when I came back, the attraction was totally gone. Even though I had been missing him right up until I stepped off the plane, in person was different. Partly I think I noticed the annoying things about him more after a period of absence, and partly I had got a bit more used to being on my own, and his presence felt a bit more invasive than it used to. I just wanted to be alone. And I was, happily, for a year or so after that, once I broke up with him. Looking back, we were totally wrong for each other, so it was the right decision.

I think you should use your heart and your brain here. Your heart is telling you to leave, and you might need to follow that no matter what. You can't force feelings to exist that aren't there anymore. But if your objective thoughts about the relationship also say "leave", then you can at least be confident and comfortable with your decision.
posted by lollusc at 5:15 PM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Hi, as a therapist, I would say nothing in your post made me think of attachment disorder, and certainly no permutation of reactive attachment disorder. People don't seem to know what that is, but it's certainly not what you describe. It's a very severe childhood condition that's considered a precursor to psychopathy. Please disregard that post.
posted by namesarehard at 5:51 PM on February 20, 2012 [10 favorites]

Lets go with a theory...

Part of you wants to break up. Obvious, right?

Another big part of you doesn't want to acknowledge *why* you want to break up, possibly because it makes you feel guilty or ashamed.
The worst deception is self-deception.

You can, of course, just go with the first impulse. That's ok.

You may not want to do the following, but if you do...
If you want to explore why you want to break up, try playing a 'What if?' game with yourself.
Come up with all the possible reasons, even though you *know* they aren't reasons, that you might want to break up. Come up with lame sounding 'excuses'. Pretend you're your own best friend, and come up with a bunch of crap armchair psychologist reasons of why 'they' would think that your relationship wouldn't work, or why you might break up. Even if they sound stupid. Especially if they sound stupid! They keep the juices flowing.
I'd expect you to come up with at least 20 lame reasons. Even if it's just a wisp of a thought, right it down.

"She doesn't like peanut butter, and I just can't spend the rest of my life like that..."
"She squeezes toothpaste from the end, I squeeze from the middle. Basic incompatibility!"
"Whitney Houston died, and I realised the falseness of 'I will always love you'"
"'The One' will make my life all better, like winning the lotto, and when she got here, I realised that she can't make my life all better...
/"and that hurt so much that I'm rejecting her, because I feel horrible about my life"
/" therefore she can't be "The One"

Be silly, because it's going to hurt. For each one answer that feels really horrible or painful to you, come up with a few variations, until you're get an answer that makes you feel like you want to cry. For each statement about her "I just don't feel attracted to her", try turning each of them around, as detailed here:

You may not even want to try this until after you break up. You might feel unwilling, because part of you knows, and doesn't want to know. After you have had your no-fault breakup, you may become more willing to acknowledge it then. Many people look back on relationships, and go, oh god, I can't believe how incompatible we were! It happens all the time.
The advantage in digging it all up now, is to ascertain if it really is something external to her, or even internal to you, so you don't sabotage an actual functional relationship.
This also happens all the time.

Best wishes, and whatever you do, try and act with compassion. To yourself, and to her.
posted by Elysum at 7:20 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are freaking out. S'okay, this isn't abnormal. But you should maybe disclose this so that your SO is aware that you're freaking out a bit.
posted by desuetude at 11:45 PM on February 20, 2012

One comment: people do fall out of love, but it's more gradual. They don't usually fall out of a 2-year love over one weekend. So I would suspect something is going on for you that perhaps you're not aware of. Do you have any inkling of what that might be?
posted by feets at 1:06 AM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: What sticks out for me is that the last terrible few months were preceded by a few 'alright' months. In other words, it sounds like this relationship has been fading for you for some time, longer than since December. I am curious about those earlier months as I think that's the key to what's going on. To me it kind of reads like you were denying it leading up to December, playing up in your mind how great it was going to be to spend time with her, and dismissing your fears. The fateful weekend was set up as a subconscious test of your feelings in this relationship, and reality exploded in your face and showed you that the things you feared were true: that you seem to have fallen out of love with her. Now you can't deny it any longer.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:55 AM on February 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

why I think more people should hold off on serious relationships until they're in their mid twenties.

I don;t think this is necessarily helpful advice. If I hadn't learned the things in my early twenties about relationships, I wouldn't have learned what 'relationships take work' really means - that maintaining a bond with someone requires just that - maintenance - but it does NOT mean that it should feel like constant hard work. And like many posters above, I stuck with someone for longer than I should because of the anxieties described by the OP. It's a sad lesson, but it has to be learned, and it's not any easier if you learn it later.
posted by mippy at 4:14 AM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have "some loose theory as to what's happened" as well.

"We're both recent college graduates."

You have a disorder called Imyoungandwanttodateotherpeopleitis. Break up with her and move on: no harm done.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:25 AM on February 21, 2012

Like ljs30 said, I would give it some time and ride it out for a while. It could be depression (or just plain stress- as you *are* both recent college grads and facing the working world in all its wonder), or it could be something else, but you won't know for sure unless you give it a little more time.

The thing about relationships is that it's not all "trumpets are fireworks" all the time. Every relationship in human history goes through its peaks and pits. If you make it through the pits, your relationship will be stronger. It sounds to me like the two of you are a lovely match, in spite of recent difficulties. After having been around the block a few times, I can say that I've absolutely felt what you're experiencing right now. If you're absolutely miserable, then yes, you need to break things off, but if things are otherwise going okay and it's possible this might resolve itself, I'd give it the opportunity to let that happen. I'm not saying to force yourself to feel something you don't, just let any feelings happen organically. If you're convinced that it's not going the way it should, then it's time for a good, long talk with her. If she's the great person you've described, she will be more than willing to hear you out on all your thoughts, good and bad.

Another thing: for all of us humans, our twenties are a ridiculously difficult time for relationships. They just are. Just keep that in mind as you're going through this.
posted by chatelaine at 10:16 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I know this is late coming, but I want to thank all of you so much for the thoughtful and constructive responses you've given. I'm going to continue rereading them, and meditate on all of that you guys have said. This girl is one of the most important people in my life right now, and I do want to be absolutely sure where I stand before I make a clear decision for how to proceed.

Thank you, again. This site and this community are incredible.
posted by Sine_Agraphia at 12:20 AM on February 26, 2012

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