How to keep some mystery and spark in a LTR ?
June 1, 2015 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I've been dating my boyfriend for five months and we are head over heels for each other. For a myriad of reasons I want to spend less time with him.

I spend all of my free time with him. Like - every day off I drive to his cabin and spend days on end living with him. We have a blast together but I feel like it would do both of us some good to take some time apart. Lately I've felt annoyed at him for no tangible reason and then realize - he's the only person I've talked to in 48 hours.

I also like having some air of mystery about me, and I feel a little too available in terms of sex - like, it would be good for that part of our relationship if we both need to wait a little bit sometimes, rather than sex on tap constantly.

The "problem" is that he wants me there all the time. Plus, our relationship is maturing and it seems unnatural to all of a sudden pull back the amount of time we spend together. We are planning on living together in the fall.

I'm worried that I'm confusing boredom with a happy and stable relationship. I don't want to rock the boat for the sake of rocking it, but I do like the idea of making my body and presence a little scarcer and more valuable. But then I feel like I'm playing games.

How do I set healthy boundaries on my time with my SO ?
posted by pintapicasso to Human Relations (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, you probably should spend less time together (so you don't tear each other's hair out) but it doesn't have anything to do with mystery and your body, especially if you're going to be living together soon. Living together = absolutely no mystery whatsoever. So if you're uncomfortable with that, you might want to rethink living together. But honestly, getting past the romance / "scarcity" period is common in every LTR, and it will happen eventually, unless you're just not ready to settle down. I wouldn't move in with anyone until we've been together a couple years, usually (there are always exceptions). That way you get your cake for awhile and then eventually eat it.
posted by easter queen at 8:03 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

You do just that: you set healthy boundaries.

It sounds like you don't have much of a social life beyond your current relationship.
Do you hang with friends?
Do you go out with the girls/boys?
Do you have hobbies or groups or other things that occupy your time in a positive manner?

Encourage him to do the same.

You are going to need to have a talk with him, because once you ring certain bells or set certain patterns, it's going to be difficult to unring them. Make sure you make this about you, and your need and not about him being clingy or needy or anything. Talk about it like adults, and come to a conclusion that can benefit both of you and both of you can live with.

Consider it training wheels for when you move in together.

Even if you do move in together in the fall, you need to have separate lives.
Separate interests.
Separate hobbies.
Separate stuff you do by yourself.

Start now, because if you try this when you're living together, it's going to be twice as difficult.
If he reacts poorly, then that's another separate question and dilemma, I'm thinking.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:03 AM on June 1, 2015 [12 favorites]

You don't need to rock the boat for the sake of rocking the boat; rock the boat to address your needs. It's ok to need time to yourself and time with other people.
posted by aniola at 8:10 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll be the one to say it: Five months is not a long term relationship.

'I've felt annoyed at him for no tangible reason and then realize - he's the only person I've talked to in 48 hours.'
The tangible reason is that he's the ONLY person you've talked to in 48 hours.
And when you live together, there will be NO 'air of mystery' at all, ever again.

'I want to spend less time with him.'

You're answering your own question..
posted by mdrew at 8:23 AM on June 1, 2015 [15 favorites]

Yeah instead of taking time away from him, just give more of it to other things, it doesn't have to be a weird negative thing. Reconnect with your friends, family and hobbies. It's totally natural to have dropped them a bit while you're in the omg omg omg phase, but now is the perfect time to pick them back up again!
posted by greenish at 8:37 AM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Seconding mdrew that 5 months is not long term. I'd rethink the plan to move in together this fall.

In the meantime:

Try to establish a social life that doesn't involve your boyfriend. Organise regular outings with friends that aren't him.

Try to spend time doing activities that will let you spend time away from him without him taking it personally. I'd recommend signing up for a class/activity that has a regular schedule that you have to commit to, so that he can't try to convince you to skip classes to hang out with him. It could be anything - yoga, dance, cooking, a language class, joining a soccer team. Is there an activity that you used to do that you want to take up again? Summer is coming and that is the perfect excuse for getting out and doing your own thing.

Then you casually drop into conversation something about how the weather's getting so nice, you realised that you actually really miss [sport that you used to play], so you're going to sign up for some activities over Summer. Or how you haven't seen your [college friends] for ages, so you're going to try to catch up with them more regularly.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 8:48 AM on June 1, 2015

I've been in this relationship. It was fantastic and lasted 4 years, then I broke it off about a month before he was going to propose. That space is important. When you live with someone, your interests start to homogenize and all the things you like doing that he doesn't like, you will probably stop doing them. If you have to schedule alone time, do it. If you find yourself missing him while you are alone, relish it (he probably feels the same) and then go out and have some fun. If you take the time and develop the skill of knowing when you need and asking for space, you will avoid a lot of problems at the 1 - 5 year mark.
posted by becomingly at 8:49 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

You might be feeling annoyed because you're also feeling pressed about the impending move together--at some level, you may be telling yourself this is too much too soon.

In the short term, tell him "hey, I think I'm going to do my own thing on Thursday" or "I told Mary I'd grab a drink with her tonight" (do keep up plans with friends, for real). Just say it, straight-up, that you want to do your own thing. If he reacts poorly, pay attention. If he jumps at the chance to hang out with his own friends or do his own solitary thing, that's a great sign.

Moving in together is really stressful in the best of circumstances, and you don't want the timing to work out so that the honeymoon sheen is wearing off just as you're taking out his garbage for the 3rd week in a row (best case) or discovering a massive untreated mental illness or addiction (not that I know from experience! ha ha ha ha!). Maybe put moving in together on the shelf for a minute and just enjoy the status quo.
posted by witchen at 8:54 AM on June 1, 2015

I think one of two things is probably going on here.

The first possibility is that spending a lot of time at someone else's place (and very little at your own) can get really tiring, and 5 months of commuting to his place and living out of your sleepover bag might be catching up to you. So you should talk to him and tell him that you need next weekend (for example) to get some stuff taken care of, like laundry, etc, and so you'd prefer to stay home and not come up to his cabin this time. And you should maybe try and figure out if it's possible for him to come stay with you sometimes, instead of you always going to him, just so it's not always your time being eaten up by the commute to him and you have time to do laundry after dinner sometimes, etc.

The second possibility is that the 5-6 month mark is often the time when the initial rush of the relationship has worn off. You start to see if this person is really who you thought they were, and things about them (or about your relationship) that were maybe bugging you before that you were ignoring and shoving under the rug become a lot harder to ignore. At that point you have to figure out if the issues are things you guys can work on, or if they mean you're really just incompatible in a long-term way. It's possible that the reason you're starting to long for more time by yourself is because this guy isn't the right guy for you, and your gut is starting to recognize that.
posted by colfax at 9:55 AM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Be up front. Say you've been spending a lot of time and you need recharge time. Mystery will come naturally from that. Also, easy on texting some.

Also you like this guy, so don't worry about all of the DTMFA talk you get on every AskMe thread. Trust where your gut says you are. From your question, it sounds like you are enjoying things.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:10 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

How isolated is this cabin? I think there's a difference between spending all your time with your partner because you live with them and spending all your time with them because you're both in some isolated location far away from not only your space, but society in general. Does your boyfriend ever come to stay with you on his off-days?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:53 PM on June 1, 2015

I was thinking the same as moonlight on vermont. I'm picturing some remote cabin in the woods, far from civilization. I would not move in with any person I'd only known 6 months into a situation like that, but hopefully, we're wrong. But if it's not isolated at the cabin, why do you go the entire time there without speaking to any other person? You could go out with friends together (as well as going out with friends on your own) and it might assuage your feelings of isolation somewhat too.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:14 PM on June 1, 2015

« Older Where to get non-standard size photos printed?   |   Sadly, their names are not their passports Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.