Help me not frack up the best thing that's happened to me, ever.
February 4, 2006 8:18 AM   Subscribe

RelationshipFilter: How much does chemistry matter over the long haul? Or, please don't tell me this is my last AskMe relationship question. (Very long, very self-absorbed more inside)

I met the most wonderful person in the world in June via online personals. In August, I flew out to meet him in Maui. It was perfect. I felt absolutely connected to him on a physical and emotional level; I was wildly sexually attracted to him; we talked about the future and I could completely see myself having a life with him, sharing children and making a home and being utterly completely happy--joyous--with it. We had sex the first night I was there and it was the best I've had; it only got better over the two weeks (until I got a UTI, but that's another story).

Then I flew back to Boston, he flew to Los Angeles, and then he got hit by a car. Had surgery, recovered sufficiently to get his doctor's blessing (or, at least, his "Meh, sure.") to fly out here, and did so in early December.

So why aren't we happy?

Neither of us are. We've been having long discussions about chemistry and lack thereof; we don't "smell good" to each other (not that we don't bathe. Just that he describes some relationships he's had where the woman just smelled absolutely comforting and desirable. I, apparently, don't smell like anything to him, and neither does he to me.) The physical attraction has fizzled and sputtered out.

Rationally, intellectually, this should be an amazing relationship. Our long-term goals and philosophies match phenomenally well, we want the same things out of life and have the same outlook and can both see it being a very *good* relationship. We like each other's company; we're happy together; we mesh well in conversation and habits and quirks and preferences. He's everything I want in a man; I'm everything he wants in a woman. But...but...

It's good. Not great, just good. I look at the future we had planned in New Zealand, with a super kitchen for me to cook and bake wonderful things, and a garden, and a passel of kids running around blowing things up, and him working on his AI research (which has been going fantastic since he moved in with me), me writing and homeschooling and working on my projects, and I see it working. I just don't *feel* it.

He's in pretty much the same boat. He's been in a lot more relationships than I have, and this is the one that rationally he can see working the best in the long run. But the chemistry just isn't there.

Complicating everything is the number of variables:
  • I'm working 9 to 6, doing most of the shopping and cooking (please, no diatribes about people carrying their weight; I volunteered and I love cooking--it's the one time a day when I'm content and focused), with little free time to myself to work on my writing (which isn't going anywhere anyway). This is opposed to me being on vacation in Maui, with nothing to worry about beyond which beach to go to today.
  • I'm working 9 to 6, in a periodically frustrating/boring/stressful/annoying job with little emotional reward besides the ability to pay rent and to have cash to spare. I don't want to change jobs at the moment, because we're still discussing the possibility of me moving to NZ with him in June after my lease is up on my apartment, and it just doesn't seem worth it to go through the hassle of a job search to change positions for four months. If I were sure I was going to stay in Boston, I'd probably be looking--I have at least two friends/ex-coworkers with other companies who'd hire me in an instant at an equivalent or higher salary.
  • He's still in pretty substantial pain from the accident and surgery; has an unhealed microfracture on the left posterior facet of c5 that his doctor in Boston has recommended a posterior fusion to fix. There's still a compression on the root of c6 that puts him in shoulder and arm pain. He doesn't want to have another surgery (and, from my understanding, the surgery and recovery from a posterior fusion are much, much nastier than from an anterior. The surgery would be to relieve symptoms only, in any case; he's no longer in danger of paralysis from the unstable fracture). This leaves me reluctant to touch/wrestle/play with him the way I normally would, and certainly plays into the issues with our sex life.
  • I have pretty severe issues with doctors that are fucking with my head with him. I don't have a better way to describe it than he's been contaminated; I keep having un-memories and mini-panic-attacks about everything that's happened. Not helping is that I feel enormously guilty about not going to visit when he was sick/recovering.
  • We both have standing issues with depression at a mild to moderate level--mine has been worse than his ever has, and I think we both are moderately depressed at this point. I'm not on meds anymore, and I don't want to be on them again. I am trying to exercise more regularly, which does substantially improve my mental state--but that involves getting up at 6.20a to do yoga before work, which means I'm exhausted by 10p, which means I see him for about four hours total a day--some of which includes cooking and eating and cleaning-up time. Which means there's no little chance to talk, or have sex, or cuddle, or whatever, before I'm dead sleepy and have to turn in.
  • Our schedules are pretty off-set. He's doing independent research and his body clock is set so he gets up around 10 and goes to sleep around 2. So I'm coming home at 6 in the middle of his "workday", and I always feel like I'm interrupting--I hate it when people dump stuff on me at 2p at work, and my schedule is forcing me into the equivalent with him.
  • I have and have had for the last several years an extremely depressed libido. I've been on a variety of pills over that time (currently on Seasonale) and suspect that they haven't been helping. I'm considering changing to a IUD to see if it improve the situation. But I'm very neurotic about getting pregnant, and so a bc method that's not almost 100% effective just isn't going to cut it psychologically with me.
  • We're living in Boston in the dead of this (admittedly strange) winter. No sun, hard to get outdoor exercise. The thing is--if I had never *felt* this working the way I did in Maui, I'd just chalk it up to a bad go and call it off. But I did. I saw this and I felt this and I wanted this and I saw it being perfect and exactly what I wanted. And now I don't. And I'm heartbroken. I don't know if it can get better, and if it's just all the other factors that are complicating the underlying issue of lack of chemistry--like this could work and we could be happy if I weren't stressed out and exhausted and depressed and he weren't stressed out and in pain and depressed. We've talked about keeping with the current plan--we move to NZ and have a house and garden and kids and writing and AI research, and we both just have sex with other people. We've talked about calling it off entirely. We just don't know what to do. So, Metafilter, what are your thoughts? What are your experiences? Have you been in a long-term relationship that worked despite mediocre or nonexistent "chemistry"? Does this fabled chemistry even exist (I've never felt anything like what he's talking about, so I don't know. I'm an intensely cerebral person--as is he--so it just doesn't jibe with what I know about how my relationships work)? Do we settle for a good-not-great relationship that lets us both be productive in other areas of our lives? Do all relationships eventually get to this lack-of-chemistry place and you just keep chugging on? Am I right in thinking--hoping--that the number of negative variables is outweighing the good *right now*, and this could change, and this could work? Or do I resign myself to passing on maybe the best thing that's happened to me, ever, and turn into a cat lady? If this is the worst that this relationship can get, it's not bad. It's just not good, and it's not great, and the lack of good-or-greatness is not making either of us happy. Our tagline right now is "I don't want to fuck this up if it could be great, but I don't want to prolong it if it's not going to be." What the hell do I do? What the hell would you do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Good god, you planned your life with him the first day you met and then couldn't adjust to reality. Sorry. If you're already fighting to make it work, then move on. Consider it great sex and a good story. I'd rather be alone if my mate doesn't make me want to sit for an hour every morning and watch her sleep, and "the smell" is a big part of that.
posted by kcm at 8:27 AM on February 4, 2006

although on reflection you seem to be the type to way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way overanalyze, overplan, overthink, and overeverything everything, so throw four sheets to the wind and uh.. just have a relationship. have him move to boston for a few months, since he sounds fairly independent and able to do so. if it doesn't work, fine, and if it does, you end up in NZ eventually.
posted by kcm at 8:46 AM on February 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

All things being equal, that is, a very very normal boy meets girl thing, the life expectancy of High Passion is about two years: click on this study
Yours, though,m seems much shorter. I agree with previouscomment. Time to move on. Seems BOTH of you feel discontent at this point and that is a solid sign it is not going to work out.
posted by Postroad at 8:46 AM on February 4, 2006

"Neither of us are. We've been having long discussions about chemistry and lack thereof; we don't 'smell good' to each other (not that we don't bathe. Just that he describes some relationships he's had where the woman just smelled absolutely comforting and desirable. I, apparently, don't smell like anything to him, and neither does he to me.) The physical attraction has fizzled and sputtered out."

Smell and Attraction

The Smell of Love

The Scent of Eros: Mysteries of Odor in Human Sexuality

(I'm something of a believer in the smell-test thing -- the right woman to me smells right --; I can also identify with your "contamination" concept: the concept of "clean" is very connected to the concepts "natural" and "desirable" and even the constellation of concepts "honest/trustworthy/genuine", in physical/metaphorical/smellable ways.)

(As a big fan of the new BSG, I love your use of "frack", Kara.)
posted by orthogonality at 8:54 AM on February 4, 2006 [3 favorites]

how soon after did you move in together?... and you're already leaving the country together?...

my suggestion:

get separate places to live in the same town and date. you're not obligated to live together just because you're involved. and most of the issues you have brought up are those that will occur with *anyone* you are seriously involved with (scheduling, ups and downs, physical/mental health issues, etc) my first reaction was that if you're schedules are not jibing and he is able to adjust his, working from home, then he should do so. Its not your fault that he is sleeping until ten and you come home in the middle of his workday, he is doing that. kick his lazy butt out of bed and have a cup of coffee with him before you go to work.

I would definitely not recommend moving to NZ in this state in the hopes that it will become fun and exciting as a result of a new place. other than taking it slower as a vague overarching recommendation, there's a million details that the two of you need to work out. but, yeah, slow it down and get to know each other. Any couple whose first date is a vacation in Maui is bound to have a let down when real life creeps back in.
posted by iurodivii at 8:54 AM on February 4, 2006

You have been putting the cart about 17 miles before the horse since the first day. No matter what you feel when you first meet someone, no matter how much your gut tells you that this is the person you're going to have kids with, you just can't start planning the rest of your life with someone on the first date. That never works. Trust me, I've been there.

although on reflection you seem to be the type to way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way overanalyze, overplan, overthink, and overeverything everything, so throw four sheets to the wind and uh.. just have a relationship.

This is the best advice you can get. Stop planning, analyzing, thinking, worrying, stressing, and hashing out the kids and the garden and the happily-ever-after, and spend some time really getting to know this guy. Have a relationship and stop living the next 40 years in your head every day.

Good luck.
posted by Meredith at 9:32 AM on February 4, 2006

The way I see it there are a couple of possibilities here:

1) The chemistry was of the "lust" kind, where you were on vacation in Maui, with sun and beach and ocean and nothing to do but laze around and have sex with this guy who was so much better than you'd thought he'd be. Who wouldn't think they were in love? Now that you've returned to normal life, and it's winter and grey and cold, the shine's worn off and you see things for what they really are. Mistaking infatuation for true love is easy to do. Are you trying to convince yourself that he's "the one" because it would be so convenient if he were?

2) You guys really are in love with each other, you just need to adapt the way you started to the way real life is. This time of year is hard on some people, especially those prone to depression. He has chronic physical pain that's bound to be affecting him in far more ways than even he realizes plus he's just moved. You are working your tail off at an unfulfilling job and must on some level feel like there is some level of unfairness to you going on here. There are a lot of stressors on this relationship right now, not the least of which is that it started off under pretty unrealistic circumstances. Maybe he really is "the one" and circumstances and habit are just ganging up on you.

For what it's worth, my relationship with my husband started in a similar fashion, and we spent a couple of years doing the long distance thing, which meant that all our time together was spent in some way "on vacation". After we got married and I'd moved a very long distance to be with him, there were some very dark days. But now, a few years later, our relationship is better than it's ever been, even in the first few months of full-on infatuation. I tell you this because in my experience, a good relationship can most definitely weather storms and come out the other side even better than it was before. I definitely agree with iurodivii's suggestion that he find his own place and you date. At very least you need to get out of this rut you're in where you barely see each other and don't do anything together - you should still be courting each other, even if you're living together, going straight from the beaches of Maui to the worst level of uncaring taking-for-granted grey-winter relationship boredom is going to doom you to failure regardless of what's "really" going on in your hearts.

I think you need to explore what you really feel about this (and not with your boyfriend, either with a sensible friend, or with a therapist), and make your decisions based on that. There are far worse reasons to stay with someone than compatibility, but for many people, compatibility without actual love just isn't enough for the long term. At very least, I think you need to forget about NZ for the next year or so, find a job you like, fix your life a bit so you're in a happier place, work on this relationship, and re-evaluate things when you're in a better place to do so rationally and fairly.
posted by biscotti at 9:36 AM on February 4, 2006

I don't have a better way to describe it than he's been contaminated

It's not going to work out, and no amount of narrative therapy will change that.
posted by meehawl at 9:42 AM on February 4, 2006

It sounds like you have basically built your life goals around another person, and in my experience that's never good.

I don't know for sure whether you should end this relationship or not, but I do know this: you MUST come up with a new set of life goals that aren't hinged on another person or a relationship.

It can be really hard to be alone, but nobody's ever died from not being in a relationship. What it comes down to is that you have to put yourself first (at least at this point in your life).

Also, he sounds like a total mooch.
posted by elisabeth r at 9:57 AM on February 4, 2006

First off, what Meredith and others have said is 100% true. You can't plan your life on the first date. EVER. You can't go from point A to Z by skipping everything in between. You can't live your life like it's a chess game for which you concoct an elaborate strategy that will pre-emptively take every twist and turn and challenge into account.

As for your particular question about chemisty: speaking purely from my experience, it exists. For me, it's a necessary precondition to consider having a long-term relationship with someone, but in and of itself it's no guarantee of a LTR. It's heady and wonderful (and mysterious) because it initiates a wonderful sense of interconnectedness and possibility -- but by itself it doesn't make all that possibility come into being. It can point the way to creating a bond between two people, but it is not itself a mature bond.

As for your broader situation: gosh, you must both be exhausted! Both of you have gone through an enormous amount of upheaval in such a short period of time -- it's no wonder that your shared sense of connection has gone on the fritz, in a way. As iurodivil says, "amy couple whose first date is a vacation in Maui is bound to have a letdown when real life creeps back in" -- that's absolutely true, especially now that your real life together started off with transcontinental relocation, a terrible accident, etc.

On a practical level, I'd say that you have to stop trying to plan the future -- and while it was exhilaratiing and intoxicaing to have done so when you first met, you need to see that as simply a shared fantasy that was part of the whole romance/seduction of Maui. Sure, you may indeed have a future together, but if so you can't create it by desperately trying to stick with the blueprint you came up with the first day you met, or clinging to the whole "he's the best thing that ever happened to me and if this doesn't work out I'll become the cat lady." Let it go. For your peace of mind and for his, let it go. (And I will say this definitively: he's NOT your only chance for happiness or a future. It may feel that way, and you may fear that you'll never find love without him, but that too is a fantasy that you have to let go of.)

You can only address and be in the present moment. If you can't base your life/lives on a fantasy you created in Maui, equally you cannot base your life/lives on this fantasy you are now weaving about New Zealand. You must stay present with your feelings and needs right now. That's going to be very hard, but it's essential. Making the decision to move to NZ with him would be sheer folly at this point -- you'll still just be chasing a dream of the perfect life together, only this time all the way to another hemisphere.

Things are rough right now between you guys for a reason (well, for many reasons, probably) -- maybe it's fallout from the accident, maybe it's the weird Boston winter, maybe it's depression, maybe it's that your chemistry burned itself out in Maui. You have to attend to all those issues before you can make a commitment to a shared future.
posted by scody at 10:04 AM on February 4, 2006 [2 favorites]

It's possible that you have an excruciatingly long list of desirable qualities in a mate that are almost impossible to match and this guy matches them, and you match his equally long list. If that is the case I'd hammer out a way to make this work, otherwise I really wouldn't.

I like iurodivii's suggestion about separate living places while you both work on depression issues however you see fit, and he gets used to not living at home and you both adjust to his medical situation. On the table for straightening out are

- schedules - can you find ones where you both feel okay with them, even if you have only small amounts of time together. differing schedules aren't a problem, one person feeling like they don't see the oother person enough can be.
- medical stuff - you need to find a way to not feel that he is contaminated, period. I don't know what that entails but it's clearly not healthy and might be counterproductive to his healing and getting the medical care that he may continue to need.
- New Zealand - I agree with others, it needs to be back burnered so give yourself a timeline, maybe two years or something. You can get a better paying job, he can heal from the accident, the two of you can figure out if this is the right way to go. Having pressure to figure it out real quickly is hard, and doing that when you're not feeling your best personally, much less weird within your relationship is a big no no.
- I know you like this guy a lot but "independent research" is a red flag to me, and without more information I have no idea what that means. Does he have a job? Is he on SSI? Is he employable? Are the two of you planning to split incomes/job responsibilities in the future? I think you taking on more of the work while he's healing is admirable but it could also set up bad patterns where it becomes expected that you do more of the work.

Chemistry is important, but there are things that can fuck with chemistry. Give yourself some time to try to tweak that stuff, and give it your best shot, otherwise there are many ways to keep great people in your life without them being your one-and-only-new-zealand-life-partner and you both may want to keep that in mind.
posted by jessamyn at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2006

Oh, and chiming back in quickly to second others' comments about you feeling he's been "contaminated" because of the accident/doctors/hospital: get help for that, pronto. This phobia is unhealthy both for you and for your relationship.
posted by scody at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2006

You need to relax and to stop thinking about this stuff -- "very self-absorbed" is exactly right -- we can read out the crises of your life through long Ask MetaFilter posts. Throw away the checklists ("He's everything I want in a man; I'm everything he wants in a woman." Bleh.) Live your life, don't plan it.

But this "contaminated" stuff and your phobia of everything to do with medicine is a problem you need to act on (not just think about). It's a problem with you, not necessarily with your relationship, though maybe the "contaminated" fear is why you don't quite hit it off with him as you calculated you would? In any case, fix it or you'll be stuck with it even if you two split up.
posted by pracowity at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think the problem here has a lot to do with the beginning of the relationship, in Maui, as others have suggested. When you're relieved of quotidian worries in a vacation setting, it becomes possible for attraction to blossom in ways that would never occur in your natural environment. Especially given that you both have had problems with depression, you may not have the emotional energy at the end of the day to cultivate anything like that magical relationship you had in Hawaii. On a wonderful vacation, a lot of the hard and ragged edges of daily life get smoothed away.

My thought is that, you both need to work on yourselves if the relationship is going to work. There seems to be a problem here of you expecting too much. Few if any people remain intoxicated by their significant others in the same way they were at the beginning---and whatever magic remains in later years is the result of maturity, hard work, shared (and cherished) history, and appreciating each other despite your imperfections.

I don't think you have a phobia about him being injured. I think you are fixated on the perfect beginning of your relationship, and your perfect image of him, and his injury literally shattered those illusions. Your statement that you did not visit him during his recovery is very chilling and telling to me---it suggests that you aren't so much in love with him, as you are in love with an idea of a perfect relationship. To not visit someone whom you claim to love, and whose body was shattered in an accident, suggests there's not much love there.

You must trudge through the hard time, let go of all the illusions, and embrace him and the relationship itself, in all their imperfections, if it is to last. If you can't let go of the illusions, and be less fixated on perfection, I am afraid the relationship has no future.
posted by jayder at 10:41 AM on February 4, 2006

One more thing: make an effort to let go of all this absolutism in your speaking/writing -- "the most wonderful person in the world," "it was perfect," "absolutely connected," "everything I want in a man/everything he wants in a woman," "the best thing that's ever happened to me," etc.

It is impossible for any person or any relaionship to live up to such standards (which are really just illusions) of pefection, and you are bound to feel anxiety, fear, paralysis, and failure when you (both as individuals and as a couple) are faced with the inevitable reality of your own perfectly human imperfections. You are imperfect; he is imperfect; and you are both loveable (whether or not you are in a relationship together) all the same.
posted by scody at 10:55 AM on February 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

There's nothing magical about New Zealand. If you're in love with someone you just want to be with them--the location is wayyyy secondary. I think NZ is a neat place, and I know some people who have relocated there from the US, and guess what? They're haven't changed a bit (except to complain about the cost of things).
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:17 AM on February 4, 2006

Your statement that you did not visit him during his recovery is very chilling and telling to me---it suggests that you aren't so much in love with him, as you are in love with an idea of a perfect relationship. To not visit someone whom you claim to love, and whose body was shattered in an accident, suggests there's not much love there.

Bullshit, and fuck you for assuming that. I wanted to go. I was ready to go. I was keeping a packed duffel bag in the car to be ready to drive to the airport and fly standby on a moment's notice. He told me, repeatedly and clearly, that he did not want me to come, he did not want me to take the money and time when he had other friends available to help him, he did not want to be a burden on me and that he would feel worse because of that feeling if I were there than if I were not there. I asked him every time I talked to him (every day) and that was always his answer. I listened to him and respected *his* decision, against my own better judgement, and maybe that was wrong, but it was in no way because I don't care about him or love him.

Re: The comments on mooching/"independent research"

He's not on any form of dole/government handouts. He's not borrowing money from me; he is contributing equally to rent/food/other expenses. He's worked on a series of well-paying projects, sold some clever ideas, saved wisely and spent carefully, and can support himself from those investments. Yes, he is actually doing research and producing. No, he is not a mooch.

Re: New Zealand.

The urgency is primarily due to the nature of his residency there; he has to spend two years in the country before he can apply for a returning visa, and if he's not in the country in May 2007 (and would, at this point, have to stay for another consecutive year beyond that point) he loses his residency and can't reapply.

Re: Perfect relationships.

I know my post made it sound like I have some serious idealistic hang-ups; truth is I don't. I spent three years trying to make a relationship with a serious, Monk-level obsessive-compulsive work; it didn't and I'm okay with that. I don't expect perfection, I know all relationships have rough patches that need to be worked through. I'm trying to figure out if this is a rough patch because we've got so much swinging against us, or if this is a sign that termination is inevitable.

Thanks for your responses so far. They've given me a lot to think about.
posted by fuzzbean at 11:37 AM on February 4, 2006

Also, if anyone wants to talk to me off-list, I can be reached at my username at gmail. Thanks.
posted by fuzzbean at 11:38 AM on February 4, 2006

I think the only thing I can add is just because this is "the best thing ever" doesn't mean you should stay together! This is only the "best thing ever" SO FAR. Each relationship I've had through the last few years has been a step - each getting better. Imagine that. And they started off pretty damn crappy.

It sounds to me like you are putting this on a pedestal, and it doesn't sound to me like this will last - I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

But that's okay... I think you should consider the concept of "What's Right About What's Wrong in Relationships" for future encounters. That is a chapter in a book written by Robert Augustus Masters. Click that link to read some thought-provoking excerpts.

One other thing - in your defense, I didn't think you were "way way way way way" overanalyzing, probably just analyzing too much, but that mental behavior is probably happening because you're trying to find some way to deal with all the uncomfortable feelings. I've been attacked for over analyzing before, and actually I was in a similar situation. It's like your mind is trying to find a peaceful place again. I think being analytical comes with being a writer :) -- It's how our minds work.
posted by mojabunni at 11:41 AM on February 4, 2006

Ok, as someone who has been in a relationship 12 years going on 13 years, some observations.

1: You are not going to be all passionate all the time in a LTR.
2: Between the drugs, pain, and exhaustion from recuperation, chronic pain is a passion-killer. I found it hard to feel much joy for anything flat on my back after kidney surgery.
3: Differing schedules are just something you have to deal with. (And I hear it gets worse with children.)
4: Exhaustion from work/housework is just something you have to deal with.

My feeling is that just about every relationship ends up in the "It's good. Not great, just good" zone on a regular basis. In fact, you might live there for years at a time. And there will probably be times in any long-term relationship where it's going to feel like a lot of work.

Personally, I think romantic love and chemistry are highly overrated. If you want to make this work, find some way to spend time together and get that oxytocin kick flowing through your system on a regular basis. It's also too early to make a final decision about packing your bags for New Zealand.

I'm trying to figure out if this is a rough patch because we've got so much swinging against us, or if this is a sign that termination is inevitable.

I think it depends primarily on what you two decide to do about these problems.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:53 AM on February 4, 2006

Call me crazy, but it isn't always sexy when someone offers up all the attributes you believe you want in a lifemate. Sometimes you realize you were wrong. Sometimes it lays a big long carpet out in front of you and the thought of walking its never-turning length oppresses you. It's hard to begin a relationship with an epiphanic vision of eternal perfection - literally, the only way to go is down. That "chemistry" you speak of comes, I think, more often from someone who surprises you with a set of attributes you might not have thought possible, or might not have thought compatible.

Ideally, we all hope to find the "package" and the "chemistry" in one person. Spend a little time thinking about meeting someone who isn't your "perfect fit" at all but who makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up and your knees weak for reasons you don't quite understand. If you could only have it one way or the other, which would be better? Which would last longer?

People have such crazily high romantic expectations these days. They'll piss away wonderful relationships because they don't wake up each morning with an apple up their ass and stars in their eyes, because they aren't dumstruck with an overpowering, multiorgasmic bliss every time the other person blinks. Don't get stuck in a navel-gazing rut of "is this celestial enough for me?" because nothing ever is once you start to think that way. Just decide if you want to be there or not. That's usually a dead-simple choice.
posted by scarabic at 12:03 PM on February 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

obligatory MeTa
posted by grouse at 12:09 PM on February 4, 2006

People have such crazily high romantic expectations these days. They'll piss away wonderful relationships because they don't wake up each morning with an apple up their ass and stars in their eyes, because they aren't dumstruck with an overpowering, multiorgasmic bliss every time the other person blinks.

Once you've woken up every morning with stars in your eyes, it can be hard to go back, sensible as it may be. The apple up my ass I can do without.
posted by grouse at 12:35 PM on February 4, 2006

Take care of the present, and the future will take care of itself.

You've received some excellent advice fuzzbean, and may I add one other piece to the pile. Your day job.

I suggest you DO followup with your friends and contacts about an opportunity with another company. All other things remaining equal, you are spending a significant amount of time in a place (9 to 6) where you are not happy.

If you change jobs, you will have made significant improvements to a major chunk of your daily life. Who knows, the enthusiasm of starting a new job in a new company with new coworkers may also spill over into new good energy in other areas of your life as well.

I also suggest that you not live with your SO anymore. You guys became too close too soon - moving in together so quickly before you knew one another very well (well enough, for example, to id the issue of smell) may be cause of your current friction.

The change to separate living arrangements will cause initial pain - but in the long run it will be a better situation for you both, no matter what happens to your relationship with him. I wish you all the best.
posted by seawallrunner at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2006

(Very long, very self-absorbed more inside)


See a therapist. Soon. You're not going to get anything accomplished whinging about this on MetaFilter.

And I would vehemently deny your claim that you're not overly idealistic. Go back and read what you wrote. It sounds like a childhood fairy tale re-told.

posted by ryanhealy at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2006

A lot of the stuff above is good advice. I think a general consensus with which I agree is that you have some unrealistic expectations about a relationship that is built on a fantastic vacation, and that your "contaminated" statement is put into such strong terms that it's hard to imagine that this isn't a major emotional maladjustment with you that is playing a very large role in what is happening. Whether you can recover from that or not I can't say. All in all, I think I tend to agree with the folks that suggest you should move on.

By the way, your response to jayder was overheated and you should apologize (because given what he knew, his comment was appropriate), but I don't think it was that bad of a mistake because given how you describe the situation really was with regard to you going out there, it's perfectly understandable that you'd be defensive and prickly about what amounts to his accusation of not really caring. I was once in a situation where the person I thought of as my partner didn't want me to be with her in an extreme situation (actually, it was when her brother was killed in the WTS collapse). And that does bring another point to mind.

A big part of why she didn't want me to be there with her for the funeral is because she had already begun to disengage from the relationship. It's possible, perhaps likely, that his adamant refusal for you to come when he was sick was motivated purely by altruistic reasons. But it's also possible that it was a sign from him indicating that he's less committed to your relationship than you (or even perhaps he) thought he was.

Finally, elizabeth r's comment rubs me slightly the wrong way because although it's obviously true to some extent, I think there's a good argument to be made that the 70s and 80s emphasis on independent self-actualization and condemnation of being relationship-centric may have been an over-correction. I don't feel confident or comfortable these days telling someone that they shouldn't focus so much on being in a relationship because what really matters is "them living for themselves". That's dogmatic and there's no reason it must be true. But it's almost certainly partly true that a whole bunch of people are pathologically living their lives through a relationship and so it's always possible that anyone who is relationship-centric may also be pathologically so. But maybe not. Relationships are important, it's okay and natural to want that to be even the most important and biggest part of your life. The test is pathology and whether you're happy and functional or not. As is the case with many things.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:56 PM on February 4, 2006

I wonder if every fairy tale romance isn't cursed by its too-perfect beginning? What do the princess and the prince do after she has rescued him from the dragon? All that "they lived happily ever after" stuff seems a bit suspicious--that's it? What did they do? Where are the details? How did they live happily ever after?

It is never going to be like Hawaii again for you two, not ever. Can you forgive yourself, and him, for that? Good luck, Fuzzbean.
posted by LarryC at 2:40 PM on February 4, 2006

It sounds like a childhood fairy tale re-told.

I don't have any real advice for you, but I have to point out that you are very very young to be planning out the hacienda in New Zealand with a guy you met six months ago. I guess NZ is too far to commute for a long distance relationship, but is there any other way to find a middle ground?
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:58 PM on February 4, 2006

What's wrong with taking it day by day? Try to think "Do I want to be in a relationship with this person today?" everyday for three weeks just to practice doing it, I think then you'll have a better idea about how to proceed.
posted by Packy_1962 at 3:13 PM on February 4, 2006

Yea, it's one thing to plan a future together, but if you're not happy in the day to day, what's the point?

And the smell thing isn't weird at all. My last boyfriend didn't smell good to me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:15 PM on February 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

I Like Packy's answer. I had been about to say, "Pay no attention (if you can) to the fact that you two were swept away at first. Given what you have now, is it worth continuing?"

It probably won't end up being what you dreamed of when you met, because you two were just dreaming, after all. It could end up as something very good and very real. Or, like many okay relationships, it might end up being so-so.

It's awfully hard to do, but can you believe that that Hawaii period was part of another life, and start over?
posted by wryly at 3:28 PM on February 4, 2006

* Maybe try NuvaRing for birth control. It's a lower dose than birth control pills because it's inserted inside you for most of your cycle. I would try something like that before something more invasive like an IUD.

* See an counselor/therapist. You need to work on the "contamination" issue and the depression by talking with someone trained to help you. You especially need the support and analysis with a professional when you're this overwhelmed. Winter's a bad time if your depression is affected by the seasonal change/lack of light. This is something you need to work on for yourself regardless of your relationship status.

* Get another job. You're not happy with the one you have. That stress is going to take away from working on the relationship. This leads to...

* This relationship doesn't sound settled enough yet to pull up and move to the other side of the world in June. You've had all of two weeks (vacation) and two months (living together all of a sudden with lots of stress) to work on it in person. It's not like you can't go later on if you decide you can't be away from him. You're looking at this as a potential lifetime relationship, so it's important to give it a solid grounding in reality. Vacation emotions/behavior don't consistently match up to the cold harsh light of everyday.

* The impression I get is that you're just so much on top of this relationship it hasn't had any room to breathe and unfold slowly. It didn't evolve: more like you just jumped right into the deep end. Now it's all weighed down with your/his stress, your/his investment in it, your/his issues, all your hopes and dreams for the rest of your life! That's too heavy. It's an emotional overload. If money's not a problem, have him get his own place in Boston until he leaves for NZ, and that gives you time to *date* each other in everyday normal (not exciting vacation) time, which phase of the process you seem to have skipped right over.

* A lack of chemistry or "not smelling right" isn't going to go away. Feels like to me that it will continue to be an issue, and it feels like it's enough of an issue for both of you to make you feel like you're "settling" for this relationship. Yes, the initial passion/spark/tingling afire feeling does mellow out over time. But I don't know that in this case it was totally present to begin with. You can try to back up and see if it recurs when you give the relationship some space - I think there's too much smothering any chance of a spark right now. Me, personally, I would not continue the relationship if it doesn't; but I am more emotional than intellectual in relationships, and I need to feel that emotional connection to be satisfied. Rationality might get me by, but it wouldn't fulfill me.

Good luck, whatever you decide.
posted by Melinika at 3:38 PM on February 4, 2006

Fuzzbean, in the realm of other things to ponder as you cogitate on this some more, ask yourself, "What would be good about things improving between you two?", "What would be bad about things improving between you two?", "What would be good about things deteriorating between you two?", "What would be bad about things deteriorating between you two?". .. and as you think about these things and figure out better where you are really at, what you are giving up by being there, what you are gaining by being there, what you will gain by making a change and what you will lose by making a change, it will become clearer to you what makes most sense for you to do.
posted by blueyellow at 6:36 PM on February 4, 2006

Please don't move to NZ before you have your shit together as a couple. We're really nice and speak English and stuff, but we're also a foreign country. You will have unexpected difficulties, little things will throw you right off, and you will have all sorts of issues to cope with from the practical (immigration, accomodation, employment) to the intangible (culture shock, homesickness, making new friends). You both need to be working well together before you load up on additional stress.

On the upside, my partner and I have a story that starts out like yours (met through online ad, hot monkey sex, swift cohabitation, followed by depression, disappearance of hot monkey sex, angst, breakup and getting back together) but we have now had two happy years together and look forward to many more. A realistic attitude coupled with a determination to solve problems is the key. Keep your fantasies, but remember heaven helps those who help themselves in relationships as in all other spheres in life.

If you're lucky, taz will see this thread and give you her completely contradictory (and incredibly romantic) story.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:19 PM on February 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

I would like to point out that I know the guy, and yes, he's capable of gainful employment, and he's also more than highly unlikely to ever be a mooch. Just to cover a few points brought up by well-meaning strangers earlier.
posted by digitalis at 10:33 PM on February 4, 2006

On the smell issue: there is research that suggests that hormonal birth control can influence both the way a woman smells and the way that men smell to her in terms of comfort and physical attractiveness. (I can only find a reference for the latter finding right now, but I'm pretty sure I remember that it works both ways.) If you're considering a change in your birth control anyway -- which I think sounds worthwhile for the reasons you cite -- you may find that the way you smell to one another will change as well.

You might find that comforting or not. It may make the smell question feel less important to you or more important; I don't know. But it seems like an interesting extra datum for you to consider.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:44 AM on February 5, 2006

Eh, you ought to try going back to maui or somewhere, see what happens.
posted by delmoi at 10:22 AM on February 5, 2006

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