Q: I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over three years. He’s lovely and we have a very similar outlook on life. His family is very supportive and treats me like family. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, but my problem is that I’m not sure if it’s enough. I came out a few years before I met him so he’s my first serious relationship since I’ve been a gay out man. I don’t know what an adult, open relationship is like and I’m wondering: is this it?
There are no fireworks and our sex life is okay but not wild. He’s a few years older than me and more comfortable with his life than I am. I don’t want to hurt him, but I’m really starting to struggle with knowing what to do. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted on paper, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing something. I feel so guilty and I don’t want to hurt my partner but I don’t know what to do.
dr West replies: Feeling guilty is not a healthy reason to stay in a relationship, and sooner or later your partner will realize that something is wrong.
I also think Hollywood, Pinterest and the media have distorted our idea of what a relationship should be like. Fireworks in relationships are like real fireworks – exciting but not made to last. The lust phase gives way to a deeper form of intimacy where emotional connections are cemented and love blossoms. Sex life is usually wild and wonderful for the first few days and then often calms down to be less frequent. Sex and intimacy take work, which is why sex may not be as common in a long-term relationship, but it can be more emotionally nurturing. Sex doesn’t have to be wild to be satisfying, but when you’re not happy, it needs to be addressed.
Maybe this person is a lovable person and you’re on similar wavelengths, but a romantic spark is missing. Could you imagine just being friends instead? Often people think that a relationship breakup must involve some kind of hurt or betrayal, but people can grow apart or realize they want different things. It’s not necessarily that he’s wrong for you, but maybe it’s the wrong timing. What does your gut feeling tell you about the idea of breaking up? Staying in a relationship that isn’t working for you for fear of upsetting your partner will never lead to happiness; Instead, it leads to frustration and resentment. Is there a possibility for you to get back together in the future when it is the right time for you? It’s unrealistic to expect him to wait for you to decide you’re ready, so that decision carries the risk of a permanent breakup.
You’ve only been out a few years, so you’re still discovering who you are and what your sexuality is like for you. Your partner is older and has more experience and more time to find themselves, so it’s only natural that they’d be in a different place than you. You may feel like you need to explore more and project your frustrations onto the relationship. You may think that this person is nice, but not right for you right now. Think about what you want now and in the future. Are you looking for a different relationship with someone you have a bigger spark with, or are you looking for casual fun as a single?
Working on this will allow you to communicate what you want and avoid situations where you are in different places with another person. If you feel like you’re missing out on something that isn’t in the relationship, it’s okay to explore that feeling — but you need to let your partner know as it’s unfair to leave the relationship as it is. He may be interested in planning a future with you, so it’s important to talk to him about how you’re feeling. It’s okay to want to be single or to date someone else; we just have to be open about it and minimize the damage that our partners suffer when we’re not honest. Your needs and desires are also important and just as important as your partner’s.
The majority of your relationship has also taken place during the pandemic, which has disrupted many relationship schedules. Normal socialization or trips away, which are part of an exciting relationship phase, were excluded. Missing that sense of freedom and exploration? Could you imagine going on vacation with your partner and seeing if you can connect alone in a new place? Does the idea of being alone for two weeks on vacation excite you, or does it evoke a sense of anxiety? If it’s a negative feeling, that’s your instinct telling you that something isn’t quite right and that something needs to be done to address the situation.
It’s not selfish to end a relationship if you’re not happy in it. It may upset the other person in the short term, but in the long run they will be grateful for the chance to find someone who is genuinely interested in being with them and in the same place as them.
It’s better to end on a note of caring than resentment. It can be nerve wracking to speak up but it will help you grow as a person as we need to learn how to deal with conflict and difficult moments to build relationships. The skills and experience you gain as you approach this problem will help you grow whether you stay in this relationship or not.
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dr West is a sex educator and host of the Glow West podcast, which focuses on sex. Send your questions to email@example.com. dr West regrets that she cannot answer questions privately
https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/asking-for-a-friend-i-love-my-boyfriend-but-i-cant-help-feeling-im-missing-out-i-keep-thinking-is-this-it-41837391.html Asking for a Friend: “I love my boyfriend, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing out. I keep thinking, is that it?’