Q. My boyfriend and I have been together for over four years. We met in college and now live together. Like any long-term couple, we have been through ups and downs but have managed to work through it all. We share similar life values, money styles, parenting beliefs, and career ambitions. We are on the same page about having a family, how we want to raise our kids, and how we see our future going.
He is a wonderful person — funny and smart, hard-working, stable, kind, and totally committed to me. Whenever we talk about the future, he always says that he doesn’t care when we get married, but he wants to spend the rest of his life with me, so he’s ready whenever I am.
And that’s the problem. When I think about marrying him, I have to wonder if he’s really the right person. Maybe I’m expecting a fairy tale, but I just feel like something is missing. We don’t really have a spark anymore, and the passion from our relationship has definitely dwindled. We have sex, but it feels like I’m having sex with a close friend, not the man of my dreams. When I think about raising kids with him or buying a house with him, I know he would be the most wonderful partner. But when I think about passion and romance and sex, I come up empty.
I tell myself that real love is built on mutual respect and willingness to work things out, that sex comes and goes — and isn’t a man who thinks I’m beautiful and wonderful and wants to have a life with me more important than bed-rockingness? But still, there’s a voice in the back of my head that says, “This is it?”
I think about leaving, but the idea of someone else being with him and having to start over alone always stops me. Leaving him would mean completely changing my life — giving up my home and my life partner.
So do I break things off now because I don’t feel the spark? Or am I just waiting for a Disney princess ending that doesn’t exist? I’m afraid that I’m never going to meet someone who I respect like my boyfriend and who treats me so well, but I also want a life that’s filled with passion and someone who knocks my socks off.
A. This hurts to write, but you have to let him go. You found a husband long before you were ready to have one. You’re already wondering who else might knock your socks off. This isn’t an I-fear-the-grass-is-greener question; this is about you being bored of your grass altogether.
If I told you that a socks-rocking guy was already waiting in the wings, you’d bolt, right? You can’t start a marriage if that’s how you feel.
You mention the fear of being alone. You mention the fear of someone else snagging your wonderful guy. But you seem less concerned about having to go through new experiences without him by your side.
After four years of dating, some people are begging for a ring. You’re looking for a way to avoid one.
You said it best: “I don’t feel the spark.” That’s your answer. After four years of dating the perfect guy, that’s where you are.
I don’t see why everyone has to have a “go crazy” part of their life. This woman said that they’ve talked about marrying, having children, that they are of similar mindsets. OK. Fine she said that she’s not sure that there’s this big spark but that they’re still being romantic. That’s something that may come and go, and, yes, you have to put actual work into it to maintain a relationship or marriage.
Do you love him? Do you enjoy just being together? Do you look forward to talking to him at the end of your day? Do you miss him if he travels? If you do, those factors plus your general compatibility have all the makings of a relationship that will stand the test of time. If not, then you’re not in love. Be fair to him, and you. Discuss it like an adult and move on.
Tough situation, but I agree with Meredith — let him go. You deserve to be happy. Your boyfriend deserves to have someone feel about him the way he feels about you. Be kind and end things.
Pathetic. As a guy, when I read this, it literally makes me ill. Some people are never happy, no matter how hard you try.
I am going through the exact same thing right now. It isn’t easy. There’s a lot of confusion and mixed feelings involved. Perhaps seeing a therapist could help you understand why it is you’re feeling this way.
I could have written this three years ago, and two years ago, and one year ago. But about eight months ago I realized that I wasn’t happy where I was, and I wasn’t willing to settle for no spark.
My cardinal rule for marriage: You should marry someone with whom spending one lifetime does not seem enough. I don’t think you meet that criteria.
My ex-girlfriend broke up with me two weeks ago for the exact same reasons. It’s selfish on your part if you do not work on the spark. The spark leaves after a long-term relationship and especially after you’ve lived together and your lives become routine. You need to work at it.
Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@
globe.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.