Q. I am in my early 20s and have been dating a man who’s around my age for about two years. We’ve both met each other’s families, we say we love each other, we’ve lived together for months upon end, and are unremarkably happy and in love. Communication is excellent and we rarely fight or disagree on things. Everything in my relationship is more than I could ask for. Even when we live together for weeks upon end, we get along better than a dream.
Recently, however, I have been dealing with a great bit of boredom. We were living together for three to four months in Boston prior to the pandemic, but once it started, he moved back home with his family 40 minutes away from me, and visits every weekend. Thus, we haven’t gone out to eat, gone on weekend trips, explored much, or done many adventures. We try to make the best of it and have date night with takeout, go walking, etc., but I feel that it is not “stimulating” enough. When he’s home and not with me, we text and try to FaceTime every night, but I often don’t find much enjoyment in it, and sometimes would rather just go straight to sleep or wait hours to respond to a text. When he’s here on the weekends, everything is comfortable, happy, and things feel a bit more normal, like they were before. When he’s gone, I often don’t feel I have a boyfriend. But our plans are to move in together permanently this fall and potentially “show the rings” in the near future, so I am hoping this will help solve the feeling I am having, as we’ll be together all the time.
Is the feeling I’m having due to the pandemic and separation? Or maybe I am getting bored of the relationship in general? Do I need constant attention? Am I just lost and spoiled, not recognizing how great I might have it in this relationship? I am also fearful of the tendency I’ve been having to reach out to other people, old friends, etc., some of whom I probably shouldn’t talk to out of respect for my partner.
A. “Is the feeling I’m having due to the pandemic and separation?”
Listen, it’s been a year. Many of us are sick of every part of our routines. It’s a pretty good sign you still want to see your boyfriend at all.
My advice is to ask for more days of his week and to stop the obligatory nightly FaceTime calls. You’re best when you’re together. Maybe he can add one day. If not, give yourself some hours to miss him. I don’t know what your daily responsibilities involve, but if screen time and remote communication are part of it, a FaceTime that should be fun can feel like an obligatory task. It’s another moment you have to be on — and on a device. Maybe it’d be better to watch the same show and text throughout. Or leave each other voice memos. Or skip two days of communication so you have a ton to talk about when you do meet up.
Also, maybe stop thinking about “showing the rings.” There is no official timeline here. You’re both going to have to adjust to an open world and what it feels like to live together when you can see your greater community. Please do not add “we better get engaged” to your to-do list. Give yourself time to be in the moment.
As for reaching out to “other people,” it could be a boredom thing. A pandemic thing. See the old flowchart Love Letters made about not calling exes. Call friends, family, or anyone you’ve been neglecting. Again, we’re at about 12 months of some level of isolation. It sounds like you’re coping with restlessness. The most important thing is that when your partner is in your presence, you’re happy he’s there. Find out if that continues in a more normal world.
EVERYONE’s lives are boring/borderline “Groundhog Day”-ish. I would skip the daily check-ins, though. Even in normal times, people’s lives aren’t THAT interesting that you need to chat daily.
“When he’s gone, I often don’t feel I have a boyfriend.” That seems a little odd. My [now]-husband and I were long-distance and I always felt like I had a boyfriend, even when I had to go to stuff alone. I wasn’t reaching anyone else, I was counting the days until we could be together. I also don’t understand why you are waiting to make some announcement about an engagement in the fall. If you are with the person you want to marry, why not just do it all now? Really though, I think you already probably know the answer to your question. But here is my assessment in case you don’t. You feel the need to see what else is out there and aren’t ready to move in or be engaged.”
Yes, it is the plaque of tedium caused by living in a bubble during the pandemic. Why did he move home? That is the interesting question...
My money’s on the normal pandemic restlessness we all feel. You say you have great communication; why not talk to your boyfriend and figure out if you can make more time for each other (um, what’s stopping you from making a drive to him)? Leave the engagement talk off the table for now until this wild world subsides into some sort of status quo for the both of you. And be sure to live a life of your own outside of the relationship in the meantime!
Did this massive boredom arrive around the same time your boyfriend left? That suggests you’ve shifted your entire life around your boyfriend, which is never a good thing. What did you do before your boyfriend came into your life? Take up some hobbies, and live a life independent.
^This times 100.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.