Q. Hi Meredith,
Before meeting my actual boyfriend, I fell in love with a guy I met on a very spiritual vacation. It was an important trip for my self-discovery, and the way I felt with him helped me get to a place where I was empowered and free. I thought it might have been the vacation context inflating his importance, so I went back to visit him. And there it was again, the sense of freedom and empowerment.
I’m not saying he gives me those things, but rather . . . it’s easy to feel those things when I’m with him. It’s not that I don’t feel those things with my actual boyfriend — I love him dearly — but it’s just different. Sometimes deep down I feel that what I should be feeling with the person next to me is what I feel with the other guy. It’s really difficult to figure out whether I’m idealizing this other person, conforming with my boyfriend . . . or neither. I don’t know where I stand.
A. If you knew for a fact that Spiritual Vacation Man was unavailable to you, would you still consider leaving your boyfriend? Because if you end your relationship with him, you will be single. There are no guarantees that this other man is willing to empower your freedom 24/7. It’s also very possible that he inspires all of these feelings because he’s not your boyfriend.
Another thing to consider as you evaluate your current relationship: Have you given your boyfriend the opportunity to be a different kind of partner? You say you went back to visit this other man to see if your feelings were genuine, but . . . that doesn’t seem like the real test. Maybe it’s time to step outside your daily life with your boyfriend, and see what happens when you bring him along on a bigger journey.
I’ll be honest . . . the word “conforming” doesn’t sound great, and leads me to believe that you might be happier on your own. Maybe it was autocorrect and you meant to type “comforting”; I don’t know. Regardless, please think about what that word means to you — and what other words you’d use to describe your boyfriend — as you consider your options.
Let go of this other “spiritual” man. Part of me senses he is your speed bump. Yes, he helped you get to a place of self-actualization. Now, YOU need to continue the journey on your own. If this means letting go of your boyfriend, so be it. MOUSTON1
You associate vacation guy with spirituality, freedom, and empowerment. Imagine if you’d still feel this way about him when one of you has the flu and the car breaks down and all the bills are due. Perhaps not. DORA79
“I fell in love with a guy I met on a very spiritual vacation” = lust. “It’s really difficult to figure out whether I’m idealizing this other person” = you are.NOMORESCREENNAMES
You realize the second visit was a vacation, too, right? CRUCIFIEDZEOFF
Talk to your boyfriend about feeling like you are in a rut. He may want a change, too. You can choose to grow together rather than growing apart by default. COMMENTOR2
boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.