Q: Hi Meredith,
My boyfriend Tom and I are in our early 30s. We have known each other for a decade, have been together for a few years, and live together. We met through friends.
From the first moment Tom and I met, we always had a strong attraction to each other, and there were several times when we almost got together, but the timing was never right. One or both of us was always involved with someone else. We would see each other at our friends' dinner parties and on group vacations, we'd flirt and banter, and then we'd go home alone or with our respective significant others. This (admittedly) caused some friction for both of us with our respective exes, but for years and years, nothing ever happened between us. It took us a long time to get together.
Why the letter? Well, I don't know what I expected after all that drama and pent-up attraction. There were a few fireworks at first, but after a couple of months, they quickly burned out, and what I ended up with was a pretty easy, reasonably happy, very comfortable, mutually supportive relationship with a great friend. That is all fine and dandy, but over the course of the past year or so, I have started to feel some disappointment. I realize how ungrateful that sounds ... and I feel insanely guilty about that. I do love Tom and am happy with him, for the most part. But we are probably intimate once a week and it's a pretty routine experience. We kiss, and it is a friendly, affectionate hello or goodnight -- but nothing reminiscent of us passionately making out when we first got together. I feel like we have already fallen into the pattern of an old married couple and it has only been a few years of dating.
I know I could be reasonably happy with Tom for a long time in our predictable, comfortable, somewhat celibate life together. I guess when our relationship was still hypothetical, I just always expected something … more? More fire, more heat, more something. I don't know. He says that he loves me more than anything and that he doesn't know what the problem is with our "lack of passion." How do you infuse the fire back into a relationship after it has burned out?
Maybe the problem is me, and my expectations. Have I seen too many romantic comedies? Am I expecting something that just doesn't happen in real life? Do I just need to get over myself and be happy with my comfortable, predictable relationship?
– What Happened After Harry Met Sally, New England
A: You know, the sex scene in "When Harry Met Sally" isn't very inspiring. It's really about two people falling into each other's arms. It's not "Last Tango in Paris."
The good news is, based on what you've told us, Tom's bored, too. That means he'll want to work with you to make this better.
The sex thing seems to be the big problem, so I'd start with that. Can you talk to him about what you need? (Be specific because spicy talk can lead to spice.) Can you set aside time for more vacations? (Visiting a new, romantic place can help move spicy things along.)
I can't say for sure whether your problem is you or your relationship, but I do know that doubts are doubts, no matter what. All relationships go through lulls, but you're telling us that the fireworks and euphoria burned out after just a few months. You've been with this guy for years. That's more than a lull.
Try to work on the spice, but if it feels weird and forced, you have your answer. Most couples lose the fireworks, but they tend to fall into a routine that they love. You don't love your routine.
Your dramatic drum roll with Tom is pretty much irrelevant now. It's the real relationship stuff that counts.
Readers? What happens to Harry-Sally types when they get together? Was she expecting too much? Can she spice this up? Thoughts about this relationship? Is it better than she thinks it is? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.