Q: Hi Meredith,
My boyfriend and I have been together for four years. We are 25 years old and we've lived together officially since last summer (although I basically lived in his apartment for a while before that). I love him so much; he has a very kind heart and is incredibly honest. Things are really comfortable, and we have always talked about marriage and have recently started planning a future together and talking about buying our first place together in the next year or two.
The problem is that I am finding that some of the things I brushed aside and ignored at the beginning of our relationship are starting to freak me out now that it really feels like we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.
For one, I am really social and I love going out. I don't need him to be out at clubs with me and my friends every weekend, but all we ever do is sit on the couch and hang out. I love doing that with him, but it scares me to think that this is all we are ever going to do forever. We almost never go out to dinner or to the movies or anything, and when we do it's because I force it to happen (which kind of takes the romance out of it anyway). I've told him I want to do this stuff more often and he responds that we can but then it never materializes.
The other big issue is that he doesn't like to do ... certain things. Sex is great, but he doesn't do much for me before it begins (whereas I have always been quite generous with him). I also LOVE kissing. I could make out for hours like a high school kid and have the best time, but he has never been that into kissing and it doesn't do anything for him. I'm not saying he doesn't kiss me ever, but he never wants to kiss me in a passionate or prolonged way, even when I just initiate it. I have also told him I want this stuff, but he gets really insecure and sad and thinks that I don't enjoy the sex we do have, so I end up letting it go and continue the way things are. Occasionally I can get him to try a little bit, but it really turns me off when it feels like he isn't enjoying it at all.
For the record, I have no doubts that he is attracted to me and loves me with all his heart. We just like different things.
Is there some way I can bring this all up without destroying his confidence? And, if things stay the way they are, are these the kinds of issues that couples can deal with and remain happy together for life in spite of them? I know that passion and romance fades over time anyway, so am I focusing on the wrong things that I should just be overlooking in light of how comfortable and great our relationship is in other ways? I'm so confused and any advice will help!
– Not Sure What to Do, Hartford
A: I'm not stressed out about your differences. You're bound to have them with anyone. And for the record, I don't know many people who want to kiss for hours. (Doesn't your mouth get dry after 45 minutes or so?)
Relationships function when we compromise. So that's my big question. Is he capable of meeting you halfway at all? When you plan a dinner, does he enjoy it? When you ask him for certain things in the bedroom, does he even try?
And on your end, do you allow yourself to have fun when you're on the couch with him? Or do you sit there stressing about what else you could be doing? You seem to like relaxing with him. I hope you allow yourself to enjoy that time.
My advice is to get very specific with your requests, in and outside of the bedroom. As in, "I'd like to [fill in activity] right now. Can we?" Sometimes when we're general with our requests, they get ignored or put off. When we ask in the moment, it comes off as a question, not a complaint.
I can't determine your deal-breakers. If you stay with this guy, you won't be smooching for hours, and you probably won't be surprised by many fancy dinners or tickets to new releases. But you might have a guy who doesn't mind staying in on a Saturday to work on your new house. You might wind up with a guy who is honest when you need him to be.
Try the specific questions. See if they help you get what you want. And don't resent having to ask. That's just communication. We always have to ask.
Readers? Should she be happy with what she has? Should they be talking about marriage? Does asking take the romance out of the relationship? 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.