Q: Hi Meredith,
I'm in a long-term relationship with a great guy. We live together and have for some time. He's smart, funny, attractive, and we have very similar life goals. We get along great most of the time, and we truly understand each other. We're both a little quirky and have many shared interests. In short, I think he "gets" me unlike anyone I've ever met and vice versa. I'm very much in love with him.
Despite the above, I've been having doubts about the relationship lately. My boyfriend can be a bit controlling and is sort of a homebody. I'm a very social person and he mostly likes to stay in. I feel like he often judges me for having a social life and frequently gets upset or makes comments if I'm out of the house multiple nights a week or don't return home by a time he deems acceptable. Also, our love life could be better. We have great chemistry but our libidos are very different (surprisingly, I'm more interested in sex than he is). He's also not affectionate at all. He hates kissing, hugging, or even complimenting me. He rarely tells me I'm beautiful or attractive without me prying it out of him. I don't mean to sound vain, but doesn't every woman need that? Someone to tell her she's gorgeous and valued? In short, I'm not feeling appreciated in the relationship. I do a lot for him and sometimes it feels like I get little in return.
To make matters worse, several weeks ago, I kissed another man. He's very different from my boyfriend: extroverted, slightly immature, and carefree. He's also in a relationship, and after it happened we swore it wouldn't happen again. We've continued to consistently talk over the past several weeks and I find myself thinking about him often. I'm not sure, but I have a hunch the feeling is mutual (or he's just immature and starved for attention). He makes me laugh, we have great conversation, and I'm definitely attracted to him. Even though there's a million reasons why a relationship between us would never work, I can't stop thinking about him. I'm not sure if it's because I genuinely like this guy or he's just so extremely different from the person I'm with.
With all this turmoil, I'm more wondering if my relationship is salvageable. I love my boyfriend very much and we're building a life together. Despite my doubts, I'm committed to working on this relationship even seeing a therapist weekly to help sort through my feelings. I guess I'm trying to understand if this is normal. Does this happen to other people? Or is everyone 100 percent certain that the person they're committing to long term is the one? My current unhappiness in the relationship is why I strayed, but just because I'm unhappy now does that mean I'll be unhappy forever? Or does working on a relationship actually, well, work?
Sorry for the drawn out letter. I hope you and LL nation can help.
– The Real Deal?, Medford
A: No one is 100 percent certain that their partner is "the one" -- because there is no "one." Doubts are normal, and relationships do take quite a bit of work.
You say that you're unhappy, but your first paragraph suggests that your relationship is actually pretty great. Have you talked to your boyfriend about your needs? Does he have any idea that you want to be more affectionate, even if it's just verbally? Have you asked him whether your social life really bothers him? I can't figure out whether you guys are talking about your problems.
If you really want to make things better, you need to cut off all communication with this new guy and talk to your boyfriend about your concerns. Your relationship with new guy feels like fun and games, but I assure you that it's not. He's supposed to be committed to someone else. Please don't use him as a means of sabotage.
You need to give your boyfriend the chance to "get" you. Because he does, right? Let him try. And remember to tell him what is working. That's an important part of the message.
Readers? Is there hope here? Without the new guy, would she be questioning the relationship so much? What communication is missing here? 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.