We Built This Relationship In Pandemic Mode

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Dear Meredith,

I am writing with what is probably not a complicated question, but is weighing on me very heavily. I have been with my boyfriend since the end of 2019. We were in the early stages of our relationship when the pandemic started (long-distance at the time, now we’ve been living together for two years). At the time, I was 22 and had finished college less than a year before.

My boyfriend is incredible – without exaggeration, he is the nicest person I have ever met. He constantly looks out for my needs, does his part to take care of our shared home, and makes all of the hard times easier with his humor and steadiness. We are amazingly compatible in many ways – financial values, hobbies, sense of humor, communication needs, etc. In the last year, I have questioned whether I want to be with him anymore. It isn’t anything specific, I just don’t know if I want this. I often feel like I blinked and now I’m an adult living this life that I may or may not have chosen for myself given the chance to step back and think about it.

So much of our relationship was built on getting through the pandemic. I feel ready to spread my wings and get out of survival mode, and I’m not sure how to do it from here. Part of me thinks that maybe I’m just mourning my 20s as I approach the next phase of my life. Maybe it’s normal to feel this way, to compromise on excitement and inspiration in favor of the comfort and stability of a long-term relationship. The other part of me feels like I need something else. I don’t know what that is, but I don’t want to look down the long road ahead of me and feel “meh” about the life I’m choosing. In some ways, I feel like I can’t go wrong. I have a great relationship, and I know I would be OK alone if I chose to end it. On the other hand, I feel a deepening sense of anxiety about staying with him, but the idea of throwing away this amazing relationship to pursue something I can’t even name is really hard.

I’m sure you hear questions like this all the time, but I’d appreciate any insight you have on getting through your late 20s, particularly in this strange time.

– 27


There are many couples who got together in their early 20s and managed to find adventure together. Maybe they picked up and made a big move, pursued new activities, or found ways to travel.

I assume you could have a different kind of life with your partner – if that’s what you wanted. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

I keep revisiting this line in your letter: “I feel like I can’t go wrong. I have a great relationship, and I know I would be OK alone.” I’m not sure that’s true anymore. You seem to want a single life more than the path you’re on.

I don’t think this nagging feeling is simply about grieving your 20s. The next phase of your life could involve huge, exciting things. It should feel hopeful, scary, exciting, and new.

It sounds like you want to be told you can/should leave your good relationship. We can do that here. Sure, it’ll be painful, and yes, you might write me a letter in a year saying, “Why am I having bad dates?” But that’s life. It’s ups, downs, and weirdness in between. Sometimes you navigate the journey with one person, sometimes you’re in a group or by yourself.

Just so you know, the pandemic did affect many relationships; I assume some couples wouldn’t be together – or broken up – if the world hadn’t changed its routines in 2020. But it did, and a lot people wound up in new places, with wildly different plans and priorities. You landed in a very domestic, grownup household that you no longer want. It’s not too late to make a change.

At the very least, have a talk with your boyfriend about these feelings. Maybe you’ll learn he’s been thinking the same thing.

– Meredith

Readers? Should the LW try to find excitement and adventure in the relationship before walking away? What is the LW looking for?

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