When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

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When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

Post by ajamjar on Sun Jan 17, 2016 9:39 am

Hello. I post a bit on Dr Nerdlove, but first post here *waves*

I've been with my boyfriend for six months.

From the start, it felt like we moved out of dating and into a relationship very quickly, without ever discussing it. Neither of us ever felt very excited, but knowing that feeling of infatuation to be elusive and ephemeral, I hoped it was enough that we were attracted to each other and enjoyed being together.

Which brings us to now.

We see each other a lot. We talk a lot. We don't go out and do things as much as I'd like, but we have fun. It works in an everyday way, which I like ... But there is no emotional core to it.

I need more, but he has basically said that what we have now is all is all we will ever have.

Because he doesn't want children, he says he doesn't have any "relationship goals", like moving in together or getting married.

I want all of these things, but I think I can live without them. I don't think I can live without love. When I've asked him if he wants to stay together, he replies, yes, I'm clever and fun and good company. I feel like a small dog to him (with the advantage that I can live independently.)

He doesn't seem to have any emotional intimacy with anyone. I suspect that some of what he gets from our relationship could also be met by having closer friendships.

When I said we didn't DTR in the beginning, it's because he doesn't do these kind of discussions. Whenever I try to talk about *our* relationship, he says he's not good at relationships, he always fucks up etc. and he spirals into this shame cycle, which simultaneously makes me feel both sad for him and impatient.

All of which avoids saying how I feel about him. I don't know if I love him, but I want to love him. I feel attached to him, but at the same time I don't feel I love him enough to stay, no matter what: I think that if we don't have a future together then maybe I could and would be happier with someone else.

But then it seems silly to leave an otherwise 'good' relationship because some need in me is going unmet - it might never be met. Maybe it's my deal to sort out on my own. This is the longest relationship I've had in ten years and I feel like I've done my time being single. It's not how I want to live. I don't relish the idea of dating again either.

It's not that I'm pushing to move in together or get married, but I want more than what we have. If I thought time would change anything ... But I also don't want to waste my time. I feel as if to survive in this relationship, I would have to shut down and that's not a good feeling to have.

I'm not opening this up to a poll - should I leave him or should I stick with it? But I hope someone reading might understand where I'm coming from or might be able to see something I can't see. If nothing else, it's helped to write it out.

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Re: When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

Post by G minor on Sun Jan 17, 2016 12:22 pm

ajamjar, you say you want to be loved, move in together, get married, and have kids.  These are totally reasonable and realistic wishes, and I see no reason why you should not pursue them.  I see two options for you:

(1) Talk with your boyfriend about your wishes and see if he might be willing to work on his issues, so that you have a realistic chance of meeting your relationship goals with him some day in the future (or at least some of them), or

(2) Leave him and start looking for a partner who shares your relationship goals.

Just continuing with you boyfriend will prevent you from finding a better partner for you, and I don't think you can expect him to come around eventually if he doesn't want to and doesn't put any effort it.
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Re: When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

Post by Enail on Sun Jan 17, 2016 1:25 pm

Hi ajamjar! Good to see you here!

It sounds like there are two big things here. One is that he is not willing/able to do the emotional work of a relationship - you cannot even discuss what you'd like and what the relationship is without him making it all about his issues. That seems like the future with him might always have an edge of uncertainty, and if you stay together long enough, it's likely that there will be things that you need to sort out or plan together, and that you'll have to spend a lot of effort managing his emotional reaction to that before you can have any chance of doing that.

And then the other, of course, is love. To me, people are so annoying and life has so many difficult bits that I can't imagine linking myself to another person or supporting each other through all the hard times without murdering them, if I didn't love them. It sounds heartbreaking and lonely to be in a relationship for years without loving each other, and I don't think I could ever call something like that a good relationship for me.  

But you're not me, and maybe you don't find people as annoying as I do, and maybe for you that kind of relationship has more value and happiness. That genuinely works for some people. But you're using a lot of phrases like "I need more," and "I don't think I can live without love" and "I would have to shut down" to be in that relationship, really strong phrases, which makes me think that what you think is that you're better off leaving.
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Re: When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

Post by Caffeinated on Sun Jan 17, 2016 3:36 pm

Hi ajamjar! In your post, you sound very sad. You sound like you're contemplating just how much of your emotional self you can amputate in order to live with what your boyfriend is willing to give. I hate to contradict you, but that doesn't really sound like a very 'good' relationship.
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Re: When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

Post by Werel on Sun Jan 17, 2016 3:53 pm

Hi ajamjar. Have to agree with everyone else  that a relationship which makes you feel like an unloved small dog is perhaps not so "good" a relationship.

This post kind of reads like you're asking permission/confirmation that ending it would be okay and not ridiculous (it's okay and not ridiculous). Sounds like you already know what your gut wants, but are afraid that a better relationship is asking too much. It's not; being someone's small dog sounds way more shredding (to me) than being single till you find somebody who's able to emotionally engage. Sounds rough in any case; sorry you're dealing with it.
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Re: When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

Post by eselle28 on Sun Jan 17, 2016 7:55 pm

This doesn't sound like a good relationship. At all. I can see you sort of bending and twisting your own goals around your boyfriend's even in this post, and it doesn't sound like this is even in exchange for a relationship that is otherwise meeting your emotional needs. I understand, rather keenly, the pain of being single. I don't think that this relationship sounds like it's on track to give you more satisfaction than you'd get from being alone but at least not with someone who treats you like a small dog, though.

I'm sorry you're going through this. It sounds really tough. I think, though, that if you want to break up with your boyfriend, you can go ahead with that without feeling bad about it.
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Re: When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

Post by ajamjar on Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:15 pm

Thanks to everyone for their considered and thoughtful responses. I wanted to take awhile before replying to process them.

This
Caffeinated wrote:In your post, you sound very sad. You sound like you're contemplating just how much of your emotional self you can amputate in order to live with what your boyfriend is willing to give.  
is the truth of it.

I should say that he doesn't treat me like a small dog. What I meant by that is he wants a part-time companion, rather than a partner. And as a companion, he's great - he's kind and patient and affectionate, super-smart, fun to be with and very presentable - which is why this is so difficult.

I know intellectually that if this isn't going anywhere (and it isn't) then I should go. I think I need a little more time to get used to the idea.

This is also true
Werel wrote:This post kind of reads like you're asking permission/confirmation that ending it would be okay and not ridiculous (it's okay and not ridiculous). Sounds like you already know what your gut wants, but are afraid that a better relationship is asking too much

I've lost a lot of my life to depression and psychosis and there were years (lots of them) when I was just too ill to date anyone. It's been impossible to imagine a future for myself for so long - it's still difficult, tbh - that, yes, wanting a husband and children has always felt like asking too much. Just having any relationship at all feels almost like an achievement.

I guess the other part of that is that I wanted other people to reaffirm that this is actually something that's making my unhappy, not something my depressed brain is using as an excuse. Thank you for doing that.

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Re: When a 'good' relationship doesn't feel enough

Post by Werel on Mon Jan 18, 2016 7:41 pm

It is really difficult to make a decision that involves reducing or removing the presence of a kind, smart, affectionate person in your life. I'm sorry you're in a position to do it. But wanting (sounds like needing), for a long time, much more than a kind, smart, affectionate person can give you can be even more difficult. ("He's kind! He's smart! Why the fuck isn't he smart enough to see what I need and kind enough to give it to me??") If you need time to feel sure that long-term dissatisfaction will suck more than ripping the band-aid right now, take it. It's hard enough to cut ties with someone you care for when you're sure it's the right thing to do, much less when you're not even sure about it yet. Just don't take that time to stall and try to convince yourself he might come around to partnership someday.

And re: the fear that depression and psychosis mean wanting a husband and kids is too much to ask-- that's hard as hell. It is an achievement to have gotten yourself to a place where you can have a relationship. That probably felt like too much to ask at some point in your past, but here you are. It is equally conceivable that someday you will be looking down at your kid and will say to your husband "this felt like too much to ask for," but there you will be. It's the kind of dream that's hard to shake, so all you can do is keep moving towards it as best you can. This current guy is not a path towards it, no matter what else he has going for him.
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