Welcome to The Agony Aunt Series
DISCLAIMER: All content and advice from me within this series is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for face to face counselling, medical or legal advice. It is my take on the problem, there is no wrong or right answer. Confidentiality is key, so the name that appears on this post is the name the person seeking advice advised I use to identify themselves.
In this blog series, I’m offering up my advice to YOU and the problems you’re facing. They could be about anything; pressure at school or university, romantic relationship issues, fights with friends, or personal problems like struggling with low self esteem or mental health troubles. I’m here, ready and waiting to help you with any of it as best I can.
For the first one, we’re talking relationships.
I’m struggling at the moment in a long term relationship. I’ve been with my boyfriend for about 6 years now, and have recently moved in with him. I love him but I don’t feel like I’m in love with him anymore. I always thought we would be together for the long term, marriage babies the lot. But lately I have felt that I might be better off on my own. I’ve not been single or by myself since I was 19, and I worry that I’m missing out. As much as I get scared at the thought of losing him, I do wonder what it would be like to be single, go travelling on my own and find myself, and just not have to think about anything but me for a while. What should I do?”
You’re not alone, Claire. I know so many people, myself included, who have felt this way before. It can be so overwhelming, being in love is hard enough without feeling like, potentially, you’re not where you need to be to make the most of life.
When it comes to my own experience, I know that sometimes a break from a partner can do the world of good. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that. However, it’s not something I recommend as a quick fix. It’s emotionally brutal, and can truly be the make or break of a relationship.
But I don’t think, from what you’ve said, that you need that. I think what you need is to reclaim a bit of independence back. Being in a long term relationship makes us complaisant and dependent by nature. That goes for any type of relationships too; romantic, platonic, parental. We come to rely on that significant other like a crutch, always turning to them for advice or in our time of need. And there’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort from other people, but I think there’s a lot to be said for being able to stand on your own, support and nurture yourself without relying on someone else to help you do it.
FEAR OF COMMITMENT?
Moving in with a partner, although I have never done it, is a big commitment. It’s a very grown up and mature decision to make, even if it’s just to have someone else help out with the rent! So maybe you just weren’t ready for that. But sometimes living with someone can unfortunately make you see that the two of you just aren’t compatible.
I do think that what you need, rather than rushing into it and ending things with him, is to talk to him. Be open, be honest, and tell him how you’re feeling. A strong relationship can withstand a lot, and if you’re worried about losing him and feeling like the love is fading, the kind thing to do is tell him. If you end things out of the blue, he’ll be left wondering why. If you can tell him that you feel like things have come to a point where you’re unhappy, and that you need to be alone, it will be hard. It will be emotional, it could be painful, but it is necessary.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
At the end of the day, you know the ins and outs of your relationship. If you think this could be you reacting to committing fully to him, and getting scared, then you know that. If you think that these feelings have been bubbling under the service for some time and moving in with him has made it impossible for you to ignore them anymore, then you know that.
My advice would be to firstyly, have the conversation with him and air out your worries and thoughts. Secondly, really think about if it’s the fact you want to be with someone else, or you just want to regain some independence again. Remember that people in the most stable, happy relationships still go off travelling on their own, they still spend time with their friends and are still happy.
Being in a relationship does not mean you are stuck. If you love someone and you want to make it work, then you can. But if you are in a relationship that makes you feel trapped and not yourself, it may be time to go it alone and enjoy your own company for a while, whether that’s in the form of a break or a break-up.
I really hope you find a solution, and that this helped in some way. You can always drop me a message or get in touch again if you want to chat. Don’t think you’re alone in this.