Hi Wonders of Womanhood!

First off, love your blog!

Thanks!

I need your advice. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over a year, but we hit a bump and I don’t know if I want to be in the relationship anymore – its boring. I’m trying to figure out if this is normal or not, and what my relationship might be like a year or more from now if I stayed. Don’t get me wrong, I really like him. Its just…I don’t want to be bored in a relationship, but I don’t want to lose him if this ‘slump’ is just temporary.

I want to ask my friends what their experiences are like, but no one that I feel comfortable talking with who is my age (19) has been in a long-term relationship. I know you guys will tell me every relationship is different, and I get that. I have to decide for myself. But…I just want to know how people in long term relationships feel. Does the spark go away? Do you get boringly comfortable in the relationship? Like, you know – the “old married couple” thing…Can you guys gives me some ideas about what I can expect in the future? What do people in long term relationships experience?

Thanks!

– Alaina

Hey Alaina,

Great question!

Your question comes right after a funny How I Met Your Mother episode, where we see a comparison between the relationship between Zoey and Ted (a challenging, passionate relationship), and Lily and Marshall (a comfortable, the “perfect” relationship).

An important message from that episode is – just because someone has a different relationship than the “ideal” perfect couple, it doesn’t mean thats a worse couple, by any means (although mutual support in a relationship is always better than constant battles).

I think “the fizzing out” is a problem a lot of people worry about. You’re right – the first thing we will tell you is every relationship is different and no universal piece of advice applies to all relationships. Age, ethnicity, personal interests, education, childhood upbringing, location and just about everything else can affect how your relationship works. There is no way we could tell you what your relationship would be like in a week, or a year or even five years down the road, and there is no way we could even tell you what an ideal long-term relationship would be. In other words, we don’t have a crystal ball.

But, in spite of this, I still think we can help you. We roped in a member of our team (who has been in a long-term relationship) into an interview. Hopefully, the answers to her questions will give you insight into the experience of someone who has been dating for several years. She is only a couple of years older than you, so you might be able to better identify with her perspective (in comparison to maybe someone ten years older than you). Maybe her experience will match yours, or at least give you insight.

Q: Thanks for meeting with us.

A: No problem! Sharing experiences about relationships can be very helpful.

Q: How long have you been dating for?

A: Over 6 years.

Q: Wow, that’s a long time!

A: Yeah, we started dating when we were quite young…we sort of stumbled into it, and realized we had something special.

Q: So you didn’t know at the time if he was “the one”?

A: HA! I still don’t know – after 6 years of dating, I still don’t know if he is the one. And that has nothing to do with our relationship per se; its more about our age, and current development (and my idea that there might not be a “the one”). Despite having been together for many years, we are both in a place where a lot of changes are happening in our lives, and we’re both excited to be pursuing our dreams. People change a lot during this type of development, and change can sometimes lead to lack of compatibility or increased compatibility. It just depends on the people and the nature of your relationship.

I do want to point out that you don’t have to know if someone is “the one” in order to be in a healthy, happy, and progressive relationship.

Q:  Have you discovered things during this “development” that makes you think you aren’t compatible?

A: Nothing substantial. It’s not so much an evaluation as it is a (re)discovery of the other person. I found out that, for example, he may think a certain way, or would approach a problem very differently than I would – which can either be exciting and empowering, or hindering depending on your relationship or your own way of thinking. The idea is you grow as individuals, and yet, you grow together.

Q: Do you think you guys will make it?

A: I’m a bit of a commit-a-phobe (strangely ironic, as I have been dating the same person for 6 years), so I don’t like to project our relationship into the future. Marriage is a HUGE commitment, and I think dating (no matter how many years you engage in it), is not a real, accurate reflection/assessment of potential married life. If I was getting married right now, however, I’d say he was the one. But it is much too early for me to make that kind of commitment, so I’m happy to see where life takes us.

Q: In question we received for our blog, the person said they were going through a “slump”, in essence. She was worried about losing “the spark” – did you ever experience that?

A: Well, off the bat, I just want to say, every relationship is different – so what happened to me may not be applicable to others. My advice only comes from my experience, which is limited, of course. That being said – yes, absolutely, slumps happen. I call it the “Odd Year Fears” – every odd year (after the first, third, fifth, etc.) I go through this strange re-evaluation of my relationship, where I start to feel distant, disconnected, or unloved, all of which spark a personal fear about my status in my relationship. But every time, I end up realizing its worth waiting it out, and seeing if the relationship can stand on its own merits.

Q: How long do you wait…? I mean, isn’t it an issue that you have to wait at all?

A: Waiting isn’t the problem. Being in a slump isn’t the problem – the question is whether you can get out of it. Every relationship has lows and highs. I think it is part of being in a long-term relationship; recognizing that both the people within the relationship change, and thus, so does the dynamic. If you aren’t willing to be patient, if you react to every little change, then you risk the potential of losing something wonderful.

Q: How do you know when something is worth the wait?

A: It’s a tough call.

A few years ago, in a moment of weakness, my boyfriend and I sat down and – as we thought – ‘logically’ decided to break up. Within 30 minutes of  being apart, we both realized we had made a horrible mistake. It was a wonderful example of how you learn something is worth so much once you lose it.

I’m not suggesting to break up just to see how you feel. But I am suggesting that logic isn’t 100% of a relationship, and neither is feeling. Figuring out whether a relationship is worth waiting for is hard to decide, but it involved a combination of following your head and your heart. If there is a disconnect between those two, that might be the best starting point to re-evaluating your relationship. Even if your relationship is stellar, there are always moments of weakness.

Q: So, even if your relationship is good, slumps will happen?

A: Absolutely! What you need to think about is WHY the slump is happening. Is it a temporary thing – like being separated for the summer – which offsets the balance in your relationship? Or is it something more permanent – like he just doesn’t get you? Deciphering your own feelings about the relationship is key. Are you feeling the slump as a couple, or as an individual? Is it something you can work through? These are the factors to consider.

Q: So, here comes the million dollar question … how do you fix it?

A: Open Communication. Definitely. You owe it to the other person to be open, honest, and connected – to share your concerns and fears, especially if the slump is one-sided, so that the other person has the chance to address the concerns.

Sometimes what feels like a HUGE deal ends up being so small because of the way the other person handles it … and that gets to the important point: how you handle the slump will undoubtedly affect the relationship. If you want to be in a mature relationship, you need to be mature and act like an adult. That means sitting down, and being open and honest about your feelings. It’s really really hard to do, but it can make all the difference – between spicing up your relationship, and breaking up.

Q: Any thoughts on getting out of the slump?

Depending on whats causing the slump. There are a number of options, all of which generally are tethered to one thing: spicing things up. Try new things, like going new places for dates, or trying new things in bed, or doing more than scheduling dates once a week.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you have to make a decision that you don’t want to be a slump. A slump is not something that just happens – it is a result of  a lack of action from one or both parties.

While we don’t have a crystal ball, and we can’t predict your relationship, we can tell you this: the future of your relationship is in your hands.

Hope this post helps!

~ The Wonders of Womanhood

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