So I've been with my boyfriend for nearly 6 years now and occasionally, like most people I'm sure, I go through a stage of doubting if we should be together.
I love him to pieces and still find him so attractive but after 6 years I don't really feel the "I want to rip your clothes off" anymore.
I think it leads to him being disappointed that we don't have a much sex as he'd like and I think it's a little unfair on him especially since we are both still young.
I'm only 23 and he's the only guy I've ever really been with.
I thought I was fine with this until one of my friends recently broke up with her long term boyfriend and has come out of her shell and grown so much since.
I think I've come to realise that being on your own is a really important part of adulthood and it’s something I've never experienced.
A part of me really wants to be single just to discover what that actually means but at the same time I do love my boy.
I just haven't experienced anything else and don't want to get to 30 and regret staying with him.
I just don't know what to do.
You’re right, everyone goes through periods in their relationships where they aren’t always sure if the dynamic or the person they’re with is right for them. Not only is this normal, it’s healthy. We should be checking in with ourselves if something is still right for us. Of course, knowing the answer isn’t always as straightforward.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no rule book nor is there any obligation to know right away. I can imagine that because your friend has recently become single it can make you feel slightly like ‘now or never’, when the truth is what is right for you is not necessarily what is right for someone else. When people close to us are making similar choices to us, we often feel reassured in our decisions. When they decide differently though, it can equally make us doubt our choices. Your friend’s relationship and reasons for breaking up are her own and may not apply to you.
You mentioned the main reason you’re thinking about breaking up is because you feel being on your own is an important part of adulthood. I’d suggest spending some time thinking what it is about being on your own that you want to experience. Is it you feel your time is too intertwined with your partners (i.e you share all the same activities, friends etc.), or that you want to date other people, or you have plans (travelling, career) that don’t add up to what your partner wants to do. Identifying what it is you want can help you decide if you need to be single to achieve it or if there are compromises or changes you can make within your relationship that still make this possible. Break ups force us to have a new perspective on life, but you can also gain this perspective by actively making changes in other ways.
As well as checking in with yourself, it’s also important to check in with your partner. Ultimately only you two are in your relationship and only the two of you can decide if you are still happy and want to be together. Discussing if you want to stay together might initially seem like admitting your relationship is failing, but discussing the future of your relationship is actually a positive thing. Checking in with each other and realising where problems might be that you’ve ignored means you’re actively making decisions about your relationship.
When having this conversation, be sure to discuss your sex life. You said you ‘think’ he is disappointed about how much sex you are having, but do you know this for sure? Talking about it is really the only way to know how he feels. After 6 years it’s not surprising that you no longer have the same sexual energy that you did when you were first dating. The same way other aspects of your relationship will naturally change over time, so too will your sexual connection.
Why not discuss new things you’re interested in trying. Our bodies and desires are constantly evolving so you might find that there is a lot about each other and yourself you’ve yet to discover. A fun way to do this can be writing something like a Will, Want, Won’t list where you list things you want to try, things you’re happy to try and things you definitely don’t want to do. Choose something that is on both of your ‘Want’ lists and try it out. Make time to have an open and judgment free discussion about how it went and if you’re struggling there’s a wealth of classes and resources available online to help.
Only through trying and reflecting will you know if you want to stay with your partner. The length of your relationship and your age do not determine if you’re making the right decision or if you will regret it in the future. We can often feel like there is a timeline set out for us, and 30 is still seen as a pivotal age to have reached certain life goals when in reality, there isn’t a single way to live your 20s. Ultimately there is no way of predicting how you will feel about a decision x years from now. The only thing you can do is be honest with yourself about how you currently feel, and spend the time working that through. If a decision feels right now, it’s ok that it might not be that way 2, 5, or 10 years later. Focus your energy on what is right for you now, as this is the best way to know you are making the right decision. This might change later but you can’t and don’t have to preempt that happening.
Remember being single or being in a relationship isn’t inherently better or worse than the other so try not to panic about what you’ll ‘miss out on’ whatever decision you make. It’s impossible to live every version of adulthood, so identifying what is most important to you is the healthiest way forward
Dominnique Karetsos is from the School of Healthy Pleasure https://wearehpg.com/
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