Marwa Rakha is a relationship expert who has the answers to all of your love questions and dilemmas!
Lately, I’ve been having mixed feelings towards my relationship. I’ve been dating my long time boyfriend for 3 years now and we’re definitely long past the honeymoon phase. At first, I had come to terms with the loss of romance in our relationship because it was replaced with more important things like comfort and security. Which I can wholeheartedly affirm are a lot better than the uncertainty involved in the current modern dating age. My only issue is that I find myself comparing my relationship to my friends’ relationships and constantly asking myself: Am I happy? The problem is, I don’t really know if I am. I can say that I’m content with the way things are, but I believe the “happiness” wore off a long time ago. Is there any way I can possibly stop the comparisons and be as happy as I used to be?
Unhappy in Love
Dear Unhappy in Love,
Stagnation is a relationship’s worst enemy! You are stuck in a rut and you are neither moving forward nor backward. Stagnation and feeling stuck are the destiny of any relationship that lasts for too long without a purpose. It’s normal for people to feel bored, lost, uncertain and zombie-like: unalive and undead!
These feelings will find their way into your relationship at any phase if the relationship stops growing. A relationship, like human beings, grows physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Physical growth is the easiest to spot; moving from casual dating to exclusivity, then from exclusivity to commitment, then engagement, then marriage, then wanting to have kids together, then actually having kids and raising them, and finally merging the physical growth of your relationship with the physical growth of the kids and its stages. If you decide not to have kids, the major investment will be in the emotional and spiritual aspects.
Emotional growth is about the depth of your interdependence. In the beginning, you like one another and you are both keen on showing the best of yourselves. Later on, you begin an intense sharing and opening up phase where you share your past experiences, fears and thoughts. This phase is followed by a phase of total comfort where you are totally comfortable sharing anything with your partner. You are able to accept your partner’s flaws and acknowledge that you need that person in your life just as much as he needs you in his. Your love now is no longer a luxury; it is a bond that keeps you together and allows you to forgive the faults and flaws.
Finally, spiritual growth is an aspect of a truly mature relationship. You two have found a common purpose, other than kids, to wake up to! You have a common “raison d’être” and you have fully committed to that mission. I have seen couples who have grown spiritually to unite and help street children; others have worked on education. Some have made it their goal to work with children with learning disabilities, while others have created literacy-friendly places (bookshops that actually help you enjoy reading).
The only way out of your rut is a push towards change in the directions of relationship growth. If you choose to leave and end this relationship, you will eventually start a new relationship and after a couple of yours you will feel stagnant again. If you look at your partner now, and you do not see the future growth in this article, then before you end the relationship, discuss this article with him and see how he feels about your future together. If the two of you cannot see the future, then it’s best to end this relationship amiably.