I am growing close with my new guy but feeling distant from my boyfriend. Advice?
First I will give you some background:
I was in a happy, monogamous, long-distance relationship with my boyfriend for 3 years before we decided to try an open relationship about 3 months ago. He is my first boyfriend and I have been dating him for as long as I have been at college (I'm a 21 year old senior this year), I am also his first girlfriend and he lives in England so we only see each other twice a year for a month or two at a time. We have come up against a lot of obstacles since we've been dating - culture clash, different upbringings, and my insecurity issues to name a few - but everything we've been through has made our love stronger.
However, things are a bit different this year. I got a job at a local pub and have been meeting lots of new people/making more friends in the span of a few months than I have made during my whole time at college. I was also starting to feel like I missed out on the whole dating/sexual experimentation phase that most college kids go through because I got into a serious relationship right away, and when I told my boyfriend this he said that he's always felt guilty that I never got to experiment with other people and he supports me 100% if i want to try an open relationship. I was shocked that he would suggest this because I wasn't even considering it, but that completely opened up a door for me and we decided to try it.
Fast forward to now. I met this awesome friend who turns out to also be in an open relationship (he broke up with his girlfriend when he moved to another state, but they hope to get back together one day), and he and I decided to experiment together. It was initially supposed to be a friends with benefits thing, but we have had some intensely intimate moments together to the point that doing things with him is almost like a spiritual experience. He is VERY different than my boyfriend, because my boyfriend is just your typical guy, has a pretty simplistic and in-the-moment approach to things, whereas my guy friend is an extremely deep and sensitive intellectual. I am also a very deep person and find myself fascinated by my friend, and developing strong feelings for him. I am very much embracing the polyamorous idea that it's ok to feel love for more than one person, so I'm ok with the fact that I'm developing feelings for him. The thing I'm not ok with is that now I'm starting to feel bored with my boyfriend!
So this is my question for you guys: is it normal to feel a little bored with your old relationship when a new person comes into the picture, or does this mean that I am falling out of love with my boyfriend? I love him so much and we have been through so much together, but lately I don't feel excited about talking to him and things between us feel a bit stale. Meanwhile I have been seeing my guy friend practically every day and having these profoundly touching experiences with him, and always look forward to doing things with him. What does this mean? I'm just really nervous because I have never experienced something like this before. Has anyone been through something similar to this?
Bumping up on the limitations of LDR is just reality of being in an LDR. You only see the LDR boyfriend twice a year for a month at a time. That doesn't give you much time to have relationship IN if you are not supplementing with other things to keep in touch.
Where this new BF is local and you have plenty of time to spend with him and cultivate the relationship in.
What this means for you and LDR BF I do not know. You could make more effort so you are more able to spend time together (phone? skype? snail mail? email? other?) and grow/tend the relationship in those ways as well as face time. Could also wait and see once the NRE for the new BF chills out and is back to earth and not in pink fluffy lala clouds you can take a more realistic measure of the health of LDR BF relationship in its own right -- rather than comparing it to NRE "whee!" type feelings from your other relationship.
You are also finding that you have more in common with the new BF than you did with the old BF -- you list things like culture clash, family backgrounds, etc. That is what dating is FOR. To get to be with many people and see what things are like dating them and find the partner(s) that are most compatible.
Take time to think out what you want for yourself from your romances at 21 years old. Then decide how to best spend your time for the greatest return on your emotional/time investment.
If you come to find you are no longer in love with him because you need more than LDR can provide, tell him so. Be honest, agree to be friends instead if the LDR situation limit cannot be changed.
In my experience, it's normal to have times of more and less excitement in Ltrs. Staying "in love" often means conscously working toward staying connected with your partner. Think of the people you know who have been together for 25+ years. Do they swoon when the other walks into the room? Do they delight in calling you to tell you what their partner said yesterday? Does your grandma seem to have butterflies in her stomach when your grandpa walks in? Not usually. This is natural. These relationships last because these people enjoy one another's company and love one another even if the excitement has dimmed.
You can work to reconnect with your boyfriend if you wish. Make an effort to share things you have been thinking and feeling. Plan something fun together, even if you can't carry out the plans for awhile. Share your dreams and desires. When you feel bored, take the initiative to start a comversation that interests you. Ask him questions other than some variant of, "how was your day?/how are you?"
I can't speak to whether or not you want to be in an Ldr. Perhaps you don't, but your decision on this may not need to be based on boredom vs excitement.
With the limited information I have, I would suggest working to reconnect with him. You love him. He's supportive of your new relationship. Has he really ceased to enrich your life? There's no need to leave that relationship because a new one seems more enjoyable right now.
My advice is, find a way to reconnect with your boyfriend. I know it's super-long distance, but see if you can manage a visit with him, or at least a serious chat via Skype.
If you really want two relationships, it's up to YOU to put in the effort to maintain both of them. It's not fair to your boyfriend that he suddenly became the boring one that you don't feel like talking to because the shiny new boy is more interesting.
After all, your boyfriend was the one who encouraged you to explore things with other people. Doesn't that make him awesome and supportive and open-minded and amazing? You say the new boy is a "deep and sensitive intellectual"--isn't your boyfriend all of those things, just no longer mysterious and new to you?
Weren't you posting on here a few months ago that you and your boyfriend were considering marriage? And the main thing you DID NOT want to do if you opened your relationship was to ruin your relationship with him?
It's certainly possible that dating other people will lead you to realize that your spark and connection with your boyfriend is not as strong as your spark and connection with other people. Maybe you will grow and change and grow apart from your boyfriend--which can happen with any couple. Maybe your boyfriend is not the right person for you to commit to for life.
BUT. If those things are the case, that has nothing to do with your feelings for the new guy--it's about your relationship with your boyfriend.
I suspect you feel guilty that you are less interested in him now, which is making you want to talk to him less, which is making you feel less connected to him, etc. But you do have to talk to him. Communicating with him is what will strengthen your connection to him.
Have you told him about your feelings for the new guy? How does he feel? Was he expecting that you would explore sex a little bit with others, but not fall for a new guy?
If you're now unsure if your boyfriend is right for you, I would keep dating around some more. Don't compare "new boy" vs. "old boy." Explore other options. The new boy isn't going to be exclusive with you, right? You should figure out if you are just dazzled by your feelings for him, or if you genuinely do not connect well with your boyfriend anymore.
I'm going through something similar with a new hook-up, and I remember it from when my primary and I met our third, too.
It settles. I'd give it time. I might also try to limit the time you spend with the new person in order to help you pace things.
The last person I hooked up with is super intriguing to me right now, and even though we are intimate and in touch, and I feel like we will continue to see each other, I am not reaching out to her to spend time every day. Once per week so far. If I wanted to let fly, I'd see her all the time, but she lives a long drive away, which helps, and since it's brand new, my primary wouldn't appreciate my spending so much of my time with a new person. Our policy is baby steps.
Don't get me wrong, the once-per-week thing is driving me CRAZY (shiny new! sexy time! gimmiegimmiegimmie!), but I have faith that a lot of it is chemical/NRE, and am trying to maintain focus on my two other relationships, one of which is long distance (for 7 months), and the other of which is local but travels a lot (together three years). In the meantime I am spending time on my own things or showering my primary in the special attention she needs/deserves for allowing these other relationships to be part of our polyship!
But yes, to reiterate: every day with this new person probably isn't helping your cause, if that cause is to maintain a spark with the LDR.
Sometimes when I feel out of touch with my partners, I'll send them sexy photos, or tell them whenever I'm thinking about a fun thing we did together that is special to us. Do make the effort, and try to keep your mind clear. PACE YOURSELF!
Well, you're young, want new experiences, but got into a long-distance relationship where you can only see each other a couple times a year. That is difficult, though not impossible, to make it work. However, maybe it just doesn't satisfy you anymore. There is nothing wrong with a relationship coming to an end if it has run its course. No relationship is guaranteed to last forever, and some aren't meant to - even if they are very good and bring us lots of fulfillment. It makes sense that you would prefer to be with the person who is in your life in the here and now rather than very far away. And maybe at your age, you're really not ready for such a big commitment like marrying your long-distance bf. Live a little before you do that. Don't beat yourself up or feel guilty. If you really and truly want to make the effort to keep up the LDR, then you will. If you find yourself not investing in it as much anymore, that could be telling you something - such as, it might be time to move on.
I think it is completely normal to feel what you are feeling. New relationships are powerfully exciting and flood your brain with dopamine that makes you crave your new partner at the expense of all other obligations in your life. It's a wildly fun feeling, but I don't think it means you're "falling out of love" with your existing partner. Since you say your boyfriend is the first you've had, perhaps you just lack the experience in discerning between NRE and love (which I don't mean as derogatory at all).
Now, it may be that an LDR isn't something you want for other reasons, but I wouldn't let NRE make you jump to any conclusions. Were you satisfied with the LDR arrangement before you met the new guy? The feelings will fade with the new guy in time. That powerful brain cocktail just doesn't last forever with anyone (which isn't a bad thing).
There's nothing quite as valuable as a long-term partner that is self-confident enough and open-minded enough to let you experiment and try on different hats for yourself without being threatened. The excitement fades over time, but something wonderfully valuable builds slowly in its place - a partner that knows you and loves you, a solid rock in life's storms. Maybe that's your boyfriend and maybe it isn't, but I would hate to see you throw away a good thing in the name of a new Shiny.
There could be a few things going on here:
The first might be the natural flow of a long term relationship. Whether you are 16, 21, 30 or 55, most relationships (if not all!) do feel stale from time to time. It basically sucks when you realise it - but, it doesn't mean that it has to be the end. Realising it is basically just a flag that says "ok! crossroads - which path to take?!"
It could be your age. I'm 28 and I can honestly say that I feel very different to who I was at 21. My wants, desires, needs, goals have completely changed. When I was 21, I was in a long distance, long term relationship with a man I loved dearly. We were together for 5 years. We also opened our relationship up and I felt that I would be happier with a girl I'd fallen for. Cue that relationship - another three years! Then, when I was 26, all the exploration paid off and I met the one I currently think I'm right for! When I'm 35... i'll either still feel that way, or I'll have learnt more and be with an even better-suited partner!
The other possibility is plain old NRE - which feels anything but plain and anything but old. New people are exciting, because we are still learning about them, because they make us feel different, make us think about ourselves in new ways. NRE is chemical. Once the chemicals wear off, you are either left with something fantastic, or left wondering why on Earth you were so into that person.
You asked for personal experiences in terms of going through NRE and finding your primary partner a little more boring. I can give you a couple of examples, if it helps you.
When I was still with the ex boyfriend I told you about and we became open, so that I could also date the girl I was attracted to, I experienced what you are experiencing. She was fun, very sexual, lighthearted, talked about everything - everything I thought I wanted. A breath of fresh air. I loved my boyfriend with all of my soul - but my body and mind had been drifting over time. I would go for a drink with him and we would have very little to say to each other. I'd find myself wishing I was with her and felt awful about it. I broke up with him five years ago, broke up with her three years later... and looking back on the two relationships, I can honestly say that I made the right decision. I still love my ex boyfriend dearly - he is my best friend. But we are not compatible as romantic partners. I am still fond of my ex girlfriend, but we did not have enough of a connection after the NRE wore off, for me to consider her a partner for life.
With my current girlfriend, things feel different. We have very similar life goals. I admire her, desire her, love her. I am proud to be with her. I find our relationship incredibly fulfilling. She teaches me something new about the world every day, without even trying. It's how I felt for my ex boyfriend - only with all the elements: sexual, spiritual, emotional, practical. When I have been with other partners, even ones I have been very much into, the feeling of love for my GF actually increases. I have a sense of 'swelling' with love for her; which she says that she also feels. It just feels right, basically.
However, this doesn't mean I am never bored. Like you and your BF, me and my GF are long distance - I'm in the UK and she's in America. We spend three months together, then three months apart. We used to play Second Life together and so, we would always have something to chat about, always have gossip to share, always be able to share something together in general and not have to worry about long, boring silences, because we could sit on the phone, typing to other people, in silence, whilst still enjoying the closeness and the presence of each other. We stopped doing that recently and started to find that being on Skype wasn't so easy without something else to do together. We are going to start playing the game together again, because we are recognising that our boredom is coming from not sharing something together - immensely important in LDRs.
I cannot tell you what your feelings for your boyfriend come down to. It could be a compatibility issue. It could be that your brain will tell you this, because it needs a way out. Your friend, like the girl I fell for, might not actually be right for you - but might be the catalyst you need in order to explore things that you don't realise you need to explore yet.
My advice would be to cut back on the time with your friend. You are still in a relationship with your boyfriend and you do owe it to him to either give your relationship a fair shot, or think about bowing out gracefully. I am personally in favour of taking breaks in relationships, when emotions are confused. I took a break with my ex girlfriend, which became a break-up within two weeks, because it actually transpired that neither of us truly wanted to be together any more. Being on a break, not speaking for two weeks, made us realise that we didn't actually miss each other as much as we thought we might do... and that it was time to move on.
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