As the year comes to an end, I'm looking back on my relationship, and I feel like I'm facing a big decision.
I'm 25 and have been with my boyfriend for five years now. We met at a university and have lived together pretty much from a few months after we met. Now we're living in a city together and have good jobs. He wants to start looking for a house and has specific ideas about the path our life will probably take. (Nice house in a quiet part of the city, married with kids).
While he's putting no pressure on me to get married and have kids now, I know this is something he can't live without. Whereas I could. I've never imagined kids in my future and the thought makes me feel sick. However, he says I may come to want them in 10 years. I’m just not sure it's what I want, but when we've talked about breaking up because of it, I've been too emotional to think straight. I don't want to waste our lives thinking that day may come, but he's persuaded me not to throw it all away just for that.
To make things worse, I’ve been feeling less attracted to him over the year, maybe because he hasn't put his health and exercise first, but also because of this future pressure. Our sex life has been in decline, it's frustrating rather than exciting, doesn't turn me on or make me feel sexy, and I just don't want to do it anymore.
Which is probably also why I've clicked with this older guy at work. He really pushes my buttons, and if I was single I'd want to see where it could go. I've even fantasized about it numerous times. Earlier this year, I also helped the guy at work through his breakup. His relationship ended because he didn't want to have kids or commit to his girlfriend. Right up my alley at this point!
For the past year I've been feeling like I'm trapped on the path my boyfriend sees as ideal. I've been on an unhappiness rollercoaster and it's brought up other annoyances that have nudged me toward breaking up with him. (Doesn't do his own cleaning, his dad has control of his bank account, we come from different styles of parenting.)
Yet I feel guilty for thinking about ending it. He’s an otherwise great guy who does try to support me, is kind, loves his family, the list goes on. There's just this persistent thought that I don’t want to give up my sex life this young and maybe I'm not in love with him anymore. His support and style of giving love often misses the mark and it's difficult to teach him what I actually need and want.
I need some help. I don’t want to tear apart five years of history and shared friendships because of a feeling. I've tried to declutter the thoughts and get to the root of why I'm unhappy, but it’s difficult.
I don't know anyone who's had this issue before. Should I be concerned that I've been having relationship doubts for the past year? Should the fact that he definitely wants kids one day, while I'm not sure, be a warning sign?
– Fork in the road
"I don't want to tear apart five years of history and shared friendships because of a feeling."
It's not a feeling. It's a bunch of feelings. Persistent ones.
First, there are the feelings related to the kid thing. I mean he's right – you could change your mind about the idea of having kids, but what if you don't want them in 10 years? It doesn't sound like he's open to a maybe when it comes to starting a family. This is a real problem, so don't downplay it.
The sex thing is also an issue. You want new experiences and the butterflies and excitement that come with discovering a new partner. Your co-worker has escalated this desire. This new man will probably not be your new boyfriend if you leave your current one, but he's taught you that you're not ready to forgo all others.
You say you don't want to throw away five years of history, but that's not how breakups work. The history will still be yours because it's already in the books. This relationship will always be important and formative. Some questions for now: Do you want this boyfriend in your future? As a romantic partner? Are you excited about what the two of you could do together in five years? Because it doesn't sound like it.
You're not married yet. If you want a change, now's the time to pursue it.
Readers? What could change in 10 years?