I can't tell if I'm happy in my relationship. How can I know for sure?
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Dear Miss Info,
I have been dating my best friend for about a year. We were friends long before the inevitable "Hey, we're both attracted to each other, let's do something about that" moment. I have had fun for the majority of the relationship, but there are moments where I freeze up and wonder why the hell am I dating this person.
One issue is that he's not the type of person I'm usually attracted to. I like nerdy, awkward Han Solo-wannabes, while he is more creative, blonde, and romantic. Whenever he talks, in great detail, about how much he loves me, or about planning a future together, I get a little weirded out. It's not that I don't love him, and it's possible that we could spend a long time together, but wanting to plan it out and talk about it now makes me uncomfortable. The fact that it makes me uncomfortable itself makes me worry about how I truly feel about him, and whether or not we should have just stayed friends.
I feel like I can't backpedal now, and I don't even know if I want to. Are these feelings of unease because of all the other stresses in my life (school, job, career planning, anxiety disorder, etc.)? Or are the sparks fading and I just can't see it? I really do care about him, but I feel a little stuck in a rut. I don't know what I want, and I don't know how to figure it out.
And as a qualifier, I have felt this way in past relationships when they moved just as fast, even if they were "my type." Am I just not cut out for long-term relationship success, or do I need to take it ultra-slow in order to be happy? What should I do?
— Stuck in a Moment
Dear Stuck in a Moment,
If you start at Do I Like This Guy? Valley, pass the We Get Along So Well Forest, tromp through the Licorice Lagoon, and end up at Existential Crisis Swampland, something's gone wrong.
I don't think your attraction to him is about "type;" I think it's about chemistry. When chemistry is lacking, intellect takes over. It sounds a lot like your brain is running the show here, possibly because your heart and/or libido have checked out. You didn't ask for an answer, though; you asked for a way to figure out what you want. Which is great! "Teach a man to fish" is far superior to "give a man a fish," etc.
The best way to figure out what you want is to ask yourself some simple questions, and answer impulsively. No overthinking, weighing of nuances, or backtracking; shoot from the hip. Start with, "Does he fascinate me? Challenge me? Support me?" Then go broader: "Am I happy with him?" or "Am I happy with myself in this realtionship?" Your gut reaction is what you should be listening to here, not your brain.
More broadly, I think the real issue is your ability to trust yourself. What I'm reading most in your letter is not "Should I stay with him?"; it's "Is something in me broken?" Short answer: absolutely not. There's nothing wrong with you or your relationship history, and there's no value in stringing somebody along out of a misplaced sense of duty. If you think the pros outweigh the cons, by all means, stick with him; but if you're just worried about what a breakup would mean for your relationship track record, you may want to go back to the drawing board.
Dear Miss Information,
About a month ago, I met someone and we soon became very close. But we "met" online, and at the time I didn't want to give out my real information. He asked how old I am, where I live, etc. He happens to live two states away. At first it really was both of us being bored, searching for someone to chat with. I never intended for it to go this far.
Anyway, I BS-ed all my information, telling him I was three years older than I really am and that I went to a college that I don't go to. Now I can't seem to break the truth to him — I'm afraid it will turn him away. I became so attracted to him in such a short time that I broke up with my boyfriend of two years from the guilt that was bubbling in me. We spend a lot of time together, he makes me so happy, and, compared to my ex, he's a much more loving guy. Yet all this is making me scared to tell him the truth — that I am only seventeen, and am not yet in college. He's almost twenty-two and graduating soon. He's thinking of moving to where I live after he graduates to work near me — except I don't live where he thinks I do.
What do I do? I fear all options, yet I know it can't stay this way.
Loneliness is a powerful force. Before you let it sweep you away, you should check how much of your feelings are loneliness talking, and what makes this guy seem perfect. I would also apply a seriously skeptical eye to anyone who decides to base his future off of a girl he has "known" for a month, online. Loneliness can override common sense, which is precisely why you have to be harder on your impulse to draw hearts and stars around this guy's screen name. As you know, it's all too easy to gloss over the truth on the Internet — if you did it, he likely has, too.
If you keep talking to him, definitely come clean, no question. He will probably be a little upset, but nowhere near as upset as he would be if he moved to some town just to be with a not-entirely-truthful hologram of a girl. And, of course, keep your wits about you; maintain a healthy fear of murderous internet clowns. There was a Very Special Degrassi episode about it circa 2002, so it's obviously a valid concern.
More to the point, Snowballed: it's a documented fact that being seventeen sucks. It's almost always lonely, almost always claw-your-eyes-out boring. This guy is a fun distraction, but not someone to plan your life around. You're better served investing your energy elsewhere: finding a rad college, getting a part-time job that exposes you to cool people, learning a new skill. This dude may briefly boost your self-esteem, but he won't do much to quell your loneliness. You've got to do that for yourself.