Tell Me About It: Find normal in a relationship
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Question: I'm 29, female, in the first healthy, reciprocated romantic relationship of my life. Before this, I had only demented best-friends-with-benefits situations. I've been in my current relationship for two and a half years, and I feel incredibly lucky to be with my boyfriend. I feel safe and loved, and we moved in together.
The problem is that I'm constantly wondering if certain things are omens, or totally normal, or byproducts of my personality. Things like, sometimes he annoys me, sometimes I want to be alone, sometimes I'm not attracted to him at all.
He is one of the best people I have ever met, and I don't want to lose him. But I might be slowly losing my mind, thinking either that I'm sitting on a pile of evidence and can't see it right, or that I'm inexperienced and needlessly worrying. I use something you wrote a while ago: I think, do I want to keep seeing him? The answer is almost always yes.
Answer: I'd suggest getting more specific, asking yourself: How have I addressed what bothers me? For example, when he annoys you and you want to be alone, are you:
(1) Mentally backtracking to see whether there are any common denominators, like too much noise or togetherness, too little sleep, or . . . ? Are there ways to anticipate and even preempt your crabby spells?
(2) Building some breathing room into your life together? Is there space at home you can call your own? Have you built breaks from each other into your schedule? Are you able to say, "I need to be alone for a bit, thanks," without touching off a dreary conversation about whether you really love him?
(3) Checking occasionally, once you have these pressure-relief valves working, to make sure you still feel like you, and aren't pretzeling yourself just to make this work?
That's really the unifying thread - feeling like a good, comfortable version of yourself. That, and feeling lucky to be with him, versus feeling lucky to be with somebody.