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Thread: I don't know whether I love my boyfriend, and it's making me lose my mind.

  1. #1

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    I don't know whether I love my boyfriend, and it's making me lose my mind.

    I'm a late bloomer - 29. He's my first relationship and first everything. My problem: Since I haven't been in love before, I don't know how to recognize it.

    Usually, the advice is: "When you know, you know." Or: "If you have to ask whether you're in love, you're not." Or: "If you can't picture yourselves together five or fifteen or fifty years down the road, this isn't the relationship for you."

    I don't know whether that applies to me, however. There are complicating factors. I have autism, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. I'm in therapy and medicated for the depression, which may flatten feelings. I have baggage that comes with being alone for so long, and baggage from a complicated near-stalker situation when I was a teen.

    Here's the thing - I know I love my family, my friends, and my cat. But I only know that on an intellectual level. If I look inward and try to recognize an actual feeling of love so that I can compare it to what I feel for my boyfriend, I...have no idea.

    As my therapist says, if I can't identify love that I KNOW is there, I can't expect to identify love for my boyfriend, either. She says I can't apply general relationship advice to my situation because it's just not the same.

    My boyfriend and I have only been together for six months but it's gotten very serious. We're very compatible in terms of interests and goals. We spend 3-4 nights a week together. We've traveled internationally on a two-week road trip. I spent several weeks at his apartment fulltime this summer. We've been discussing concrete plans of moving in together next year. He loves me, and struggles with my inability to say it back.

    If I'm not in love and I'm stringing him along, I probably need to break it off ASAP, because it'll just get harder for both of us both logistically and emotionally. As difficult as a breakup would be, it'd be better in the long run. He deserves someone who loves him. But maybe I AM that person? I've been stressing out and overthinking this to the point where I'm sure I have relationship anxiety. (My therapist agrees and thinks they're obsessive thoughts and I shouldn't linger on them. And...definitely shouldn't be posting asking for advice...oops.)

    I've told my boyfriend about my doubts. Based on my behavior toward him, he thinks that I do love him and that I just can't recognize it myself. I hope this is the case. It could be: If I think of him coming over after work, I'm excited. If I think of not seeing him for a while, I'm disappointed. When he's here, I don't want him to leave. I'm incredibly physically affectionate and we spend 90% of our time together in an intricate two-person cuddle heap. I can't pass him in the hall or on my way to the kitchen without brushing past him or grabbing him for a hug. When we're together, I feel warm and safe and comfortable and content and loved. I find myself smiling all the time when he's here. I smile at his texts and when I see him calling me. We have adventures together and slack off together and laugh together. He makes even the boring stuff so much better: I even love doing groceries with him.

    The idea of living together feels strange and fills me with resistance - until I break it down into smaller pieces. Spending every night together? Figuring out dinner together? Waking up together? Choosing an apartment and decorating it together? Creating our own space together? Hell, even dividing chores or setting up a budget? All of that feels exciting. It feels right.

    Is that love? Or is my uncertainty a sign that I'm just not that into him? That I'm telling myself all these reasons of why I might be in love without knowing it, convincing myself that I have R-OCD, but the truth is that I just haven't met the right person? That I might love my boyfriend's company and attention and affection, but not HIM? I might be settling and going with comfort over love.

    Because the moment we're apart, doubts creep in. It all feels temporary - like I'm having a good time now but it's inevitably going to end. I'm constantly checking in on my emotional reactions toward him, analyzing my own feelings, trying to identify what's there and what it means.

    When we text, I feel myself having little patience with his negativity. I can think of him or look at a photo and go "is that it?" without any emotional response. My thoughts are overly critical. (I have this with practically everyone. Rationally, I know it's unfair, so I shove the thoughts away and rarely let them influence my actions. But still, should I have them in the first place about someone I'm supposed to be crazy about?)

    If I think about the fact that I'm in a relationship and have a boyfriend, I feel weirded out and resistant, similar to the thought of moving in together. I've never felt butterflies or a spark. I can look at my BF IRL and about half the time I won't even feel physical attraction to him, and I have a hard time physically complimenting him. I'll just see his flaws. (Other times, I'll think he's cute or handsome. Even if I'm not always convinced of my aesthetic attraction toward him, feeling sexually attracted has never been an issue.)

    I can intellectually process that I don't want to lose him but I don't have a visceral emotional reaction. Most of my agony over breaking up might come from the imagined desperation of being back to square 1, romance-wise. I mean, I spent SO LONG alone. What are my odds of finding someone as great as him? He's understanding and sweet and sharp and ambitious and we just match. But "I don't think I can do better" probably isn't a good reason to stay together.

    Then he comes over again and while I'll know in the back of my head I still have these doubts, they suddenly seem silly. I just feel so damn content being with him and I don't want him to leave. And once he does leave, within hours, those warm fuzzies fade and the doubts feel overpowering.

    I've spent hours scouring forums and sites trying to find evidence of situations like mine working out. Every time I see advice to break up, I flinch. Every time I see someone admit they had doubts about their partner or their own feelings but it all worked out, I cling to it like a lifeline.

    I don't want to break up. I want this to work. But I could just be desperate for a relationship, and that desperation might makes me stick with something that simply isn't there.

    I can't tell whether my brain is getting in the way of a good relationship and I need to shut it up, or whether my brain is being sensible and pointing out that this relationship isn't right.

    I feel guilty. Like I'm not being fair toward him and he deserves someone who's all in. At the same time, my therapist says that it wouldn't be fair to him if I just gave up on the relationship, either. Am I holding myself to standards that aren't made for me? If a relationship is GOOD - it works on all practical levels except for doubts I might purely be my anxiety talking - then isn't it silly to even consider breaking up?

    Am I forcing this relationship or am I sabotaging it?

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    At 6 mos of dating it's time to enjoy yourself and enjoy each other. It doesn't matter if you are 'in love' or not at this point. Also with the conditions you mention, your ability to identify feelings or feel things may be blunted. Basically if you enjoy being with this guy, then don't worry about putting an exact label on your feelings right now.

  3. #3
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    6 months and you still smile at his texts. Can't walk past without a hug! Those are all positive signs.

    You sound like you are doing really well with managing your anxiety and other things. So that is the most important thing.

    It's clear you are ready for a relationship. As you haven't gone into this lightly.

    It is actually very normal to not know how you are feeling. Even the most seasoned daters may not be to grips with how they feel 6 months on.

    So I would say sit back and enjoy what you have right in front of you.

    I battle with anxiety too and always worry about "the future" and what "might happen".

    We can't control what is around the corner. Don't let your fears ot incase you don't love him in the near future hinder what is there now.

    He sounds lovely and supportive. Right now that's is so valuable.

    Don't worry about the "love" side of things and just embrace it for what it is now.

    Would you want to end it now and regret not pursuing further and wonder what if?

    I am a big believer on giving things a good old try. So keep going as it sounds like a really postive relationship.

    Wish you all the best.

  4. #4
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    I think both of you may be pushing things a little too quickly. You've only been dating for 6 months and you're planning on moving in together after a year? You've got to slow down, especially since this is your first relationship. A lot of people would be having the same doubts and fear after only 6 months. You have to give yourself time to process the relationship. And you have to get to know each other better.

    Keep in mind too that a relationship is about more than being "in love." It's also about getting along with each other and enjoying each other's company. It's about having things in common and helping each other. In a long-term relationship, the kind of romantic love where you're swept off your feet with emotion is often replaced with the knowledge that you can rely on someone, that someone cares about you and that someone is there for you.

    So you need to relax. You're not at the point where you need to envision where the relationship will be in 10 or 15 years. Just concentrate on the now. It sounds like you're happy. He seems to love you and the sex is good. You're having fun. Trust in his emotions.

    I don't know what forums you're reading online, but from what you wrote, no one would suggest you break up with this guy. It can work out. Don't run away. Don't ruin it with depressive thinking. Your boyfriend can help you through the rough spots. Just trust in what you have right now.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member Realitynut's Avatar
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    If I think of him coming over after work, I'm excited. If I think of not seeing him for a while, I'm disappointed. When he's here, I don't want him to leave. I'm incredibly physically affectionate and we spend 90% of our time together in an intricate two-person cuddle heap. I can't pass him in the hall or on my way to the kitchen without brushing past him or grabbing him for a hug. When we're together, I feel warm and safe and comfortable and content and loved. I find myself smiling all the time when he's here. I smile at his texts and when I see him calling me. We have adventures together and slack off together and laugh together. He makes even the boring stuff so much better: I even love doing groceries with him.


    To me....this is what love is all about! Those excited infatuation days eventually fade. Feeling safe, content and loved is what it's all about. Every day mundane things. Just enjoy each day as it comes....and don't over think....

    You don't realize how hard it is for people to find what you have!!! ENJOY!

  7. #6
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    If I think of him coming over after work, I'm excited. If I think of not seeing him for a while, I'm disappointed. When he's here, I don't want him to leave. I'm incredibly physically affectionate and we spend 90% of our time together in an intricate two-person cuddle heap. I can't pass him in the hall or on my way to the kitchen without brushing past him or grabbing him for a hug. When we're together, I feel warm and safe and comfortable and content and loved. I find myself smiling all the time when he's here. I smile at his texts and when I see him calling me. We have adventures together and slack off together and laugh together. He makes even the boring stuff so much better: I even love doing groceries with him.
    To me, you sound like you're in love.

    However, this is your first relationship so you think it's supposed to be like a fairytale. Hearts and flowers all the time. It's just not true.
    There are times you won't see eye to eye, there are times you'll find him annoying and might not even like him for that second. This is NORMAL.
    No one is falling over their partner 24/7.

    Emotions wax and wane depending on your mood and what has gone on in the day. Sometimes you'll feel really close to him, other times, not so much.
    Again..normal.

    You sound like you have a very good relationship and that it could last a long time. You should be happy to have that, many many people search for that their whole life and few find it.

    Try not to overthink too much.

    It's when you don't enjoy his company at all anymore that you've got something to worry about.
    As for right now though, it sounds like it's going great!

  8. #7
    Hi, I read your post and thank you so much for sharing. I also struggle with anxiety and depression, and I know making big decisions I waiver on. Your boyfriend sounds like an amazing guy. Regardless of diagnoses, you are worth a wonderful guy! Please donít short change yourself because you have some health issues. I have been married for almost five years now, and I can tell you that love is a very fleeting thing. There are some days that I donít really like my husband, but it all comes back to why I married him in the first place. He was kind, caring, loving, and took care of me through some medical issues I had when we were dating. You are not always going to love your bf, and thatís ok. Communicating, working with each other, and showing each other that you love each other even on days when you donít feel it will get you through. I know I had my doubts before we got married, but I can honestly say that I couldnít imagine my life without him in it. That is how I knew that he was the one. Please know that you are beautiful and worth a prince who loves and cares about you.

  9. #8
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    I think that you should stay together, but continue to take it slow (don't move in together!) Six months is such a short time. especially having autism, I think you need to wait on anything like that and just continue to date and get to know eachother. I think moving in with someone would be way too much overload for you right now. just keep dating. Keep in mind you don't HAVE to move in with someone to date them. its not what has to happen. does he know fully all about your diagnosis and treatment?


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