Do You Really Ever 'Just Know' ?


When I met my boyfriend a year ago, i felt a rush of emotion that I have never felt before. Not a giddy, lustful feeling, rather, a deep, intense, calm feeling. I remember telling my family and close friends, "I’ve never felt this way before. Even if circumstances come between us and we don’t end up together for the long haul, then the person I do commit to spend my life with will create this feeling in me cause i truly believe that this is that "it" feeling people talk about when they say you "just know".

We dated long distance for about 6 months, only seeing each other 3 times. At the end of the summer, he moved to NY to be closer to me and try to give our relationship a fair shot. Now that we’re in the same place and able to see each other more situations, I’m finding that nearly every little thing he does annoys me! We’re from very different backgrounds: he is a Colorado mountain boy who likes a simple life and all natural/organic things. I live in NYC, and while I love the outdoors and want to share this with him, I also truly love and appreciate the urban experience, diversity, and culture that city life has to offer. I don’t find him to be intellectually challenging and he has no serious future plan. That being said, he is so sweet and thoughtful, so loving and kind. He will cook for me and rub my back. He’s very attentive but I’m starting to feel like I love him the way you love your pet (I mean that in the nicest way possible). He comforts me but i am beginning to question if he truly fits as my partner.


So what, then, happened to that feeling that I felt so deeply when we first held each other? Where did that overwhelming sense of calm and outpouring of love go? Am I over-thinking things and blocking the emotions from flowing or am I starting to realize a relationship is based on more factors than just feelings? Any thoughts…? For the sake of reference, I am 25 and he is 30 years old.

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My guess is that this is one of those situations where you already know the answer but have not yet realized that fact. My guess is that you have already decided that you and this man are not ultimately compatible, but that for whatever reasons you are not feeling comfortable admitting this to yourself. I can guess at what the major reasons are why this is happening, by the way. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know. Just someone other than yourself who isn’t so emotionally entangled. You truly like this man and care for him deeply. The last thing you want to do is to hurt his feelings; That’s probably one of them. The other big one is that you feel so comfortable with this man and to give him up will create a painful and lonely hole in your life, however temporarily. You are caught between guilt and the desire to avoid your own discomfort, and that has you stalled from doing what needs to be done, which is to sit down with this boyfriend and tell him that while you truly care for him, you don’t want to marry him, and that, because you know that, and because you don’t want to waste either his time or your own, the right thing to do is for you two to break up. It’s impossible to know how he may take this news. He may be crushed; he may have already guessed that this was in the cards. You may be able to part on good terms and retain a beautiful friendship, or this may be the end. However it may occur, based on what you are saying here, you probably need to make this cut.

I think you are right in giving special significance to the feelings you had a year ago when you were first "in love" with this man. You were distinguishing between how you felt about this new relationship and how you felt about prior boyfriends, and correctly noting that when things are right that the feeling you have is more quiet, peaceful and certain than frantic and needy. But just because you felt that way months ago does not mean that this relationship is "the one". There is such a thing as compatibility in long term relationships, and to appreciate it and evaluate it properly, one must be more logical and less strictly emotional about any given relationship. If your brain is telling you that intellectual and cultural pursuits are important to you and will not mesh with what is important to this man, that is something to take seriously. It’s part of the equation, is what I mean; not the whole picture. You also recognize that you do have some real points of compatibility with this man and that is also something to take seriously. You don’t want to get into the trap of holding out for perfection, but you also don’t want to settle simply out of a sense of (misplaced) loyalty or an aversion to wounding yourself temporarily in order to get something (hopefully) better in the future. Though you need to be rational in recognizing and evaluating all the pieces the ultimate decision is frequently one that gets made emotionally, which is what I think has already occurred. When you compare your future spouse to be to how you feel about a beloved dog, you are saying in so many words that this does not feel to you like an equal partnership, and that it is time to go separate ways. I’m not hearing you saying you are wanting a "pet" for a spouse.


The old (1979) Nick Lowe song recommends that you "Gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure". In that song, the woman was actually being cruel to the boyfriend (stringing him along, I think), whereas I’m advising you to consider that you might need to act in a way that seems cruel (e.g., breaking up with him) in order to be truly kind; to him (e.g., not leading him on) and to yourself (e.g., not settling for something you don’t ultimately want). You feel guilty; you don’t want to go through the trouble of finding someone new, and you don’t want to be cruel, so the natural thing to do is to delay and put off doing anything. But after some time passes, if the feelings and the overall assessment don’t change, you ultimately have to find the courage to do the right thing. Chances are that though this man is not intellectual in the way you desire, he isn’t stupid either, and he will know that your heart is not available to him fully; has not been for a while. I doubt that when you break it to him that it will be a complete and utter shock (although I’ve also learned to never under-rate the power of denial). Whatever happens will happen, but the important thing is to do the thing you have to do even if it ends up hurting you and him temporarily. If you don’t do that right thing, you will likely regret it later, as may he.

All of this presupposes that my guess is correct that that you have, perhaps unbeknownst to yourself, already decided what you want to do. If I’m wrong, then you will have to adjust my advice accordingly. The important thing to do is to figure out what you really want, stripping away the stuff that is fear motivated, and then to do what it is that you think will best realize what you want, acting with as much integrity and honesty and kindness as you can in the process.

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