Dear Dr. Love- I’ve been reading through your archives and cannot find a problem that is parallel to mine. I have been dating this guy for close to a year and a half. He is the sweetest guy ever. My family loves him and his family loves me (at least to my knowlege). Anyway I love him very much but I keep finding myself wondering if I really want to be in this.I am only in college and am fully aware that there are other fish in the sea. I am worried that the reason why I do not approach these feelings is because I am afraid of losing the companionship. I was alerted of my feelings when a colleague of mine asked me if I still had feelings for my best friend of about 3 years. I was taken aback when I said yes, it through me into a couple of days of wondering what I was doing in this relationship and if I still wanted to be in it.I am just so lost. I love him, I know I do but are these feelings that people have after being in a relationship this long (this is my first one that has lasted this long) or is it an indication that I need to get out?I don’t want to hurt him but I don’t want to find myself unhappy further down the road, please help.
Having ambivalence, or mixed feelings, about people we love dearly is normal. I remember an episode on All in the Family, when Gloria comes running to her mother in tears, saying that she thinks she doesn’t love Michael any longer. Edith tells Gloria that she there are times when she can’t stand Archie. Gloria asks her how she deals with it, to with Edith explains, that suddenly Archie does something adorable like shout, ‘Edith bring me a beer, ‘and she loves him all over again.I am not concerned that you have ambivalent feelings, but what does concern me is that your mixed feelings seemed to have become more pronounced since you began realizing that you still have feelings for your ex.. Before you even consider going into action, like breaking up, you need to do a lot more examination of your feelings. You need to study your feelings of ambivalence and actually itemize those feelings, when they occur, around what subjects, and so on.Once you are fully clear on the nature of your ambivalence, then you need to examine what you like about your partner. You are basically doing a cost benefit analysis. When you finish your evaluation, you will have a pro and con list.Then ask yourself. Do any of the items in my con list need to be resolved in order for me to feel happier in the relationship? If your answer is yes, then you need to discuss these issues with your partner and see if he is willing to modify in these areas. You will also need to see if he can modify in the areas that you need. If, for example, you are discontent with aspects of his character, then what you see is what you get, since character traits and the behaviors that arise out of them, are relatively intractable.For example, if your boyfriend is a person who is unspontaneous by nature, and you like to do spur of the moment activities, you are going to have big problems.Next, you need to honestly compare your current boyfriend with your ex. . What are the things that you miss about your ex. ? Are these aspects missing in your relationship with your current boyfriend. Can these elements be added into your relationship, or do they go against the grain of your boyfriend’s personality.You also need to study yourself and see whether you are a ‘grass is greener’type of person. Your ex. boyfriend is an ex. because you weren’t happy enough to stay, I presume. Now, you miss him and idealize the relationship. Was the relationship all that great, in reality?If you leave your boyfriend seeking greener pastures, will you eventually miss what you have with him? In other words, nothing in this life is perfect, and if you keep breaking up in search of something better, you may always be disappointed.Ultimately, you will need to decide what you absolutely need, what you can tolerate and what you can’t live with. Since nobody is perfect and there is no such thing as a perfect fit, all relationships involve trade offs, compromises some sacrifice. This explains why we all experience feelings of ambivalence.Good luck in your examination.