In her former life, Emily “Gynomite” Gordon was a couples and family therapist licensed in 2 1/2 states. In this life, she would love to take a crack at your emotional dilemmas. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org- all emails stay confidential. You can also check her out on her weekly column over at Lemondrop. Today, Gynomite takes on drama in a relationship that’s grown stale.
I live with my boyfriend, and for the past year almost, our relationship has just been lame. We don’t fight that much, but I’m not happy being with him anymore, and I don’t think he’s happy being with me either. It’s just joyless and boring in our house, and I want to leave him, but it seems stupid because he’s not a bad man. Now this was all true before “Lyle” showed up. Lyle is a college buddy of mine that recently moved to the same town I live in, and for whatever reason, I am ridiculously attracted to him. I’m pretty sure he’s attracted to me too. We’ve never hooked up, back then or now, and I am not a cheater, but I want this guy so bad I can’t stand it. Is wanting to cheat a sign that I have to get out of this relationship?
Wow. A lot going on here. Since you didn’t ask what to do about the current relationship you are still in, I won’t address it either, until I do.
My guess is that this guy Lyle, though he might be amazing, is not half as amazing as his timing. Being in a relationship where things have gotten stale is harder to recognize than a relationship filled with intense bad things, because when things are just quietly not great, there is no straw that breaks the camel’s back. You just look around one day and realize you’re surrounded by straw and yet still limping along. I address this relationship issue, which I call pink flags, at Lemondrop this week, but that’s not required reading.
You’re bored and attracted to this guy, sure, but rather than being attracted to Lyle for who he is, what you’re really attracted to is the drama, attention, and the possible excuse for leaving your boyfriend. Not that any of these things are bad to get from others, but it’s only fair to your boyfriend, Lyle, and yourself that you realize this. He’s not even a guy at all, just a personification of your desires. If this were a movie, Lyle would be the guy who teaches you to love yourself.
The grownup thing to do in this situation is to acknowledge, to yourself and maybe to Lyle, that the two of you are most likely not star-crossed lovers destined for each other, but rather, opportunists and humans.
After you do that, it’s time to turn your attention back to your relationship with your boyfriend. This either means that you need to try and work on it, or you need to get out of it. If you want to work on it, have the hard talk with him about how you’re feeling and what you want, and then try counseling, take a class together, go on a date, go to a sex store, take a different route to walk to the store, bring a board game along with laundry so you’re not just both reading books silently, watch YouTube videos together, give each other massages, go get ice cream, etc and so on. If you want to get out of it, do it, quickly and with dignity, and then you can fuck Lyle all you want.
If Lyle helps you by pushing you into a decision about your relationship, then awesome, but don’t try to convince yourself that it’s because you two are meant for each other. Just concentrate on getting off that fence you’ve been sitting on.