Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
My boyfriend and I have been engaged for two years.
I have some major issues in our relationship, which I have discussed with him on several occasions and told him I would not marry him if things stayed as they are.
He doesn't spend time with my family or friends, we don't spend time together one on one outside of watching television or movies at home, and we don't have sex.
Our last conversation was me asking him what the underlying reason was for us not having sex was. He said that he shows physical love in other ways like rubbing my back (which is infrequent as well).
I think he's a great person and I love him, but I don't believe I can marry him. I don't want to stop having sex, and I want someone to experience life with. I feel like I need to break up with him, but I'm afraid I'm making a mistake. Life is good, we're both very independent, and I have lots of freedom. I just feel like our love is more like family than passionate romantic love.
I feel like he is a roommate.
It's not that we don't kiss or have sweet moments, but it's not enough.
Am I too hard on him? Is there something else I can do?
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Often when people write to me about relationship problems — and whether they should stay or go — they already know the answer. But they need someone else to confirm it, to permit them to do what they know they want to do.
In the opening of your email, instead of saying fiancé, you said you’d been engaged for two years to your boyfriend. The moment I read that, I knew that your heart is not all in here. And it’s okay that your heart is not all in.
That you are questioning things is healthy because you don’t sound thrilled about the prospect of marrying this guy.
In my life, I have spent a lot of time in almost right relationships (and some that were way wrong) because I kept playing the “but” game. But he’s a good guy. But I love him even though I’m miserable. But sex isn’t that important. But no one is perfect.
And sure, there’s some truth in all of those buts. BUT, marriage is a big deal, or it should be, and you should feel like your needs are getting met by your future spouse.
Don’t plan a future with someone who leaves you feeling unsatisfied and alone — life is too damn short.
When I met my husband, I had just come out of a long on-again/off-again relationship that wasn’t working because neither of us was getting what we needed in a relationship. Not because we were terrible people, but because our needs didn’t align so well.
My relationship with my husband felt different from the beginning; it felt effortless. This is not to say that we have never argued or that things are always perfect, far from it. But, in general, on a daily basis, I am happy; I am satisfied in my relationship. And even more importantly, my marriage is the least stressful part of my life. And I believe that is how it should be.
I know there is the common refrain that relationships take hard work, but I’ve never liked that line of thinking.
Yes, in a longterm relationship, we think about the other person’s needs, we may compromise, we may need reminders to be present and giving and loving. But that is life with any profound relationship.
You asked if you are too hard on him, if there’s something else you can do…
In the middle of the email, you answered your question when you said: “I think he's a great person and I love him, but I don't believe I can marry him.”
I don’t think you should marry him. I think you should allow both of you the opportunity to find a partner who is better suited to your needs.
It can feel scary to let go of relationships, especially when we’ve come a long way with someone, but I believe you will both be happier moving on from each other.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Brookite, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo