Why I’m Staying in a Boring and Unfulfilling Relationship
The present is OK, but a future together seems bleak.
I moved to London in 2019 for work. I was single and thought it would be the best place for me to restart my life in my 30s. It felt like the universe had handed me a pen to start writing my story on a blank page, a new chapter waiting to be filled in. At first, everything was new, different. The city seemed bursting with possibility, and I was determined to make the most of it.
I Quickly Found Out My New Partner and I Had Nothing in Common
Right before the pandemic shook the very ground we stood in, I met someone who ticked a lot of the boxes in my mind. A gentleman, respectful, kind, sweet, reliable, made me feel safe. We went out on a few dates before everything shut down and life as we knew it drastically changed.
Dating before 2020 would have meant eating out, doing activities, going places, exploring common interests (or creating new ones), flirting, dressing up, seeing the city together. Dating during the pandemic meant hanging out at home, doing puzzles, drinking tea, reading the newspaper in the morning, watching movies and going out for long (sometimes quiet) walks. That’s all fine, but it felt like someone decided to fast-forward my life and we were suddenly living like two 80-year-olds.
There was no excitement, no drama, nothing interesting. But I thought to myself: You should be grateful you have company during this difficult time. And so I was grateful to have company during that difficult time. As the months went by, I realized we had nothing in common, but also nothing bad happened and it was comfortable.
We come from very different cultures, and that definitely required some adjustment. I had been used to metaphorically eating spicy food and suddenly I was eating bland mashed potatoes. Previous relationships have included intense and explosive personalities, which felt like indulging in an exotic menu but always ending up with a stomachache. In matters of love, I have not always made the wisest choices, so I convinced myself to try something different, to see if I would get different results. Maybe my feelings would develop gradually.
I knew from the start I felt bored, but I wanted to blame it on the pandemic and restrictions. However, things are nearly back to normal now and I am still so bored that I sometimes prefer to just be by myself. I have more fun hiding at home watching Schitt’s Creek, eating popcorn and texting with friends back home.
When I go out for coffee in the mornings, I find myself daydreaming that I will bump into a stranger and it will be like an electric shock that brings me back to life and it will all click. As I walk, smiling, I imagine our first date, the laughter and the magnetic conversation and feel like I already miss the person after that chance encounter. Then, it starts to rain and I remember where I am.
I Am Always Questioning Whether I’m Making the Right Decision to Stay
So why don’t I just break up? Why don’t I just end things and look for something different?
My internal dialogues go on and on. They even turn into heated debates. One side says, “Don’t settle. You are still young enough to start over again and look for someone new. You have felt chemistry before, and you deserve to have that again.”
The other side replies, “You’re in your mid-30s. You’re running out of time if you want to have kids. Plus, you’ve had chemistry before, and that wasn’t enough, so count your blessings. You have a good guy; don’t mess it up.”
Then, the other side argues, “Right, he may be a great man, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right one for you. You are not in love, and it’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to him.”
To which the other side answers, “Dating is scary. The streets are full of crazy people out there; it is a lot of trial and a lot of error. Chasing chemistry is a pointless treasure hunt. It’s thrilling, but so what? Every long-term couple you know says the same thing: There are more important things than chemistry to make a relationship work. And what is chemistry anyway?”
When facing important life decisions, I always seem to freeze. Analysis paralysis. So much overthinking. Every big decision triggers a fear of what could go wrong, sending me into a risk-management mindset where I eventually end up making decisions about love with my brain instead of my heart.
“First world problems,” I tell myself to minimize my feelings. “You’ve been in bad relationships. You’ve been with a toxic person. You’ve been ghosted, disrespected, hurt. You’ve watched The Tinder Swindler. You couldn’t even finish season two of You on Netflix because it made you paranoid. Remember your friends’ awful dating stories. You also know it’s not easy to find a good guy, and when you do, you don’t like him?”
This makes me feel guilty, like a horrible human being. So I try my best to be nice and romantic to compensate, but deep down, I am holding back, as if I am saving the best version of myself for someone I haven’t even met.
And so time passes like the inevitable flow of a river. And I am sitting on a boat with another person, watching the scenery in a slow ride that feels pointless.
I finally have someone who is there for me, who is stable, supportive and emotionally mature. Yes, it does feel like we are an old retired couple who are content with having a very calm life. But he seems satisfied with that—shouldn’t I?