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'Is Relationship Burnout A Real Thing? I’m Feeling It'

It happens to the best of us, and the first step to recovery is recognizing the problem
by Dr. FHM | May 11, 2018
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Ask FHM is a corner of the Internet where we fan the flames of your burning questions. Here, we dish out some tough love and an honest take on whatever potentially life-changing situation you find yourself in (while silently thanking God we aren’t you right now). Ask us anything. Except for money, and if open-minded ba kami. 

Vol. 9: ‘Is Relationship Burnout A Real Thing? I’m Feeling It’

Dear FHM,

I’ve been with the girl of my dreams for about three years—except lately, it feels like I’m living in a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong; she’s awesome and I know I love her. Ambitious, fun, still sexy, my family loves her, you know the drill. But I can’t shake this feeling of… meh-ness?... when we’re together. I’m a bit bored, to be honest, and it seems like we’re in a rut and starting to fight about the stupidest things. Is it wrong to want to BBTF from those early days of dating? Are all long-term relationships like this? Should we just break up? Super confused, but I feel like I need to make a big change in our relationship.

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The simplest answer would be: Yes, in the peaks and valleys of romantic relationships, sticking it out for a few years and finding yourself in a comfortable rut is definitely a seemingly endless valley. But it doesn’t have to be a dried-out desert that you find yourself wandering around in, wondering how you got there and if you’ll even get out.

You’re right about needing a change, to shake things up. Don’t feel guilty about thinking the way you do—in fact, owning up to how you really feel about your relationship shows you really care enough to suss out what’s going on, with the intent to save it. But don’t go busting out the “It’s not you, it’s me” lines just yet (in fact, don’t ever) because a break-up is not the solution to plain boredom.

Remember, relationship burnouts or ruts happen to the best of us. Practically everyone. Just ask your parents. Or your friends who have been married a few years. Or even your couple friends who have been together the same amount of time as you. No one is safe from the slow and casual decline of just falling asleep in ratty clothes instead of naked post-sex, among other alarming-at-first, but actually normal signs. You can’t be “on” the whole time, and keeping up that cool girl/guy bit you had when you first started dating is just plain exhausting. It isn’t always fun and games and #relationshipgoals.

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But you know what? Getting into a rut is not the problem, and seeing as how it’s a bit unavoidable, nothing to be worried about. It’s what you do about it that matters—so your next moves are going to be crucial. You seem like a sensitive guy, so you know better than to think with your dick and act out. You’d be surprised how many cases of cheating stem from this discontent or boredom, so we beseech you to NOT be a cliché and take the high road.

Don’t go looking elsewhere; focus on your girl (and yourself). You say you love her and she’s worth sticking it out with, so there’s definitely room for a little honest chat. If you’re both feeling the stagnation, consider what it is about the two of you (or even individually) that’s making you boring buzzkills. Are you guys stuck in a routine that isn’t working for you? Is one of you unhappy with his or her current career setup, or do one of you wish you could explore a passion or hobby more?

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Think about what you want (what you really, really want) and lay it bare. Maybe you’ve both fallen into a comfy pit of complacency, secure in the affirmation, affection, and lazy intimacy you both get, that you’ve forgotten all about leveling up—thus leaving you both stewing in this rut of your own making. Maybe you want to change jobs. Maybe she wants to move into her own place. Maybe she wants to adopt a cat. Maybe you both want to travel to Korea because you’ve secretly fallen in love with K-dramas but you’ll be damned if you’ll admit it. Maybe you both even want some space for a little while. Whatever it is, TALK ABOUT IT.

Second, shake things up a little. Go on that aforementioned trip to Korea. Try a new restaurant that isn’t one of your usual go-to’s after the de facto san-tayo-ikaw-kahit-saan conversation. Have sex spontaneously—anytime, anywhere, outside of your usual Friday-night-at-home situation. Go on a road trip to Ilocos, or take a bus to La Union. Getting out of your comfort zone, doing something new together, and sharing a new experience for two forges new bonds. Science says so.

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Third, and corollary to the previous idea, you can try to take it back to your roots. Maybe you’ve just forgotten how good you guys are together. Maybe you’ve stopped seeing what a total babe your girl is, so wrapped up you are in your shoulda-woulda-coulda’s. Reminisce over old photos. Have a drink at one of your old haunts. Do the little things you used to do back when you were young and cute, wide-eyed at the idea that this could be love—pick her up from work, buy her coffee, or cook her some misshapen pancakes she’ll find adorable anyway.

Whatever you do, the point is, you try. That’s the whole point of a legit relationship, anyway. It’s what you do when the going gets tough that ultimately determines if you’re meant to be in this for the long haul. If communicating openly, moving forward together, or looking back side-by-side all don’t work in your favor, then maybe it really is time to phone this in. But before you throw in the towel, get off your ass and try to make it work.

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Illustration Borg Sinaban

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