Relationship Cold feet

Dear Toni-

My boyfriend of three years and I recently decided to take a break. For several months I have been experiencing doubts about whether or not he is the person I want to spend my life with. We spent the first two years of our relationship madly in love, planning a future, optimistic and excited. However something in me started to slowly shift, and his "faults" became a huge problem for me. I started bringing up issues that I had with him and our relationship and we tried to work through them together. Every attempt to resolve something just took us in circles. Eventually, he became tired of me putting up roadblocks to our development and suggested a break for me to figure out what I want.

At this point, I simply do not know what to think or do. On the one hand, he is by far the most incredible person I have ever met. He embodies characteristics I long to have and am certain he would make a good husband and father. What I doubt are my feelings towards him. The passion has waned, and I lately find myself critical and judgmental towards him....towards qualities about him I USED to find endearing!

I keep hoping that I am simply having trouble transitioning to the next stages because this is the longest relationship I have ever had. I just don't know.... Any advice? --Lost That Loving Feeling

Dear Lost that loving feeling--

So sorry- this is a tough one. He's great, has everything you are looking for, but "you are just not that into him." I don't want to minimize what you are experiencing, however, I think it is useful to strip away the excess and go right to the core issue.

You are right that your relationship momentum stopped as you were heading into the deep waters of true commitment and intimacy. The problem appears to be centered in you as a couple, not him as an individual. He's great and has all the right qualities that you USED to find endearing. However, as this relationship moved from the early stages of attraction, infatuation, and getting to know you--into a place of greater comfort, predictability and growth through challenge and negotiation, you got cold feet. In order to get to real intimacy, flaws need to be visible, unpleasant truths uncovered--and these to be comfortably accepted and embraced as a part of the whole package, by both people. Instead, you are seeing his "faults" as deal breakers.

When a relationship stalls like this it really does come down to not being into him to the extent that you can comfortably overlook his annoying quirks, boorish moments, bad moods, and other not so endearing traits in order to take that leap into commitment.

I could spend a lot of time asking you about your specific concerns and dissecting the issues you are struggling with, but this would only offer you a brief respite that could lead to false hope and greater heartbreak for both of you.

(from September 2010)

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Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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