If The Lust Has Faded, Should I Dump My Great Boyfriend?

Hi Evan, I stumbled across your blog while looking for advice. It’s been really helpful for me so far! I have read what you’ve written on passion and chemistry, and I know you get a lot of questions on this topic. I am 27 and have been with my boyfriend for 3 years. He is the kindest, most compassionate guy I have ever known. He treats me like gold and is just the coolest, most gentle person who understands me completely and is always there for me. I feel safe and calm when I am with him. He makes me so happy and when we are together we have so much fun and I am always so happy I feel like I’m on cloud nine! He really does feel like my soulmate and I feel so lucky to have met someone like him. I love him very much and have a strong feeling that I always want to be there for him and make him happy. There is just one little problem…

I don’t feel that same passion and lust for him as I did when we first met. I am not super excited and giddy around him anymore. I used to want to jump his bones anywhere and everywhere, even in the supermarket. But that feeling has faded and now when we are doing everyday things together like shopping or cuddling on the couch I feel more of a peaceful comfort and warmth with him. Don’t get me wrong, I still find him attractive. I still love to be physical with him and we are constantly touching and kissing and cuddling. It’s just not that exciting anymore; it feels more comforting and warm and loving rather than lustful. I don’t think about him every second of the day anymore, don’t get butterflies in my stomach when I see him and don’t feel nervous, giddy or weak in the knees anymore. When we are together doing ordinary everyday things I don’t feel that intense lust anymore, but rather a warm comfort and joy. This makes me so confused. I love him so much and want to stay with him. I cant imagine being with anyone else. Isn’t a relationship or a marriage supposed to have that intense lust? Would I be wrong to stay in a relationship where the lust has faded? Marisa

 

Marry him.

Like, right now. Lock it in.

You’re in a dream relationship and you’re trying to find cracks in it.

That’s like inspecting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to see where Michelangelo colored outside the lines.

Just reread what you wrote above:

“He makes me so happy and when we are together we have so much fun and I am always so happy I feel like I’m on cloud nine! He really does feel like my soulmate and I feel so lucky to have met someone like him. I love him very much and have a strong feeling that I always want to be there for him and make him happy.”

 

This is what it’s all about, Marisa. And it’s not like you’re turned off by him:

You SHOULDN’T feel butterflies with the person who will be there until you die.

Don’t get me wrong, I still find him attractive. I still love to be physical with him and we are constantly touching and kissing and cuddling. It’s just not that exciting anymore; it feels more comforting and warm and loving rather than lustful. I don’t think about him every second of the day anymore, don’t get butterflies in my stomach when I see him and don’t feel nervous, giddy or weak in the knees anymore.

This is exactly what healthy relationships should be like. You SHOULDN’T be nervous around your best friend. You SHOULDN’T obsess about the man you’ve loved for 3 years. You SHOULDN’T feel butterflies with the person who will be there until you die.

That’s what happens at the beginning – and, to make sure you feel normal – this feeling wears off within 18-24 months in most relationships, according to Dr. Helen Fisher, author of “Why We Love”.

Which is why, as a dating coach, I spend most of my time telling women to find the relationship that feels EXACTLY like yours does, Marisa!

You’ve hit the lottery and you’re worried about paying taxes on it? Really?

Just know that the “exciting, shiny new car” that you bought last week will, in two or three years, just be known as “your car”.

That’s how things work. They’re exciting when they’re new and comfortable when they’re old. People who chase that exciting new feeling are the ones who are either perpetually single, perpetually trying to “trade up” in relationships, or prone to cheating because they feel that the grass is always greener.

Perhaps Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice”, said it best in Lori Gottlieb’s “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” To paraphrase:

…what you should do when you’re dating is attempting to find the “6” with whom you can spend the rest of your life.

At some point, you realize you shouldn’t marry a “10”, so you go for the “8”. But once you fall in love with the “8”, over time, once you get accustomed to him, he turns into a “6”. Once the bloom is off the rose, you start to think you can do better than your “6”, and you break up with him, only to find another “8”, forgetting of course, that in a few years, he, too, will become a “6”. So really, Schwartz advises, what you should do when you’re dating is attempting to find the “6” with whom you can spend the rest of your life.

My wife did that.

You’ve done that, Marisa.

And I can assure you, when you sit back and watch all the lustful couples break up while you’re growing old with your soulmate, you’re not going to have the second thoughts you’re having now.

Instead, you’re going to wonder how you could have ever thought your life would be better without this man by your side.

9
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Comments:

  1. 1
    Confused

    Um can I have this “problem” please.

  2. 2
    Diana

    Exactly! Well said, Evan.
     
    My only comment is that while it’s impossible to not take each other for granted from time to time, especially after many years together, try to not fall too much into this category. Sometimes a couple grows “too” comfortable with each other which can lead to issues like not feeling appreciated, or feeling under appreciated, to not doing or saying the things that made your relationship feel so special in the beginning, or to not notice that as you change, how this is affecting your relationship and your partner.
     
    Enjoy! :)

  3. 3
    starthrower68

    This sort of confusion is what happens when we are more about the hookup and when we don’t keep sex in it’s proper perspective.  Sex is wonderful but where have we gotten this impression that lust and passion last forever? 

  4. 4
    Steve

    This makes me so confused. I love him so much and want to stay with him. I cant imagine being with anyone else. Isn’t a relationship or a marriage supposed to have that intense lust?
     
    No.
     
    A marriage should have passion.  On the other hand, it isn’t natural or normal to feel like you are on a crack high every day after you have known someone for 3 years.   No state of being in nature is static.   You are thinking about things in terms of ideals that don’t exit in the real world.

  5. 5
    Karl R

    Marissa asked: (original post)
    “Isn’t a relationship or a marriage supposed to have that intense lust? Would I be wrong to stay in a relationship where the lust has faded?”

    No and No.

    Scientist have discovered that the intense feelings disappear over the first 1-3 years. If you’re in a great relationship, it feels like what you’ve described after the infatuation fades: warm, loving, comfortable, etc.

    I wouldn’t marry a woman until that intense lust fades. I want to be certain that my decision is based on something more substantial and long-lasting. Lust tends to cloud my objectivity.

  6. 6
    MC

    Yes, marry him.
    And just to be sure you know, most of the people reading your letter deeply envy you. You just will never know how much.

  7. 7
    texasdarlin

    This makes me so confused. I love him so much and want to stay with him. I cant imagine being with anyone else. Isn’t a relationship or a marriage supposed to have that intense lust?
    Since when?  Where did you get that idea?  This is real life, not a romance novel or romantic comedy.   Lust will wax and wane in a long-term relationship.  That’s natural.   As usual, Evan has it right and the others who’ve commented thus far have good points.

  8. 8
    Marisa

    I would totally agree with Evan. Good men like this are difficult to find, especially those who you feel so special and comfortable with. I would add that a sex life can be worked on and passion goes through cycles.

  9. 9
    Christie Hartman

    KEEP HIM!
     
    Yes, the intense, lustful, butterfly-ish feelings are not sustainable over the long haul. Science has shown this. The only way to get those feelings again is to do drugs, which stimulate the same brain areas as when you fall in love or become infatuated. But this affect won’t last either. So I guess you’re stuck dealing with a sane, awesome relationship.
     
    To take this a bit further, I would even go so far as to say that everyone should be wary of too many of these feelings even early on. Your soul mate (or at least a good partner) is more likely to be the person you feel like you’ve known for years, not the person you obsess about or feel intense lust for.

  10. 10
    Diana

    I remember that “intense lust” time in my life and all the heartache the bad boy who brought it left in his wake. Your guy is the man of almost EVERY womans’ dreams. If you do not close the deal, trust me, someone else gladly will. Try not to get too worked up if it happens to be one of your close friends. I’m just saying… Count your blessings.

  11. 11
    A-L

    Marry him.  He sounds like an ideal match for you.

  12. 12
    happygirl

    Are you for real? ..You are in a relationship with a man who sounds like an wonderful person….yet you wonder about lust?
    The grass is not always greener on the other side.

    I would say marry him. He has the qualities many of us are looking for in a man.

  13. 13
    Bill

    I know many many women. They figure they can get someone better. Do you know what happens they never could because there window of opportunity disappeared. You met him while you were 23/24 when you were at the peak of your attractiveness. Right now at age 27 your not at your peak anymore your about to reach 30 in 3 more years. Your on the decline.
    This is also at a time when hot young successful men that want to be in relationships that are age appropriate 30 to 32 are quickly being snatch up by other women.
    If you break up with him now. You will never find a guy as good as him. You will always feel like your always settling.
    Lock it in!!! Before you screw it up!

    1. 13.1
      Suzy

      Bill #13
      I find your remarks very judgemental and quite frankly insulting. Suddenly at the age of 27 or older we are all declared as ‘not at our peak anymore, on the decline’, written off in one fail swoop, ready to join the scrap heap, the quagmire of undatables!  Bill, I would hope most decent men and women out there have the maturity to look beyond the shallowness of physical attractiveness, (“when you were at the peak of your attractiveness”), to the more desirable, lasting qualities of good character, personality etc.
      Your comment, “If you break up with him now. You will never find a guy as good as him. You will always feel like your always settling. Lock it in!!! Before you screw it up!”, comments like this could leave her feeling inadequate and incapable and as if it is her fault if for some reason it does not work out. It also writes off  any other potential guys in the future (you will never find a guy as good as him). Bill, I know your initial intentions were good in that you were trying to encourage the young lady to grasp the opportunity whilst it is still available but my advice to you in the future Bill is to please think before you speak and practice some empathy (putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagining how they would feel hearing your words).  My advice to Marissa is advice that was given to me a while ago, to listen to your intuition, that small inner voice or gut feeling. Do what is right for you and always love yourself first.

  14. 14
    Steve

    @ Bill #13
     
    You know, anytime I get too giddy I can always turn to the internet to find someone with a sour word.  Thank you.   The post on the email list I read about the upcoming world wide depression didn’t quite bring me all of the way back to Earth.

  15. 15
    Zann

    Maybe I missed something, but I didn’t see anywhere in her letter that he was asking her to marry him.  Why encourage her to marry him when it doesn’t sound like he’s asked her to. Could that be the real problem?  She’s got this great guy and they’ve got history and comfort and everything’s wonderful but…. maybe he’s content to keep it as is.  So she’s talked herself into thinking the relationship has  lost its luster so she can rationalize looking elsewhere instead of feeling rejection?  

    Maybe I’m over-thinking it. Or maybe I’m just too suspicious…but something about this letter seems  disingenuine. Can you really have the kind of quality relationship she’s describing and still wonder whether you should trash it for that fluttery feeling?  Keeping passion in a long-term relationship takes effort, attentiveness, and patience to get you through the not-so-great times. It also requires maturity — knowing that your needs, including lust & dazzle, sometimes don’t come first.   

  16. 16
    Ruby

    #13
    <<I know many many women. They figure they can get someone better.>>

    Sorry that happened to you.
     
    <<You met him while you were 23/24 when you were at the peak of your attractiveness. Right now at age 27 your not at your peak anymore your about to reach 30 in 3 more years. Your on the decline.>>

    Since when is a 27 year old no longer at the peak of her attractiveness and “on the decline”?

    And she’s about to turn 30 in THREE years! Oh, the horror!

    This isn’t about fear-mongering and dire pronouncements. It’s about understanding what a good relationship involves, and having the maturity to be ready for it.

  17. 17
    Sarahrahrah!

    Hi, Marisa.
    I totally respect the fact that you took the time to ask others about your situation rather dive into marriage with important questions unanswered.
    While I totally agree with EMK, especially his reference to Barry Schwarz’s Paradox of Choice and another poster’s reference to the dating pool shrinking as you age, I think it is important for you to know that women go through sexual peaks at different times.  While it is widely acknowledged that men hit it between 18 and their early twenties, I hit mine in my late twenties.  For you, it might be that you are passing through yours, too.  That is not to say that you are not still going to have wonderful, intense sex for years to come.  It just might mean that you are able to refrain from jumping your boyfriend at the grocery store!  ;)  And when you think about it, that is really useful because we all need to eat food, too, right?
    Another thing that it sounds like you’re getting is the idea of working on a relationship.  One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is that you tend to get out of relationships that which you put into them.  At some point, you might have to work on stoking the fires of attraction and lust in your relationship.  But don’t be fooled.  Just because you have to work on those things doesn’t make them any less “real.”  Research shows that people who have been married for decades can still experience intense passion.  The thing is that they both have to put the effort in to keep it going.  However, they reap the benefits of both passion *and* intimacy — something that short term relationships can’t offer you.
    Good luck to you — I think your inquisitive nature will be very helpful in a long term relationship/marriage, if that is the direction you choose to take.  :)

  18. 18
    Selena

    Like Zann #15, something about this letter seems “off” to me.  First of all, if you’ve been blissfully happy for 3 years, why haven’t you gotten married already? Or at least engaged? Evan and all the other commenters have mentioned it, but not the letter writer Marisa. Odd.

    Is there something else going on perhaps? Is that lack of intense lust really a cover for the lack of something else? Sometimes when we are dissatisfied with other aspects of our lives, our jobs, our situation, ourselves, we point to the relationship as being the culprit instead of digging at the real reason and doing something about it. The relationship becomes a scapegoat of sorts. Worth considering Marisa.

    Also, I’ve found what the other Marisa #8 wrote is true; passion tends to go in cycles. Butterflies fade away after a few months and with familiarity, but desire lasts as long as the relationship stays good, the place where you want to be.

    Note to Sarahrahrah: You don’t say how old you are, but late 20’s is not typically the “sexual peak” for females. It’s generally credited as later – mid 30’s to early 40’s. Depends on the particular female I suppose.  Personally, like passion within a relationship I’ve found “peaks” to be be cyclical as well.

  19. 19
    Gem

    Great advice, Evan. Yes, she should marry him. She has exactly what a healthy, wonderful, and long-term, mutually satisfying relationship should look like! 

    If she’s missing that new, gooey feeling from the beginnings of her relationship, she should open a bottle of wine (if they drink), turn off the TV and talk with him about how they met, old memories from the beginning stages, recall and relate those butterfly feelings. Those kinds of talks can really re-connect that feeling for a couple and remind each other why they are together. And reaffirm how blessed they are.

  20. 20
    starthrower68

    @Bill #13,

    Women don’t have the market cornered on thinking they can find someone better.  It’s a human issue, not a gender-specific one.

  21. 21
    Stacy

    #13

    dude, are you for real? Unless we’re talking porn stars, 27 IS the peak of her attractiveness. She’s a lot more competitive at this age than she was at 24 because now she can attract both guys her own age, a bit yonger and 10+ years older who are either divorced or single and accomplished. Age is not the reason she should marry him. The fact that she likes being in a relationship with him does.

     

  22. 22
    JB

    @Bill #13- Errr…. I don’t know how old YOU are but if you think women are LESS attractive at 27 you are delusional.Actually SOME (not all) women become more attractive as they age and emotionally mature into their 30’s and beyond to a great number of men.Believe me,I can vouch for it.Marisa is 27,I don’t think she said how old he is?I’m going to go out on a limb and say she’s not on the road to “30 and over the hill”…..lol

  23. 23
    Honey

    I think this relationship sounds great!  It’s how I feel about Jake, and yes, as others have mentioned, passion/lust comes and goes in waves in great relationships.

    And I don’t see why they should be married or even engaged after 3 years, or what this would have to do with being insecure or uncertain.  Jake and I have been together almost 5 years and aren’t engaged yet. My best friend from grad school has been with her boyfriend for 4 years, they’re expecting their second child this spring, and they don’t plan to EVER get married.  There are LOTS of other factors besides the stability of the relationship that go into deciding when – or whether – marriage is right for you.

  24. 24
    Bill

    I am in the marketing and sales industry. Yes women who are accomplish are attractive to a lot of men. But women who are physically attractive especially youthful are wanted more by men than accomplished. It is the sad reality of life.

  25. 25
    Stacy

    Bill.. sorry but you’re dead wrong on this issue.

    I am 29 and I’ve dated and been in relationshps with older men my entire life (as in 15 years older). I can tell you that at 29 my dating options are by far better than they were at 23. I now fish in the pool of highly accomplished men who would not even look at a 23 yo (unless she’s an escort I suppose). The reason is they value the fact that a woman is mature enough to not get them into any stupid trouble, and secondly, many told me that they’d be highly uncomfortable dating someone who could be their daughter. In addition, scoring a date with same-age guys (as in up to 5 years senior) is a breeze and I recently went out with someone 2 years younger. I’d say that 27-32 is the golden age for women to date. They have the most/best options during those years.

  26. 26
    Karl R

    Bill said: (#24)
    “I am in the marketing and sales industry. […] women who are physically attractive especially youthful are wanted more by men than accomplished.”

    Presumably you’re not marketing and selling women. Therefore I’m wondering, what is your source for this information?

    If you’re basing your statement purely on your own experiences, why is your anecdotal evidence more accurate than Stacy’s (#25)?

  27. 27
    starthrower68

    @Karl #26,

    I’d even delve a little deeper into this subject.  Just because men may want the more physically attractive especially youthful women doesn’t mean they necessarily make the bet partners.  Assuming of course a man who ends up with such a woman is truly looking for a partner.  Not all extremely attractive and young women are poor partners and not all of them are good.  Physical attraction is a factor, there’s no denying it.  But content of character is what makes the relationship successful.

  28. 28
    Goldie

    Where are all these men who purposely look for a woman half their age for an LTR/marriage? I don’t even see them on dating sites, most profiles I’ve seen state they’re looking for someone roughly in their age group.
     
    Personally, I would find it absolutely awkward to be in a relationship with someone same age as my children.
     
    Also, I believe this was discussed here before, in a thread/post about a 21yo girl who wanted to marry ASAP – at this age, your personality is still a work in progress. So marrying someone young (I believe the thread said 25 and younger) is a crapshoot – you may end up with a completely different person ten years down the road.
     
    LOL @ first paragraph of Karl’s #26 :D

    1. 28.1
      Cat

      Goldie, #28: the post you’re looking for is this one.

  29. 29
    Lance

    Is this a real letter? Seriously?
    Would love to know her man’s perspective and get a good hard look at how he projects himself in their relationship. Does he still make himself attractive, act like a confident man, and live a bold and passionate life? These are the things that sustain passion for a lifetime. If he’s too comfortable and not taking charge, then sure the lust/passion will fade. Otherwise, it sounds like she’s got it pretty good.

    1. 29.1
      Cat

      Lance, #31: Of course, all the letters here are real. Seriously. At most they are shortened to fit the space.

      That’s what Evan would write if he didn’t have his first child born yesterday-literally. Congrats, Evan!

      And Lance, when have we ever heard both sides: letter writer and the object of her letter? I think her question is valid for her age and experience. From those of us older and wiser, keep him or let us have him! A lot of lust/passion is based on uncertainty. That won’t exist after three years (unless it’s a really dysfunctional relationship, in which case, the answer would be to dump him.) I think since she’s still attracted to him and enjoying the sex + says he’s her soulmate and makes her feel so awesome, yeah, she should marry him!

  30. 30
    jrd

    My guess is that Bill @ #13 spends time at a male-centered site where one of the tenets is that women have a use by date of 25.

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