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When relationship withers, ask if problem is 'him', 'us' or 'me'

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

When relationship withers, ask if problem is 'him', 'us' or 'me'

Relationship mojo: My relationship of a year is slowly falling apart, and I don't know why. It's a phenomenon I've encountered before, which I've dubbed, "We don't have anything to talk about anymore." The cause has always eluded me. The syndrome includes vague feelings of not being as connected anymore and general life unhappiness in both parties, and appears to be resistant to normal means of re-energizing things, like spending more/less time together or going to interesting places. I'm stumped.

Carolyn: It might just be natural causes, if you're with the wrong person. Hard to tell with what you've given.

How did you get together — were you very attracted to each other? Close friends? How about your exes; any similarities? If you have platonic friends with whom you never run out of conversation, then look to them to see how they differ in character/personality from the people you date.

If they're very similar, then look to the way you act in a relationship versus in a friendship. That at least starts you off on the top two possibilities: that you don't choose well, or that you choose well but don't act as naturally with dates as you do with friends.

Mojo again: We started out as acquaintances; we got along great when we were hanging out, and didn't really keep in contact when we weren't. Although others that have fallen apart similarly are of all types. Do you think there's anything that can be done at this point to salvage what I have?

Carolyn: Depends. If you care a lot, like who you are with him, find him interesting and still look forward to seeing him, then put in the effort: do, watch and read interesting things; ask probing questions; say what's on your mind and in your heart. If that doesn't take, then be skeptical of hot attractive, and give more weight to we-can-talk-about-anything attractive.

Anonymous: Can you put thinking about the relationship on hiatus, and instead think about what makes you passionate and happy? Sometimes when a relationship is going south, focusing on it will make it worse. On the other hand, if you get your own mojo back, the chances of that leaking into the relationship are pretty good.

Carolyn: I like it, thanks.

Anonymous 2: I've noticed that couples without some sort of mutual interest struggle to keep the relationship going. My mother always said you need a good friendship as a basis for a marriage because your mutual interests will keep you together when your love hits a low point. If you are dating people based on mutual attraction rather than mutual interests, then what do you have to fall back on when the love and great times ebb? You drift apart. My wife is the woman I've had the most in common with of all of my relationships.

Carolyn: Standing and clapping, thanks.

That was a lie: I neither stood nor clapped. But my mental image of me was standing and clapping, and it even stomped and whistled, because my image is able to crowd-whistle while my real self is not.

When relationship withers, ask if problem is 'him', 'us' or 'me' 06/03/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 4:30am]
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