DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend and I have been living together for two years now. Things have been rocky from time to time but I was feeling really happy with our relationship until recently. I'm annoyed with him and it's for one reason: I feel like he has become really lazy within our relationship. I understand that we are comfortable with each other—and in a lot of ways I really like that—but certain things are starting to irk me. He doesn’t seem to make an effort. I know with the pandemic we can’t go out on dates like we used to, but he has just taken that to a whole new level. He doesn’t seem very invested in romance, anymore. He’s also been lazy with his appearance, too. He used to work out regularly but has stopped. He blames not feeling comfortable going to the gym because of Covid-19, but I have mentioned other options and he doesn’t like any of them. I would never break up with him because of this alone, but it's part of the larger problem. Additionally, it is not uncommon for him to be unshowered and just sloppy. What do you think I should do? I know this is a rough time for everyone, but I’m over this. —HAD ENOUGH
DEAR HAD ENOUGH: Reading this letter, I see two issues happening simultaneously: One being that you are feeling underappreciated and the other being that you haven’t grieved for what we have all lost. Take time to process this. Are your frustrations stemming from unacknowledged grief? Your relationship has changed. The world has changed. Nothing is the same as it was this time last year and nothing will be the same moving forward. Talk to your boyfriend about that. His recent lack of interest in life may be rooted in depression. He also has to grieve for things lost, too. Simple things like going to the gym and feeling good about himself may feel far away these days. Our society is refusing to talk about loss both collectively and personally. There is fear. There is anxiety. There are mounting concerns and the more we ignore them, the more we internalize them. Talk to him about how you feel neglected and vulnerable. He may not be aware that he isn’t giving you what you need. If you are embarrassed to tell him how you feel, write it down first and organize your thoughts. Try not to place blame. Instead, use “I” sentences and make it specific to the concerns raised in your letter. You are a team, so use this conversation to focus on how you can strengthen your relationship. He may be more receptive—and more relieved—than you think.
DEAR NATALIE: I had a date a few weeks ago. It seemed to go well. The next day they texted me and said they were thinking that it wasn't the right time for a relationship. They do like me; but they are moving and just got out of a relationship. They want to be friends right now. I told them that I understood. I was sad but I respected their decision. I thought we would go back to being friends as we had been before. I texted them once or twice and they were friendly. Then I got a weird vibe. I texted to check in and they said they needed some space. I’ve been giving them space since that text. But I still like them. I don’t know how they feel about me. I’d like to know but I don’t want to intrude. We don’t seem to have a whole lot in common but I do really think we had a connection. I think I messed up. But I feel like if they don’t like me because I messed up on the timing of this then it’s not worth it. What do I do? I don’t know. —MESSED UP
DEAR MESSED UP: I’m trying to figure out where you messed up. I don’t see it. You seem to be putting a lot of pressure on yourself about this situation. Sharing how you felt isn’t “messing up.” In fact, I would consider that a good thing. You were open, honest and just wanted to know where you stand. Now, you have to take a step back. You can’t control this timeline and you can’t force feelings. Respect the fact that they are going through a lot, with moving and with getting out of a relationship. Not everyone can jump into new things right away. Take this time to focus on what makes you feel complete. Give yourself some space for a new hobby. Learn about a new subject. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself. If they come around, great. But don’t wait on them to move your life forward in a meaningful way. Try redirecting your energy and see what happens. You may surprise yourself!
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