I miss my boyfriend.

I’ve been missing him a LOT when we have to part for the working week. Sometimes I miss him so much, I start crying and I feel really down for a couple days. 

A SWEETIE:

I’m hoping to get your insight into something that I’ve been struggling with for a few months. 

For context, I’m a woman, and I’ve been dating my current boyfriend for seven months. We’re both in our mid-twenties, and this is the first long-term relationship that either of us has been in. I wouldn’t call our relationship long-distance, but we live in different cities so we only see each other on the weekends. We tend to alternate who-stays-with-who each week. Sometimes we spend the whole weekend together or sometimes just one day because we have plans with friends, etc. 

About two months ago, I realized I might be in love with my boyfriend. At least, my feelings for him have become way more intense. Since then, I’ve been missing him a LOT when we have to part for the working week. Sometimes I miss him so much, I start crying and I feel really down for a couple days. 

I’ve tried to cope with these feelings by making plans with friends or going to events on the Sundays when we don’t hang out, just to distract myself with something fun. It’s helped a bit, but my feelings of missing him haven’t improved much. These feelings aren’t debilitating, but they’re still painful. I’m not sure if there’s something else I could/should be doing to address them. 

I feel guilty for missing my boyfriend so much because he’s already very attentive and affectionate. He always makes time for us to be together on the weekends, and he makes it clear that spending time together is important to him. We text each other every evening to talk about our days and say goodnight, and he initiated this at the beginning of our relationship. 

The only way for us to see each other more would be to move-in together, and I’m pretty sure my boyfriend wouldn’t be ready for that because he told me he’s had anxiety in the past about relationships moving too fast for him. At the beginning, we both agreed to take things slow since we’re pretty new to relationships. Rationally, I think taking things slow is a good idea, but part of me also really wants to live with him. 

I haven’t talked to my boyfriend about this. I haven’t told him that I love him and want to move-in with him because I’m afraid that it’s too soon, and I don’t want to scare him away by putting pressure on him to move faster. 

I haven’t talked with him about how intensely I miss him sometimes because I don’t EVER want to make him feel bad for wanting to spend time with his friends or have alone time! I’m not sure how to be honest with him about these particular feelings in a healthy and responsible way. I don’t want to just dump my feelings in his lap because I don’t know what to do with them!

I also think missing my boyfriend might be connected to other anxieties I have about our relationship. Namely, I frequently worry that he’s going to break up with me, even though he hasn’t given me any indication that he wants to do so. I’ve often caught myself overthinking messages he’s sent or things he’s said, convinced that he’s secretly unhappy and wants to end things. I even had a nightmare once about him breaking up with me. It was not great. 

I’m pretty sure this is all in my head. I have an anxiety disorder, so worrying about hypothetical and scary futures isn’t new to me. But being in a relationship, and being in love, IS new to me, and I’m feeling really *really* vulnerable about how precarious it all seems! Sometimes I feel like missing my boyfriend is my way of grieving the end of our relationship before it’s even happened because I’m so afraid that it WILL happen. 

I’ve been to therapy before and found it extremely helpful, but it’s not a financial option for me right now because I just started working full-time, and I’m still in the process of trying to get my adult life off the ground. I don’t know if what I’m feeling is normal or a sign that something’s wrong. I’m not sure how to broach these subjects with my boyfriend in a way that’s helpful to both of us. 

ASK A QUESTION!

SOPHIA:

HOWDY HOWDY HOWDY!!!!

First of all, this is such a sweet letter and everything that you’re going through is BEYOOOONNNND normal. Like the most normal shit in the world, I promise. People feel this way when they see their boyfriends 4 nights a week and live close by!!!! When you’re (newly) in love with someone you kind of want them to be around all the time because well… you love them so much !!!!!

At the same time, we’ve gotten a whole lot—LIKE A WHOLE LOT— of messaging telling us that to demonstrate romantic desire is needy, pathetic or weak. Which it most certainly is not!!! There’s a middle schoolian idea which permeates our culture that opening up about liking someone and asking to hang out with them more might be ridiculed. The thing is: your boyfriend is likely on a similar or same page. It is not (or at least should not) come as a surprise to him that his girlfriend of seven MONTHS wants to hang out with him more than one day a week, sometimes two.

If it does shock him, or if he’s very resistant to seeing you more (HE WILL NOT BE!!) that’s a whole other conversation to be had. There is a middle ground between you dominating all of his time and ruining his friendships and you guys seeing each other four times a month. (p.s. his friendships are his job to maintain and he should be able to, as an adult, either include you or turn down invitations to do something on nights he’s busy).

But let’s assume that he’s a regular dude who both totally gets that you’d want to see him more but also who probably wants to see you more—after all, he’s talking to you and checking in on you every day, I’m pretty fucking sure he cares about you and is if not ready to say “I love you,” in the process of demonstrating love to you. As you might have guessed, your best option is: to talk to him!

You two are unlikely to be able to move in together right away anyway. If you guys can’t figure out how to see each other during the week, then I assume the cities are far enough apart that you can’t simply move there and keep your job. (If you can, then your current arrangement is… confusing). So talking about moving in and brining it up doesn’t actually speed anything up in real terms, it just demonstrates your intention and a long lead time may, in fact, be comforting to him. It might be nice for him to get a little while to process the idea of y’all living together before it actually happens rather than trying to wait as long as possible so that it isn’t “weird.” (It is not weird to want to move in with your boyfriend of seven months).

You have to trust that he will and can put up boundaries when he needs to. He may be a ding-dong (we all are in relationships!) but he’s not a baby. He can say no if he doesn’t want something! You can make it clear when you talk to him, but he doesn’t have to want to move in with you. You also don’t have to stay or at the very least, you don’t have to pretend not to be hurt if he says he’s not ready. What you do have to do is actually communicate because that is what loving someone is.

You know when people are like, “love is hard?” They don’t mean that you have to like stay with a partner that sucks or that love should feel shitty or isolating. What they mean is that you have to do all these tasks that kind of suck like being vulnerable and baring your soul (asking if someone would be down to move in with you) and also like mundane shit that makes being in a relationship not as fun but which makes it a relationship (like figuring out where the drain fly infestation is coming from, why you have drain flies, how you can kill drain flies, what your landlord is going to do about drain flies, and how to prevent drain flies from ever coming back. Together. As a unit.)

If you don’t do some of the hard work that is the former— telling him that you love him, telling him that you’d like to move in—you will not have a relationship. You’ll have a crush who is also into you. And if you do the former, and you two do move in together, or at least live closer, then you can start to build an actual life together and relish in the mundanity that is being a couple. I swear to god one day you’ll be talking about buying a better plunger or some shit and it will be blissful because wow this person makes a trip to Home Depot to buy a better plunger pleasant. But, if you don’t risk anything, you won’t get anything. You just have to suck up the uncomfortableness— and it will feel uncomfortable to admit that you love him or that you want to move in— for a few quick seconds and barrel through and then see what happens next. I virtually guarantee that it will be good news.

The thing that I always remind people is that you have SO MUCH power to set the tone of the conversation for both yourself and him. You can come in like, “This is making me so scared, and I’m scared you’re going to leave me or think I’m pathetic and I am,” which will forever create the dynamic that he’s somehow done you a favor by listening to what you want in this relationship, or by moving in with you. OR you can come in with the attitude of, “Hey, this is what I’m thinking because I’m ready and I wanted to see if you were into the idea or ready yourself,” which sets up the dynamic that you’re making a decision together about a step that is normal and healthy (which is the truth).

You should figure out how to say I love you on your own timeline. I can’t decide when or how to say that. As someone who has said “I love you” first in both of my major relationships (once after a year and half of dating and once after six or seven months), I get that it can be scary but then you do it and then within a day or two you’re like, “Oh. Yeah. That’s normal as shit.” I will say—and it happened to me!!!!—that the person isn’t always ready to say I love you back. That doesn’t mean they don’t love you!! People just get hung up on the words. If they can kindly articulate through words and actions that they care a whole lot about you, that’s great. Not forever, of course, but just know they may not be on your exact timeline.

I think the moving in is the bigger convo here, honestly, and I would probably (although not necessarily) do it after the I love you talk. Here’s what I would say were I you, “Ronaldo, I would really like for us to see each other more. Once a week is great, but it’s not enough for me. Of course, I’m not saying I want to see you every single waking moment, but it’s getting harder to go through the week just texting. I want to bring this up not to pressure you, but to give you a heads up of where I’m at. I’d like for us to move in together at some point. I know we’ve talked a lot about taking things slowly, and again, I’m not trying to rush this along or say that we need to move in together right now. I just need us to talk about where we’re at and what comes next.”

In a separate conversation that should probably happen now that really shouldn’t need much planning, I think you NEED TO bring up your anxieties. The conversation can go something like this, “Hey Ronaldo, as you know, I’m an anxious person and that carries over into our relationship sometimes, even though I don’t want it to. Even though you’re wonderful to me, my anxiety tells me that at some point you’re going to realize that I’m a big ding-dong and leave me. I know you’ve given me no indication of that, but it would really help if you’d reassure me sometimes by doing X, Y, and Z.” Fill in the blanks with things that he does or can do that would make you feel great. Like, “when you send me stupid memes throughout the day, it makes me feel like you’re thinking of me and I love it.” Or “can you just give me extra hugs?” Or “I love verbal reassurance, so even just hearing that you’re excited to see me makes my day.” He WANTS you to feel happy and cared for. He WANTS to make you feel good. You have to help him though so he knows what you would actually like for him to do!!!!

Reminder that none of these conversations needs to be serious or dour or Very Serious Important Adult Conversations. In fact, they should mostly be lighthearted or at least incredibly loving and caring. You’re going to fumble and flail around about as you try to explain what you mean and what you need; I swear that will happen. There will be a lot more talks coming down the line. I also swear that will happen. Relationships are built on like 70% hard conversations with each other, 10% dealing with the awful farts your partner puts out into the world, and 20% horniness. There’s a lot of talking in good relationships. Buckle up but please remember:

You can’t scare off people who care about you. He may not be ready to move in right this minute; he may not be ready to say I love you himself. But a good partner will absolutely be thrilled that you love them and want to move in with them. If you’re dating someone who is not thrilled that you love them and want to move in with them, (even if they’re a tiny bit nervous about certain aspects of that) RUN AWAY SO FAST. That’s not for you.

But that is not the relationship you’re in, even if your brain would like you to believe it. Watch out for red flags, but don’t make it a full time fucking job to ferret out if this person is right or wrong for you. You’ll KNOW. For now, just start talking!!!

ASK A QUESTION!


Sophia Benoit writes this very newsletter; she also writes about sex & relationships for GQ, tweets about everything else at @1followernodad, is a researcher for Lights Out With David Spade, and has had bylines in The Guardian, Reductress, Refinery29, Allure, and The Cut. You can reach her or yell at her at 1followernodad@substack.com.