Dear Dr. Darcy:
I’ve been in a long-term relationship for 5+ years. Unfortunately, I’m starting to get my old itch back again. My girlfriend is always bitching about something. Complaining about her job, her best friends, her fat ass, the apartment. You name it – she complains about it. I offer up suggestions and she actually winds up more annoyed with me. Right about now, the new intern in my office is looking like cotton candy.
Step away from the intern. She is not cotton candy. She’s more like honey that will stick all over you and attract every bit of New York City grime to you once you touch her. If your relationship with Happy doesn’t last, let it end of it’s own volition. Don’t be a douche who cheats.
I tell you not to set your sights on the intern because she is not a long-term solution to your problem. You have an opportunity to learn how to have a mature loving relationship. You will either learn how to do this with Happy or you will be in the exact same situation with every subsequent woman you date. Passion ebbs. Dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin dwindle in production after you’ve been dating someone for about 6 months. When these powerful love chemicals titrate, couples are left in what we call the power struggle, and they either grow through it, break up, or coexist together in a Cold War. And as I said, if you choose not to learn how to grow through this with Happy, you’ll have to learn it with someone else. You’ve already invested more than 5 years in this relationship. Isn’t it worth learning a life lesson for?
On the outside chance that you were writing in for guidance and not to announce that you’re a douchebag, I mean, about to cheat, here are a few pointers from Mature Relationship 101:
Stop fixing her. When she bitches, it’s not because she has a problem that she wants you to solve. Most men find this hard to wrap their heads around. As a professional problem solver, I empathize. My greatest strength in the office becomes most unwelcome at home. All she wants is to know that you’re listening to her and that what she’s saying makes sense. You may think you know how to do this but I’m betting you don’t. See below:
Demonstrate that you hear her. Do this by paraphrasing what she’s saying every couple of minutes. Don’t let too much time go by before repeating back to her what you heard her say or you’ll forget what she said, you’ll say it wrong, and you’ll demonstrate that you’re an asshole who hears what he wants and not what she says.
Validate her feelings. Tell her that how she’s feeling makes sense to you. You don’t have to agree with her feelings ~ you just have to identify some rational for why she feels the way she does. “It makes sense to me that you’d be upset,” and then tell her why.
Follow these tips consistently and she'll soon transform into the woman who, a little over 5 years ago, looked to you like cotton candy.
Writer’s stats: Male, Straight.