Most advice out there is for single people who want a relationship. Where's the self help book for when you are dating someone, but you're feeling kind of "meh" about it?
We've all been there, where the person you're dating isn't always the person you actually want to be with. Maybe this person is perfect on paper. They're polite, they're kind, and they like you a lot. They dote on you. They take good care of you. They even surprise you with last minute tickets to the concert you've been hinting at for weeks.
Despite being all of the things you worked so hard to find, you somehow find yourself thinking of someone else. A co-worker, maybe. Or someone from your past. But your current partner is great, so you keep on keeping on.
Maybe you hesitate before kissing them, or daydream about what that same concert would've been like with that ex who actually introduced you to that band. Then, you push these thoughts away. You should be happy with what you've got, after all; your single friends are always whining about dating.
It can be hard to tell if you're just getting bored, or if you have real feels for someone else. It's hard to end a good (decent) thing.
If the person you want to be with isn't necessarily the person you are dating, these are four things you might feel:
1. You Feel Guilty
If you're thinking about one person in particular and it's not your current boo, you probably feel guilty and confused.
It's an icky feeling, and I've definitely been there. I've gone so far as to text exes from the bathroom on a date with my new guy. (Disclaimer: I'm the worst.)
When you don't feel a full connection with the person you're dating, it's easy to think back to past loves or fantasize about what things could be like if you ran away with your barista crush.
And if your partner is treating you particularly well, you're probably feeling extra guilty for daydreaming about someone else. Remember that it's totally normal to think about other people you find attractive or endearing. I guarantee your partner has thought about their cute coworker once, too.
The fact that you are feeling guilty is a sign that you care for the person you're dating. Simply thinking about someone else does not necessarily mean you need to break up with your partner. Unless...
2. You Think About Them An Unhealthy Amount
Everyone's mind wanders from time to time, but when does it become emotional cheating?
Award-winning psychotherapist Dr. LeslieBeth Wish says that the major red flags suggesting you would rather be with someone else are if you think about them before bed, check their social media, or if "you have to stop yourself from contacting this person — or try to find out about the person through mutual acquaintances."
That said, doing any of these things does not mean you should get back with your ex or hook up with your barista.
Licensed psychologist Jennifer Rhodes explains, "When you start thinking about someone else, there are two things that are possible: 1) you are actually interested in someone else, or 2) you have some intimacy issues and thinking about someone else is a way of protecting yourself from getting hurt in the current relationship."
Don't automatically assume that just because you are thinking about someone else, you are unhappy with your current guy. You might be avoiding something.
That ex-text I mentioned that I sent from the bathroom on a date? That was me self-sabotaging a relationship with a great guy that was actually working out.
Our minds play more games with us than f*ckboys do.
3. You're V Bored
If you are tired of the same old dinner dates with your partner, and already wondering how you are going to keep things spicy until you are 85 years old, logic would follow that you're probably ready for a change.
So does this mean you should break up immediately and swipe until you find someone more wild, who takes you on last minute weekend trips to Tulum? Not necessarily.
Rhodes explains, "Boredom can be a sign of intimacy issues. It depends on your relationship history. For those people with emotional insecurity, boredom is actually a good sign and something to work through, not to run away from."
Boredom is not always a bad thing. I know I tend to run the other direction when I start to feel comfortable in a relationship rather than staying in the vulnerability of getting close to another person.
Rhodes says, "If you are used to drama, do not react to the boredom right away. Plan date nights, get out of your routine, try something new and travel. If after these attempts, things do not shift, sort your feelings out with a professional and talk to your partner."
I like the excitement of wondering if I'm going to receive a text back. I like not knowing what my weekend plans are going to look like, but those aren't healthy in a relationship. That said, if you are feeling next-level boredom and you really need those last minute trips to Tulum? Maybe you're just a different type of person than your current partner is.
Rhodes says, "Explorers need other explorers to be happy. Sometimes the boredom is simply due to lack of compatibility in this area."
Communicate with your partner to see if they're open to trying new things with you. If not, maybe it is time to be with a different type of person.
4. You're Truly Unhappy
Maybe you are bored for the right reasons, or maybe you are bored for the wrong reasons, but if you are unhappy and you know it, you probably don't feel like clapping your hands.
If you are genuinely unhappy in your relationship, cheers to you for recognizing it. It can be hard to admit that our partner is not making us feel like our best self, and imagining getting back out there and dating again can be super scary.
If you partner treats you poorly, or if they're controlling or dismissive of your goals and dreams, you might just be craving a person who will actually support you and take care of you.
Think about the qualities you would wish for in a partner, and see if your current partner has them. I don't mean "tall, dark, and handsome," but more "kind, open-minded, and sweet." If they're not checking those boxes, break up with them and move on with your life.
But before letting your partner go, consider why you're thinking about someone else first. Relationships are like snowflakes: They're all different, and they melt away easily.