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‘Last month I went on a retreat and met a guy who I had an instant attraction with’ (Picture: Neil Webb)
This time around, we’ve been sought out by a woman who’s at a crossroads in her relationship.
She and her boyfriend are taking different approaches to life – her more holistic and wellness based, him a busy job where he recently got promoted.
They were already feeling a bit divided when this week’s dater met a new guy and felt an ‘instant attraction’.
What should she do? Split or stay?
‘My boyfriend took on a promotion that has left him very stressed and busy, and we are now living quite separate lives.
‘I’ve been exploring a more holistic lifestyle, which he pokes fun at, and last month I went on a retreat and met a guy who I had an instant attraction with. We were paired together a lot over the week and, during one chat, he asked me if I was in a relationship or single.
‘We’ve loosely stayed in touch and he’s invited me to an event in a few weeks. I’m not sure whether to go or how he even feels about me.
‘I do still feel a connection with my boyfriend but we have to work hard to find it. Are we going through the motions?‘
What the experts say:
It certainly feels like the two of you are making choices that are not aligned with the other.
‘Neither of you appears to like or respect the other’s preferences either,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘He’s changed just as much as you have, by withdrawing into his career, while you’re entering the holistic realm. Both of these are retreats of a kind from whatever mutual territory you once held.’
It’s no wonder you feel like you’re at a crossroads.
‘There’s rumbling dissatisfaction with your relationship, growing hopelessness about the future of it and – magically – an appealing substitute is making an appearance,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.
You say you don’t know how this new guy feels about you. Is that a sincere observation?
‘He asked if you were single, invited you to an event and you felt the attraction – it feels like he wants a relationship,’ says James McConnachie. ‘So if you go to this event, you’re pretty much starting an affair and even if it doesn’t turn physical, it probably soon will.’
Rather than sliding into a new relationship or a parallel one, take a moment now to think about your old one.
‘Do you want it to end? Or do you want this tricky phase to end? Are you looking for an exit or are you fed up and curious?’ asks McConnachie.
The thrill of an affair might turn the colour up in your life but it will create huge complexities down the road.
‘Instead, you need to figure out whether what you have with your boyfriend is enough,’ says Rudkin. ‘Stress can be a real killer of romance but if this is the new reality of his life then there is little you can do to change that.’
Your boyfriend still deserves to be treated with care so find the courage to talk to him.
‘It could be that the current tension is the inevitable result of transitions and you’ll settle back into your connection in a new way soon,’ says Smith.
Examine your feelings with clarity and honesty before you do anything you will regret.
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
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