My boyfriend and I have been living together for two years and the sizzle is pretty much gone. I don't expect fireworks all the time, and it's nice to have the kind of comfort that we have with each other, but we're almost just like roommates now. When I try to talk about our relationship, he gets defensive. I have tried to make it clear that I am not criticizing. I love him, but he generally just annoys me these days. I'm not sure what to do, other than risk killing a basically good relationship or settling for comfort and giving up on being really happy.


This is a good one for readers who play Where Will She Go With This? Will it be:

1. If he "generally just annoys" you and you aren't "really happy," this is not a "basically good relationship";

2. Sizzle always goes, usually right around the two-year mark, in fact, and if it gives way to comfort, then consider yourself lucky;

3. Comfort is one thing, "just like roommates" is another, and intimacy is the difference, and you can't have intimacy if you can't talk to each other without getting defensive;

4. This is usually what you get when you shack up with someone as a marriage tryout;

Or, 5. All of the above?

I think I gave myself away there, but you win if you chose No. 3. (No. 1 is close, as is 4, minus the face-slap; the red herrings are 2 and 5.) Whether a relationship fits the good or bad definition of "settling" is one of the most common, and also toughest, questions to answer. You can communicate well with a partner and still feel as if something's missing. You can feel old-shoe-comfortable and still feel as if something's missing. You can have good sex and still feel as if you're missing everything but good sex.

You can have all three and still feel as if something's missing (sympathy from friends included).

It's madness to think there's one, universal definition of good settling, so here's my attempt at it: If you're attracted to someone and also feel confident you can talk about anything;

And come away both understanding and feeling understood;

And still loving and being loved;

Then you get the kind of intimacy, security, comfort, lasting attraction and (if you believe what they teach in sex-ed) sex that make "settling" sound like a pretty good plan.

Nothing to it.

Having these things also tends to make people stop asking themselves if they're happy. So, I could argue that asking the question means you already have your answer, making it in fact the easiest question ever asked.

Except that nothing is easy about years of love and commingled stuff. Try talking to him, one more time, but this time include the part about how important it is that you be able to talk about difficult things, and how lonely you feel when you can't. Then evaluate "comfort" from there.

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