He is starting to piece together my lack of interest. Should I be grateful to have a kind and caring person I can spend time with, or set sail on my own?
— Lackluster Love
Lackluster Love: He’s figuring this out, so, show him the respect of being honest. Maybe you’re actually, mutually, meant to be friends and that’s why his romantic overtures seem mechanical.
By the way, I know there’s a sea of data from arranged marriages that people can decide to be in love, but it seems to me there’s a palatable middle ground on the whole “love is an action and a choice” idea: The attraction and the affinity come to you naturally, and you stoke that over time with actions and choices. Fair enough?
I just can’t see myself ever advising someone to choose someone who seems meh but decent enough and then spend eternity doggedly making it work.
Re: Just Meh: You’ve given this relationship an entire year to see if something more would develop. Nothing did. Do both of you a favor and move on. I’m reminded of “Sleepless in Seattle” where Meg Ryan’s fiance says: “I don’t want to be someone that you’re settling for. I don’t want to be someone that anyone settles for. Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it, isn’t it?” Rom-coms have a lot of truth in them. I have spent decades studying this.
Anonymous: Ha. That is one of the most poignant, resonant lines ever uttered on the subject. All that and Bill Pullman, too.
Other reader responses:
· Take it from someone who did stick with the nice guy rather than look for nice with sparks. We’ve been married 15 years and we’re friends and nothing more. We have a daughter we adore, and I stick with it for her. It’s more complicated than that, but basically I’ve decided life is better if we stay together. It isn’t horrible, but it’s certainly not what I had hoped for myself.
· Choosing love is for when you’ve been partnered a long time and hit a snag. If you have to choose love at the onset of a relationship, it’s not the right person.
· I dated a sweet, kind man a few years back. We both wanted so much to love and be loved that we tried to make it work. But I never felt like he really “got” me. In the end, we parted amicably and remained friends for several years. Shortly after we broke up, he met someone else, and they got each other in ways he and I never managed. I was glad he and I hadn’t stuck together “just because.”