If a relationship ends, it’s not because it failed. A smart person I know says that “all relationships eventually meet their level”. What I think she means by this, is that most relationships end up sorting out if they are friends in passing, coworkers, long-time lovers, a flash in the pan, etc. There are so many kinds of relationships we have in the world and it is important to really value them across the spectrum, not just our romantic and sexual relationships.
Most relationships end or do a slow fade. And sometimes they return! And sometimes they don’t.
Dating should be fun! And I know that “relationships are work” but see that’s the thing, they TAKE work but they should BE work. For myself, it took a long time to suss out the difference between “dating in such a fashion and such people that I think is the cool thing to do” and “dating in a way that feels sincere and also while I have some flexibility I am also not so anxious to be interacting with another person and concerned about whether or not they like me that I have no idea whether or not I am having fun.”
Couples counseling is not a sign your relationship is failing. It will also not resolve your unresolvables, but hopefully it can give you more tools to communicate effectively with your sweetie, and maybe broaden empathy.
In our lives and in our childhoods, we adopt certain primary coping mechanisms, and through time we usually overdevelop them. As often as not, we seek out partners that have complementary skills, and often those are the things that we initially are attracted to in them though over time, those are eventually the things that we find really challenging and/or annoying. Ultimately, if we can strive to see those things as our sweeties seeking security/balance, we can understand those behaviors better. (especially when they come up in conflict!) In which case we can better see “I’m not doing this to make you mad, I’m actually doing it because it’s the thing that makes me calmer.” Also see: Chaos Muppet/Order Muppet.
Sex should also be fun. Also, you should talk about it, before and during and after. There is no blueprint for How You Should Be Having Sex. Again: There Is Not Only One Way To Have Sex But You Should Be Enjoying It As Close To Definitely As Possible.
Also, if people are not in your hot hot nakedness, then they do not deserve to see it.
You can have casual sex with people and still be respectful. I hear that especially for women, having casual sex makes you undesirable later on. Or means that you’re “cheap” or “loose” or “slutty.” Or, god forbid, it seems as if you ENJOY sex. While many of like to toot our own horn about how we’re being bad, bad girls and getting into dirty business with some very scandalous people, just remember: those scandalous people are people too. They are not demeaning you, and you are not demeaning them, and they are not cheap or tacky for having sex with you. You are having communion in the High and Holy Church of Sexy and Awesome. And I hope that it is Sexy and Awesome, or at the very least Pleasant and Interesting.
People have really different preferences for dating, relationships, and how much space they take up in your life. Some people want one date, some people want dozens, some folks want to live with their partner, some folks only have partners that live out of town. That’s fine. See what you like. Communicate openly, respectfully, and often.
Half the fun of dating is figuring out what you like! And, inevitably, the thing you like is not the thing that your sweetie likes. You can work with/around that, or you can draw things to a close. One thing, for sure: you cannot make anybody want the thing that they do not want. You cannot cajole, shame, seduce, or sweet talk anybody into wanting something they do not want. They may go along with it, for a little or a long while because they like you, but that is not the same as wanting it. And eventually the wheels will fall off. Make arrangements before the wheels fall off.
Also, your sweeties are hopefully on Team You, but there are many, many players on Team You. Like your friends! Don’t ditch your friends! Many of them will be around longer than your sweetie- be reliable with your friends, make time and space for them, honor your relationship, be accountable and grow with them. Celebrate friendaversaries. Spend time with your friends away from your sweetie. Allow your relationships to grow and change over time to accommodate your different needs but maintain your vital connection.
The most important thing I learned from dating was: there is not a scarcity of sex, love, or affection in the world. It may require a certain amount of alchemy, timing, and shared intention for you to get the particular thing that you are aiming at, but the ways in which you are worthy of all kinds of sweetness, affection, deep love and scandalous flattery are everywhere. There are so many people out there in the great wide world who want to tell you how damn charming you are. Now go say hello.