Ask Evie: Am I relying too much on my relationship for happiness?

Hi Evie! Please keep me anonymous as I know my boyfriend is also a fan of Ideapod. Basically, we’ve been together for 10 years now (coming on 11 in December) and although things seem to be fine on the surface, deep down I’ve been feeling unhappy.

I’m not sure why – he’s a great partner and is usually great at cheering me up. But recently it just feels like I’m going through the motions. We haven’t had an argument or anything. But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m bored or restless.

Does this mean I’m falling out of love? Or that the relationship isn’t right for me? I’m just confused and unsure of what to do. He keeps asking what’s wrong and trying to get me back to my “old self” but it’s not working. Any advice you can give would be much appreciated!

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for reaching out, and let me start by saying, you’re not alone! Most of us go through phases where we question whether we’ve made the right choices in our relationships.

But there’s one theme that I picked up on in your description that rang the alarm bells:

It sounds like you’re relying on your partner to feel happy within yourself.

It’s great that your boyfriend steps up when you’re feeling down, but ultimately, you need to be able to get to the root of your unhappiness and turn your emotions around yourself.

Part of the reason why you may be questioning your love for him and the relationship, in general, is that you’ve grown used to associating them with your happiness.

So I want to ask you:

  • What do you do outside of your relationship?
  • Do you have any solo activities that you enjoy?
  • Do you have a strong social network around you?

Your partner can only bring you so much happiness – the rest needs to come from within.

My advice is to do a bit of inner work – discover who you are as an individual. It sounds like you’ve got a good man by your side, so you don’t necessarily need to break up to go on your own path of discovery.

Be honest with him about the journey you’re on, and accept his support and love, but know that you need to find fulfillment in areas outside of your relationship.

This might look like challenging yourself in your career or joining a social club to try new activities and make new friends.

It could also involve introducing a few new lifestyle habits such as self-care, exercise, or eating and sleeping better. You’ve got to take ownership of your happiness – don’t give your personal power to anyone else.

Now, there’s one other thing I want to touch on – you mentioned that you feel like you’re going through the motions in your relationship.

This can happen, especially when you’ve been together for a considerable amount of time.

That’s why it’s important to shake things up! When was the last time you went on a spontaneous date? Or an adventurous holiday?

It’s important to keep dating your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together. Play, have fun, talk, and be curious about one another.

In fact, while you’re on this journey of self-discovery, why not take some time to explore your partner?

In the 10 years you’ve been together, you’ll have both grown together and individually. That’s why trying to get back “to your old self” isn’t going to work – you’re not that person anymore.

My guess is that if you set aside some time each week to reconnect (with yourself and with your partner), you might overcome those stagnant feelings and introduce some freshness into the relationship.

Sending love and strength,

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Ask Evie

Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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