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Ask CounselorJules Your Own Question

CounselorJules, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 566
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
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My boyfriend told me that I 't make m feel challenged. I am

Customer Question

hello. my boyfriend told me that I don't make him feel challenged. I am looking for tips to get started. he would like for me to guide our relationship and be more included in the decision making.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: we had an argument that lead to us acknowledging that the crazy spark/connection we felt in the beginning has faded and he thinks it may be because he doesn't feel challenged by me.
JA: OK got it. Last thing — Counselors generally expect a deposit of about $18 to help with your type of question (you only pay if satisfied). Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 6 months ago.

Hello! my name is ***** ***** I am going to be helping you today. If you don't mind, I would like to take a few minutes to thoroughly answer your question. Please bare with me, and in the meantime, please provide any additional information that you feel like may be helpful.

Expert:  CounselorJules replied 6 months ago.

The first thing that I thought of about your question was understanding the stages of a relationship. I will give you a bit of information about this and then move into how to communicate your needs and be assertive. Maybe it is that he needs to know what you want? Maybe because he thinks you are "hakuna matata" about things, he isn't completely sure how to go forward? Let's see how we can get started :)

Let's figure out the stage that you are in!

Determine if you're still in the romantic stage based on the amount of time you’ve been dating and your overall attitude toward the other person. The initial romantic stage typically occurs during the first few months of dating but can last up to two years. It's characterized by the two of you seeming to be glued together, always holding hands, sitting thigh to thigh and staring into each other's eyes, deeply. You may feel weak in the knees when the other person is around and have the feeling that all is right with the world. It's gooey, mushy love.

It's not uncommon to have a strong physical reaction when your sweetie enters the room––your heart may race, your face flushes and you see him or her in soft, ethereal focus.

You're both on your best behaviour. During this initial stage, you may still run home to use the bathroom or make sure you're perfectly coiffed before you see each other or to avoid letting on that you, too, make embarrassing bathroom noise and smells.

It's not all roses. If you've neglected your friends, they'll be keeping their distance from you and this may be permanent if they feel rejected. You also risk meshing too much with this other person and losing your own identity, either because you're so intent on establishing "us", or if you're liable to co-dependency or you're feeling vulnerable. Boredom can set in if it starts becoming clear that the initial spark reveals no common interests beyond lust.

Verdict for long term: There’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward to impress or attract the other person, however, you haven’t made it to the stage where he or she has seen the true you. In turn, you're still discovering the other person and most likely you haven’t fully discovered what this new person is all about. Now is not the time to throw yourself full on into a serious relationship. You like what you see so far, but give it time before you announce that you’ve found “the one.” And take care not to let yourself become so deeply enmeshed with this person that you cannot tell where you start and end; stay true to yourself

2. Needing some independence from the other person? If so you’ve left the romantic stage and have entered the power struggle stage where you're both trying to establish your identity. If you've reached this stage, you're displaying healthy behaviour rather than trying to insist the other person is your whole reason for being.

Idiosyncrasies or quirks may become annoying. Perhaps that adorable little quirk that attracted you to him or her initially has started to annoy you instead. You no longer see the other person as perfect but instead your relationship is becoming more realistic. How you deal with overcoming annoying quirks or habits may shape whether you can go forward with your relationship.

You may experience an increased number of disagreements or fights. As you begin to assert your independence, you may have a few more arguments. No longer are you joined at the hip as you were during the romantic phase, but instead you’d like to see your friends once or twice a week. Arguments can stem from social issues to things as trivial but vital as cleaning the bathroom. How you handle the argument and understand that you're simply getting to really know the other person is important in order to establish cohesiveness. If all you do is shriek at one another, things are not great.

It may become evident that one or both of you enjoy drama and get too caught up in it. This is a sign that your relationship is about a power struggle, not about mutual commitment. When fighting becomes the norm, not the exception, you've turned into a drama couple, thriving on crescendos of arguing and making up. This is unhealthy, stressful and doomed.

Miscommunication may occur. Miscommunication may possibly be the biggest reason for increased arguments. You're still learning how the other person interacts and communicates, which can cause confusion in your relationship. For example, if you like to “get it out” when you're stressed at work to make you feel better, you may not understand why your boyfriend/girlfriend has been so quiet and distant. This can cause confusion and possibly annoyance, when in reality he or she prefers to bottle up stress at work, which may result in irritable behaviour instead. Moreover, in some cases, this can cause your partner to feel that they've done something wrong. Communication with clarity is absolutely key during this stage.

Verdict for long term: It's good if you can learn to handle disagreements amicably and reach compromises that work. If both of you have a clear sense of who you are at this stage, the long-term prospects are excellent. On the other hand, if you're prioritizing individual time over couple time, spending more time with your work colleagues and mates than with your partner and feel more like friends than lovers, then it's probable that without making an extra effort that the relationship won't last.

Are you feeling more Zen with the relationship and with the other person? When the stability stage settles into your relationship after you’ve worked through establishing roles and independence, you begin to find peace and a rhythm within the relationship. This is when things fit into a groove, feel absolutely normal and you couldn't imagine your life without this person––but not in a melodramatic way as in stage one, but in a calm, reflective and contented way. However, it could also be that you're too comfortable with each other and simply assume things without talking them through or start disrespecting one another.

At this stage, you both understand and freely accept each other’s differences and even if you may not agree, you acknowledge the need for this. Now you know that your boyfriend’s singing in the shower grates on your nerves, you can laugh and go into the other room instead of wanting to smash him every time he attempts to hit a high note. At this point you can anticipate what makes the other person different or even a little annoying or annoyed by your own actions and can adjust your behaviour accordingly. Both of you make room for each other's quirks; indeed, you may even defend these quirks to outsiders if need be, even if they drive you nuts in private

There is a risk of increased boredom with the relationship. You may have a pattern that isn’t overly thrilling. While you know everything there is to know about the other person and can get past certain aspects that annoyed you in the past, you may fall into a pattern that many couples find themselves doing––a boring routine. (This sort of sounds like what he is describing?) Monotony of movie night on Friday and dinner at your favourite restaurant every Saturday may provide fertile ground for taking your eye off the relationship. Although this stage can be peaceful it can also be boring and treacherous for many couples––and this boredom can lead to infidelity or apathy toward the other person.

A risk of traditional role assuming. This is the stage when tradition can take hold even after a wild courtship. In this case, there is a risk of placing one partner in a weaker power dynamic, which will eventually lead to feeling oppressed and unhappy. Avoid this by never assuming anything just because of each other's gender or personality traits. Both of you deserve to be equals.

Verdict for long term: This stage is a danger zone for relationships, especially if things get too mellow or so bland that one partner feels it's okay to up and leave. If you're taking one another for granted or simply assuming the other will always be there, this is too Zen and risks tripping up when one of you feels left out or too much like a piece of the furniture. If you're moving apart from one another, then this is a sign of trouble. And where boredom or apathy has set in, if you don’t shake it up and work on the relationship, you could find yourself alone. On the other hand, this comfort zone period is a litmus test of future compatibility whether times are dull or exciting; if you're still comfortable, content and delighted by this person's company even in the dullest of moments, and you have mutual respect for each other's growth and changes, this person could be the one.

Are you connected through the past, present and future? Can you envision how your past and current relationship status could propel you into the future? Have you built a solid history with the other person and want to see where this life could take you?

Decide if this is the kind of relationship that could last for your lifetime.

You've seen it all and you're still together––this is the commitment stage. Couples who have made it to this stage, which can take anywhere from one to 10 years, have most likely made it through both good and bad times. They’ve seen the other person at their very best and total worst, but still continue to love, respect and crave the other person’s company. At this point, couples may consider making this relationship permanent either through marriage or other formal commitment.

Can you picture your life without the other person? Try to objectively envision life without him or her and what your life would be like. Does the other person make your life better and if so, how?

Do you view the other person as a true partner? From finances to romance, do you see the other person as the total package? Someone who shares the same values and views about important aspects of life such as family, finances and lifestyle? Are you both on the same page with the possibility of parenthood and could establish a true partnership if you were to bring a child into your family?

Verdict for long term: Reaching this stage is a good indicator that you're going to be compatible long term. Unlike the romantic stage, when committing would have been a simple case of "marry me" and "oh yes!", this time you've been through the power struggle, the boredom and the warts and all revelations and you know this is someone you can commit to. It's a healthy stage as you're both wide awake to each other's good and bad points. Problems can occur if one of you is ready to commit but the other is not; in this case, you may slip back to the power struggle stage, or choose to live together and keep living out the stability stage instead. It's likely to be long term the moment you both choose to be a team.

Have you moved beyond the relationship and you're looking to start a family? If so, you're in the co-creation stage, which means that you're in a committed monogamous relationship and want to broaden your love by bringing a child into your lives.

You have already nested and established a permanent home. Although you may still enjoy the other person’s company, the “wild, adventurous” days of being a couple may be over. You seek thrills and excitement through becoming a parent and want to share your love with a child.

You have moved beyond the relationship. The relationship has become bigger than the two of you. You share the same opinion and philosophy about child rearing and have committed to provide a loving home.

Verdict for long term: The verdict is good if you stay committed to one another and don't neglect to keep nourishing your relationship in preference to outside interests and the children. This balance can be difficult. Raising children is hard work (emotionally, physically and mentally) and sometimes can expose an already weakening relationship, especially if the power dynamics cause one partner to feel overly responsible for child-raising. The prospects are good if both of you acknowledge the challenges and work on them together, and accept wholeheartedly that this phase of your life lasts for around 20 years, after which, you may actually re-enter the romantic stage again when your children leave the nest.

Be aware that the relationship stages can fluctuate or be cyclical. You are not necessarily confined to a linear progression through the stages and at any time, a relationship can fall back into a previous stage due to stress, changes, new family members, transitional periods, big events, etc. For example, as noted in the previous steps, an empty nester may fall in love all over again when the children leave, while a person who is ready to commit to someone who isn't, may fall back into the power struggle stages. What is important is to recognize the relationship stage you're at, as this can help you to find the coping skills to work through challenges and to find solutions that take you back to healthy interaction.

I know that is a lot of information about stages, but I think knowing where you are at, is very important. It sounds like you guys are in that "stability" stage (which is a good thing), but you need to spice it up. Think about what the relationship was like when you guys were "falling in love" and go back to doing some of the things that you guys really enjoyed. You make the plans for the date and be assertive. Don't be afraid to communicate what you want with him. Be open to alternative suggestions that he may have also. This conversation is about connecting.

Make a list of all the things you love to do together. Then talk about how you could re-incorporate some of those things into your life. You might even write each idea on a slip of paper, fold them and put them in a jar. Pull one out on free days and do whatever the slip of paper suggests.

Take responsibility for what you can do to improve the relationship instead of pointing the finger at all the things your partner should do. Think about the things you’ve let slip. Did you use to make dinner? Tell your partner how much you cared? Give compliments? Look at them with loving eyes? Smile when they looked your way? Hold their hand? Plan special weekends or date nights? Do those things again. Everyone wants to feel loved.

Let me know what you think :)

Expert:  CounselorJules replied 6 months ago.

I just wanted to follow back up with you to see if you felt that there was more to process or if I can help in any way. My goal was to provide you with excellent service, but I dont want to leave anything out for you. I want to make sure that you have been satisfied with the response given :)

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