I have an amazing, thoughtful, interesting boyfriend—I think I’m in love. However, I’m not obsessed with him. I don’t feel pangs of desperation to be with him, like I used to feel with boyfriends who were bad for me. How should I deal with the fact that my 100% healthy relationship doesn’t quite measure up to previous dysfunctional ones? To add to this, I keep seeing all these girls on Facebook who have married their “soulmates,” and seem to be totally obsessed with them.
You’re conflating a few different and unrelated things into a single problem.
First, consider “obsessed.” In the girl-lexicon, “obsessed” can mean a Sephora of different things (“Sephora” is a unit of measurement that is approximately “endless”); “obsessed” here indicates the all-consuming-heavy-hot-sad way of being obsessed, the way it just is with objectively bad-for-you boys.
The obsession itself isn’t real, because they’re not real: they’re withholding, distant, inconsistent, and way-over-the-top romantic and dreamy like whoah—until you don’t hear from them for three weeks. The obsession is just the feeling of projecting a bunch of stuff onto a guy who you don’t and can’t actually know that well, even when you’re dating; it’s necessarily more about you than about them, like a redux of collecting boy-band paraphernalia (except now you’re an adult and have probably kissed the objet d’amour IRL). Bad-boyfriend obsession and nega-drama can be instructive while you’re finding your relationship sea-legs, but the relationship isn’t real, and when you’re snaking yourself around him and just squeezing, you’re not real, either. Obsession like this has probably expired, for you. It should expire, especially if you’re closing in on 30. It’s not real.
(This is all distinct from “love haze,” which is the months-long state of being deeply but positively into a new boyfriend—not a bad-boyfriend, crucially—to the point of ignoring all of your friends and doing gauzy-eyes at each other, saying “I just like you so much!”)
And. It’s possible that the girls on Facebook really are as extraordinarily happy with their lives and their homes and their soul-mens as they seem to be (and I/you/we should officially hope that they are that happy, because we have an “abundance mentality”). However, while they probably love their husbands, they’re probably not “obsessed.” It’s hard (impossible?) to build and share an actual life of dishes, car insurance, in-laws and the searing existential pain of daily routine, and remain “obsessed” in the way you have been with historical D-minus boyfriends. It looks good, but posting smiley, huggy pictures and candy-heart status-updates is just easier, for a lot of reasons, than posting about quotidian fears or resentments. The idea that social media has much to do with a person’s real life and real self is pretty hilarious, actually.
So, and here is your actual sort-of problem: you are with a great-sounding guy who you like-slash-love but are, appropriately, not obsessed with. That can be just fine: not all relationships start with love haze; incredibly rad and meaningful relationships can be like falling asleep (slow-slow-fast); lots of my friends are wildly happy with guys we made fun of at the beginning; lots of my friends had gnarly break-ups with “the one.” You never know.
I think the best thing to do is to decide on a new, personal rubric of a relationship that has momentum and keeps you actively wanting it, without that sick obsession-y need. Decide what it means for you to be non-obsessively but really into someone, in a way that could last, and actively reassess your assumptions about these mythic relationships—your own; your Facebook friends’—whenever you get to feeling like what you have isn’t enough. Instead, laser-focus on your dude’s excellent qualities (and maybe also talk to him about ways to make your relationship more spontaneous, more surprising, more exciting). What you have isn’t obsession, but it is real.
Read more: How do I get over a guy?
For smart love and sex advice from Kate Carraway, email your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.