May 17, 2013 at 4:00 PM ET
Q: I am 24 years old, and I have been with my boyfriend for nine and a half years. We have two wonderful daughters who are the joy of our lives. My boyfriend and I have had our ups and downs as teens, but now everything is better, except one thing: He feels like I've been distancing myself from him, and sadly, I feel that I have been too.
It is unclear to me why I'm feeling the way I am. I still love him, but I can't seem to get close to him like I used to. When it comes to intimacy, I feel like I'm forcing myself to do something I don't want. He says he loves me and wishes I could be the same person I was before. What do my feelings mean, and what can I do to get the spark in our love back? I don't want us to break up, but is that my only option? I don't want to hurt him, but I also don't want to stay in this relationship if I am making both of us suffer. Please help! — Leave or Stay?
Dear Leave or Stay?,
Girlfriend, running away won’t solve your issue. After almost a decade, perhaps you’re burned out from a relationship and family you've had since such a young age. Or perhaps you have a medical problem. Or perhaps it’s something else. These must be explored. But also know it takes two to tangle. If boyfriend’s unhappy you’re not the “same person” you were at 14 (is he?), that could be problematic.
Intimacy is an expression of connection. How’s the vibe between you guys? My Gilda-Gram™ emphasizes, “Communication is the best lubrication.” Security and friendship can heat up a bond — if two people are in sync. Your commitment should be to determine the source(s) of your kinks, and try ironing them out, especially since kids are involved. — Dr. Gilda
Q: My now ex-boyfriend and I were together for four years, the last of which we were engaged. We've always had a lot of fights and disagreements, but I thought that was just the way we were, and we got through them.
Then, right in the thick of wedding planning, he told me he isn't happy with himself or our relationship, and he broke up with me. He said he loves me, but he can't be with me anymore. Now we're in the process of dividing up our home, our mutual friends, and four years of love. I want him back, but he says he will never change his mind. Is there anything I can do? — Heartbroken
Girl, I feel your pain. But no matter how badly you’d like this to work, you can’t Super Glue a disinterested ex to your life.
So to answer your final question in a word: “No!” There’s nothing you can do — but heal. Part of your healing must include analyzing what REALLY went down over the years, and how YOU contributed to the “fights and disagreements.” Chaos is never okay because it’s “the way we were.” Relationships must offer a haven from the turbulent world, not more upheaval. Apparently, boyfriend realized that, and is choosing a new chapter. So should you! — Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.