Is there someone who is a better match?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m in my 30′s and have been with my boyfriend for 5 years. It’s a good relationship, and by far the longest I’ve one I’ve ever had.

In my 20′s I had several serious relationships which all lasted about a year or less. At the beginning of the relationships, I was always totally head over heels in love and would think to myself “this might be the one!” But then the relationship would only last about a year, or less. It was occasionally a mutual breakup, but the majority of times it was because the romantic honeymoon period was over, and I realized we had some problems that needed work. I would always find myself interested in another guy. I always figured that was a sign that my current relationship was in trouble, so I would end it.

When I started dating my current boyfriend it was the same story, but when we got over the “honeymoon” period, I made an effort to work on the relationship. We’ve had many issues that we’ve been able to work out, which has made me feel really good (like I’m finally being an adult!) I love him very much but I am still regularly nagged by the idea that there is a more “perfect” person out there for me. Some days I feel like we should get married and have kids, and other days I feel like I am settling for a relationship that is good, but not great.

Over the past 5 years, I have found myself occasionally attracted to other people, but I’ve always managed to get over it. However, in the last several months, I have found myself very attracted to a co-worker who I’ve known for about 2 years. Over the past several months, I find myself thinking about him a lot. I don’t know what it means. I keep hoping that I will just get over it, but it hasn’t happened. I don’t like the idea of throwing away the good relationship that I have with my current boyfriend, yet I also feel anxious about the idea that there may be someone else out there who would be a better match for me. I can’t imagine getting married and having kids with my current boyfriend if I still feel this way. Since I’m 33, I do feel pressure to “figure it out” since I do want to eventually have children.

I would like to find a therapist, but I’m trying to work within my insurance, and none of the therapists listed on your site are covered by my insurance. How can I find a therapist that doesn’t just feel like I’m picking out of a hat.
Thanks.

A: There’s always someone else out there. That someone is different – not necessarily better. As you’ve already found, maintaining a relationship is about commitment and investment of time and effort. If you are always second guessing and keeping one foot out of it, you will never settle into a long-term relationship. To “settle” is not settling for something second-rate. To settle is to get comfortable, to know in your heart that you and he are going to work things out for the long run. Settled love is different from early romantic love. From your history, it sounds like you like the excitement of new love so much that it’s hard for you to understand the satisfaction of the next stage.

I agree that talking to a therapist might be helpful for you. Call your insurance company. They will tell you who in your area is on their list of approved clinicians. Then ask your doctor or clergy who they would recommend from the list. If they don’t know anyone on the list, make a series of phone calls to therapists on the list. Most will be glad to chat with you on the phone for a bit to give you an idea of how they would approach your problem. Some may even offer you a free initial session as a way to help you find the right therapist for you.

In the meantime, you might find this article interesting: A Time To Celebrate Many Kinds of Love

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Feb 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Is there someone who is a better match?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/02/15/is-there-someone-who-is-a-better-match/