What to do when you start feeling better than your boyfriend or girlfriend

Bintu asks: I have been in a relationship for one and a half years. My boyfriend is a very caring compassionate human being. All he wants to do is appreciate and cherish me. However, since some time I can’t stand his love. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve acquired some kind of superiority complex. I have started thinking I can do better. I can date someone more good looking since he’s not conventionally good looking. I also think he’s not too smart. He’s not dumb but I don’t think he’s intellectually well developed. I have struggled to overcome these feelings because he’s a great guy but I have failed and then tried to break up. However he pleads me to stay always and because I deeply care for him, I give in. He has an abusive past and a toxic family, so I’m the closest thing to love he knows. I don’t know if all hope is lost or if heartbreak is inevitable. Is there any way I can make myself fall back in love so that I don’t have to hurt him?

Hi Bintu –

I don’t know you or your boyfriend, and have never seen you two together.  So I don’t know which of these two situations is right, but I’m pretty sure one of them is:

First, that yes, this relationship has run its course, and you’ve run out of feelings for him.  And if that’s the case, while it’s very sad, it would make things worse if you stayed with him, or especially married him, because he’ll only get more attached, and you’ll eventually need to leave.

And second?  Second is that this is the completely normal stage in a relationship where you two have been together a while and you’re getting to take him for granted.  And all those little irritating qualities that didn’t mean much before (like his not being as smart or good-looking as some other guys) are bothering you more, and you’re thinking “I can do better,” and even more, “I should do better.”

I’ve been in that one myself!  When Handsome took me out of the dog pound, I was so grateful I could just have burst.  And over the next weeks, we each just fell head-over-heels for each other.  But then, after a year or two, things started to fade.  He would get irritated with having to always take care of me, while I got sick of being shut in the back yard, or being told to sit and stay all the time.  He got less tolerant of all my hairs around the house, and I got fed up with the boring dog food he fed me every night.

And what happened then?  Did he take me back to the pound?  Or did I dig out and run away?


heavens, no.

Because what comes later in a relationship is just beautiful: Deep Gratitude.  And that can come any number of ways.  A girlfriend Handsome was very in love with broke up with him and treated him horribly, and he needed my warmth.  A big dog attacked me and Handsome jumped in the middle and saved me.  So we appreciated each other more.

And then it goes the other way too: Handsome had a job that made him gone from me for weeks, and I was scared he was gone from my life forever.  And I got a bad illness where he thought I’d die, and realized how devastated he’d be if that happened.

And yet, there will be days… Days when he’s so depressed about his life that he doesn’t care about what happens to me, or days I’m so bored I don’t care about him. 

But I said that wrong.  It’s really moments, not days.  Because after that moment, we’ll suddenly realize “What was I thinking?!  This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!”

Now do you notice something I haven’t talked about, that you did?  That whole concept of “Superiority.”  I can run faster than Handsome.  I can hunt better.  I can definitely fight better!  But he has way more brains than I do, and can do things like talk and read and drive a car.  And he has opposable thumbs!  So am I better than him?  Yes.  Is he better than me?  Yes. 

And are we equal?

I don’t even know how to answer that!

Is an insurance salesman equal to a painting?  Is a tuba equal to an orange? 

He’s the best thing in my life, ever.  I’m the best thing in his life, ever.  And that’s all that matters.

Now your boyfriend has faults.  We all do.  Do you want to live with his?  Does he want to live with yours?

That’s the tough question that you each need to answer.

One of my favorite stories Handsome’s ever told me (I just wrote a Pawprint article about this in fact) is about a friend of his, a woman who was very bright but can be a bit sloppy.  And for years she’d have roommates, boyfriends, even a first husband, who’d complain about how she’d leave clothes around in her home.  And then she met her true love, the best guy she’d ever know.  They fell in love, married, and were doing fine.  And then one day she was home in a back room, and in he walked, holding the shoes she’d left in the living room. She knew the complaint was coming. 

But instead, he said to her, “You know, I never tell you this.  But whenever I come home, and see your shoes there, it makes me so happy.  Because I know you’re here.  That you haven’t left, that you’re okay, and that I’m about to see you.  Which is what I spend my whole day wanting.”

He loved her flaw.  Can you love your boyfriend’s?

Maybe it all comes down to that.

Best of luck,

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