Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
When ‘the spark’ is missing but the relationship is good...(75 Posts)
Please give me some honest views. After an emotionally abusive long marriage, I’ll be darned if I know what a good relationship looks like. I have been with new partner for a year. He is a good man. Kind, honest, helpful, has his faults as do I. Sex is good. Kissing not so good. But..... for me there’s just not that ‘spark’, I don’t overly fancy him. I fancied my ex but he treated me terrribly. Can good relationships exist without a spark? Is it just that the honeymoon period is over? If I ended it I honestly don’t know if I’d be relieved or sad. I don’t like people getting close to me. He deserves better than this. The reasons I have range from petty (things about his physical appearance) to genuine, such as I can’t see how we could ever merge our families and live together. Much as I’m loving my independence since my divorce and separation, deep down I don’t want to always be on my own.
Sorry if this is garbled. I just don’t know how I should feel and am not very good at trusting what I do feel, having allowed myself to be talked into staying in an awful marriage for so long. My gut says this relationship isnt right for me but I can’t give any credible reason why not. He said it would devastate him if we ended, how can I do that to him with no decent reason? Help?!
I get what you mean.
I’m in the late stages of divorcing my husband but we’ve had a chat about getting back together. He has changed, he’s stepped up with the kids and the house (well, he kind of has to now we don’t live together anymore)
But I’m not sure I fancy him. The sex is ... meh.
Even when we had the ‘night of passion’ that led to the talk, it was still lacking.
He makes me feel safe, he loves me. He’s a good dad. I love him but I’m not sure to what degree now.
I’ve come to the decision that we need time apart, I need to ‘miss’ him to see if I do actually miss him, if you see what I mean!
I’m not sure if that helps you? Sorry 😬
You're trying very hard to tell yourself that you want this man because he's safe and treats you well and it'd be so much easier just to meet someone like him and have a settled happy relationship. But your heart and gut and loins are making it clear you don't like him enough to have a relationship with him. It'll always be jamming a square peg into a round hole. Relationships are hard enough even when you are crazy about each other. One that starts like this and where you feel so lukewarm will not sustain through life's ups and downs.
I really don't know what to say. You do sound like you have 'settled' for someone and many people do. A lot of people I know admit it.
I dont think your heart is in it. Maybe youre not ready x
If the spark isn't there sadly it prob never will be it took me being married to my EH for 8 years before I came out of denial and I'm now married to the total opposite..everything feels right I'm not forcing anything... I wasted so many years
I think it’s hard to tell because the “spark” for some of us gets really mixed up with the excitement and drama of dysfunction.
What about taking a break from the relationship to help you sort out your feelings? The way you phrase things, it sounds like you think you have to have a good enough reason to pause, and that isn’t true. You can hit the pause button any time for any reason. That’s what dating is.
A relationship isn’t dead just because it’s not as fiery as the beginning, however don’t stay with someone just because it’s the ‘safe’ option. Don’t settle. I know it’s hard after an abusive relationship, I was single for over 3 years after leaving one, but so glad I waited 😊 (most of the time!!)
This thread just reaffirms my belief that you shouldn't go for a guy that hasn't swept you off your feet. I want a guy that fulfils me on all levels, I dont want to settle for anything less. Better be single than married and unhappy
Get yourself some therapy and try and work out what makes you attracted to someone
Our brains have been conditioned from a very early age, you need to sort that out if you doubt your own self
Also it sounds like it was way too soon to have another relationship. Looks like you went from an abuser to someone who would save you.
You need time to rediscover yourself after abuse.
And well, why not have a man who treats you well and with whom you can share amazing sex? Don't sell yourself short. You only have 1 life.
Why does having a good life have to involve amazing sex? Is it really that necessary?
I would take someone who stimulates my mind over someone who stimulates my body but then i am older.
My gut feeling is that you are not that much into him. And that might contribute to a lack of enthusiasm. In this case you are both wasting your time
I’d steer well clear of a sparkless relationship. You’d be settling. The honeymoon period doesn’t have to end. People just get lazy & take each other & the important things for granted
Been in both the positions you have
Shit relationship with wanker but spark.
Good relationship with lovely lovely man but no spark .
Also been in a third situation were I had both . Spark and lovely man . You can have both. Don't settle
Thanks so much to you all for your thoughts, it's so helpful. I literally feel like I know nothing about relationships and how you're supposed to feel or act. I have had some counselling, the counsellor said I am 'emotionally immature', but she meant it in nice way! The relationships I had before I married, I never allowed myself to fall for anyone, and after a year or so I always ended them, I'm doing the same now and it saddens me. I'm not capable of being head over heels in love because I would stamp out any strong feelings and avoid them so I definitely think I need to be on my own and sort myself out fully.
But! I just can't think how I could finish a relationship with someone who is good and kind. After reading some of the threads on here, and experiencing 20 years of a very dysfunctional relationship I know I should be glad to have him. But, as Kity said (sorry I've forgotten how to bold names!), it does indeed feel like a square peg in a round hole, exactly that! I just can't quantify why - or rather I can I suppose but I feel the reasons are shallow and selfish. I've spent my whole life being a people pleaser, I can't break his heart for no good reason. Plus it feels like I'm trying so hard all the time, does a healthy relationship feel like that?
Karri I do understand what you mean about wanting to stay in your marriage in a way, I justified all sorts to keep my family unit together - but, if last ditch sex was meh, are you sure your heart is in it? For me I reached a point where I snapped and I never looked back, but it took me years to get to that and my ex h was horrible to me so a different situation.
The whole notion of settling is a tricky one I think. Does it just depend what you want? I do enjoy his company for three quarters of the time I reckon. We have good sex and good talks. Maybe it's shallow but I don't want to have to choose mind over body stimulation - I definitely want both!! But again I have a warped view because I've always enjoyed and needed sex and think I partly stayed in my marriage too long because of that. (Though I must stress I mainly stayed because I thought I was doing right by our children). I thought how could our relationship be that bad if our sex life was quite healthy - tho as I say the whole relationship had become very dysfunctional.
Coyote I did wonder about a break... but he's made it clear that he views that as being messed around a bit and he's not up for that. I either want to be with him or I don't, in his opinion. Deep down I think I would be relieved if we had a break - yet adversely I know I'd really miss him because he's become such a big part of my life. Argh!!!
I think I do need to go back to counselling but I never seem to find someone who quite gets me. Sometimes I think I don't know what I want but then other times I think, actually, I know EXACTLY what I want (and it isn't him), but it sounds like such a perfectionist list, could such a person ever exist, so I've compromised, but feel like I've compromised too far. Sometimes I think I've watched too many romantic films or books and have an unrealistic notion of love and what to expect. But then I read your post clumsyduck and think there's hope!!
I'm rambling now. Well done if you read this far!! Actually, i do wonder, even if he was perfect, if when you are a single parent, working full time with a useless ex, if it just boils down to really not having enough time and energy to really give a commitment to a relationship to make it work. I'm constantly drained and feel torn between who next to give my energies to. But, I was single for quite a while and did get very lonely - maybe this is why I am happy to settle. Friends are great, but they have their husbands and family time at weekends, which I completely understand. Deffo rambling now.... still, it's good to get it off my chest!! Thanks again! x
The people pleaser thing
You're doing with him, what you did with your ex
Just in a different way, it doesn't matter what reason you have for not wanting to be with him, that's you're reason!
You cannot stay with someone because you're scared you'll hurt their feelings.
Think of it this way, would you like someone to stay with you if they weren't that into you? But felt guilty about leaving...???
And you're right about getting back to the therapy.
I am hugely similar to you, I find it very hard to know what are real feelings and what is me not understanding a relationship. I've turned down people who in hindsight I shouldn't have and vice versa.
My biggest ever regret was doing just that. I was always romanticising things, but in completely the wrong way. So I was always slightly confused about how I actually felt about anyone.
Therapy helps see the wood for the trees
Worriedrose thanks for your reply, that sounds so very familiar! I have a pattern (before marriage) if finishing relationships after a year, despite initially feeling very in love. In hindsight I think of one of those decisions was very wrong / but am I possibly just romanticising? My problem is I ‘pick’ people who i think are safe rather than falling with my heart. I don’t like risks but hence why never getting a spark.
Oh I don’t know!! Is a spark all its cracked up to be?! I agree with the people pleasing, am horribly aware I’m doing it again. But he’s depressed and I can’t bear to hurt him with no particular reason other than it doesn’t feel right anymore (tho not sure if it ever did, if I’m honest...).
Right, off to try and find a counselllor. Again!
Definitely keep searching for the right counsellor....
If you feel constantly drained by everyone's demands, then by jimmeny that's an amazingly correct reason to end this relationship. Because if this relationship was right you would surely feel that it gives as much as it takes. And then some..
Sounds like you came out of a really bad relationship but haven't quite set yourself on course for a new one...
Put your energy into your own self, you sound quite critical of yourself where you should be more kind and more forgiving. Learn how to be your own best friend with therapy, then take things from there.
I've been lucky, had a terrible marriage, been through therapy, had a rebound relationship and now met someone lovely, spark, respect, shared values galore...
In the meantime I would let this man go. He may be depressed but he too (as an adult) is responsible for himself just as you are to you, so he will therefore be fine once he has recovered.
Not easy but maybe it's best for you (yes you) to rip that plaster off and find some peace and quiet with which to get on track
Imagine if you met someone who you were crazy about, he thought you were lovely but wasn't feeling a spark, would you want him to stay with you because you're a nice person?
It doesn't have to be all drama and passion but I think you do have to have a 'something' there. Although other posters disagree so I suppose you have to figure out whether you can live without it and if you genuinely do want to be with this guy.
I did wonder about a break... but he's made it clear that he views that as being messed around a bit and he's not up for that. I either want to be with him or I don't, in his opinion.
With those updates, I can see why you want out. Depressed people are a drag, they are draining (and I mean that as compassionately as possible ).
He's forcing the "in or out" thing, which makes the relationship feel like a trap. He lacks the confidence to give you enough space to figure out what you want, which means that he's pretty sure that if you have some space, you won't want him.
My vote is break it off. There is a difference between not having a big spark, and being with a damp rag. He sounds like a damp rag.
Is this the dude who thought you wanting time to yourself meant there's something wrong with your relationship?
Thank you so much for such thoughtful replies. Just made me shed a little emotional tear! Partly because I am touched that you would take time to do so and partly because what you’ve said is just so right. I know deep down I’m settling.
Yep Hipster he is indeed the one who wasn’t happy I wanted time to myself, but he quickly back peddled, as he often does if he thinks he’s putting pressure on me (which he is!). He does in fact drain me, and I don’t get much from our relationship ‘for me’ lately.
Wish I could be stronger and put as much importance on meeting my needs as I do on meeting everyone else’s!! I do need the counselling but its so bloody expensive. I’ve had two 6 week lots from NHS in past 3 years so they won’t let me have anymore. Thanks again so much, you’ve all really helped me x
Search in your area for domestic violence counselling. I had some through a charity and it was free. They can help you work through the issues stemming from your last relationship, and you pay what you can afford, even nothing.
Read the website Baggage Reclaim. That is fantastic and will go over most of the things counselling would cover too.
How long have you been together and how long were you single?
Do be aware that it's fairly common after an abusive relationship to get into another relationship which is unhealthy just in a different way. It's like you step out of the fire into the relative comfort of the frying pan when realistically you want to be somewhere else entirely. What happens in these cases is that we see the new guy lacks several traits that our abusive ex had and so we breathe a sigh of relief and think "he's a good one". But we haven't actually critically looked at our opinions and our ideas of men and relationships which led us into the abusive relationship in the first place. I know that one of my thought patterns which kept leading me into crap relationships was "You can't have it all". I believed that men were just inherently a bit shit so if they had a good point or two, I should appreciate that. I now know that is not how it works, that good men are not rare specimens, that it wasn't the end of the world to let a relationship go even if it could have worked out.
A partner should improve your life rather than being a burden on it. They should not place demands on you - you should make joint decisions you're both genuinely happy with. You should be able to talk to and relate to them on an equal footing, the way you'd speak to and relate to a friend. You should admire them; they should admire you. And by admiration, I mean that they see you as capable, rather than placing you on a pedestal, so they should inspire and encourage you, not keep you in a gilded cage. Broadly, they should add more to your life than they take away, which scales with time - in long term relationships of course there are times when one partner gives and the other takes, but it's about overall balance, and that's what you should look at.
IME, there is no spark as such, more of a constant shining light. Spark to me implies danger - again, sometimes with abusive history you can mistake the feeling of adrenaline from a dangerous relationship as being a romantic "spark", and feel that may be missing from future relationships, but if you ever experience the constant you'll know what I mean and that, for me, eclipsed any worry about sparks, but it might not be the case for everyone.
Regardless it is a bit unfair to stay with somebody just because you feel sorry for them.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.