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“What do you do when your relationship goes from feeling HOLY HELL AMAZING to more, like, regular and good but not so much in need of caps-lock anymore?”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Mahdia Lynn says:

Good news! Every relationship eventually faces the transition from its star struck honeymoon “i s2g this girl farts rainbows” phase to something a little more everyday-normal and even-occasionally-boring. This is a good thing! If people in relationships were always stuck in that early infatuation stage,nobody would get anything done. We’d all be too busy soulfully gazing into each others’ eyes to go to work or pay taxes or remember to turn the stove off. Society would CRUMBLE.

There’s a lot going on when you first get together and hit it off with somebody. There’s a very strong hormonal side to infatuation—all that dopamine and serotonin and chemical soup firing off in your brain that feels amazing and shades everything in shiny brilliance, making every moment seem like the most real thing you’ve ever felt. Combine that with the excitement of getting to know somebody new and funny and interesting? That cocktail of hormones and exciting new-ness is an AMAZING feeling. Love is a hell of a drug. Everything your partner does seems like an expression of the divine made human. But that intoxication fades—eventually the feelings become familiar, the hormonal cocktail calms down, you get to know a girl well enough and suddenly a fart is just a fart.

But is love less meaningful when it’s less intoxicating?

Here’s a story: I recently started re-reading my favorite book series for the second time this year. It’s maybe my seventh go at the trilogy since I first read it five years ago. The first time I read it, those books took over my life. I canceled plans, I called in sick to work, I survived on crackers and tap water because I could barely remind myself to eat. I couldn’t do anything but read. And it was amazing! I loved every moment of it. Every turn of the page was ripe with potential, every character’s arc and success and death happened in real time; it consumed me, and I welcomed the ecstasy and devastation of it all. In the end, my friends understood my absence—we’ve all been there, right? My paycheck was less forgiving.

Going at the book series a second time, it felt different than it did that first ecstatic, electric marathon which consumed me six months earlier. With another go around, the perspective and familiarity let me see patterns and techniques I hadn’t noticed at first. Here now, a seventh time turning these pages, I swear I know every beat to every chapter. Yet somehow I’m still seeing new patterns, making connections I hadn’t before, relating to the characters in new ways as my own experiences inform my reading. It doesn’t stop being my favorite book just because I know what happens at the end of chapter twelve in book three —if anything the familiarity is comforting, and I know there will always be something new in those pages for me to find. If I expected to feel the exact same as I did that first read five years ago, I’d never read again.

If you expect being with your partner to feel the exact same as it does in that early hormonally charged infatuation stage you can find yourself jumping from relationship to relationship, chasing that high and burning out and running on to the next. Let your relationship be like a favorite, cherished book. Ride those waves of ecstatic, iridescent newness. Grow with it, let it change you. Don’t mistake familiarity for boredom. If this is someone you’re meant to be with you’ll be finding new joys together again and again.

THEN AGAIN maybe you get through that hormonally charged infatuation stage and come out on the other side to realize you and your partner aren’t meant to be together. That’s okay, too! The same way you shouldn’t mistake familiarity for boredom, don’t mistake the fireworks of young love as a sign you need to stay together forever. ALWAYS REMEMBER that wanting to leave is enough.

I can’t tell you if you should stay together or not. How do you feel? Is it just the fading of those fireworks that you’re afraid of, or is it a realization of irredeemable difference now that you’re not blinded by them? A little soul searching, probably a few good hard conversations with your partner would be a good idea. Talk it out. Listen. Trust your gut.

Once you get through that first ecstatic read, it may just turn out you’ve found your favorite book.

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Mahdia Lynn is a writer, public speaker and community organizer living on the stolen and colonized land currently recognized as the United States of America. When she isn’t working as coordinator of the Transgender Muslim Support Network she covers the geek beat as a staff writer for Muslim Girl, helps organize the annual LGBTQ Muslim Retreat, or writes as tumblr’s resident trans muslimah satirist, she somehow finds the time to be a professional chef. Check out her Facebook for new articles or upcoming speaking engagements, her website for collected works, or Twitter if you’re bored I guess? She never really figured out what twitter is for.

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“My gf and I have been together for a little over 6 years but lately nothing seems to click like before. It’s obvious that we both still love each other and want it to work but it feels like we have to work super hard on things that used to just flow naturally. I really don’t want to lose her (we’re each others 1st everything) but I feel like it shouldn’t be this hard if it was meant to work. How to know when its over?”

Question Submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think you’re right. You’re recognizing a lot of key parts of this (both how deep your love is and how complicated it has become).

Relationships grow and change, absolutely, but you also have to keep in mind that people grow and change, and those two things (the relationship and the people) don’t always grow and change together in a way that fits.

I don’t know you’re relationship, but I’m one of those people who believes a good relationship hinges on complete honesty, openness, and communication. If you’re hiding something, not sharing the reality of all of your feelings, unable to understand your partner’s point of view, holding on to tiny issues because you don’t want to make a fuss, etc. If you’re doing any of that, you are getting in the way of having a good relationship. If you ARE doing all of the honesty and communication, and it’s not working, that means the relationship doesn’t work.

Think about the best possible version of your relationship. What does that include? Know that right now, it is completely possible to have a perfect relationship with someone. You can be with someone that you admire, who also admires you, you can be with someone who values sex the same way you do, you can be with someone who fights with you and comes out on the other side with more understanding than ever before, you can be with someone that truly challenges you and helps you to grow, you can be with someone who makes you feel so fucking special every single day. Is that the relationship you are in right now? If not, can the two of you talk about it, be honest with one another, and get to that place? Maybe you’ve just hit a bump in the road and you can figure it out.

If there is no way that you see yourself unbelievably happy with this person in the future, that’s okay. Relationships come into our lives for so many reasons, you will learn and grow regardless of how long it lasts. Maybe this one started out with a bang and now it has to end because you’re in two different worlds. Maybe you started out looking for the same things, but you’ve both changed and grown so much that those ‘same things’ are now vastly different. Please believe me when I say there is a way to have a relationship that will make you feel amazing all the time, and when you don’t feel amazing, you’re in the middle of a fight that will take you one step further into amazing.

I want everyone in the world to stop settling. Stop settling for a relationship that used to be good. Either work together to make it good again, or move on. If you’re both sitting there like, “man i miss the love of my life, how do i get it back,” put in the effort and get it back. If you’re both sitting there being like “man, this isn’t even fun anymore and I am doing most things out of obligation” you’re both wasting each other’s time and you know it. Let that person go, it’s only fair to them. You can find a way to be in her life and not have to feel like you’re both settling and unhappy. If you’re contemplating it being over, it’s probably over.

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"I live with my girlfriend and we spend a lot of our free time together with friends or family, etc. We have been together for aaages and I want to propose to her... how on earth do I organize this without letting the cat out of the bag?!!"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

DON’T. TELL. ANYONE. I know, I know. You wanna like, get suggestions from friends and have family involved and yadda yadda cute stuff. I PROMISE I GET IT BUT IF THEY ARE A BUNCHA BLABBER MOUTHS THEY WILL RUIN EVERYTHING.

IDK i’m a hopeless romantic and all I want is to surprise the shit out of someone?!?! Is that weird? Maybe I’m wrong. Also, maybe they can be trusted bc proposals are sacred or w/e. I just kind of assume you don’t trust them to keep quiet because you asked us what to do.

I suggest keeping it a complete secret. Get the ring off of etsy or some shit so no one sees you go into a ring store. If people ask, you can say y’all have sorta talked about it, or you can say you haven’t made decisions or whatever. Surprise her, surprise everyone. IT’ll be so dope.

Kristin Says:

THIS IS SO EXCITING.

Here’s what you do. You join a THING. I don’t care what it is,  but let’s say there is a book club or a knitting circle or a cosplay group or a WHATEVER I DO NOT CARE, just find a thing that is moderately believable and tell your girlfriend that you are joining it. Say it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, and voila, you have a reason to go to a place without her or her family or your family or anyone else.

Now, part of this plan involves you actually going to the class or group or whatever — you can’t just SAY you are going and then not go, bc then she will catch you and think you are having an affair and comedic but stressful hijinks will ensue until Hugh Grant sweeps in and saves the day while Julia Roberts giggles. Oops except your life isn’t a romcom, so actually it will just be awful bc lying never works.

SO. You go to this class or group, but you etch in some time before and after to make the calls you need to make, look at the sites you need to look at, and plan this magical proposal of hers without the prying eyes of everyone else.

TELL NO ONE.

GET THE RING, MAKE THE PLAN, AND THEN TELL YOUR GIRLFRIEND THERE IS A FINAL CLASS NIGHT WHERE YOU BRING YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER BUT INSTEAD YOU TAKE HER TO A WATERFALL OR WHATEVER YOUR PLAN IS AND YOU SURPRISE THE BOOBS RIGHT OFF OF HER WITH YOUR PROPOSAL.

Send us pix.

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