Stay or go? Romance, love and the seven-year itch

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Should you trade marriage for the passion of your once-a-year dalliance? A sure thing for a dream fulfilled? Are you in a rut or afraid to move forward?

Q:

I’ve been partnered for nine years and married for five.

Around year seven, the thrill was gone. We loved each other, but romance had left the building.

Then I got out of my car at Publix one day and met the love of my life. We had a passionate month or so, but our respective marriages made us end it. We see each other once a year, but as I near the big 4-0, I wonder if I set true love aside for what is safe.

Dear Seven Year Itch:

Romance isn’t the fire; it’s the spark. Blame evolution. That passionate feeling that entirely preoccupies early love serves a psychological and sociological purpose.

It draws people together so powerfully that they do not see each other accurately. It leaves us blind to faults so we rush headlong into a relationship that sustains a social construct that we need as individuals and as a society.

Romance is not perpetuated by closeness but by absence. You and your paramour extend the separation and therefore the fantasy. After romance comes a different kind of bonding that you have with your husband, and it’s no less powerful or compelling.

Lasting bonds are rarer than the romantic kind. People fall in love all the time, but they don’t frequently fall into couples that last forever. Staying together takes a special set of decisions, skills and feelings that allow you to continue as part of each other’s lives.

My guess is that deep down you know this already, and that you and your annual fling made your decisions based on that knowledge a long time ago.

Q:

I’m 36, and I’m still going to the same places and running into the same queers from 10 years ago. Is that all there is? This isn’t where I saw myself going.

Dear Stuck:

Many LGBTQs – and everybody else – take stock and come up wanting more at some point in our lives. Welcome to the rut of middle age, at whatever age it hits you.

Think of these feelings as an opportunity. Take the chance to identify and face down fears that have held you back – of the unknown, of failure, and yes ,of success.

What choices would you make if you weren’t afraid? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? Is failing worse than not trying? Use the answers to define your next chapter.

You can’t change the past or predict the future. Act boldly now and land someplace that makes you glad you did.

Q Advice is for entertainment, not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected].

Illustration by Brad Gibson

A version of this article appeared in Q ATLus magazine. Read the full issue here:

Pick up each new edition of QATLus at LGBTQ and allied venues around Atlanta.

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