“My boyfriend is awesome, but I’m not feeling that spark. Is that OK?”

Dear Sarah,

I’m dating a great guy…but it feels like there’s something missing.

After having a string of bad relationships, I finally put myself and my friends and family first and decided to take a year off from dating. During this time, I have come to truly love myself exactly the way I am, avoiding any negative energy from the media or unkind boyfriends. Then, however, a friend who supported me throughout my entire process apparently came to love and respect my transformation as well.

This boy has really put in the effort to make me feel special, so after my year for myself, I decided to give him a chance. I am officially dating him now, and he is the kindest, most selfless person I know. But there’s a missing chemistry….I don’t get butterflies in my stomach around him like I have with other men in my life.

I don’t know how seriously to take this lack of “spark.” How could I break up with such an amazing guy for no concrete reason? If it is OK to slow down the relationship, how could I tell him this without hurting his feelings? I really do care about him, but I think maybe this should be a close friendship rather than a relationship.

Thanks for the help,

—Muddled in Milwaukee

Dear Muddled,

It’s so refreshing that you were brave and aware enough to see that you needed a time out from negative relationships and junk that was making you feel bad about yourself. You followed through with your commitment and came out the other side with more strength and self-esteem. Yay!

These are exactly the qualities that will help you make this tough decision.

Sometimes, the absence of “butterflies” is a fine thing. Maybe you are accustomed to overly intense, edgy relationships that are as fast, exciting, and dangerous as a racecar on fire. Feeling passionate is one thing; feeling keyed up on a guy 24/7 is another. If you are used to “bad boys,” then being with a sweet and normal guy might seem a little weird (and bland)—but something you could grow into.

However, if your underlying question is, “I want to break up with this guy, how can I do it with out hurting him?” The answer is that you can’t (I’m sorry, it sucks, but hopefully he’ll come around and be your friend again). Imagine, for a moment, being intimate with him—is your lack of spark more of a feeling of aversion? If so, you’ll know it at a gut level and you might not be romantically compatible.

If you decide that you don’t want to continue dating, the sooner you are honest with him, the better. Spending more time together as “an item” will just heighten his expectations and deepen his crush. He may be angry or upset, that’s normal. Don’t let that make you feel like a bad person—just be as kind and gentle with him and yourself you can.

Let us know what you figure out.

Love, Sarah

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