Dear Neil: I have just moved in with my boyfriend after a year of dating. He is the kindest, most wonderful man, and he is my best friend. But I cannot purge the memory of an old relationship from four years ago. My current relationship lacks the intensity of the former, but I feel that the current one is healthier in every other way.

I am nearly 32, and I don’t want to spend too much time in a relationship that may not be “the one.” My head says to stay, and to consider my incredibly good fortune at finding someone so good. My only waffling point is the lesser intensity. Do you think intensity will develop over time? Should an intelligent woman just see the merit in being treated wonderfully, or should I hold out for the nearly perfect package? Am I chasing rainbows or being realistically selective?

M. L. C. in Campbell, California

Dear M.L.C.: Some people are wonderful in every other regards, but they lack a romantic and sexual intensity.

Look at what he could do that would help you feel a greater sense of passion. Is it related to more romance? If so, what in particular would be more romantic for you? Is it related to him being more seductive? More creative with his lovemaking techniques? Saying he loves you more? More conversations about his hopes, dreams and wishes? It may be that you’re wanting to deepen the relationship more, but you don’t know how to do so.

Let him know how you’re feeling, and what you’re wanting, and give him an opportunity to respond. I would not urge you to stay with a man whom you feel the charge is too weak. But before you consider letting your “best friend” go, see if you can assist and encourage the stronger intensity and passion that you desire.

Dear Neil: There are many more downsides to living together with a boyfriend than you described to your reader who was considering that option.

First of all, when you share rent and a lease, that can trap you and make you feel you have to stay in the relationship, even if you’re unhappy. If you lived apart, you would be less willing to put up with bad treatment.

Secondly, he will take you for granted. The time you spend together will be less quality time, since couples spend time with domestic chores, so you’ll notice that you’re not doing some of the fun things you used to do. Third, you have more chances of getting pregnant. He may want you to get an abortion, or he may feel pressured by pride into marrying you, but this is not a good way to start a marriage.

Live apart until you both know that you want to make each other your partner for life.

Living Alone in San Jose, California

Dear Living: This issue is laden with ethical, moral and religious considerations for some people, so it would be foolish for anyone to pretend that they have the right answer for the rest of us.

If you are ethically opposed to living with a man before marriage, that’s understandable. But do you think that your negative examples of living together are really going to be more easily resolved after marriage? Might you still feel trapped, taken for granted, have less quality time and disagree about how to deal with a pregnancy, even when you are married?

Has your relationship turned cold and distant? Neil’s book Love, Sex, and Staying Warm can help you rekindle your passion.

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