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Should I Feel Bad About Not Missing My Boyfriend When He's Gone? 

Dear Athena,

I am totally confused. My boyfriend of seven years and I have a really good relationship. He's funny and I'm attracted to him and we have a really nice time together. We have been living together for about six years, and things are going well. He recently went away on a trip with friends for about two weeks, and I thought I would miss him a lot — but I didn't at all. I had a great time while he was gone and did things I haven't done in a while, saw friends I haven't seen, and felt really good and relaxed. I'm concerned. Is it bad I didn't miss him? I'm worried I won't be as relaxed now that he's home. Does this mean we shouldn't be together? I feel bad, like I'm not a good girlfriend.

Help,

Guilty Girlfriend

Dear Guilty Girlfriend,

You feel bad for enjoying yourself? That's really unfortunate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you or your relationship simply because you had a nice time on your own. In fact, I'd say that's good news.

You and your boyfriend have been together for seven years. That's a long time. And you've lived together for most of it. Congrats. Cohabitation takes work and communication, and it sounds like you two have a good thing going.

That said, it's completely normal to want some space. Alone time is healthy and important — for both partners. Did he have a good time without you? I'm sure he did. Would you want him to feel bad about that? I doubt it. So why do you feel guilty?

It's challenging to maintain an independent spirit and sense of freedom in a long-term relationship. Some folks are comfortable balancing their partner's needs with their own. Others always put their partners first. And that's when things get tricky.

When you focus solely on your life with someone, you can come to resent your partner for distracting you from the person you used to be. But it's your responsibility to keep that from happening — not his.

Sit down with your boyfriend and tell him about your time alone. Reassure him that you're happy he's home, but let him know you'd like to continue some of those solo activities — if you do. This doesn't mean you want to end the relationship, but that you want to develop a stronger relationship with yourself. I'm sure he will understand and support you.

Schedule weekly dates with yourself — or those neglected friends — and give yourself the same attention you give your partner. After all, if you don't feel connected to you, then you can't maintain a healthy and happy connection to him.

Yours,

Athena

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