Dear Style & Substance:
I live with my girlfriend and a female roommate. We are all around 23 years old, have graduated from college, and have jobs. The problem is we are all friends, but I don’t necessarily feel close to my girlfriend in a relationship kind of way. I am not sure how to make a change from our group friendship to a couple within this setting and really need some suggestions.
It sounds like you are a bit trapped in ‘college behavior’, where banter and anything goes is more the norm. Wishing to have a more mature relationship will take some effort on both of your parts. It would be nice to first approach your girlfriend by saying, “I feel like our relationship has become less special with our current living situation and I am wondering how you are feeling”. See what her response is and build from there. She could very well be feeling the same way. This may seem a bit uncomfortable, but your intention is sweet, committed, and truthful, so be certain not to send the message that something is “wrong.”
The continued growth will come from that simple agreement and the willingness to make some changes. When a couple’s relationship is in a group living situation, it becomes less intimate purely by lack of privacy. Time and effort need to be put in by the two of you. Reflect back on how your relationship started and what you like to do together. Plan ahead; seize the time or moments that you do have alone to focus on each other (with no t.v., cell phones or computers to distract you). Intimacy means that certain characteristics of your relationship are solely for the two of you and joking about these or indiscreetly disclosing these details diminishes its value. Tighten up on this.