Dear Richard Madeley: ‘The excitement from my relationship is gone – should I stick or twist?’

'I like a firm hand on my shoulder or a leg squeeze, not a puppy tickle'
'I like a firm hand on my shoulder or a leg squeeze, not a puppy tickle' - Ron Number

Dear Richard,

I met a man 23 years ago and we have stayed friends ever since. Last year we reconnected properly and it has evolved 
into a relationship.

He is kind, thoughtful and gentle – too gentle if that makes sense; I like a firm hand on my shoulder or a leg squeeze, not a puppy tickle. He has doubled in weight since we met, which he seems not to mind, but he’s not able to walk as far as I do (the dog and I walk a lot) and his clothes do not fit, making him look unkempt. In the bedroom, we are limited to one or two positions. I am a true Yorkshire girl who likes sarcasm, walking the Dales and a bit of rough and tumble – I’m worried my future isn’t going to be what I hoped.

I am all for settling down, but I don’t want to settle. I do love this man, but I’m questioning if I’m in love with him. The excitement isn’t there. I’m torn. What advice would you give?

— Anon, N Yorks

Dear Anon,

Your letter immediately brings to mind the scene in White Christmas where Vera-Ellen comes on strong to a hapless Danny Kaye.

VE: You do like me, don’t you?
DK: S-s-sure I do!
VE: I mean… I’m not exactly repulsive…
DK: C-c-course not!
VE: And you do find me amusing and fun to be with don’t you?
DK: Sure, but I feel the same way about my cocker spaniel.

There you have it, Anon. Danny likes Vera-Ellen, but he doesn’t fancy her. Just like you with your fella. You rub along well enough, but he doesn’t give you what you want – whether it’s exploring your rolling Dales, or rolling under your duvet. That’s not his fault and it’s not yours either. You’re just not a match. Look again at your letter. Most of it is taken up by unflattering physical descriptions of your lover. You’ve written just three complimentary words about him: kind, thoughtful and gentle (even that last one has a caveat: he’s too gentle!).

I’m not criticising you for this, Anon, just pointing it out. Along with something else. In the final lines you say: ‘I’m questioning if I’m in love with him.’

If we have to question whether we’re in love with someone, we already have our answer. We’re not. Being in love is an immersive experience. It may not last, but we know when we’re in its grip – and you aren’t.

Look, this guy can’t even squeeze your knee the way you like it. Frankly, I see disaster ahead if you make a full-on commitment to him. You’ll become restless and discontented. You might be tempted to have affairs. You’ll probably split up in the end and then you’ll ask yourself where the years went.

You asked my advice and I’ve given it. But here’s an exercise for you, too. Sit down and imagine your letter was written by someone else – to you. Compose the reply you’d send them. Be honest. Be direct.

When you’ve finished, I think you’ll be staring at your own answer, too.

You can find more of Richard Madeley’s advice here or submit your own dilemma below.