Why: I grew up very Catholic, and because of that and the “over-responsible oldest child” syndrome, I never allowed myself to do anything that was less than perfect. I even convinced myself that I was gay so that I wouldn’t act on my genuine desire to have sex with men, which I found deeply embarrassing.
Flash-forward to final year of college, when I met the perfect man (I was 21, he was 25). He is warm, thoughtful, and takes such good care of me. Either way, he’s the right choice, so I finally let myself have sex that I really enjoyed with him, and we’ve been dating for a little over a year and a half now. For the first year of our relationship, we were basically long distance, but I was sure we were going to get married someday, so we went straight ahead with him right after graduation.
The problem is that ever since we started living together seven months ago, I can’t stop thinking about breaking up with him. This is my first relationship, and so I don’t know if this is a normal period of adjustment to be with someone or what, but it’s causing me intense pain. There’s a big part of me that wants to experience what it’s like to have sex with at least one other guy, and find out who I am as an independent adult, and is insanely jealous of that. That my boyfriend has other relationships and sexual experiences first to “settle down” with me. But then there’s another big part of me that loves him too much, is afraid of hurting him, and is obsessed with the thought that nothing good will come of me.
It’s perfect whenever we’re together, but as soon as he leaves, all the anxious thoughts about breaking up with him come back. I’ve done everything to try to fix it – started a job I really love to give myself a life outside of her, went to therapy, openly communicated where my head is – but it still hasn’t dispelled these thoughts. I’m so scared of making the wrong choice, but both breaking up with him and staying with him feel incredibly wrong to me. We were very happy in our relationship before we got together, so do I need to keep it? Will it get better with time?
the idea that life experience comes from being multiple Friends are very liars. Or at least… flimsy.
A: There are at least 10,000 things I want to address here, spirals within spirals of answers and ideas and theories. But before I get into anything more concrete, I want to remind you, as I try to remind most people, that there’s No One correct answer here. Your upbringing — and the world at large — has instilled in you the idea that there are right choices and wrong choices, and that the hard part of life will be doing the right thing in the face of an attractive evil. this is very It is rarely something that life throws at us. My mother once taught me when I was young that most of adulthood is making a choice between two good choices or two bad choices. This has stuck with me a lot. If there was an easy, obvious, morally right choice that was guaranteed to give you the most happiness in the future, you would have made it already. Please believe in yourself enough to know this.
future happinessLike the moods of the weather and a child’s tantrums, very hard predict, We’re not even good at figuring that out and then doing what makes us happy now Why would we be good at predicting the future? (Seriously, there’s a whole book about how bad we are at this.) stumble upon happiness, Please know that whatever you do, you will be happy in the future. At some point, you may even be crying on the cold, hard ground. No matter which option you choose, you’ll experience joy and pain and rooftop parties and itchy sweaters. He’s all coming for you.
the idea that life experience comes from being multiple Friends are very liars. Or at least… flimsy. Often, it feels like having a variety of romantic encounters is the key to having a fulfilling, well-rounded life. And I think on some level, yes! Sure! But seeing a new gender will not make you wiser. Well, maybe the situation will teach you something, but that moment in itself is not going to be any more life-giving than any other moment.
Your youth doesn’t need to be devoted to wild flings and chasing new relationships. Almost every single person I know who grew up quickly or who “did the right thing all the time” as a kid is now obsessed. With re-living and recreating your youth. they want to have the opportunity to be reckless, to go wild, to make Bad Option. There’s something so painful about realizing that everyone has to mess up and you didn’t and now you’re on track… keep doing the right thing…?
I deeply suspect that if you leave your current partner, any future romantic experiences you have will either be very, very dull, wildly disappointing (which can be fun in their own way!). Or If they’re really, really, really good, the same thing you’re experiencing now. The problem with only wanting “more” is that there is no way to satisfy your desire. (don’t even get me started hedonic treadmill —the idea that basically no matter what happens, good or bad, people usually rapidly return to the same level of happiness they had before.)
The amazing truth of life is that wherever you go, there you are. Most long term relationships aren’t going to feel thrilling and new and sexy every day. They’re going to feel warm and cute and cozy.
I think there’s a very good chance that the problem has less to do with your grief for your past and more with your desire for the future. It’s sad and hard to face the idea that maybe life is just… that’s it, forever. But I want to remind you that life will change and be difficult and wonderful in ways that you cannot even fathom yet. Your relationship isn’t always going to be like this. You are not a set person and neither is your boyfriend. what else could you be doing with your life that would bring excitement Not there romantic or sexual? How can you validate her desire for more adult experiences without alienating her? What is the fear of living?
I think the chances are that you will find love again – not necessarily in a better or worse relationship, just a different one.
That all said, I also know agony like you wouldn’t believe. At least 82% of my time is spent longing to live my life again and differently. When people say, “You couldn’t pay me to go back to middle school!” I’m like “I’ll pay You, I hated middle school in so many ways, but the chance to live life again, to experience more… it’s beyond enchanting. I want to be young again and do last Tuesday again. I want to do all this. It would lead to utter dissatisfaction if I didn’t actively chase that feeling with a broom (or go to Italy to work on an olive farm for a few weeks, which I actually did – and which was wonderful, but you can’t uproot your life for a month every time you feel a little restless).
But maybe it’s not about craving the do-over. The timing of your relationship may not be quite right, even if the person is nice. You don’t need to wait around to collect proof that you’re sad enough to leave. You don’t need to present a PowerPoint begging to be released from an imaginary contract. You have to go because nothing is working for you at the moment. Even if – even if! Listen to me carefully! Even if it is hypothetically possible to live together in the future.
you must be thinking, But, Sophia! What if I never find love again? Okay, first of all, that’s not going to happen. I mean, what if you were stuck in a jet engine one day? You will love and love again. (You probably won’t get sucked into a jet engine.) I don’t know what the next love will look like, and you may come to regret it a lot. You might even regret staying. I think the chances are that you will find love again – not necessarily in a better or worse relationship, just a different one. And he’ll probably be sad on the spot. It doesn’t do wrong. Life isn’t about setting yourself up for a great future—despite what every adult did for the first 18 years of your life. The present is also your life. You are currently allowed to choose for yourself as they work for you Now.
I know I’ve weighed in on both sides. Not very helpful! But maybe what I just said raised a small fist inside your heart. Try not to make this decision out of fear. Try to make peace with the fears you have (about the future, about yourself) and act anyway. If all else fails, toss a coin in the air and listen really carefully to which side your gut wants to land. And then be brave and go after him.