I have been with my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years. I know that I love him very much and we are sexually involved. For the past few months, however, I have been questioning how serious I am about staying in this long term relationship.There’s been this urge to date other people and I recently read that if I find myself having this urge, then I’m really not in love. I find myself going back and forth saying to myself ‘I really don’t want a boyfriend’ and then saying ‘I love him so much and I can’t picture life without him’.But then again, I don’t know if I would miss the solidity in the relationship rather than being in the relationship with him. We actually took a break for about a month and I dated some other people, but I found myself missing him, calling him, wanting him back in my life.I’ve talked to him about this many times and he’s told me that if I break it off again to date other people, he will not come back for a second time. This scares me and while I know that I feel that I need to experience other people in a dating situation, I’m scared of losing him altogeher.He has never showed any interest in dating other people. I have gotten so close to his family over the years. Another thing I guess is because I lost my virgity to him. . . it was a very emotional thing for me so I’ll be somewhat connected to him forever.I’ve been with him since freshman year of high school. The one thing that constantly crosses my mind is that I have never just been asked out on a date (I’ve always become someone’s girlfriend and then actually gone out somewhere with them) and I have never been asked to a school dance. These are all things that I want to accomplish and I know that as long as I continue on this path, I won’t be able to.I feel like I’m missing out on so much compared to my friends, but then again I know that not very many people experience such a serious relationship. There are just so many questions that I have and I can’t seem to sort them through. . . it’s tearing me up inside.I don’t feel like an adequate girlfriend because I have all these doubts when he has always been so sure about me and our relationship. I’ve heard all the cliche statements ‘just follow your heart’ and ‘do whatever makes you happy’, but there are so many things that my heart is telling me and I don’t know what will make me happy in the long run.Please help me. Someone like you, being someone that isn’t directly involved, is the only one that I feel that can give me an honest answer. Thanks.
I am honored by the trust you have placed in me and yes, you are right, I always give an honest answer. I completely understand your predicament. You are caught in a massive conflict.First off, I wouldn’t say that wanting to date others is a sign that you aren’t in love. It sounds as though you do love your boyfriend. You certainly did miss him during your previous break up. The problem is that despite your love for him, you are yearning for life experiences that you haven’t had precisely because you fell for this guy so young in your life.Since we don’t have a crystal ball, we can’t predict the future and say with assurance that you will ever find another relationship as good as this one. True, the research says that there are potentially 10 000 ideal life partners waiting out there for you. The trick is to find them!What you need to ask yourself is whether playing the field and filling in your experience gaps is worth the risk of never finding what you have with this guy again. You also need to ask yourself if playing it safe and staying with him will be a choice that you will come to resent. If your resentment becomes too strong, will you end up acting upon your yearnings down the line, which would be even more damaging to him since you will have become attached to each other as time goes on and destructive to you since you will be tearing apart a life that you have created together.The reality is that we never can have it all in life. We humans happen to be insatiable, bottomless pits of hunger on all levels. How can you be sure that your hunger for new and different experiences will ever be satisfied through any amount of playing the field?The fact is, even married people who have had all kinds of experiences before settling down still crave new and different lovers and life experiences. In other words, what you yearn for is human nature. It’s hard for you to know this because you haven’t had all these experiences and discovered that in spite of it all you still feel yearning.Finding a love early in life and holding on to it means that you sacrifice other experiences. Going after these new and different experiences means that you give up a connection that is dear to you.Life is about choices and sacrifices. Each choice means death to other options. You will need to make a choice that you can live with. There are no right or wrong answers here. The bottom line is choose a choice that you can make peace with and accept without regret.If you are willing to go after the experiences and risk that you will never find a love like what you have again, then that’s the right choice for you. If you are going to mourn what you had for the rest of your life, then going after these experiences isn’t the right choice for you.Let me know what you decide.