A reader asks:
I've been dating my boyfriend for almost three years now, basically through all of high school. I love him with all of my heart and he is my best friend. I don't have many friends so he really matters to me because I can be myself around him. But I feel like I'm missing out on the single life.
My friends are all single and go to parties and hook up with people and just have fun. I've never been able to do that because I've been with my boyfriend since they started. I don't want to lose my boyfriend, but I want to experience things. I really feel like we're going to get married, which scares me so much, but also makes me happy.
What should I do?
What you're feeling right now is really normal, and a classic example of why the annoying phrase, "The grass is always greener on the other side" exists. It's natural to be drawn towards what we don't have, even if we don't really know if we actually want it, and even if we're happy where we are.
You've been in a relationship for the majority of your adolescent life and don't really know what it's like to be single – of course you're going to feel interested in what it's like.
So, does that feeling mean you guys should break up? Or take a break? To be honest, it might. But it might also be something you can fix. Since you seem pretty happy, I'll give you some tips on how to deal with the feelings. Here are a few things you can try before ending your relationship:
#1. Give yourself some alone time
It's important to maintain a sense of self when you're in a long-term relationship. Being too attached to your bae can leave you feeling like you aren't whole without them, and that can be suffocating. If you don't already do this, give yourself some time for you. During that time, do what makes you happy and focus on yourself. No texting with or talking to your boyfriend allowed!
#2. Dedicate at least one day a week to being with just your friends
It sounds like you're feeling a little jealous of the carefree single life your friends are leading. I totally get that and I've been there. Watching your friends have single adventures without you can make you feel really lonely. One thing that might help is seeing them more often. You can definitely still hang out with them even if you aren't single! Do more things with them to feel less out of the loop.
#3. Force yourself to try new things
You want to experience things, and you should. If your boyfriend is holding you back from that, that's not okay. If he's purposely holding you back in a controlling, jealous way, that's definitely not okay. If he's holding you back because you feel weird doing things without him, that's on you. Try to get out there and try new things without always holding his hand – literally and figuratively.
Give those tips some time, and see how you feel. If weeks or months go by, and you still really want to know what it's like to be single, maybe it's your mind telling you that you need a little space from your BF.
Give yourself time to really think about it. Do you want to be single because you want to do what your friends are doing? Why are you staying with your boyfriend? It it because you're comfortable or because you genuinely don't want to be without him? There are a lot of things to consider, and talking to him honestly about it all might actually help, even if it's hard.
Two other things to think about!
One: like so many other things, being single can seem much better than it is. Of course, there's nothing wrong with it, but there are downsides you might not see. Yes, it's fun to do whatever you want and hook up with people and just have fun. But it can get lonely being on your own, and it's not always easy.
So, really think about what it's like before just deciding something based on superficial things.
Two: you shouldn't be thinking about marriage right now. Is it possible that you and your boyfriend will get married? Yes. But it's not something you need to focus on right now. Thinking about it will make you feel more trapped.
Don't think you can't break up with your BF because it will ruin your future. It won't! If you're meant to be together, you'll find your way back to each other. Until then, you need to do what makes YOU happy, so please, think about this a lot! Good luck!