I need some honest perspective on my relationship
April 19, 2014 2:00 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I have been dating since I was 16 and he was 18. I am not 21 and he is almost 23. We met in high school, though it's an awkward story of how we met.w

When we met I was at the end of my sophomore year and he was a senior. We had the same lunch and we say at the tables next to each other. Some people from each of our tables knew each other and we would sometimes all talk. I had never seen him before and I remember thinking he was cute, I asked my friend if she thought he was cute and she saw he was ok. I would look over at his table and he would stare at me too. Then one day my friend saw him in a picture on Facebook and we found his profile. She said I should message him. I was and still am pretty shy and sometimes awkward. I messaged him and said I think we had the same lunch, then we started messaging, he gave me his number and we talked and he asked me out somewhere. We went on a couple really awkward dates. I had ha one boyfriend for nine months before, he had never even kissed a girl or went on a real date. We were walking around the park one day and he asked me what we were and I said idk, then he asked me to be his girlfriend and I said sure, though I wasn't really sure because I still wanted to be single in a way.

I basically spent all my time with him, my friend and I were fighting and I stopped hanging out with them. He started going to pharmacy school that fall and lived at home. I spent all my time between school and work with him. I stopped hanging with friends and soon had none. I think I've been depressed a lot f my life due to dysfunctional family issues but felt even lower. I was pretty emotionally unstable and would cry to him about family stuff early in our relationship, I was pretty immature. He was extremely sexually advancing, he asked me to have sex after I knew him for just a couple months, I said no... I remember after like a year together we were with his parents on a weekend trip they took me on (his parents are very good to me, they have taken me on their yearly vacations for the past four years, his mom is always buying me stuff and they're so nice) and while I was in te bathroom his mom asked him what our intentions were. I had never really thought about it, I was just taking it day by day I guess, I never was actively thinking about marriage. I came out of the bathroom and it was awkward but I didn't know why. In the car with just my boyfriend he told me what she asked and then asked me. I said I didn't know and asked him, he said he would be with me as long as I would let him. I remember feeling sick because I wasn't ready to be with thelast person I would ever be with.

Anyways that recurring feeling about not sure I want to be with him has always come up. We get along well I guess and never fight, which I'm not actually sure is a good thing. Were both kind of passive people. I feel like I've grown a lot in the past few years, but I haven't really been able to show that in the relationship. I feel like he sees me as immature and childish but I know I have a better side to me and I can show that to others. I just feel like he sees me only one way or something, and I've come to know who I want to be more lately.

We do like to do a lot of the same things like working out, running, hiking, whatever. I still have almost no friends and neither does he (he has two friends that he just made this year). I work two jobs and attend community college. He works 1-2 days a week and is one year away from finishing pharmacy school. I get annoyed because he always wants to spend all of his free time with me, when I don't have a lot f time to myself.

In October last year we actually did break up. I broke up with him because I felt like I wasn't growing as a person and wasn't ready to be in such a serious relationship. I also said I wasn't 100% sure and didn't want to commit if I wasn't positive. He was heartbroken. I felt confused before but felt so certain when we broke up. After a few months I was hanging out with old friends but felt very lonely and depressed and missed him. So we starte talking and got back together. I kind of acted like it didn't ever happen I guess, he never talked about it really either but did say that I acted like nothing happened. I just feel so weird about breaking up, I totally change for a little while when we broke up and tried weed, got drunk for the first time and went to a couple parties. I figured out that that wasn't what I really wanted though.

Idk I guess I'm confused on what's best for me. I want to transfer to a local university and really want to make friends there, but I always seem to hold myself back by hanging only with my boyfriend. I guess I'm just asking for different points of view on very serious relationships at such a young age. My boyfriend is a really good guy but is it bad that I don't feel excited thinking about the future or marriage? Am I bored? Am I taking him seriously for granted?
posted by anon1129 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
is it bad that I don't feel excited thinking about the future or marriage?

Nope. You feel how you feel. It's neither bad nor good, it just is.

Am I bored?


Am I taking him seriously for granted?

Maybe. You should break it off. Not doing so isn't fair to you and it isn't fair to him, if your heart's not in it anymore.
posted by killdevil at 2:08 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I want to transfer to a local university and really want to make friends there, but I always seem to hold myself back by hanging only with my boyfriend.

I got married at 19 and I do not regret it. But that was what I wanted. You want something else and are not going after it for some reason. I think you should try to arrange the transfer and let the chips fall where they may. Long distance relationships are hard to maintain. If it doesn't make it, it doesn't make it. If he does stick around even though you went away to school, then you have a shot at both things working out. (The odds are good that the relationship won't make it if you move away. But it might be easier for you to let it go after you are moved than it is now.)
posted by Michele in California at 2:15 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

On the one hand, if you did want to stay with him AND make new friends, that is possible. It's not him that's keeping that from happening.

That said, you really don't sound happy with your relationship. The only good thing you mention about it is that you have some (very common, honestly) hobbies in common. It sounds like you guys have just stayed together out of habit and that's not great, especially at your age, which is a time for trying new things.

There's a reason most high school couples break up if and when they go off to college - because people change a LOT at your age. And staying in the same relationship through such a time of change and development can keep you from changing in ways you need to. Not necessarily, but usually.

One thing a lot of people don't realize in their first relationship(s) is that you don't need a "good" reason to break up. No one needs to be the bad guy. If you're not happy, that's enough of a reason.

I noticed that you don't seem to view yourself as having much agency in your own life. You talk about getting back together as if it's something that just happened, and not a choice you made. The same thing with the fact that you don't go out much when you're with him. This might have to do with your depression, but you have the power to break up with him and stay broken up, or to make new friends, or deal with your depression.

Do be aware that breaking up with him won't solve all your problems. You may still be depressed, especially at first. You may find it hard to make friends at your new school at first, just because sometimes making new friends is hard. And that may make it easier to get back together with him again. But it really doesn't sound like you guys are right for each other anymore.

Good luck!
posted by lunasol at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Here's my theory: any relationship question that requires this amount of detail, whether it's about what happened back in High School or what happened last Wednesday, the answer is you should break up. You're trying to insert all these little qualifying bits about where you sat at lunch and what room you were in when his mom asked you a question and all of it is simply obscuring what I think is the main dilemma, which is "I am very very young and my boyfriend is a good guy but this relationship is preventing me from having the life I want."

So, break up. Maybe it's meant to be and you'll become friends again at 28 and wind up getting married. Maybe you'll go on to live totally different lives and never speak again. Who knows. But you sound excited about the things that you mention that don't involve him, and you don't sound excited about him or your relationship at all.

Btw I'm not criticizing the detailed way you asked the question; I did the exact same thing all through my teens, just lucky for me there was no internet to record it all. The answer was ALWAYS that whatever guy was not worth that level of analysis.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 2:22 PM on April 19, 2014 [44 favorites]

Setting aside the fact that it doesn't really sound like you're super into him (I'll get to that in a sec), it's totally fine to think about long-term compatibility as you get into adulthood. You're thinking about what you want (more friends, more of a social life, transfer to local university and get plugged into that community) and you're seeing that those things don't match what he wants (spend lots of time just the two of you, stay where you are). If your preferences and goals don't match up, that can be a totally healthy and appropriate reason to end a relationship. Frankly, so is thinking, "I don't want to be in this relationship anymore." You and he have done a lot of growing up together, and sometimes that means growing apart.

And then there's the excitement factor. Yes, relationships typically transition from the exhilarating "honeymoon" phase to a more comfortable (but also deeper) companionship phase--but it sounds like you've ended up less in a deep, committed companionship and more of a habit. It sounds like maybe you stay because you've been together for so long and can't think of a "good" reason to break up, rather than staying together because you truly see this relationship as what you want for the long term. I can describe some ways that my relationship has changed over time, but I can also tell you concretely why I want to stay with my husband and why I'm willing to fight for the relationship. I'm not saying you need to be ready to marry your boyfriend or else the relationship is doomed, but I do think that you sound pretty ambivalent about the relationship--and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with you (or him, for that matter). If this is the relationship you want to be in, stay. If you look at the situation honestly and realize that it's not what you want, leave. If you choose to end it, both you and he will be fine--it'll hurt, it'll be weird, but you'll both be fine in the end. If you choose to stay when you know it's not the right relationship for you, you'll both end up worse off in the long run.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:45 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The question of how to be your own person while in a relationship is one you'll grapple with your entire life. In some relationships, you change yourself to please them. In some relationships, you become this bad version of yourself. In some relationships, you become this really great version of yourself. In some relationships, you really feel accepted as the same self you've always been.

I don't know what to tell you about this guy. It seems like you want to explore and like you aren't that excited about him. It sounds to me like you want our permission to break up, and I certainly support you. It will hurt you both, but that doesn't mean not to do it. 

On the other hand, if you're not ready to make that decision yet, you could work on being more of who you want to be in the relationship by developing your communication skills. You might try telling him that you really want to build up more friendships, and that you want his support in that. Eventually, if you decide to get married, you end up "stuck" with one person and you have to become very honest and communicative about what you want out of life and the relationship. It sounds like this guy loves you and would accommodate your desire to spend more time making new friends. You could start learning that skill of talking about what you need to your partner. Addressing the depression would also really change your life for the better.
posted by salvia at 3:13 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

so one of my friends said something about relationships which I think is true: she said you can get together young and grow up together or you can do your growing up on your own and then meet someone.

I met my spouse when I was 28, so I am definitely in the latter camp, but here I am on the edge of 40 and I have friends who have been with their spouses since they were 17 or 18. I think either path can work. Their marriages (for all appearances) are as happy as mine.

My friends who met at 18 did take care to have some independence from their sweeties (living apart for a few years for example). That kind of thing is good because it gives you some independence and identity. So if you stay(do you love him? You really didn't say which feels like a red flag), make sure you go to that university, live in the dorms, consider a semester or a summer abroad (my friend who met her husband at 18 still went abroad), and make some friends or join some clubs. Don't make it all about him because that isn't healthy.
posted by bananafish at 3:47 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Break up with him. You don't owe this guy your life. Get your liberty, do some experimenting to find out what it is you want out of your life, and then go make it happen. It doesn't need to include him or cater to his needs in any way whatsoever. It's scary, but fear of change is a lousy reason to make decisions. It's YOUR life. Take control.
posted by Andrhia at 4:39 PM on April 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

Wow, you're a younger me. MeMail me if you want to talk.

I would say this: serious relationships at a young age have some major perks that most people don't realize. However, ultimately, most people are right that you can't keep compromising when you're young. You just can't.

It sucks a lot and it's gonna hurt a lot either way, basically. Probably you'll break up. Try to do it when you're both semi-ready, as gently as possible though. Good luck.
posted by quincunx at 5:52 PM on April 19, 2014

History doesn't obligate you to continue a relationship, and it sorta sounds like that's all that keeping you in this. DTMFA and go be the person you've figured out you want to be.

I dated a guy through high school and part way into college, on and off, up and down, with all kinds of drama. I can hardly remember what he looks like and I certainly don't regret ending that relationship to go do what I wanted (travel, get an education and so on).
posted by mibo at 6:04 PM on April 19, 2014

A guy can be a really good guy, and still not be the right guy for you.

However, if you come from a dysfunctional family background, be aware that you're likely to feel highly stabilized by just having a "good guy" in your life regardless of how compatible he actually is with you. Just hanging around friends will not feel like enough of a substitute, though, and the depression and loneliness will be prone to sink back in, simply because you've been under-nurtured in your family of origin, and that results in deficits when it comes to independent functioning. That's why just having a good guy in your life gives you enough relief to keep going -- they occupy some of the void of neglect that otherwise becomes unbearable to contain.

Know that while you are single, you do need and deserve extra emotional support in your life. You will likely need to plan and be strategic about it. If you're going to college, access the counseling services that *should* be available to you via the student fees you pay (if you go to university, there will be better counseling services available for sure). If not, see if there are any community agencies that offer counseling. Say explicitly that you need support around dysfunctional family issues. Hopefully because you're young, people will feel keen to connect you to good resources.

Having come from a dysfunctional family myself, I strongly caution you learn to sustain your emotional needs independently and such that you can pursue your dreams. Because I don't think you're taking him for granted nearly as much as you're taking yourself for granted, and your shot in life to self-realize your talents and goals. You will meet someone more intrinsically compatible with you, at some point -- have faith and confidence that it will happen when it's ready to. But in the meantime, if you can find a way to deal with the loneliness and depression that comes with growing up in a dysfunctional family that was not meeting your basic emotional needs, finding a good guy will be irritatingly overshadowed by your need to fill the void of lonely depression, and that is the feeling of settling you'll continue to experience in your gut each time you're in a committed relationship that does not serve to help realize your true Self. [/over-projection and my two cents]
posted by human ecologist at 6:10 PM on April 19, 2014 [14 favorites]

Your question is marked by ambivalence, confusion, and comfort. I'd say that what you're feeling is pretty normal for someone who has been in a relationship they weren't sure they actually wanted to be in for a long period of time. It sounds to me that you've outgrown the relationship. In more blunt terms, you actually know what you want, and it's probably not him. He could be a very good guy, a great guy, but not the guy for you.

When you got back together, did you really miss him -- or did you miss having a boyfriend?
posted by sm1tten at 6:27 PM on April 19, 2014

You clearly aren't into him and dated him to have companionship. Worse yet, you feel like you can't become the person you want to be people he'll see you as someone you used to be, who you don't like, for whatever reason. You should just move and maybe see a therapist for the family issues you glossed over.

I mean, dating a couple months and him asking for sex doesn't strike me as "extremely sexually advancing," unless the way he asked was demanding. What is striking is that you didn't want to have sex with a guy you had been with that long. You never say how long it took you guys to have sex, but it sounds like he was patient with you and was a good guy. You're just not that into him.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:11 PM on April 19, 2014

I'm always wary of answering these kinds of questions with a definite answer. The amount of information you can give on the internet to people who don't know you and your relationship is very limited, so I can't pretend to have a definite answer for you. I do, however, believe in collective wisdom and agree with the posters above who spoke of allowing yourself to do what is right for you, rather than what is right for the relationship. If what is right for you is also right for the relationship, you'll have matured and learned some important things about relationships. If what is right for you is not right for the relationship, I think your obligation to yourself, at your age and your stage in life, is infinitely more important.

I will add one more thing: Break ups are shit. If that's the reason you're staying, I can tell you that getting through a breakup is an empowering journey of identity and strength.

And also, feel free to memail me if you want someone to process with. I feel ya.
posted by alona at 11:42 PM on April 19, 2014

It sounds like you've stayed with him out if inertia more than anything else: if that's it, dragging this on and on will just leave you both unhappy, and keep you both from finding something better.

Go to your choice of colleges; if this relationship is meant to last then your going to school won't hurt anything: someone who truly loves you will be happy for you.

And, yes: talk to a therapist.
posted by easily confused at 2:31 AM on April 20, 2014

I mean, dating a couple months and him asking for sex doesn't strike me as "extremely sexually advancing," unless the way he asked was demanding.

Or, unless you're sixteen and perhaps making sense of it for the first time, maybe.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:01 AM on April 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I guess I'm just asking for different points of view on very serious relationships at such a young age.

I married a guy I met at that age, getting back together after a breakup while I went away to college. Your story sounds similar to mine in some aspects: coming from a dysfunctional family; adopted by his family. Partly, I just want to chime in with some sympathy. It is very hard to let go of a relationship like that. There are things that are very, very special about someone you fall in love with at a very early age. And, breaking up with them feels like breaking up with a family member. I should not have married that man, but I still clearly remember the appeal of doing so, and still have very special feelings about him.

I think if you are feeling like you should break up with him, then you really need to. In my experience, personality traits you had in high school seem to persist in that kind of relationship. Also, the relationship can act as a crutch if there were issues you were not facing in terms of your family and leaving home. Now, I am sure there are people who marry their high school sweetheart and their development is just like any other fully functioning adult's, but your misgivings in this regard suggest to me that you are not one of those people.
posted by BibiRose at 5:56 AM on April 20, 2014

You are very young and there's a huge world out there to explore. He may be a great guy, and one of your best friends, but what's right for you at 16, may not be right for you at 18, or 24 or 34.

We grow and change as we get older. That is why so few relationships from our youth are retained into adulthood. I have friends that I met in middle-school, but as we've aged, we're more like family than friends.

I speak to none of the guys I dated or was in relationships with from that same timeframe.

Let's accept that you have/had a wonderful relationship with this guy, but you already see that it's limiting. Part amicably, with as little drama as possible, and go onto a new school.

Be open to meeting new people, to dating guys who don't compare favorably to your Ex. This is all part of maturing and it's great.

There will be weeks where you won't think of your BF. And there will be times that you're so lonely for him you'll ache. It's normal.

It sounds like you know that you want to move on, and it's right for you to do that. You will grow and change so much over the next 10 years, you'll look back on this time and think to yourself "I was so lucky to have such a great guy at that time of my life. Now I'm lucky to have what I have now."

Trust your gut on this one. It's time to move on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:04 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay the night after I posted this we hung out and had a really
good night. We made pizzas at home and hung out. It was fun.

I think in this post I made it seem like I care about him a lot less than I do. Well we've been together for five years. I'm just confused because I have these thoughts when were not together, about how I'm in the prime of my life for dating and discovering myself and I'm in a long term relationship that I'm not one hundred percent sure about. I just don't want to look back or figure out someday that I could have opened myself up to a lot of opportunity and growth if I was single and meeting other people.

Sometimes I wonder if there's someone else who he would be better with too. He prides himself on being funny but we have different senses of humor so I don't genuinely laugh with him when he makes a joke he thinks is funny. I frequently feel annoyed at him also and am never really super excited to see him, which I feel bad and guilty about. We dohave a nice time though. As far as we've talked though the plan is to finally move in together in a year when he graduates. He wants to get engaged soon after. Why can't I feel genuinely inclined to want the same thing.

I don't know, maybe I'm just overthinking this and we are fine...
posted by anon1129 at 11:10 PM on April 22, 2014

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