Yes, this one's another FOMO (fear of missing out) young-person letter. But I like it because, well, it's a problem, and also because it makes me feel bad for people who haven't had their hearts squashed. Seems like a necessary thing to experience. But you decide.
I have a situation that I would like a little advice on; it’s a little different than what you normally get because I am not looking for love I have already found it. So what’s the problem you ask? I found the man of my dreams too early.
I have been dating my current boyfriend for four years. We meet in college when I was 19 and have been together ever since. I love my boyfriend, he is incredibly good to me and I love being around him. The problem is that I am now 23 and we are getting to the point where friends are starting to get married and we are starting to think about it. I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes if he did ask me because I know that I would be happy married to him but, there are still a lot of things that I feel I never got to experience because I have been dating my boyfriend for the majority of my adult life, and he is the only man I have ever dated. (Side note: getting married and having kids relatively young is a big dream of mine, and I can see myself having kids with my current boyfriend)
I feel like I missed out on being young and single. There are still a ton of things that I want to do, for example I want to live in a foreign country completely on my own. Also, I have never had a broken heart. People may say that I am crazy but I feel like that is an experience worth having. I am scared that if we stay together, I might resent the fact that I never got to experience being young and self-sufficient.
I do know that I could bring him along and experience these things with him but I don’t want to. I want to be able to say I can do it all by myself and truly find out who I am and what I need from life without thinking what do "we" need. Selfish yes, but doesn’t everyone deserve to be a little selfish?
So I guess my real question is this: Do I break it off with him and go travel and experience the world as a women on her own, with the hope that he will take me back when I return, or do I stay with the man I love and be thankful for what I have, not what I don't.
– Why Couldn't I Have Met Him Four Years Later, Boston
WCIHMHFYL, you can't have it both ways, but you already know that.
Some readers are going to express some irritation with this letter (it's a pretty happy one, after all), but I don't envy your situation. Ending a great relationship to experience life on your own is easier said than done. And you're right about the heartbreak thing. It's awful to get your heart broken, but most people wouldn't trade the experience. It informs who they are.
You're not going to get to experience everything. You can't be a young-and-married mother, travel the world, and live on your own for years -- unless you're Britney Spears, and she wound up in custody. The best you can do is to choose a mix of life experiences that appeal to you. Maybe you keep the boyfriend and take a few long trips on your own or with friends. Or maybe you drop the boyfriend -- because you're so young -- and accept the fact that you might not have kids within the next few years and that he might not take you back.
We all feel like we're missing out on something. The good news is that some of these experiences will happen no matter what. They're not all tied to being single. I know many people who have suffered from broken hearts within marriages -- even within fantastic marriages that last. You'll be having intense life experiences -- love, pain, loss, loneliness, and thrills -- no matter which road you choose. And that's about as Robert Frost as I get.
Readers? Does she need to experience all of these independent things in order to have a full life? Is it too risky to let go of someone with whom she can see herself starting a family? And the most important question on my mind -- is getting your heart trampled a necessary life experience? Share your thoughts here.
Speaking of Love
"Love isn't something you feel, it's something you do. If the person you're with doesn't want it, do yourself a favor and save it for someone who does."
— Nate, "Six Feet Under"