Sometimes I want to be single

The self-help books have been claimed. If you didn't get an email from me, no book for you (sorry). Reviews will be posted next month.
And ... a letter about senior year ...

Meredith and LL Readers,

I am a longtime lurker and I love the column and advice you are all able to give, so I hope you can give me some advice on a complicated issue. I am 21, almost 22, and I've been in a relationship with "Ryan" for just about a year. I love him dearly and we're crazy about each other. We met at college, and we both had just broken up with long-term significant others before dating (him four years, me two years). Before dating, I had been single for about three months, and him about two months. When we're together at school, we hang out all the time, but also have independent activities that allow us to have our own lives, something I think is important in any relationship.

My issue is that when we spend significant time apart, I begin to question the relationship. In the summer, I live in Boston and he lives in Maryland. When I come home for those three months, I go to parties and the bar with my home friends, and I'm reminded of old flames and meet new people, and I find myself wanting to be single again. But as soon as Ryan and I get back together, I'm head over heels for him. We've talked about marriage and a life together and I honestly could see myself marrying him. I love his family, and my family says they would love to have him around in the future.

The thing I'm also nervous about is that he graduated in May and now has a big-boy job and has moved about 45 minutes away from school. Am I going to want to be single all school year for my senior year? Sometimes I think that I didn't spend enough time as a single girl in college enjoying myself, but then I think, well maybe that's just a stereotype and not everyone has to live that way. I have friends who have been dating their significant others for five-plus years, and my parents have been happily married since they were 19, so maybe I don't need to have the single life going on. I'm just wondering if these shifting feelings are normal.

Worth mentioning: he has expressed to me that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I know he would be devastated if we broke up, and he would have a tough time moving on.

– Settling Too Early?, Boston

You're fine. This is all pretty normal. Most couples have a tough time with months of distance. Most people second guess their relationships and wonder what they're missing when they spend three months living like a single person with their 21-year-old peers.

If you really want to stay with this guy, you need to cut it out with the "we're going to spend the rest of our lives together" stuff. Maybe you will, but there's no need to make that proclamation right now. You guys are very young, and you've only been together for a year. I think that if you took the pressure off and stopped with these big promises, you'd have a better shot of making it through this transition. You wouldn't have to second guess yourself every time you have a normal, human doubt about the relationship. And really, he shouldn't be making these promises either. I mean, he has no idea what big-boy world will be like for him.

It's possible that by November you'll be desperate to be single, but it's also possible that you'll have a great year with your grown-up boyfriend. The less pressure you put on yourself, the more you'll know what you really want. Instead of "This is forever," say, "We're really happy now -- and we want to keep going." That's the best you can do.
Readers? Should she be single for senior year? Are these doubts normal? Am I right to say that the promises that are stressing her out? Discuss.

– Meredith