I can’t stay in a relationship

What relationship stuff is stressing you out? Send it to [email protected] or fill out this form.

More updates, please: Former letter writers ... where are you now? Did our advice help? Send us an update to [email protected] with “update” in the subject line. Make sure to say which letter you wrote. Let us know what happened.

I'm a serial "runner" – so how do I slow down?

For context, I'm only 25. I know the comments section will say, "Oh, you're so young. You have so much ahead of you." I'm not looking to jam on the brakes just yet. I guess at this point I'm looking for the brake pedal.

I've been in a number of serious (and not-so-serious) relationships during and since college, and I've managed to implode all of them. Have there been disagreements? Of course. Have I made some bonehead moves? More than once. It's a constant cycle of finding someone – either in real life or on the apps – going on a few dates, getting progressively more and more intimate, confessing feelings, entering an almost flow state in a now-established relationship ... and then I find something that bothers me or do something out of character that will eventually lead to the relationship's demise around 9-12 months in.

I've tried my best to talk it out when there's a problem, but I feel like once the thought of a breakup has crossed my mind, I’m stuck there. With friends now getting married and having children, I feel like there's an expectation in relationships at this age where it's make or break. It's not that I'm not ready for another serious relationship, but I don't know if I'll ever be ready until I learn how to break the cycle. How do I slow down and actually make something work without self-imploding?

– Runner


Honestly, it sounds like all of these breakups have been necessary. You didn't mention missing any of these exes. You haven't said that your urge to implode everything – to break up instead of working things out – has resulted in the loss of a possible partner who could have been great.

You were ready to let these people go. That tells me you made the right call.

At some point, you might care for someone so much that the idea of losing them becomes more stressful than having to deal with their annoying quirks. Or you won't be able to imagine experiencing something wonderful without being able to tell them about it. That hasn't happened for you yet.

Some 25-year-olds in your world are getting married, but others are nowhere close to tapping the brakes. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as everyone stays honest and treats each other with respect. Take some time to think about whether you end these relationships with empathy. That's key.

Something else to consider as you continue dating: have you ever been in a “flow state” while single? Do you give yourself time to take breaks from looking? Sometimes experiences – and patterns – can blend together when so much happens at the same time. See if you can take an occasional beat and be comfortable with your own company.

– Meredith

Readers? Is there a problem here? How do you find the brake at this age?