Unready for Relationship?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am 20 years old and in a relationship with a girl my age, and we have been together for about 8 months now. This girl is great, she is super nice and has a great sense of humour and is gorgeous, but for some reason a part of me just isn’t sure if I want to be in the relationship or not.
My last relationship was not a good one, I was with her for a year and she had lied to me multiple times and cheated on me about 3 times, and I did not handle it very well and it was shattering to my confidence.
This relationship I am in now is however, very good, we hardly ever fight or argue, and have had practically no problems at all. I am unsure as of why Im not fully into this relationship, but for some reason a part of me isn’t. I sometimes find myself wanting to talk to other girls, and when I do I sometimes even get a little more flirty then I should. I have not cheated on my girlfriend, but I fear that if this keeps up, it is not an impossiblility. I feel terrible because this girl truly is fantastic in every single way, and I am her first Serious boyfriend that she has ever had.
I don’t know what I should do.. if I should talk to her about this and risk hurting her and possibly ruining the relationship, or if I should just wait it out and see what happens.. any advice would really be great. Thanks for your help

A: The situation you describe is usually not about the relationship. It’s about the timing. You haven’t been really single since you were 18. On top of that, you had a painful experience with the last girl. It could be that you didn’t give yourself enough time to recover and to assess what, if anything, you could have done differently. That’s important. When done well, self-reflection helps a person like you regain confidence and understand where you had some power and, yes, responsibility, for how things turned out.

At your age, it’s also important to gain enough experience with women that you know what you do and don’t want in a relationship. That comes from getting to know women as friends as well as as lovers. It comes from that old fashioned activity called “dating,” just going out with some people a few times to have a good time and to also learn what kind of women you connect to most easily and comfortably.

Your current girlfriend might be wonderful in many ways. But if you are still reacting to the last breakup, if you still feel like you could be taken in and hurt again, if you don’t really know what kind of person you are looking for, you may not be ready yet to be in another exclusive relationship.

In fairness to the girl, I think you should take a step back from exclusivity. Let her know how wonderful you think she is. Reassure her that stepping back is not about her. It’s about your desire to learn more about yourself and relationships before you give someone your heart. She may be willing to wait it out. But if not, it’s okay. Once you are ready, you’ll find the partner you want and need in your life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Unready for Relationship?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/04/12/unready-for-relationship/