My girlfriend and I have been together for 6 years and have had a happy relationship. But, in October of last year, my girlfriend told me that she was unhappy and didn’t know what she wanted. She has admitted to being attracted to this other guy that told her that he liked her. We decided to go on a break and just put our relationship on hold for awhile. This was hard because we live in the same apartment. We were like this for about 2 weeks then we actually broke up. After we broke up she spent everyday hanging out with this other guy and about 7 days after we broke up, they had sex. I asked her about it and she said that she didn’t like it and all she could think about afterwards was being with me. We didn’t get back together but things were getting better between us.
I thought getting some real time apart would be good for us so I took a trip to England for 3 weeks. We talked a little over the internet while I was over there and she said that she really missed me and wanted me to come home. I told her that if she wanted to work on us then the other guy has to go. I missed her too and was hopeful that my absence would help her figure out what she really wants.
Well, when I got back I noticed that she wasn’t as loving as she used to be and wouldn’t show affection as much. I asked her what was wrong and she said that she just doesn’t feel like she used to but she doesn’t want to give up on us. She said that she really missed me while I was gone and wanted me back but as soon as I got back the feeling went away. She seems confused and I was wondering if there is anything we or I can do to remedy the problem. I know the logical thing would probably be to call it quits but we are both willing to work on it. Its been pretty hard on me because I was planning on proposing to her in March. Is there anything we can do?
Please don’t add a proposal to the confusion at this point. It would set you both up for more hurt. Things are hard enough.
You and your girlfriend have been together since you were only 15. You may have 6 years invested but it’s 6 years during which you’ve been growing and changing. At the same time, you’ve relied on each other as an anchor during what, for most people, is a time of both anxiety and excitement. You’ve kept each other “safe” but you’ve also prevented each other from doing the exploration of self and others that is an important task of this period of life. You are comfortable with each other, as only people who grow up together can be. But that very comfort may be preventing you from acknowledging that it might be time to wish each other the best and to move on.
As painful as it might be, I do suggest you take a huge step back and give each other some space. I’m of the opinion that it is healthy for young people to date a number of people in order to make a choice from a field of more than one. If you explore other relationships for awhile and then get back together, at least you will always know that you are together by choice, not by default. That’s a much more solid basis for a long-term commitment.
I wish you well. Dr. Marie
My girlfriend doesn’t feel the way she used to.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on February 27, 2010.