Absence makes girl's heart go yonder
Dear Straight Talk: Last week, I moved seven hours away from my boyfriend of two years. We are at different colleges and agreed to make it work. But I am having my doubts.
He was my first and only boyfriend, and I'm feeling like I need to branch out and see what life is like. However, he is deeply in love and texting me, like, every two seconds.
Does anyone know how to tell him without hurting him? I can't even break up in person! What should I do? — Tammi, Los Angeles
Lara, 21, Concord: Completely pain-free breakups are impossible. But unhappiness or cheating hurt worse. If you break up by phone, write a letter also. I broke with my long-distance boyfriend over Skype. He has not forgiven me. Nonetheless, we both deserved more than a lopsided relationship, where one loves more than the other.
Colin, 18, Los Angeles: Be sensitive, but not timid. Start with, "What I'm about to say is as difficult for me as it will be for you."
Brandon, 20, Mapleton, Maine: I've been on both sides of this. The first time was with my girlfriend of two years. A faraway college changed everything.
Ask yourself some questions: Were you completely happy with him? (Two years is enough time to know.) If so, he might be the perfect person — and chasing other guys can (and will) backfire.
If not, a clean breakup is better than a dragged-out one. Don't point fingers, and don't make false claims like, "I just need a break; maybe we can try later."
Nate, 18, Columbus, Ohio: The world won't end. College is educational, and falling for new people is part of it. Many of my friends have tried long-distance romances but none have worked.
Kira, 20, Moraga: A good friend of mine, a college junior, is still with her high school love. It can work — and you can and should branch out. I'm not talking about hooking up. Cheating is never OK. But I don't stop hanging out with guy friends when I have a boyfriend.
Matt, 18, Boston, Mass.: All last year, I dated an amazing girl whom I love dearly. Knowing I was moving 2,000 miles away, we had many discussions. Ultimately, we decided to encourage each other to fully experience life. Our decision wasn't easy, but it took the pressure off. We still talk quite a bit, but there are no restrictions, demands or prying. I miss her immensely, but we did the right thing.
Katelyn, 17, Azusa: Everyone says listen to your heart, but college hearts today are subject to enormous peer pressure to "see what life is like." Do you really want to cave in to this feeling to date guys you hardly know? Slow down. In time you'll know if breaking up is best.
Katherine, 18, Newark, Del.: I'm now 3,000 miles from my boyfriend. To cope, we built some slack into the "boyfriend-girlfriend" label in case one of us does something stupid — not that we plan to.
Honestly, this is the hardest thing I've been through, and Skype is saving our relationship. Give yourself time. Being far away is very emotional.
Dear Tammi: You must make a difficult choice and carry it out. Welcome to the wonderful world of adult life.
Your options: 1) Commit; 2) Break up; 3) Change the parameters; or 4) Chill — but only if you're truly not sure. Procrastination or secretly wanting to control him isn't allowed.
The best way to deliver a painful decision is to stand up (for the option true for you) while being kind and compassionate toward the other. Accepting the fact that they will have pain, rather than glossing over it or feeling annoyed, actually honors them.
The truth about youthful romances and breakups: None of you have any idea what you're doing! OK, maybe a few do. But it's a small few, as you'll see as you get older.
Most relationships that begin much before age 25 split apart as people individuate. Love? Yes, there was/is love. And you break up anyway as the adult brain kicks in.
It really can be the hardest thing in the world to leave someone at this tender age, especially when they still love you deeply. I experienced such a breakup myself at age 25, and it was one of life's greatest agonies.
All I can say is: truth and kindness, truth and kindness, truth and kindness. There are ways to part company that don't leave you feeling dirty inside, and you want to begin practicing those ways. It involves being true to yourself, having nobody "right" and nobody "wrong," eschewing head games and manipulation and having deep compassion for the other as you exit. (This is all assuming there are no children, which is another matter entirely because you then have a child to consider, not just yourself.)
Another thing. Later in life — say in your 40s, 50s, even 60s — who will look you up for romance? Or have your back if you need it? Those same guys (or gals) from high school and your early 20s, sometimes even the same ones you were romantically involved with.
Be true to yourself, be kind to the other and forgive both. It will pay in dividends down the road. — Lauren
Lauren Forcella co-writes Straight Talk TNT with a panel of more than 70 teens and young adults. To ask a question or become a panelist, click StraightTalkTNT.com or write to P.O. Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.