Dear Miss Emily:

I've been in a relationship with my girlfriend for about 2 years, and I've known her even longer than that. I truly love this woman so much and have had the greatest times of my life with her.  She is my soul mate.  The thing is, we are both only 20 years old, and already have been living together (sharing a room and a bed every night) in an apartment for the past 8 months or so.  This has been great in a lot of ways, and I couldn't imagine ever being without her -- but I almost feel like I'm too young to be "settling down" like this, because she tells me many many times a day that she wants to be with me forever.  I definitely don't want to break up with her, but it feels like we're an old couple that's been married for 20 years.  In the time I've been with her, I've lost touch with a lot of guy friends and, since pretty much all my time is spent with my girlfriend, I think it's inhibited me to meet new people.  Also, on a more personal note, I lost my virginity to my girlfriend, a couple years ago, and have never had sex with any other woman.  I sometimes have urges to think about how exciting it would be to have sex with another woman, or to flirt with another woman, because I'm only 20 years old and still have those thoughts sometimes.  I feel horrible writing this because she really is the prefect woman for me and so good to me in every way, and I can see myself growing old with this girl. But the overall point is that I feel you're only young once, and need to have fun and meet new people while you're young, and its hard to do that when my girlfriend is extremely clingy and not the type to want to go out and party, etc. Is this a common situation for men my age who are in a serious relationship? Any advice? Thank you!!

--------------Miss Emily's advice-------------

Yes, this is a common problem at your age and, no, you should not feel guilty.  It's really tough when you find someone, so compatible, yet still have thoughts of spent youth, and chapters in your book filled with the same story.  I know two couples who are married (professed soul mates) and started dating in high school.  One couple seems perfectly content with never having explored anything outside their relationship.  And the other one?  Well, they broke up off and on, dated others, and ended up getting married in their thirties. So you see, there is no right or wrong in this, it really is a matter of keeping it honest from the get-go. This is what I suggest:  Not spin off into talk of being together forever and ever.  I know she wants this, but she is the one who seems more content, and has no real interest in an outside social life.  Absolutely make no plans to marry just to placate your girlfriend.  Guilt or obligation is no way to enter a marriage.  Emphasize that you two are too young to be making that type of commitment, no matter how you feel about each other. You may or may not be the same two people in a few years.  If you feel you want to rekindle old friendships, do.  You are not duty-bound to spend every waking moment with her.  Modern relationships do well if each party learns to live their own life while sharing the same space.  Let her in on some of your feelings, although you might want to leave out the part about wondering what sex would be like with another woman!  If she is your true soul mate, she will understand how you are feeling and not implode.  If she does lose it, you know that you are, indeed, involved in a situation that carries too much responsibility.  Take it a day at a time and, again, make no promises.  If your relationship endures, it will be because you weathered the bad times, as well as the good.