Dear Miss Emily:

Let me start from the beginning:   I was dating this guy for a year and a half.  He was my longest relationship, and he treated me like I was everything in the world to him and I knew he meant it. We had a lot of fun together and went a lot of places, and he loved the outdoors almost as much as I did. I broke it off with him because I couldn't be intimate with him anymore, and I have no idea why.  But I didn't want to hurt him by keeping him around if I couldn't show him I loved him as much as he loved me. So I ended it,  cuz I didn't want to see him hurting. I started dating this new guy, and he is everything I ever wanted.  He likes the outdoors as much as I do, and he is good with cars; which I've wanted to find. But he never graduated high school, and he doesn't make very much money. He seems content in staying exactly where he is and not trying to get a better job or a GED.  Lately, I keep thinking about my ex and wondering
if I made a mistake breaking it off with him. He is doing so well right now, and when I start to think about him I will start crying and miss him. I only waited 3 months after I broke up with him to start dating my present boyfriend.  I don't know if that is the reason why I am feeling like this, but my past relationships have all been short. My ex was my longest one, and so I am starting to wonder if it's not the guys I'm dating that's the problem, but if maybe it's me!  I don't know what to do to change it, cuz I start to feel miserable with each different guy I date. But I didn't start feeling that way with my ex until we had been together for a while. Usually I start feeling that way within a couple of months. I am not sure what to do.  I wonder if I should keep dating my present boyfriend and try to see if he will change, or if I can change, or if I should break it off with him and try to work things out with my ex. Please help!

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

First off, when you say "change" that's debatable.  Your present boyfriend has no obligation to change because you think he should better himself.  If he's not up to your standards intellectually, or in terms of ambition, you will never be content with him.  But if he likes who he is, and that's good enough for him, the change you should make is to let him find his equal.  I don't know if your ex would jump at the chance to get back together with you (although I'm sure you are quite a catch), but I'd think twice about reeling him in, only to throw him back into the sea, so to speak.  You didn't elude to any interest in the same sex, so I'm going to believe your issues probably center on a couple of things:  Childhood programing that instilled thoughts that men are basically inferior and, therefore, can never meet your levels of expectations, or; you just have to give yourself time to experience many relationships in order to know what you truly want from one.  Women are pretty independent, these days, if you haven't already noticed, and there is nothing wrong with having many relationships until you decide to settle down, or reject the idea entirely.  There are no rules, and you shouldn't look for trouble if none exists. That said, if you honestly feel there is a deep-seated problem, within you, that you cannot identify, seek some counseling to bring it to the surface.  No one needs to constantly wonder why certain unsettling things exist within his/her nature, if help is available to solve the mystery.  The weak settle for the status quo -- strong individuals seek answers, and have no problem admitting when they are confused.