Emily,

 I'm seventeen yrs old and I'm dating a very sweet guy who I've known for yrs. Recently I realized that of become a bit annoyed by him, and that maybe just maybe, I never did really love him. The thing is, I do this a lot.  I date a guy for a while and then find a reason to break up with him. Afterward, I end up back with them and the process replays itself.  I've done this to almost every boyfriend I've had. This is my 3rd time dating my current boyfriend, and I don't wanna hurt him. But would I be better off without him, or just do the same thing I always do?

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

I see the pattern, but I would probably need a better background on you before I can make a true appraisal of your situation. There could be many reasons for your dissatisfaction.  Through childhood experience, we learn by what we see and hear (obviously), and the biggest influence is what happens in the household. Now this may not be true for you, but sometimes an overly-critical mindset is learned from a parent. Standards are never met, because the standards are impossible to meet and there is a sense of continued disappointment. It may be that you are simply discerning, which is not a bad thing, and you haven't found someone whom you really want to commit in the ways you think you are capable. You might be very bright, mature, and sophisticated, and you simply don't have a great pool to choose from -- and that's not entirely impossible from what I remember at your age!!!  Another thought I have, is that you feel like you need to play a certain role in your environment at school, but dating someone on a regular basis just isn't where you want to be -- yet you feel pressured because that's the thing to do.  My suggestion?  Think about some of the things I have written, here, and see if one of them rings true. I will gladly continue my correspondence with you if you have any questions.  Follow your own path, without guilt, and it will surely lead you to a happier you. I would let this guy know you are not at a commitment phase in your life, and friendship is all you can really offer. Getting too serious about anyone, at your age, can interfere with future plans -- and hopefully that includes college, and/or a career ahead of you with financial independence. There's plenty of time to narrow your sights on what you want in a man, later.