Dear Miss Emily,

 I am 20 yrs old. My boyfriend and I had been dating for 6 years.  We were each others first real relationship. We went to college together and have a great relationship, we talk about absolutely everything and have no problem telling each other everything. Recently this past year we've talked a lot about marriage and our future together. We don't even fight, though occasionally we would have a disagreement. Well about 2 weeks ago I came back from visiting home, I was up in his room and he randomly broke up with me. It was very confusing because we'd had no problems recently. He said he needed time to figure things out and that he wasn't sure we were ready for marriage and that we'd never dated anyone else except each other. I will mention that he has begun to drink heavily and I think this plays a factor but overall I was in shock because I expected that if he had any problems he would have talked to me about his insecurities instead of just breaking up. So over the past two weeks he contacted me, once, and the next day, and we kind of had an argument on facebook and I've tried two other times by facebook and text to get him to talk to me. He just always says that we need time apart but that he loves me and I'm still the only one for him. So I'm waiting around for him to decide whether or not this is what he wants and I'm almost at my wits end now that its hit two weeks. I just don't think its fair to me. I haven't seen him in person in that time and have tried to give him his space but I'm afraid that after too much time maybe he won't want me back. I love him so much but I don't understand why he won't talk to me. I really want to talk to him in person so we can talk about it together but I'm afraid of causing more problems. Is this a good idea? Should I continue to let him be and hope for the best? I will gladly give you any more info but I really could use some help. Thanks.

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

My heart breaks for you. I get many letters with the same problem. Young people who love each other so very much, but it's not easy to plan "forever" at your age. I think you have no choice but to give him the space he needs -- for now. You can't force him to change his mind, and he knows you well -- there's no worry that the separation will be the deciding factor on whether you get back together. His handling of this situation was poor, to say the least, but I suspect the drinking is an indication of his mental confusion. Give it a couple more weeks and, then, ask him to sit down with you and discuss what's on his mind. Let him know you aren't going to want anything more than he can give, but you need to get things straight in your mind. It's only fair. If he's not willing to do that, you're in for a long, bumpy ride if you don't shift gears and begin to focus on your emotional needs. I don't often recommend counseling, because I know some people neither have the financial resources or the will, but I suggest it for you. You are smart, but this transition in your life is monumental and if it doesn't work out the way you hope, you may need help in getting your life back on track. I am including a letter I got, today, from a guy who is in a similar situation, and I thought it might help you feel less alone.   Emily  

Subject: Current Relationship Advice

Question/Comment: My girlfriend and I have been dating now for about 2.5 years (have been living with each other for 1.5 years) and are experiencing some possible relationship ending problems. We started dating near the end of high school and are currently working/in college and are both twenty years old (I'm 21 in April, she is in Dec). The interesting thing is that we are each others first for basically everything. First kiss, first relationship, first sex, etc. But as of late we have had some problems and I will try and provide a quick background in a short as description as possible: She had been talking (texting, phone conversations) and developed a crush on another guy. They texted all the time, even when we were together and it was becoming quite obvious. After I snooped (I know, it was wrong) on her phone I found that they were flirting a lot, and even found such comments like "I would do you if I was single" that she said to him, and him constantly calling her beautiful and such. Even with this I tried not getting too jealous or being a overbearing boyfriend, so when she asked if they could hang out as friends (because he asked her) I ended up saying yes. What happened apparently was while I was at work they kissed each other in our apartment twice. After some prying she admitted to it and feels horrible it happened and shared some of her feelings that she has been experiencing for a few months: that she doesn't know if this is where she wants to be at this young age. She said she is 99% sure she wants to be with me, but she also feels unsure on whether she is missing out on other experiences. She feels curious to see how it is to sleep with another guy even though we have a good sex life (she says, I agree). She says this is in part to curiosity as well as to see how much of an emotional connection she can feel with someone else. Basically she didn't ask it of me but if I allowed it she would want to try out sleeping with another guy, and would be fine in an open relationship. This is not okay with me, and sex with others is definitely not something I will want to do.  But from how she describes it, she wants to be able to experience of people (which I consider dating) to re-affirm herself she wants to be with me, but thinks that will happen by testing out an emotional connection with another man through sex. I think the only way to clear those thoughts up would be seeing how dating others would feel. I am very confused on what to do, and at the moment on what to think. I don't want to break up but I think it may be the best solution to do it on good terms before it would end on bad ones. And I can't necessarily blame her for how she feels so I am very indifferent on the whole situation. Having sex with another person (even if I am allowed to also, which she said) is not okay with me, and the fact she thinks that having sex with another will make her realize she 100% wants to be with me doesn't make sense, to me at least it doesn't. And she admits that if she felt a strong connection that we would most likely break up, not necessarily because it's a stronger one with the other guy, but it would show her she can have that with other people then me. So any advice would be greatly appreciated. I realize these kinds of feelings for people as young as us most likely are not abnormal, especially in a first relationship, but I just don't know what we should do.

My advice to him:

I think this was going to happen sooner, or later -- this new "friend" being the impetus for it, now. I hate to use the obnoxious cliche "It is what it is" but it seems apt in this circumstance. And you're right, being this young and wondering what's on the "other side" is not uncommon. Understand, however, if you sit back and watch this unfold under the same roof, you are destined to become either a counselor, or taking a parental role -- not to mention an angry bystander! Food for thought. I admire your attempt to be objective, but there are limits to that approach. You are not interested in being with someone else, sexually, and you cannot explore that avenue just to ease her troubled conscience. It is a fact, this may end your relationship permanently. But you don't want to make future plans with someone who is not satisfied with the relationship as it stands. Give her your blessing because, the way I look at it, you have no other choice. No one is to blame in a situation like this, but you need to decide what's right for you and proceed accordingly.   Emily