Photos of Other Girls

Q: My boyfriend of three years just broke up with me a week ago. He had been texting three other girls and leading two of them on. He even had topless pictures of two of them on his phone. The day before we broke up he told me about it all and admitted he shouldn't have done those things. He said he was angry with me when he got the pictures (not that it made it okay). He said that the girl whose pictures he didn't have was just a friend. He apologized and said I deserve better and broke up with me. A week later we started talking again and he said he still loves me and that he'd deleted the numbers of the two girls except the one that was just a friend. He wants this to be a break for us so he can figure out why he was being a jerk and fix it. He also wants me to meet the one girl he didn't do anything with so that I can get to know her and see if I will be okay with them as friends. I still love him and want to be with him but a few of my friends keep saying he doesn't love me and will just hurt me again. What should I do?? -- Courtney, 18

Dr. Susan: You've been steadily with this same guy since you were 15? I would say he has the right idea: take a break from each other. If you get back together too soon, your friends are correct about your getting hurt again. Though I don't usually advise putting too much stock in what friends say, this time they have your back. A guy still in his teens, or barely out of them (I don't know how old he is), usually has a lot of exploring and experimenting left in him before he's ready to settle down (females too, by the way). If his immediate response to being angry with you was to start communicating with other girls and get nude pictures of them, he is clearly not ready to commit to you. The issue isn't whether or not you will approve of his "friends-only" female friend. The issue is whether the two of you are ready to have a mature relationship. You say you love him, but I wonder if you're not simply used to him after being with him since such an early age. The best thing you can do for your future is to take a nice long break and give yourself a chance to experience the world before you make a major decision about who you want to spend the rest of your life with. That doesn't mean you need to sleep with a batch of guys. But take some time to figure out who you are, what you really want, and if there might be a guy out there who is a better match for the grown-up you (a self you haven't quite become yet!).

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