Girlfriend Wants to Sow Wild Oats
Q: My girlfriend and I have been going out for about a year now, and we have gotten very serious very quickly. Although I'm only 22, we've even talked about getting married. However over the past few months she has been telling me she feels trapped and wants us to open up the relationship so we would each see other people. But at the same time she says she loves me more than anything, and she knows I am the man she will marry. She says she just needs to experience other things before she commits to me and settles down. The problem is I can't bear the thought of her being with someone else. When I tell her it would kill me to know she had been with someone else, she says I'm trapping her. This is the last thing I want. I do want her to be happy, and she swears that this is just a phase and she knows I'm the man she will marry. I just don't know what to do. -- Dan
Dr. Susan: Bad news, Dan. I think it's over between you. Of course you do want to "trap" her, but only in the best of possible ways, by committing to a wonderfully loving and monogamous marriage. Never apologize for that. The fact that she says she wants to marry you someday is basically nonsense. She has a funny idea of what marriage is, that it's what you do when you're all through having sex with all the other men available and you're old and settled and it's time to make a family with a solid sort of guy but not one who's necessarily all that exciting. Now, I'm not saying you're not an exciting guy. Not at all. But apparently, she hasn't had "enough" adventures yet and isn't willing to make the effort to deepen and broaden her sex life with you. People who think that way aren't good bets for remaining faithful after the wedding either.
I would try -- very very hard -- not to take this so-called "phase" of hers personally, as though there's something wrong with you. Clearly you're going to go through a mourning period over having to let her go. Which you absolutely have to do. But she's very young and just not sure enough of her feelings for you to commit at this point. The timing's just off. I wouldn't bend myself into a pretzel trying not to be jealous while she sleeps around. Rather, I'd say good-bye right now and begin the grieving so you can get over it sooner and move on yourself. No two ways about it: she's already moved on. Don't be a doormat in hopes she'll get the wanderlust out of her system anytime soon.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.