Dear Wendy: HS Sweethearts Go Off To Different Colleges, Wonder If They Should Stay Together

I recently broke up with my high school boyfriend of two years. He’s 16 and left high school early to go to college, and I’m 19 and a sophomore at college in another state. We were each other’s first loves and it was our first real relationship. We did the long distance thing for a while, but it got too difficult and I felt like we should go see other people because we only knew each other. We split up at the beginning of summer and began talking less and less. I still loved him, but wasn’t IN love with him anymore. He kept trying to “win me back” but I was firm with my decision because I felt taking a break was a good idea for us. I tried to keep our relationship platonic because he was still my best friend. I felt we finally were on the same page, even though he still wanted me back.

By the end of the summer I found out that a couple weeks after we split he slept with a girl from our high school who had always been into him, and I was wrecked. I’d never been so upset or hurt like that in my life. I couldn’t function for an entire day. I know we were broken up, but I still love him so it hurts. He told me it meant nothing, it was terrible, and he did it because he thought he would never get me back. Because I got so upset I realized how much I loved him and how miserable all summer I was without him, so we spent the rest of the summer together again and it was wonderful. Now I’m back in college and so is he and we are doing an “open relationship” to try and prevent jealous and insecure feelings, but we still don’t want each other to see anyone else. I’m insecure about us now, because I always used to trust him but now we aren’t as stable. I don’t know if I should get back together with him to prevent the jealousy, or try and date other people to see if he’s what I really want. Its hard because I’m so young, and he’s even younger, but I’m so in love with him. I feel like we both will get hurt either way. I just don’t want to push away someone I love so much.

It’s natural to feel a close bond with your first love — what you shared was special and you’ll always have a place in each other’s hearts. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re meant to always be with each other. It’s never wise to stay with someone or try an open relationship for the sole purpose of “preventing jealousy.” First of all, if you’re already feeling jealous and insecure in a relationship and admitting you don’t want your partner to see anyone else, then having an open relationship would be akin to saying you don’t want to burn your hand and then sticking it in a campfire. The only thing that really prevents jealousy is total trust between partners and a commitment to the relationship — two things that are already rocky between you. If you want to stay with him because you’re truly in love and can’t see yourself with anyone else, then that’s one thing, but given your age and your questioning whether you should “try and date other people to see if he’s what you really want,” it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

Change is never easy and letting a relationship with someone you love and care about grow into something different can be painful. But you’re going to experience a lot of change in the coming years, and watch a lot of relationships develop, shift, and fade. The best thing you can do is honor the roles those relationships have in your life, take the lessons you’re meant to learn from them, and gracefully accept their natural evolution. This doesn’t mean you and your boyfriend have to disappear from each other’s lives completely, but by giving one another permission to experience college without strings attached to someone else in another state is the kindest gift you can give and the best way to keep the feelings for one another positive.

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at [email protected].