I'm 25 years old and I've been in a serious and exclusive relationship with my girlfriend since our junior year in college. There is nothing necessarily wrong with the relationship, but I'm starting to wonder if I am making a mistake by committing so early. I'm really not ready to get married, but I don't necessarily want to break up either. I've just never really experienced being single. Am I making a mistake I will someday regret by committing this early?
Questioning Commitment, 25, Los Angeles
Dear Questioning Commitment,
Part of what the twentysomething years are about is getting to know yourself and how you are as an individual - separate from your family, your friends, and a boyfriend or girlfriend. In a serious relationship, it's more challenging to figure out who you are.
I recommend people in their early to mid twenties do not get in super serious relationships - spend that time with your friends, establishing your career, and investing in your own personal growth. You will change so much in your twenties and as you change, the type of person you will attract will change as well. Plus, you have the rest of your life to share a tube of toothpaste with someone, so what's the rush?
And I'd be saying the same thing to a woman your age. Although generally speaking, women are more likely to want a serious, committed relationship; it's important for both men and women not jump into or stay in a serious relationship just because you don't want to be alone. It's important to learn how to be happy as a single, independent person - especially if you intend to eventually walk down the aisle toward lifelong partnership. I'm not encouraging you to "sow your oats" meaning sleeping with as many girls as possible, but the fact that you are questioning this commitment suggests that you are not ready to be a one-woman man.
It's also not fair to yourself or to your girlfriend to stay in this relationship just because it's become comfortable. I'm betting some major growth has happened for each of you since junior year of college until now. When was the last time you really took a look at the person you have become and the person your girlfriend is today? Also, what do you define as "nothing wrong" with the relationship? To ask that question a different way, what do you think is right with the relationship? A pro/con list may sound like a boring exercise, but it might help clarify for you what you want in a relationship compared to what you have now.
I'm also wondering where the subject of marriage comes up. At 25, it's not surprising you don't feel ready to get married, but are you feeling pressure from friends, family, or your girlfriend to become engaged? If you know that you are not ready, then it's time to have an honest conversation with your girlfriend. She may or may not be the person to spend the rest of your life with, but if you stay in this relationship and move it forward out of obligation, you are at best doing each of you a disservice and at worst will end up becoming bitter or resentful within the relationship.
This woman has obviously been such a large part of your life for so long, but for both of your sakes, be honest with yourself and with her. Your doubt is stemming from something, and it's best to address it now. If you end up deciding to break up, I'm not saying it wont be difficult, but it may end up being for both of your higher goods because believe me, no woman ever wants to be thought of as a mistake.
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