It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss manipulative ex-girlfriends and when is it too young to settle down.
I have been dating my boyfriend since I was 18 (now I am 23). We only had a brief period in college where we broke up, but I pretty much feel I’ve been married since the beginning of college. After our break up, I always questioned getting back together with him since I enjoyed the single life so much. I fell back in love with him, but then I graduated in 2010, got a job out of state, and waited for him to graduate to come to me. Well, he actually got a job in our hometown, and I quit my job a few months ago and moved back. I had such cold feet before my move. It’s only been in the last month that I’ve started feeling good about moving here. I have been working a temporary job, and I may get a full time job, but I am afraid to take it thinking I could be stuck here for many more years than I want. I do love my boyfriend, but I feel I haven’t established my career yet, and I long to live in a big city doing so. Is the sacrifice worth it? — Homeward Stuck
I can’t answer that question for you, but I can tell you that it’s much, much easier to put off commitment for a few years until you feel ready than it is to undo commitment when you realize you weren’t. If it were me, and I were on the fence at a fork in the road, wondering where the path less traveled might lead, I’d travel it for a bit before deciding which direction was right for me.
My girlfriend of three years broke up with me on Valentine’s Day after kissing another guy while I was away for work. She said she was totally drunk and it meant nothing, but it made her realize she needs some time to herself to get over all our fights. She says she doesn’t know when but that she does want to end up with me. When I don’t talk to her, she texts me telling me she misses me and loves me, yet she’s still going out every night, and from the looks of it is heavily flirting with other men. I’m pretty confused. She is 22 years old and a university student, and I’m 24 years old and work full time. — Torn over Her
MOA. She’s being manipulative and you’re falling into her trap. If she wants to be single and needs some time away from you, let her go and cease all communication with her so she knows what life without you is truly like.
I’m in a serious and very committed relationship with my boyfriend of a little more than a year. He’s wonderful! He never fails to tell me how beautiful I am, how much he loves me, and how happy he is to be with me. I feel the exact same way about him. I’ve never been happier. I’m 21 and I’ve had two serious relationships prior to this that I knew wouldn’t last. He’s 25 and has had several serious relationships and much more sexual experience than I have. We plan on moving in together after I graduate from school in May and we’ve discussed getting engaged and married in the next year or two. The only problem is that everyone is telling me I should finish school and live on my own and not settle down so young. I’m hearing this so much that I’m starting to second-guess myself. However, I’m a realist and I know that as fun as it sounds to be single, sexy and carefree in a new city, it’s more likely going to be full of weird dates and one-night stands with creeps who may or may not have chlamydia. Besides, I’m in love with my boyfriend and I can’t imagine life without him. Another option is to move to his city but get my own apartment, but that would be silly because we’d just be over at each other’s place every night anyway. Am I a fool to want to settle down so young? Should I break up with him so I have a chance to experience life on my own? — Young and In Love
First, finish school. Second, get your own place for at least a year after you graduate. If you’re going to be with this guy for the rest of your life, there’s no rush on starting forever, and the time you take to finish your degree and live on your own for a bit will be wisely spent.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.
ktfran March 16, 2012, 9:43 am
I like Wendy’s advice on all three. She is spot on. Listen to her LW’s.
Actually, if I had known then what I know now, there would have been a lot less stress in my life. I guess that’s part of growing up though.
PFG-SCR March 16, 2012, 9:51 am
LW1: Your letter doesn’t convey the emotions of someone who truly wants to be with their significant other. If you’re questioning now that it might be a sacrifice to stay, then you’ll have major regrets in the future if you do stay.
LW2: I agree with Wendy. “You [your ex] can’t have your [her] cake and eat it, too.”
LW3: I think you need to stop listening to everyone’s advice and do what you feel is best for the two of you, which is pretty evident from your letter.
SweetPea March 16, 2012, 10:42 am
Agree with you on LW3. What others think should not matter if you know you are happy. I know 21 is super young… but, I do know people that settle down young and it works (my Mom married my Dad at 19 and it worked out awesome!). Only you can really answer this, LW. While I agree with Wendy that there is no rush, you are also the only one who knows what makes you happy. So, forget other people and good luck!
BecBoo84 March 16, 2012, 11:12 am
Yes, agreed! I got married at 22 with a semester of grad school still left, and it was a great fit; however, I know that wouldn’t work for a lot of people. You need to do what is best for you and your boyfriend, not what is best for your friends and family.
Anna March 16, 2012, 11:15 am
I agree. If moving in together is really what you want, no one can tell you that you’re too young to go for it. I totally understand not wanting to break up with someone you are in love with because you’re “supposed to” go on multiple shitty dates with creeps who may or may not have chlamydia. I feel the same way!! I moved in with my boyfriend when I was 20 and I’m sure some people thought I was stupid and we wouldn’t make it, but 8 years later we’re still going strong.
The only thing I’ve struggled with is the fact that I wasn’t smart enough to establish any kind of marriage expectations before moving in together, so definitely do that. Don’t be vague. Even if you don’t intend to get married for a couple more years, set that timeline specifically before you sign a lease together. For a little while, that started to come between my boyfriend and I and I was really bitter about not being engaged. Recently, he’s come around to my way of thinking and has said that the engagement is coming soon but I really wish I could go back in time and tell 20-year old me to have that conversation before living together. It would have saved me a lot of tears and stress.
GatorGirl March 16, 2012, 12:18 pm
I second the expectations talk before moving in. I’ve heard from some different ladies that moving in with their BF significantly slowed down the marraige track. It might be a little intimidating to talk about marriage this young and soon in a relationship- but if you don’t lay out your expectations now you could end up stuck.
camille905 March 16, 2012, 1:57 pm
I agree with the expectations talk 100%!!! I had never lived with a significant other before my fiance so we had a long discussion about finances, cleaning, grocery shopping, who showers first in the morning, all those little things you don’t think about! It may not seem important but they really are. We also talked about birth control and what we would do if I got pregnant.
We weren’t engaged when we moved in together but I let him know beforehand that I wasn’t going to live with him if he didn’t want to marry me at some point in the near future. We’re 28 and 31 so it’s a little different for LW but the issues/possible problems are the same.
Skyblossom March 16, 2012, 9:57 am
LW1 A good relationship should have equal commitment and equal attachment and also shouldn’t harm you in the long run. Did your boyfriend try to find a job where you were living and working or did he just get a job in your home town because he could. How much effort did he make to be with you so you could be together and you could keep your job? If he really tried and the job market just wasn’t there then that is one thing if he didn’t try it’s a totally different situation. Second, if he can’t get a job where you can get a good job then will he harm your life in a permanent way? If you give up your career for him and then the relationship fails what happens to you then? You don’t sound like you want to spend your life where you are, what about him? Where does he want to live? You may find that you both want to go out into the world together but right now it sounds like he wants to stay put and you want to go out into the world. You may love each other but not be fully compatible. It happens and it hurts but it doesn’t usually work over the long run because if he goes out into the world with you he isn’t happy and if you stay put with him you aren’t happy. You have time to think about this and make your decision but if you’re unhappy enough to write a letter to Dear Wendy that probably says you’re ready to move on.
kerrycontrary March 16, 2012, 10:02 am
LW3: I don’t think you need to break up with your boyfriend just to see what else is out there. If you found the right person there is no need to go out looking for more, and since you’ve had serious relationships before this one you are probably pretty sure of what you do/don’t want. Just because you have a boyfriend in this new city doesn’t mean you can’t have as much fun as a single girl. You cans till go out with new friends, go to happy hour with your boyfriend, and soak in every bit of that city. That being said, people change a lot in their 20s and what you want right this second may not be what you want in 3 years. I also advice moving to your bf’s city and getting an apartment of your own. Being together all the time is not the same as living together, and if you should have more reasons to live with someone other than it saves money. Plus once you start working full-time and make some new friends you may want some alone-time. Like Wendy said, there’s no rush to start forever.
sarolabelle March 16, 2012, 10:08 am
LW3: I know this isn’t your issue but I just have to say, you don’t have one night stands with creeps unless you WANT to. I’ve never had a one night stand in my life and I’m 30. Single life isn’t all “first dates and one night stands”
lets_be_honest March 16, 2012, 10:28 am
Thank you! I don’t know why being single, to some people, means sleeping around or even dating. I spent many years single and loved it. And I think I went on maybe 2 dates the whole time. Granted, I was not single and looking. Just single and happily enjoying my time alone.
I’ve never been one to undertand the need to “sow your oats.” If that’s something you truly want to do, then by all means, but it isn’t for everyone.
Kinda sad that girls have it engrained in them that the grass is always greener.
jaybro March 16, 2012, 12:05 pm
Wait, are you saying that single life is not “full of weird dates and one-night stands with creeps who may or may not have chlamydia”?!?! I may have been handlin’ this single life wrong, y’all.
theattack March 16, 2012, 10:19 am
LW 3 : You’re not too young to do what you want. When you know, you know. Living the wild life isn’t for everyone. Tell your bf (and everyone else) that he might think he knows what’s best for you, but only you have that privilege. If he still insists that this is best, I would ask him if he’s hesitant for his own reasons and not out of concern for you.
bagge72 March 16, 2012, 10:43 am
Where did she say the BF was telling her what was best for her, it actually sounds like they had good conversations about their future, and where it is going. I do agree she needs to tell everyone else to back off, because she knows what’s best for her.
theattack March 16, 2012, 5:08 pm
Oops, I misread it.
Renee March 16, 2012, 10:21 am
I was once that manipulative girlfriend. Cease communication.
Don’t break up, just let the relationship take a natural pace.
In the minority, but I married earlier then most. Does your family like him otherwise?
bagge72 March 16, 2012, 10:38 am
LW1: You really need to have a talk with your boyfriend, and tell him how you feel, if he really does love you, he should make the same sacrifices you are. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will, because you two are so young, and he is just establishing his career himself, but you will at least know how he feels.
LW2: She is feeding you lines of bullshit, she is basically keeping you around incase she can’t find something better, and from the looks of it she is trying hard to find it. You need to let her know, that you aren’t going wait around for her, and maybe you should start hitting the bars with your buddies. Definitely stop the contacting her, because then you are just giving into what she wants.
LW:3 There is absolutely no need to go start living the single life if you are happy, and you know this is what you want. If it’s not what you want, then you should break up with him all together, and get your own apartment. Don’t mess with his head, by keeping him around while you decide if you want to be with him. Either be with him or don’t.
NicoleMarie March 16, 2012, 12:10 pm
I agree 100% about LW2! She is keeping you on standby while she has her fun, knowing that if she says the right things, you’ll be right there waiting when she’s ready to pick the relationship back up. I have been the one who was strung along like that, where the other person got everything they want on their terms only- it sucks.
Taylor March 16, 2012, 11:24 am
Nicely said Wendy.
SGMcG March 16, 2012, 11:32 am
LW#1: Did you really like the job you quit so that you could move back to your hometown? It sounds like you have pangs of regret regarding that choice. It sounds like you either need to address the regret by accepting the choice and sacrifice you made or change the choice so that the regret of sacrifice is gone. More importantly, do you feel your boyfriend is as willing to sacrifice as much as you have already? Since you didn’t mention how you’re relationship with him is currently going, I’m going to assume that it’s not.
LW#2: No woman should tolerate such manipulative behavior from their boyfriends, so why would you tolerate such deplorable behavior from this girl? It’s girls like her that make nice guys like you think that Women=Evil. Don’t just MOA from her, DTMFA.
LW#3: If your boyfriend REALLY loved you, he would encourage you to focus finishing school first, rather than talk about moving in with you. Are you sure he’s in it for the long haul? If he were, he would be promoting being the best person you can be on your own so that when you do team up as long term partners in life, you’ll be equals – rather than just out there. I don’t think you two should break up, but I DO think you need to have a talk with your boyfriend regarding establishing your foundations first before you share them.
lets_be_honest March 16, 2012, 11:46 am
“We plan on moving in together after I graduate from school in May”
They are only moving in together after she finishes school. And maybe he does not see the need for her to live alone or be single in order to be the best person she can be.
I do think it can be a good thing to live alone at some point in your life, I really do. I also don’t see the need to rush things if they are in it for the long haul as she says they are. But I don’t think the guy is doing anything *wrong* here.
bagge72 March 16, 2012, 11:58 am
Me neither LBH, I just don’t want people to turn this around, and start blaming the guy, and saying he isn’t supporting her in what she needs. To me it sounds like they had a really good talk about where their life is going, she is just have second thoughts about it, because of her friends. It’s natural to have second thoughts LW, but you really just have to do what’s best for you.
It’s not like she is saying I need to go out, and do so and so with my life, but my BF talked me into moving in with him instead, because he thinks that is what’s best for me.
SGMcG March 16, 2012, 2:11 pm
So will she be apartment hunting and planning a potential household budget while she is supposed to be studying for her finals and/or writing final papers? I’m not saying that she shouldn’t move in with him or break up with him. She sounds happy with her guy and if she feels ready to move in with him, then by all means. Yet to bring the whole moving in together, when she hasn’t even jumped the milestone of graduating from school yet? Why the big rush to do it after the graduation ceremony in May, when she should make sure that she IS graduating first? They could do it in the fall, once that diploma is in hand.
bagge72 March 16, 2012, 2:46 pm
But doesn’t she have to do all of that anyway? I mean she is still going to need a place to live after she is done with college, and it sounds like they might actually aready have a plan, so why jump to the conclusion that she has this massive struggle coming up?
katie March 16, 2012, 8:28 pm
yea- thats just life.
Lindsay March 16, 2012, 11:57 am
LW3: Breaking up isn’t the only alternative to settling down right away. I don’t believe that getting married young is bad in itself, but a lot of my friends who married right out of college seem to have closed themselves off from making new friends or getting involved in activities outside of their marriage. They also don’t really seem to have any sense of what they like or feel about things because they’ve always lived with another person and have always had to base part of their preferences on them. I’m just saying that it wouldn’t hurt to live on your own for a little bit AND still stay serious with your boyfriend.
Calle March 16, 2012, 12:52 pm
LW3, ignore your friends and trust yourself. People can be so judgey sometimes…of those who sow their wild oats, and those who don’t. Actually, I think Wendy has the best advice. Live on your own, maybe find a six month rental, and experience that independence. There is no reason you can’t be independent but still be in a serious relationship for a period of time.
cporoski March 16, 2012, 1:30 pm
LW3 – I like Wendy’s advice but only on one condition. If YOU feel like you should live on your own, then do that. I was someone who had place with friends in college and considered that my ” living on my own ” experience. I think there are tons of choices in life and you make the best of what you have. My personal situation was that old, I moved from my parents house to the sorority house to my marital house. I might not have had the hip apartment in a big city but the life I made is so great in so many other ways. Don’t throw away a wonderful relationship just because you think you are too young to be this lucky.
Fabelle March 16, 2012, 2:30 pm
LW1: If you’ve gone back & forth on this relationship that many times (I think more than maybe, once? is too many) then it seems like this guy isn’t for you. It sounds as if you want to experience something else, someWHERE else, but just keep getting sucked back into a relationship that began when you were only eighteen & probably a different person than you are now. I’m sure you do love your boyfriend, but I think it’s probably time for you to let him go.
LW2: Like somebody else admitted– I also once was that manipulative girlfriend. She probably DOES miss you… but she wants to be able to just turn the relationship on & off. She doesn’t want the responsibility of having a boyfriend & at the same time, she doesn’t want the responsibility of ending things with you properly. Cease communication, but be warned that she’ll probably be VERY upset if you do that, so stay strong!
LW3: This one is really tricky. I love Wendy’s advice about living on your own first, but like cporoski said, only do that if YOU want to (do you feel like you’d be missing out if you never experienced that?) Otherwise, I don’t see how moving in after graduation would be a problem.
mandalee March 16, 2012, 2:36 pm
LW3- I was in your exact spot four years ago. I was set to graduate in May and my boyfriend of one year had already graduated a year prior (so slightly younger than your boyfriend) and was interviewing for jobs around this time in cities a few hours away from where my college was. While everyone had a lot to say about this idea, my mom offered me the best piece of advice when she said, “If you feel like you’re ready and you’re not just doing this for him or because you have no another plan, then go for it.” I evaluated my reasons for why I wanted to do it, and I was comfortable moving in with him and it was something *I* wanted to do. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a “single” life, because I chose to be with him and loved him. We got married in August right after I turned 25, and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. I love hearing my friends dating stories, but I don’t feel pangs of regret that I didn’t experience that.
So, at the end of the day, it’s your choice. It’s whatever you feel comfortable deciding. Not your parents, friends, or the comments on your letter.
Jenny May March 16, 2012, 7:44 pm
LW3, when someone says “But you’re so young!” what they really mean is “*I* can’t imagine getting engaged at 21, so how on earth could someone else?” Remember that what applies to other people’s relationships does not automatically apply to yours. Do what you feel is right for you. Don’t do something just so you can fit in to someone else’s idea of what a relationship should look like.
MarieDC March 17, 2012, 12:48 am
LW 2: Get rid of her. Fast.