I Never Left My High School Sweetheart, but What if I Had?

An anonymous as-told-to story


Finding one perfect partner after a bunch of false starts has been sold to us as the ultimate romantic narrative. But what if you fall in love at 16 and never break up? I talked to one woman who, at 29, hasn’t been with anyone but her high school sweetheart. I asked her to tell me what that’s been like — the good and the not-so-good. This is what she told me.

We’ve known each other since we were 13. He went to a local boy’s school, I went to a girl’s school and we had a few mutual friends. We started dating when we were 16 and did all the high school things together, like prom. He was my first kiss and, barring a few same-sex explorations during college, he’s also my first and only sexual partner.

We’ve never had a breakup that’s gone on for longer than, say, the span of an argument. There were times where we probably should have, especially when I think back on college. That’s when we started drifting apart; there were some rough patches. We went to different universities (though we were still in the same city), and were looking for different experiences. He was being really social and going out a lot, whereas I’ve always been a bit of a homebody. We fought about it a lot. I went through a bit of a mental health scare — I was anxious and depressed — and I felt like he didn’t know how to support me. Looking back at it now, I think it would have been really healthy if we’d gone our separate ways then. I guess neither of us were strong-willed enough, or wanted to break up enough. To be honest, because I was going through a depression, I wasn’t fully ready to let go at that time. I’m not sure how he felt — I’ve never spoken to him about it — but we made it through somehow.

It got heaps better when we finished university and really started to align on the direction of our lives. Although I’ve been 100 percent on board with the relationship in the years since, I don’t know if we would have gotten back together if we’d broken up. That’s a weird thought. I do have that little bit of doubt, I guess it’s FOMO, that comes up every now and then. Like, fear or concern that I missed out on the whole dating experience, which I always imagined I’d go through. It’s a feeling I usually get after hanging out with my single girlfriends. I’ll be sitting at dinner hearing all their crazy stories and have absolutely nothing to bring to the conversation. I think that’s part of the reason close female friendships have been missing from my life. I never got the chance to bond with my single girlfriends over those shared experiences of past relationships, exes, shitty dates. I’m turning 30 this year and have started to get a bit reflective about that.

It was probably in my mid-20s when that feeling of missing out peaked, but it still returns every once in a while. I’ve brought it up with him actually, and even with his friends, numerous times — just checking to see if he feels the same way. But it’s never really been a thing for him, or so he tells me. Maybe that’s why, even during my most intense periods of doubt, I didn’t explore leaving the relationship. We never took a break; I never properly broke up with him.

The idea of, “Let’s break up for a year, do some exploring and then touch base,” has always scared me. Who knows what might happen? What if, during that time, one of us found another person? An open relationship wouldn’t work for me either. I like the idea of loyalty, and I don’t want to share love. I don’t know if that’s selfish or old-fashioned or jealous, but relationships are so personal. It might work for some people, but it wouldn’t work for me.

The risk of all that hasn’t seemed worth it to me. I think because a lot of my wondering, that “feeling,” comes from a place of curiosity, not negativity. It doesn’t make me panic or want to leave — it just sort of sits quietly in the back of my mind. I bring it up with him because I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing for both of us. I don’t want us to have a midlife crisis because of an issue we didn’t address when we were younger.

It would be nice to be able to call him my husband, I guess. Because we’ve been together for so long, our relationship is actually a lot stronger than some of the married people that I know. But I also work for a wedding magazine, and the job has made me not want to get married. In a lot of the stories we publish, whether in the magazine or on the blog, I see the same pattern: The wedding is more important than the marriage. And it costs so much money. For so many couples, it’s the “logical next step,” but I don’t really buy that. I do sometimes wonder, though, if he doesn’t want to marry me because secretly he wants to keep it open, just in case. I have those thoughts, too. I don’t want to read into it too much, because there are a bunch of different reasons why we don’t want to get married right now.

Sometimes I think to myself, “Surely there’s another girl that would put up with this better than I am,” or, “There’s definitely someone else that would make him happier.” Lately, I feel like we’re not propping each other up as much as we used to. We’re not really bringing the best person out of each other. I wonder, “What if I was with a guy that was taller? Or more romantic?” It crosses my mind. But then we’ll have a half-hour laugh session and I’ll forget about it.

Our relationship is awesome. I really love it. Fun is the best word for it. We make each other laugh a lot and we’re really well-suited. For the most part, we have similar interests, and even more importantly, we both want to be in the same place in the next few years, which can be iffy at this age. It’s comfy. Which I guess is why there’s time for me to wonder from a place of curiosity rather than dissatisfaction. But yeah, it’s nice. Really, really nice.

What got us out of the last bout of this was honesty. I think bottling up feelings can cause resentment to snowball, or drive people to do something horrendous, like cheat. I want to be honest about how I feel and I want to know how he feels. In any relationship, problems are going to crop up. And this is our problem. We’re lucky, it’s nothing major — in fact, it feels pretty small — but it’s something we intend to check in on. I think open communication will lead us to where we’re meant to go. Whether that’s together or apart, I know that we respect and love each other enough to do what’s best for each other.

Photography: Louisiana Mei Gelpi
Creation Direction: Emily Zirimis

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  • Pietro Sabatino

    Interesting article. I’ve always thought that if you have the “let’s break up for a year, do some exploring and then touch base” idea, that’s pretty much an indication you should break up for good. Otherwise, why would you have the thought at all? Esp considering the likelihood that you’d find someone who you consider “better” during that time.

  • sounds to me like they whould probably break up…

  • Adrianna

    This article made me… sad. I know I’m making a judgement on a 13 year old relationship with very, very little information, but it sounds like she’s continually trying to repress her doubts.

    • yeah it made me sad too. Reminds me of a friends who would get a few drinks in her and start confessing her doubts about her relationship, but then act like that didn’t happen the next day.

    • Hayley

      I got the same feel from this. I needed something to cheer me up immediately after so I read Amelia’s french fry piece.

    • Pterodactyl111

      What I think is sad is that they’ve been together for over a decade but still don’t know if they want to get married. And I totally get what she’s saying about her problem with weddings, but that is a totally separate issue from making a life commitment with your partner. If they really wanted to get married they’d have gone to the courthouse by now.

      • s

        what’s with this obsession with needing to affirm your relationship with marriage though

        • Pterodactyl111

          It about making a permanent commitment, actively choosing to be on a life team with that person. It doesn’t have to be “marriage” if you don’t want it to be. It can be whatever you want. But the sense I got from this article is that this woman and her boyfriend haven’t made that commitment to each other and they aren’t sure if they want to. And after ten years together I think that’s sad.

      • Adrianna

        The marriage part wasn’t the sad part for me. I’m someone who’s also been in a very long term relationship from a young age, so it’s frustrating to be asked about marriage. (I’m not quite sure how my economic decisions are anyone else’s business…)

        I don’t like using words like “natural” or “normal.” I’ve been trying to figure out how to articulate my impression of this article without projecting myself onto it. It’s easy for me to say, “well, I never wondered if I’d find someone ‘better’ or if I should have dated multiple people in my 20s” but that’s not relevant to this woman’s life.

        I think what made me feel sad for this woman is that her reflection upon her relationship wasn’t about passion or growth.

        • Pterodactyl111

          I definitely wasn’t trying to say that everyone should get married, or it’s wrong that they weren’t yet. My feelings were a lot like yours – it seemed like they were still together just out of pure inertia rather than any real forward thinking desire to spend their lives together. She talks about not wanting to get married because she doesn’t like weddings, but a marriage is not a wedding as she herself admits. Then she talks about insecurity regarding her boyfriend’s commitment without a marriage. Never does she say anything about not believing in the institute of marriage or anything like that. To me, that sounds like someone who wants a commitment but doesn’t feel secure enough in her relationship to make one. And I think that’s sad.

  • Iris

    weird but this article makes me feel sad. Like she will always be wondering what would have happened and never really be happy. I can relate to it somehow, my first boyfriend and I got together at a young age and hold on to the relationship for quite some time but it felt like we drifted apart more and more, so I ended it. Not just to explore with the option of getting back together – I really ended it and it felt horrible but also like the right thing to do because we were just standing in each others way. For the last year, we have been a couple again and it’s just great. We met after a few years without being in touch and fell in love for a second time. Now we appreciate each other so much more. Sometimes I’m sad that we lost a few years of being together but I’m also happy for the time I was just an individual and not part of a relationship.

  • sam

    i don’t think this article is sad. i’m 27 and i married my high school sweetheart. i had the exact same feelings, and at 23 we broke up for no reason other than me thinking i was missing out on something magical. i dated around for 2 months to realize i made a huge mistake. guys suck, and i had a good one. we had fun together, he respected me, i liked talking to him… i’ve had people ask me if i think i settled. maybe i did. but i’m content and actually happy, unlike my friends who are still desperately seeking something more. noone is ever taller enough, funnier enough, romantic enough, etc. our love is simple and easy and what more could i ask for?

    i guess it depends on what you’re looking for in a life partner…

  • Blair

    Great read!

    I can’t imagine any person being in a relationship this long and from such a young age and NOT having thoughts like this. For me, this isn’t a sad article or indicative of a need for them to breakup- it’s an introspective and sensitive person exploring the realities and thoughts that come from being in a long-term relationship. People will always immediately point to any seed of doubt as a need to break up but what about all of the very real and happy aspects of this relationship that seem so core to who they are as a couple and individual people? The total honesty, the open communication, the shared values and goals, etc. Bearing in mind that, of course, those alone are not enough to make the relationship work.

    In my view, this is someone with a mature and realistic perspective on love and relationships and the challenges that inevitably will come up as you are traversing young adulthood alongside one romantic partner.

    • Adrianna

      I don’t think it’s fair to say that the people who felt sad by this article are rooting for this couple to break up. It made me feel sad because it was a sad article.

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    this is the perfect companion piece to an old haley article about why she left her relationship. both Anonymous and Haley seemed to have similar-ish doubts, but Anonymous stayed whereas haley left. that’s so interesting to me. we experience love in a lot of the same ways but there’s never a one-fits-all answer. it’s terrifying…but interesting, too! makes me wonder if there’s ever any point in soliciting advice about this kind of stuff from others. people can say whatever they want but i think in the end, it seems like only the person asking the questions has the answer.

  • meme

    I also met my husband at 16, now going almost 12 years together and 3 married. So I understand the doubts, the ‘should we have had other experiences’. And I say this from love and understanding, but as someone already said you sound sad. And you shouldn’t. Maybe this is a moment and this too shall pass -over so many years you are bound to have some hard times. But if you keep having doubts maybe you should pay attention to them. I can vouch that you can be every bit as excited and in love with your partner even if you are with the same person since 16.

    • Natasha

      Agree so much with that last sentence! I’ve been with my guy for 9 years (together since we were 16) and we still can’t believe how lucky we are to have each other. There have been plenty of rough patches, and some FOMO moments, but never for long enough for us to seriously doubt our relationship. What really set me free recently is realizing that any FOMO I do feel isn’t usually a symptom of my relationship with him; but rather my relationship with time.

      Constantly looking ahead or at the past is a surefire way to get me questioning things like – ‘what if I’m wasting my time?’ ‘What if in 10 years I realize I’ve made a mistake?’. But I’m learning not to look at my life in such a linear way; instead to give every moment it’s own value, and to stay in the present. If I wake up every morning feeling happy and like I’m in the right place, then that’s all that matters. Who cares about hypothetical me in 10 years 😉

      • Kirby

        I love this comment!! I’ve also been trying to stop myself from making decisions based on “what if” fears, either in my relationship or just in life (recent grad here). Trying to remember that if I’m happy now, who cares what might happen later. Whatever comes up, I (and all of us!) will find a way to deal with it, but worrying about the possibility of not being happy later only ruins my happiness now!

        • Natasha

          I know I’m replying to this super late, but I read something today that feels so appropriate to this:

          “In life, there are so many paths. All of them are right.”

          <3 I think we become lighter, happier beings when we don't hold on so tight to an idea of how love or life 'should be'. Sometimes it feels like there's one 'right' story for us out there and if we make the 'wrong' move we'll miss out on it; we'll fail. Letting go of that is so freeing!

          • Kirby

            I’m also replying to this super late (sorry!) but thank you so much for this comment!! I think about this quote so often now and it never fails to ease my thoughts.

  • Jessica Downing

    My boyfriend of three years is the first guy I’ve ever dated and we’re long distance so we only actually spend a few weeks a year together. When we started dating he asked me if I thought I would feel like I missed out on anything by committing so young (19-20). At the time I didn’t feel that way, but it’s creeped in and is something I’m struggling with a lot lately. I love him more than anything, but I don’t want to look back years down the road and regret not giving myself time to meet other people. The fact that we’re long distance is definitely a factor too, when we get to spend time together physically in the same place I rarely feel like this. Ultimately I wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize what we have and I’m hoping that I’ll appreciate all the time we’ve gotten to spend together rather than regret it in the future.

  • gracesface

    I am really not understand the whole, “send your brain to the spa month” – I guess I thought it meant only happy/light/fluffy pieces this month? I am le confused.

  • Alina

    “I think that’s part of the reason close female friendships have been missing from my life. I never got the chance to bond with my single girlfriends over those shared experiences of past relationships, exes, shitty dates.”

    ^^^ I just really can’t get on board with this. When I’m with my closest girlfriends, single or otherwise, relationships are usually the last thing that we talk about. I was catching up with a college friend the other week, and we both marveled at how we made it four hours of talking about our lives, ambitions, friendships, families, politics, faith, and so on before our dating lives even popped up. Obviously I’m a complete stranger reading this article, but you might want to examine if there’s another reason beyond an LTR that’s causing you to feel isolated from other women.

    • Andrea Raymer

      See, I completely disagree. That statement was something I relate to a lot personally as someone who has never dated. Relationships always come up in my close female friendships and it ends up making me feel very isolated because I am expected to give advice on something I have literally zero context for. I think when you have had an experience that is not the norm in some way you realize how much it comes up because of the disconnect.

      • Adrianna

        It felt like everyone was in intense relationships when I was single in college, and now it feels like everyone is single now that I’ve been in a long term relationship. I’m happy Alina has found friends that pass the Bechdel test, but most people really are focused on dating.

      • Alina

        That’s totally fair! I don’t mean to put down your experience at all, and parts of my hasty comment were definitely poorly-worded, as of course women can talk about relationships and shouldn’t feel shamed for that at all.

        My point was mostly just to say that I observe a lot of conversations between women that aren’t focused solely on dating, and I feel it can be a really harmful stereotype that all women care about are relationships, when our conversations have the ability to be much more complex. I sincerely hope that the contributor to this article isn’t missing something else when she tries to bond with people, some sort of social insecurity or self doubt or societal expectation that is also at play and which working on might help her do better in forming friendships!

        And for the record, I have never really dated myself, yet the majority of my closest friends are married or in LTRs. We simply bonded over other stuff before discussing relationships. When it comes to someone seeking advice, I’m usually just honest and say I’m no expert by any means and then sympathize with their situation. I understand how it can feel immensely isolating at times, but that seems to work for me.

        • Laura Guarraci

          I agree with your initial comment- I think being in a relationship has a tendency to lock you into the person you are when you meet your significant other, so you don’t have as many varied experiences. When she said she has trouble with female friendships because she can’t talk about dating, I thought IMMEDIATELY she hasn’t met the right girls who are her “tribe”. Dating is what you default to talking about with girls you grew up with/who are not like you deep down in their soul. It doesn’t make me sad that she hasn’t dated, it makes me sad she thinks all female friendships revolve around dating.

  • Sarah

    I relate with this so, SO much. I’ve also been with my partner since I was 16, and we’re now going on our 6th year of being together. We’ve never done the breakup-makeup thing, but have had our share of ups and downs (especially while going to the same college. We just graduated together!). I can understand why many people find this piece sort of troubling. It seems like a bleak struggle to make a relationship work when maybe it shouldn’t. However, I find it strikingly honest and authentic. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together would experience the type of overwrought contemplation that is revealed here, myself included. For those of us whose high school relationships endure beyond graduation day, there is judgement, assumption, and societal pressure pouring in from all angles. People assume that maybe you’re from a small town where people “do that”, maybe you’re religious, traditional, rocked gently into a sense of security by refusing to branch out and live beyond your teenage romance. For myself, this could not be further from reality. My partner and I have done all of the growing up and changing that one hopes to do through college, and yet we’ve never made a happier, more fulfilled pair than now. I’ve had several friends ask pointed questions about the nature of my relationship and to them I say: It just keeps working. We don’t know why, but we’re not about to look this gift relationship in the mouth.

  • Toronto CS

    I got together with my husband at 17. I thought it was super romantic. We had two rocky periods before marriage. He didn’t get into university after high school and was just lost. We fought and considered breaking up but didn’t. He also lost his job two months before our marriage and I was really upset, considered calling it off.

    But I never wanted to break up because I felt I was missing out! I think maybe Anonymous is not very happy with her relationship.

    After marriage my husband and I also had a hard time because he was working really hard in his career and I did everything at home — with the kids, house, relatives, finances, mowed the lawn even. I felt like he didn’t appreciate me. But, now he does.

    It’s been almost 25 years. I don’t feel like I missed anything. My husband and I have had so many sexual stages (all with each other) and it’s been awesome. He’s still my best friend, too 🙂

  • Michelle

    What came through loud and clear to me is that he is not the love of her life. I had a few relationships before meeting my now husband at a young age of 24. We’ve now been married 10 years (we are now 37 years old) and while we were young and its been 13 years together, I don’t have that unsettled feeling. Being with him is the best decision of my life.

    I’ve had that other feeling of “what if” with previous boyfriends though. The writer’s questioning makes it really obvious to me that she needs to get out, live life and one day meet someone else that makes her heart sing.


    Wow anon, your story really spoke to me as, I too, have been with my high school sweetheart since the age of 16 (now 24).

    We also hit a major hurdle when we went to different colleges. Looking back now we’re both like “htf did we make it through all through all those years?” We were never that off/on again couple, but there are times where it was clear that we should have split up. We were growing to be different people and we were (are still) young! I also remember hanging out with my single girlfriends as they talked about their sexual experiences and various romantic partners, and here I was twiddling my thumb with nothing to contribute.
    Admittedly, I’ve pondered, “what would have happened if we did break up?” Sometimes I play out various scenes, but the fact of the matter is that we stuck through it and our love is stronger than ever. Even though we went through rock-bottom times, I’m so grateful for all of that. It taught me a lot about him and, most importantly, myself.

    As far as what I would advise? I think communication is key in any relationship, but also loving yourself. I used to suffer from depression, which made me insecure about myself. Over the past couple of years I embarked on a journey of self discovery and really took the time to find, forgive and accept myself. As such, this transformation within me has TRANSFORMED out relationship. We are much more open with each other and happier than ever.

    Whatever the case, don’t listen to what others have to say about YOUR relationship. Trust yourself and you will find the answers. xo

    • Hi – could you tell us a bit more about this part: “Over the past couple of years I embarked on a journey of self discovery and really took the time to find, forgive and accept myself.”? I am struggling with some mood issues and my self-esteem has been horribly shaky these past few months. I see these problems mainly in the light of how much they affect my relationship – i think that’s where I let it all out. I really want to find a way to work with these issues (have been seeing medical help but it’s not very effective where I live) because I care a lot about my bf and I don’t want to ruin a perfectly great relationship by neglecting my problems. I would really appreciate you telling a bit about your process. And congratulations!

      • LAURA

        Most definitely! Btw, Dorota, your dedication towards healing yourself shows mounds of your character, give yourself a pat on the back. <3

        Healing is a slow process and while my transformation didn’t happen overnight, it was certainly worth the battle. I will also say that there is no “one size fits all” answer, as your journey may be vastly different from mine. However, I hope that by sharing my story it can help you in some way 🙂 Bear with me.

        For me, the root of my problem was my upbringing and relationship with my parents. When I was about 21 I finally forgave my parents, my siblings, and myself for the way I was treated and how I mistreated others. Prior to those 20 years I can’t recall ever being truly happy. See, my husband (boyfriend at the time) was my escape from all these problems. When we were 16 we were both miserable, but when we were together we forgot about all the bullshit at home. It was nice to have someone who understood and still loved me for who I was. However, having him didn’t make my issues magically go away. Instead, they seeped quietly behind me on the back burner. So, it was no surprise that our relationship was doomed to hit some rough patches.

        When he went off to college I stayed home and enrolled in junior college. He was off experiencing college and I was in the same hometown with the same miserable people. I took out a lot of my frustrations on him and didn’t trust him. I would constantly overthink things and created issues on my own. It was a really low point in my life and rather than seeking help I drank heavily and repressed my emotions. It sounds terrible, I know. But now I can look back on that time and learn from my mistakes. Hell, if my husband and I made it through all that, there’s no doubt in my mind that we can handle just about anything.

        Fast forward a couple of years and I finally sat down with my parents and had a real talk with them. I always resented my mother for being cold towards me growing up. She grew up in an abused household and sadly the abuse continued to us (my siblings and I). All I knew was tough love, and that’s how I treated others. When I finally sat down with her after 20 years she broke down that barrier and showed emotions to me for the first time. I’m fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to talk it out with my family, whereas others are never granted the opportunity or never take initiative to confront unhealed wounds.

        After I rekindled my relationship with my family things started to slowly (very slowly) improve. Despite my progress, I had not yet completely forgiven myself. Here’s where the bulk of the healing began for me. A month after my husband and I got married (age 22) we moved from California to Florida, far from friends and family. He was studying to become a naval aviator was extremely busy with his studies, and I had yet to start the fall semester. With all the free time, I was forced to finally deal with everything head-on, without the support of friends or family. I revisited a lot of the past and saw that I really wanted to get rid of these wounds and not just silently forgive and forget.

        Although I couldn’t go back and change time I knew it wasn’t too late to apologize, forgive and move on. And that’s precisely what I did. I reached out to old friends (good friends of mine who I hurt) and was completely transparent to them about everything. Mind you, yearssss had gone by since I last spoke to them. To my surprise the response (that I so feared) was amazing. I didn’t reach out to every single person, but I talked to a handful of select people who played a major influence in my life. I wasn’t looking to rebuild a relationship with these people I just simply didn’t want there to be anything left unsaid. At first I was embarrassed to reach out to them after so many years, but something in my heart pushed me to to reach out to them. Moving away also (oddly enough) strengthened my relationship with my parents. Not a day goes by that I don’t text or call my mom, which is something I NEVER thought would have happened.

        I’ve never tried any medicine, I’ve always been kind of a hippie and go for a more holistic way of healing. Medicine helps some people, but in most cases is suppresses the inner pain. Have you tried counseling or journaling? Here are some other recommendations that helped me along the way:

        1.) Journaling and keeping an attitude of gratitude journal. Every day I write a list of 10 things that I’m grateful for, ever if it’s something small like, “having running water.”
        2.)Yoga and meditating. Silencing the worried mind takes a lot of practice, but it’s necessary in order to start living in the present.
        3.) Self help books! Books helped me heeeaps. A good one to start off with might be, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin and “Start Where You Are,” by Pema Chodron
        4.) Decluttering and having a clean diet has helped me out a lot. I don’t drink, do drugs or rely on any medication and it’s helped clear my mind.
        5.) Surround yourself with positive energy. When you affiliate with negative people it definitely impacts you and others around you.

        There are so many other things I can recommend like nature, reading and painting/finding a hobby but, nevertheless, your journey begins the second you start to weed out the toxicity in your life. For me it was my haunting past and the influences around me. I’d be lying to you if I said that I 100% “found myself,” I learn something new about myself every day and despite the "glamour" we are bombarded with on social media, not all is as it seems. No one hols the magical key to happiness. The answers you seek lie within, Dorota. I’ll be praying for you 🙂 Much love, Laura.

        • Charlotte Roseanne

          Great comment! Thank you for taking the time to share this.

          I agree with a lot of those suggestions… I was recently lent SparkJoy by Marie Kondo, a book about decluttering. Throughout the book she emphasizes how the material reflects and moulds us and keeping the things which bring us joy and letting go of those that don’t helps clarify who we are and who we want to be, that often it clarifies which relationships also bring us joy or unhappiness. I have found that to be true so often. I was cynical due to those books seeming faddy but it worked. Decluttering my space decluttered my mind, once again!

  • starryhye

    And this is precisely why I knew I had to breakup my high school boyfriend. I knew I’d never be fully happy in the relationship if I didn’t venture out on my own. I was a “late bloomer” so by the time I got to university, I was just getting the hang of being social. There was so much drama in my h.s. relationship (he had trust issues and was controlling) and I knew that wasn’t normal for a relationship. It was too hard and I always felt like there was so much more out there for me to experience. I grew and matured so much in those college years. It’s also the reason why, upon meeting my now husband, I was ready to go all in with him. I can definitely see both sides here.

  • A few days ago, this tweet by banksy had me contemplating:
    “Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which one to surf”

    I think we should always closely observe those waves coming at us, at least the bigger ones: we should always stay in touch with our emotions and thoughts, know them and observe them and communicate them, as you 2 do.

    On the other hand, we should also have a sound knowledge of our situation: we should base our decision which wave to surf on our rational estimations of the wave and our feelings relevant to the specific surfing situation. For example:

    When in a year-long relationship, we acquire some “rights” that should not be simply abolished as soon as an exciting new idea (and I mean idea – it is not even a concrete situation in our story) turns up.
    Like: of course there is a better partner out there, for you, your partner, me, my partner. I am guessing: many better ones. Statistics says so. But as soon as any of us sets out to find them, other statistical rules apply: how high is the possibility of getting in contact with any of them, the possibility of both potentially perfect partners realizing they are a good match, the possibility the other person considers themselves happily married/single … The question is: why throw away a person we love for an uncertain possibility just because we thought of it?

    … our present partners have (earned) the right to be accepted, loved and disliked for who they are, they have the right to their own personal development and our share in it/support for it … They have the right to believe they are accepted for who they are – at least as long as they are led to believe we have feelings for them and appreciate them (in our own specific way).

    Within this frame of overt love and acceptance, the urge to seek a person with a set of comparably better features (even if only sexual) is somehow … mechanic. Non-personal. Like returning the purchase and looking for a better one. It exists as an urge and that’s normal, but to act upon it, we need better reasons than just FOMO.

    I think the above post is a good example of this. Not sad.

  • Kelsey

    Haley, I just recently left my boyfriend that I have been dating for 10 years. We met in high school very similar situation you describe. I had a turning point where the curiosity was over shadowing my ability to be a good girlfriend. I just moved out of our apartment and things have been tough! Missing the incredible bond we had and facing weird unfamiliar territory. We still communicate a lot, we joke about the weird things we miss about each other. Last night he snap chatted a photo of my favorite lamp that I finally let him keep (it was so cute). Life is weird, you need to navigate it the way you want. I get ya girl! I really enjoyed this read, thank you.

    • elpug

      Stay strong! You will get through this and come out better for it even though it will be hard at times. I have always found that my single periods were chances for me to improve myself and focus on what I like to do and my interests. Life is weird for sure.

  • Beasliee

    A really interesting piece.
    I have to say though that the grass is not greener. The single life might seem like a world of excitement and possibilities waiting to be made into fun anecdotes but it’s generally not. When I was single my coupled-up friends thought my life seemed great – the reality is that you’re on your own, no one is in your corner and its hard, emotional, work. Being in a happy relationship is (for me) much more satisfying.
    Having said that, almost anything is better than staying in an unsuitable relationship that doesn’t bring you joy.

  • My husband and I both agree that we met each other too early – I was 19, he was 22. But it worked out the way it did and neither of us wanted to leave each other, so that was that.

    I think this story has a lot going on, first, if she’s thinking about what things would be like with other people, that’s a big sign. Second, I think people get too scared to make changes – they’re committed and have to untangle the web if they made a change. That’s not a good way to live. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about the person, or they don’t matter deeply to you, it just might be that you need to experience things on your own for a while. While I was in college, my then boyfriend lived across the country and was starting a new job. We did long distance for three years, flying back and forth regularly to see each other. The whole time, though, I could focus on having a great college experience and he could focus on his new job. It worked out well and we avoided smothering each other.

    No one should stay in a relationship if their having doubts or unhappy. I can tell you from my own experience, I have never thought about being with anyone else.


  • She sounds kinda sad indeed, in a way. Repressing doubts. But in a way I kinda get her… Is it bad to contemplate what we didn’t experience because of a relationship? Does it actually mean that we’re sad about how things turned out? Does it actually really mean that we’re having “doubts” about the relationship we’re in, and potentially don’t want to be in it?? I don’t know.

    I honestly can’t tell what her true feelings are. I can’t tell whether she’s truly happy/content with her LT relationship, or whether she’s just afraid of leaving her comfort zone… I hope it’s the first one *sigh*

    Meg @ its.meg-ramsay.com

  • AC

    I DID leave my high school sweetheart, after 9 years together and 8 months of marriage at the tender age of 25. My mistake was not leaving sooner, the first time I ever thought about it, when I instinctively knew things wouldn’t work out. I didn’t have the courage; my problem was that I thought it was romantic, thought it was “natural”, and thought I would be disappointing others if I didn’t stay the course. The thing is I only disappointed myself and hurt us both…. I didn’t want to go through life feeling mediocre about the choice I made staying with my high school love.

    Six years later, I have since remarried, and for me it wasn’t about my now husband being taller or more romantic, it was that I didn’t question my private thoughts, or my values, or his values. I didn’t lie in bed next time him at night wondering what my life would be like if I left him. I didn’t resent him if I missed out on something because I was spending my time with him. It was like a whole new world.

    This article made me sad because I can relate to Anonymous on so many levels. I could’ve written this 10 years ago. Comfortable is ok, but is that what you want out of life for the next 50 years?

  • Thea

    I´ve been with my partner since the tender age of 16, and my experience is so different to this story. When I tell people about us (my boyfriend and I), they always ask how we´re still together – and I feel like this story describes their thoughts on how it must feel being in a relationship from such a young age. That we are missing out on experiences and are only holding on to the relationship because of loyalty and because it´s “comfy”. All relationships are different, but my experience is that we grew up together. He knows me better than anyone, he knows all my life experiences and I know his – It feels really unique and lovely to have such a intertwined experience of life. We make our lives brighter every dag, together.

  • Emily

    Reading this is like peering into my life. My high school sweetheart and I dated continuously through college, grad school, and the first few years of our career.

    For me, marriage was a really important step in our relationship. While our pre-engagement relationship felt directionless our post-marriage relationship has been strong in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I look at marriage as a step in our relationship and not the endgame.

    There are plenty of things we still need to figure out, but I have zero doubts that we belong together. I have married a man who knows who I am because he’s seen me grow as a person, and vice versa. And while I can’t relate to a lot of what my dating friends are going through, we connect on other levels because even though I love and respect my partner he can drive me absolutely bananas.