I'm a 24-year-old female, currently pursing the first year of a masters degree. Healthy, independent, strong network of family and friends. I have been with my partner exclusively for almost seven years—we started dating at the end of high school! I moved to a different town for school, so for four years we were long distance. After that, I moved back home. We have lived together for almost two years now.

My partner is a wonderful person. He's a hard worker, passionate, completely dedicated and committed to living life with me. But, I’m not sure that’s what I want. Since our relationship took a more serious turn when we moved in together I’ve been fearful of commitment. Wondering if we’re foolish for not exploring other relationships or just being on our own. This is a doubt that has flooded my mind recently but is not shared by my partner. My partner also has some anger issues that recently nearly cost him his job. I don’t take this lightly.

It is hard to explain seven years of history in a concise email. As per the aforementioned incident with my partner’s work, we are currently struggle to figure out where we stand. I guess my question to you is, making the decision to move on from a relationship is hard. How do I know if I need to do this for myself? Can I ignore these nagging thoughts? Can I work to change my mindset and see my relationship in a more positive light? When I think about being single, I feel happy and good—is this just a “grass seems greener” kinda thought after seven years in a relationship? You should also know that these thoughts have been progressively increasing in prevalence for about a year now.

Wondering About Need To Sort Out Unnerving Thoughts

You have my permission to break up with your wonderful high school boyfriend.

And if his anger issues are one the reasons you're hesitating to end this relationship—if you fear he will erupt when you tell him it's over—call in your family and friends for emotional and logistical support in advance of the breakup.

As for your doubts...

I can't promise you won't regret dumping your boyfriend. You have a lot of shared history and striking out on your own—sexually, emotionally, socially—can be scary, particularly after so many years of having a "person," as they say. And while the fantasy of singledom makes you feel "happy and good" right now, WANTSOUT, in reality singledom comes bundled with its own challenges and miseries. But your single-and-miserable feelings are likely to come and go*—and likely to abate once you get yourself sorted—while there's a high probability that "nagging" desire to get out of this relationship, which has been growing stronger over the last year, will blossom into constant misery in time.

My hunch is that the long-distance thing may have kept your relationship on life support. You two got together at the end of high school, WANTSOUT, and were really only together together for one year before you went away to college. You had a great deal of autonomy when you were off doing your undergrad; you were essentially single-ish, your boyfriend being more of a comforting thought than a daily presence. But now that you're no longer single-ish, now that's he's a daily presence, you want out. If the first and and sixth year hadn't come on either side of your college years, it's highly likely you would've ended this relationship years ago.

You're only 24, WANTSOUT, you're not married and you don't have children. However difficult ending this relationship seems, it's a lot less complicated than it could be in a few years' time. And if your boyfriend handles the breakup with grace there's nothing to stop you two from getting back together in a few years time—if you're both still single and you've determined that he is who and what you want. (And he's gotten help with his anger issues.)

*Sometimes literally.


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