The Hook Up: 3-2-2011

I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost a year. She is the first girl I’ve ever been in a relationship with. In the first few months of being with her, I felt like I would live the rest of my life with her. She was mature, loving and caring.

About half way through the relationship things had changed. She wasn’t as affectionate and loving as she once was. She said she is always affectionate in the beginning. I tried my best to make her feel special every chance I got and rarely felt the same in return.

I decided I would go out and at least get attention from other people (not sexually). I went to gay bars and realized this whole world I never saw before because I was never openly gay and single. I’m confused because I want to be with my girlfriend in the long run because she is stable, goal-oriented, and amazing with children, but I feel that right now I want to explore and see the world I haven’t experienced yet. I can almost guarantee that she will not wait around for me and will probably be upset and hurt if I break things off. I don’t want to hurt her, I still love her. I just don’t want to have any regrets before settling down. What should I do? – Torn and Confused

Anna says:

I’m going to borrow from my favorite advice columnist, Dear Sugar, on this one, Torn, because she says it better and more succinctly than I could:

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

Leaving someone you love, venturing out there on your own, especially as a queer woman, can be terrifying, or it can be empowering. Usually it’s both, Torn. It sounds like you already know what you need to do. You want love and affection from someone who will provide that not just “in the beginning.” You want to explore, meet new people, and paint the town gay. You want to have no regrets before settling down. Those are terrific places to start. Don’t let fear hold you back, or not wanting to hurt someone you care about. It’s a necessary part of human existence, as well as, I’d like to think, loving with all you’ve got, with your intelligence, and humor, and compassion.

And as to the part where you thought you would be with your first girlfriend forever and ever, I think pretty much everyone on earth has had that same thought that at least once, however naïve, or fleeting, or idealistic it seemed. (Back me up in the comments, ladies!) First loves are game changers. It’s like eating your first beautiful, exquisite, gourmet meal after consuming a lifetime of low-fat Hot Pockets. It’s easy to make assumptions about the world when it has been completely turned on its head for us.

So don’t worry about forever right now. Worry about making decisions that are hard, that you don’t feel great about, but that you know are ultimately the best possible ones for you and her in the long run, even if that means breaking your own heart, a little.

Best of luck.