Help: I love my boyfriend but I kinda want to explore my options

Dear Sarah,

I have been in an exclusive relationship for a year and a half. I’m so in love with this guy it aches in my bones. I am convinced he is my soulmate. I am so happy when I’m with him, and I want to marry him one day. However, I keep imagining my life taking two different paths.

One path is marrying him and being happy forever. At the same time, I’m only 17, and I keep feeling like I want to go out and party and have relationships with other people. I want to be independent when I go off to college this fall, and kiss random people and not worry about it! I want my to experience my wild side! Another thing is, I have finally come to terms with my pansexuality. I have only ever been with cis-males and I feel like I’m missing out on exploring.

But, my soul would break without my current boyfriend! I love him so much and want to be with him. He has helped me through so many family and health issues—he’s not just my boyfriend, he’s my very best friend. He loves me just as much as I love him. I know with him I will be happy until death-do-us-part. Yet, I am afraid I will regret not experimenting in college. Is this just a case of thinking “the grass is greener on the other side”? How do I know what to do?

—The Grass is Greener from Ohio

Dear Grass is Greener,

Generally, I don’t try to predict the future, but in this case I’m going to dust off my crystal ball. Let’s say you decide to be faithful and committed to your boyfriend when you leave for college. I see the mists in the crystal ball swirling….I’m envisioning you at a party full of your new friends about two months into your freshman year….Music is pounding, people are having intense conversations about all the new, fascinating, important things they are learning, everyone’s eyes are bright and cheeks flushed with excitement and urgency….The mists clear and there you are at the same party, hitting it off with someone new. Cut to guilt, tears, anger, feelings of self loathing, cheating perhaps—all of which could have been avoided.

What I’m trying to say is that while you may have incredibly strong feelings for your guy and you may go off to college with the most diamond-hard and clear intentions to stay together forever and be true, the fact that you have all these other (totally legit) yearnings, suggests that its going to be near impossible to keep that promise. Here’s a question: Maybe, just maybe, is wanting keeping your BF on lockdown when you are away partially because it makes you feel safer venturing out into the world for the first time?

I suggest, even though it feels counter-intuitive and disgusting when you are madly in love, that you have the ‘big talk’ about being allowed to see other people. I know, it sucks. However, you can always re-commit when you see each other during winter break if that feels right, but you can’t take back betraying your best friend/soulmate/boyfriend if you end up slipping. Also, if you have a really honest, open-hearted conversation, you might be surprised to discover your BF is feeling similarly torn.

Love, Sarah

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