Dear Straight Talk: Last week I moved seven hours away from my boyfriend of two years. We are at different colleges and agreed to make it work. But I am having my doubts. He was my first and only boyfriend and I'm feeling like I need to branch out and see what life is like. However, he is deeply in love and texting me like every two seconds. Does anyone know how to tell him without hurting him? I can't even break up in person! What should I do?? — Tammi, now in Los Angeles
Editor's Note: The truth about youthful romances and breakups: None of you have any idea what you're doing! Okay, maybe a few do. But it's a small few as you'll see as you get older. Most relationships that begin much before age 25 split apart as people individuate. Love? Yes, there was/is love. And you break up anyway as the adult brain kicks in. And it really can be the hardest thing in the world to leave someone at this tender age, especially when they still love you deeply. I experienced such a breakup myself at age 25, and it was one of life's greatest agonies.
All I can say is truth and kindness, truth and kindness, truth and kindness. There are ways to part company that don't leave you feeling dirty inside, and you want to begin practicing those ways. It involves being true to yourself, having nobody "right" and nobody "wrong," eschewing head games and manipulation, and having deep compassion for the other as you exit. (This is all assuming there are no children, which is another matter entirely because you then have a child to consider, not just yourself.)
Another thing. Later in life, say in your 40s, 50s, even 60s, who will look you up for romance? Or have your back if you need it? Those same guys (or gals) from high school and your early twenties. Sometimes even the same ones you were romantically involved with. Be true to yourself, be kind to the other, and forgive both. It will pay in dividends down the road. —Lauren
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