What to do when your boyfriend or girlfriend encourages you to date others

Jewell asks: My boyfriend of 2 years told me, after I gained admission to university, that I should try other guys and enjoy myself in school, so as not to be blinded by my love for him. He told me he wants to be part of my world, not my whole world. That I should be focused in school and achieve something. He is far away from me but we don’t talk always, as he said we shouldn’t always talk. He said he loves me so much but if I was around I would have been his whole world. I’m confused I don’t know what to think anymore.

Hi Jewell –


I have a few reactions to this.  First, it definitely does sound like he truly cares about you, and wants the best for you, and that’s a great thing, no matter what.


Second, it’s clear he wants you to live your life as well as possible.   Again, that’s great.


Third, it sounds like he’s worried that being fully attached to him would hold you back.  Which again shows him to be a good guy, but isn’t exactly how you feel about the relationship!


Which leads me to number Four, which is kind of funny.  Because he is working so hard to let go of controlling you, but in so doing, he’s actually being very  controlling!  It’s not you who’s saying you want freedom to date, or to focus more in school, or to talk less; it’s him!  And all for your sake!


And this all puts you in a tough place.  It would be awful to argue to him that he’s wrong, that you do  want him to be your whole world and for you to be his – and then suddenly get focused on school and want to date new guys and all that!  But it’s also tough to just say “Okay, thanks for the freedom,” and go off to do things you don’t really care about!


So here’s my suggestion.  First, point out my #4 item to him, that while he’s kindly trying to give you freedom, he’s doing it by taking control over your life!


And then find a compromise with him.  Maybe he’s right that you two shouldn’t commit to not dating anyone while you’re gone; maybe it’ll be nice for you to meet new guys and go to parties and dance and all that – and then to see how you feel.  Maybe it’s good to ration your conversations so they’re not quite as frequent as they are now, so you each can focus on other things.


But agree on how often to talk (twice a week maybe?).  And agree on when you’re next going to meet (vacation between terms?).  And agree on whether or not you’re going to tell each other about what you do when apart (That’s really important!).


Because the truth is you two do care an awful lot for each other.  And he does want the best for you.


And a guy like that shouldn’t be left behind completely!


How does that sound?


All my best,



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