Dear Coleen: I love my girlfriend but she wants an open relationship

Dear Coleen

I’m a guy in my 20s and have been dating my girlfriend for about a year. Until now, it’s been an exclusive relationship but recently she’s brought up the idea of us dating other people.

Her reasons are we’re young and both about to go our separate ways for a few months – I’m travelling with mates and she’s volunteering for a charity abroad. She also said if we do end up moving in together and getting serious, we won’t feel we’ve missed out on anything.

I’m not sure, though. I get where she’s coming from and it makes sense from a ­practical point of view, but I’m in love with her and hate the thought of her being with anyone else.

My main worry is she’ll meet another guy she likes better than me and we’ll be history. However, I don’t want to risk losing her by freaking out.

I realise that absence can make the heart grow fonder and she might really miss me, but dating other people seems like a big risk to take. What do you think that I should do?

Coleen says

Well, I don’t think you have a choice. However, why not split up properly and when you’re back from your travels you can meet up and find out how you feel?

The trouble with an open relationship is it also opens you up to lots of potential problems – suspicion, jealousy and being on the phone or social media all the time, trying to find out what the other has been up to and who they’ve met.

It’s actually really hard to have your cake and eat it, too, and I think that’s what your girlfriend is trying to do. She’s trying to keep her options open.

So, my advice would be to make a clean break, cut the cord, agree to separate and meet up when you’re both home on the understanding that there are no guarantees you’ll get back together. Give each other the freedom to go off and enjoy being young without having to feel guilty about anything.

That way, if you do end up back in a relationship, it was meant to be. Also, bear in mind that once your world has opened up, then you could be the one who ­realises you’re enjoying not being tied to someone.

So, for your own sanity and pride, go off and do your own thing. And see where you both are in a few months’ time.

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