Your Call – Should She Risk Losing Love Because She’s Young?

Dear Em & Lo,

I’m 18 years old and I’ve been with my boyfriend for 3 years now, since I was 15. It’s been great over these few years. We’ve argued but everyone argues and we’ve managed to work things out and talk on a level where we can understand each other. He’s most definitely my best friend and when he talks to me I feel as though I am everything to him also. Recently he  asked me to become his fiancee and to move in with him. He made it very clear that it is not to pressure me into marriage, I can do that whenever I am ready, etc. But he loves me and wants to take it to the next level. Sounds like a fairytale, right? But the problem is he’s the only serious relationship I’ve ever had and many people have told me to not rush into anything, to date more guys and hang around before settling down. Should I risk losing someone that I love and can manage with just because I am young and in experienced?

— Young Lover

What do you think Young Lover should do? Please advise her in the comments below.


  1. A lot of people here probably don’t how you’re feeling. They are old.

    I’m 17. I had a boyfriend of 2 years, who I thought was the absolute love of my life. We broke up.

    At first I was horribly sad, but as time passed I started hanging out with my girls more and experienced a giant difference in my high school experience. It wasn’t better because I was now free to hookup with strangers or whatever, but it was nice to have a break from the intensity of our “love,” and to be a normal high schooler. I never would have thought that the break up would have been so good for me.

    I’m not urging a breakup, but please don’t put your life on the line for him. Don’t give up job, or a college or anything because well we are young. Our minds haven’t developed fully and we have a whole life a head of us. Chances are the relationship won’t last in the long wrong, and if you give up a job or a college you are left with divorce and nothing else.

    In my opinion you should move in with him if you want, but don’t get engaged. You have plenty of time for that. My sister has been dating her boyfriend since she was 16, she is now 20. They have a really strong relationship. They aren’t rushing engagement, because they both believe that if it is meant to be they will get married some day.

    If you believe that your love really will last, then it will. No need to quickly become engaged.

  2. Don’t leave that relationship,,,it is not worth losing him just to date a few jerks that just want sex and do not care about you like your boyfriend does…no one, i mean no one will love you as much as he does. I am 19 and i have been through the same thing…i was in a good relationship and i ruined it by going and sleeping with another when we were on a break..and that crushed my boyfreind and broke his heart our relationship will never be the same after we both tried dating other poeple, I would do anything to go back and get the love back that we had but the past is the past. We are back together but i miss the wasy he used to look at me and love me, trust me you will regret doing that.

    your truly….regretful

  3. DONT LET HIM GO! I’m in a similar situation as you, I am 21 and three months ago started dating my first boyfriend. Soon after we started dating, we got engaged because we just clicked so well and we knew deep down that we were right for eachother. Bottom line, if you’re with the right person, you will know, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together or how many relationships you’ve had. That being said, don’t rush things either. I question alot if getting married is the right decision to make so we’ve held off on planning the wedding. So right now we’re just engaged and living together and we’re very happy. So if you’re ready to get engaged, than do it. Do what feels right. Just don’t feel pressured to rush into a marraige, you have your whole life ahead of you!!! It sounds like he is a very sweet guy who will wait until you’re ready!! Congrats!

    Good luck and hope this helps

  4. Cinnamon, I agreed with you, UNTIL you said “If you do get married and it doesn’t work out it isn’t a big deal.” It actually IS. Divorce can and WILL wreak havoc on your emotional, physical and psychological health, and it can DESTROY your finances. Women as a group, fare 70% WORSE financially, after a divorce and men, as a group, fare about 34% better financially. Women DO suffer, more than just emotionally. You could end up destitute.

    Plus, if they have kids (which too many kids do before they are sure their spouse or themselves are ready for it) they children can be devastated! It is NOT true that “if I’m happy, my kids will be.” No, kids want their parents, and usually want them together. Children are self absorbed (they are supposed to be and they are also supposed to grow out of it as they get older, although some people do not)

    If there is no violence, children often think divorce is THEIR fault, they miss the absent parent terribly, they feel afraid, left out, lonely, and are more likely to be raised by strangers. THEY are more likely than children from a successful marriage to end up in a broken marriage in their adulthood. Divorce also effects the immune system of the adults and children involved, and more children are living in poverty because of the lack of two parent families than from any other cause.

    Of course, when there is violence, fear and danger, a marriage cannot go on, but to get married with the idea “Oh well, I’ll just ‘get a divorce’ if it doesn’t work out.” Speaks of emotional immaturity, silliness and self absorption. Anyone contemplating marriage with THIS in mind is most likely TOO immature to actually get married and probably KNOWS the person they are intended to is NOT the one for them. Marriage ISN’T a game. It’s the most important life decision you will make. Taking it less than seriously will cause problems you couldn’t imagine.

    If one has too many doubts, don’t just rush in and think you can also get out of it later with NO consequences.

    My Man and I knows a number of people who would like to get divorces, and in this economy cannot afford it, so they are pretty much stuck in a miserable marriage, with no finances to get separate homes or pay for a divorce, and NO ONE does well in situations like this. IF these people had taken marriage more seriously when they first did it, these disasters would not have happened. It ISN’T about the white dress, and the fucking brides maids and their stupid dresses and the big party and the honeymoon, it’s about CHOOSING the person you KNOW you can and will spend the rest of your life with. If you aren’t sure, DO NOT do it.

    The whole “dry run” marriage thing is ridiculous, Second and subsequent marriages are MORE likely to fail than first ones. CHOOSE WISELY the first time, take your time, make sure you have got any running around and partying and fucking your brains out with other people out of your system, KNOW the man is trustworthy, nonviolent, willing to bring in a decent income (or raise children, if you are going to have them, properly by BEING there) and loves you for YOU, have NOTHING about the person you THINK “I can change stuff that bothers me that about him (or her) after we get back from the honeymoon.” (YOU CAN’T.) The things that drive you a little bit crazy before marriage will become your stumbling blocks after the vows are taken so DO NOT get into a LEGAL CONTRACT (which marriage is) with psychological, emotional, physical and financial risk unless you KNOW it will work out.

    If in doubt, continue to DATE. Although some of the best thought out marriages sometimes fail, choosing wisely rarely goes wrong. That means thinking LOGICALLY about your partner to be as well as emotionally.

    There is NO SUCH THING as a “dry run” when it comes to the MOST important decision of your life.

    I’ve been married for more than 20 years, and have been through hell and heaven with this Man, there are no short cuts, and it is not something you “try out.” If one isn’t willing to DO THE HARD WORK to make a relationship work, or even think one’s partner may not be a person one can live with for the rest of one’s life, it isn’t time to get married.

    Off soap box.

  5. You’re still very young so you’re continuing to grow and mature as a person. You and your boyfriend may be right for each other right now, but you (and he) may change. And are you ready for marriage? You may love him and be happy with him, but that doesn’t mean you have to marry him! Sometimes being boyfriend/girlfriend is enough. Marriage can always wait — and if that’s the case, why not just say “no, I’m not ready to be your fiancee (and later wife), but I’m happy being your girlfriend”? Don’t rush anything.

    If you did get married and it didn’t work out, it wouldn’t be a huge deal. There’s no shame in admitting something isn’t working; there’s nothing wrong with getting a divorce. I’ve even heard it been said that a first message is a “dry run” and you’ll be more satisfied next time. This boy isn’t your one chance at happiness; if the two of you don’t work out, you can still find love after that. And you would.

    I’m seventeen myself; my boyfriend is a year older than me. We’ve been together two and a half years and we love each other. But we know that we’re still growing and we spend time apart. He goes to university in a different city (its his first year now) so we only see each other monthly or so. Next year, I’m going to university in my hometown, but he’s going away again for school. We miss each other, but it’s nice to spend more time trying new things, making new friends, and spending time with old friends. It feels good to know I’m developing separately from him; I’m young and I want to gain a greater sense of myself and what I want to do with my life. My boyfriend and I sometimes talk casually or jokingly about marriage and kids and all that jazz, but we aren’t in a hurry to rush anything. We may still be together five years from now, but we may not be. I’m happy to be with him right now, and that’s what matters.

    Don’t rush anything at this point. You’ve got your whole life left to live!

  6. @Kathryn said: “go for it because you only have one chance to love” OMG, such a silly fallacy!

    These 16 yr old girls have been reading too many Romance Novels or watching too much Reality TV.

    There are 6.2 BILLION people on this Earth. There are much more than “one chance” for love.

    The whole idea that “there is only ONE person for each and if you miss a chance with that person you will spend your life alone and miserable” is silly, uninformed and overly childish.

    The OP will have plenty of chances at love. If she and her current lover find each other at a later date and decide then it is still important, then it might work, but she sounds like EVERY OTHER 19 year old who thinks this boy is her “last chance at love.” Live is not a Bronte Novel. You get more than once chance.

    Honey, LIVE your life. There will be many chances. And IF you really need advice, take it from people who have been there and KNOW, not other starry eyed.romance drunk 19 year olds, who have even less experience in the World than you do.

  7. I was in a very similar situation at 18, whereas I had a long distance boyfriend OVERSEAS and would have given anything to just go live w/ HIM instead of going to college. However, I am really glad that circumstances forced me to go to college instead (we did not break up; we were long distance the entire time – 4 years). I had many different roommates, classes and experiences; went to parties on my own. Now that I’m post-graduate, I can honestly say that it was all for the best, no matter how much pain I was in freshman year. College forced me to grow all on my own, without a significant other, and I’m not sure that would have happened had he been with me. I went through lots of amazing experiences that just wouldn’t have happened if he was there. People told me I was immature and closeminded. Though I disagreed with them at the time, I now realize it was true. Based on my own experience, I think you should go through college on your own, but that’s just my take on it. I don’t mean to tell you to break up; but you should definitely have your own living space. It’ll work out for you if it’s meant to, even if you live separately.
    After I finished college, he came to the states on a visa and we were married recently. I’m happy to have stayed in the relationship and feel like I never would have found someone as great, but I also cherish the times I had without him.

  8. Please DO NOT stay with him if he is telling you that you won’t ever find someone else to love you. That is untrue and abusive. But if you work well as a team in the day to day, if you have chemistry, if you communicate well without manipulation or hostility, if you resolve conflicts peacefully and calmly, if your core values are very similar (how you handle stress, money, time, energy, your perspectives on God), these are signs of a good couple. I would recommend that you NOT move in together at this point. If you are going to college, you should have your college years with your college friends, and he can be part of that. If he loves you enough to propose, then he can wait for you, as your boyfriend, until YOU FEEL READY. You seem like you are not sure if you are ready to take this to the next level. HE feels ready. He needs to wait until you are BOTH ready for the next level. In my humble opinion, the next level would be engagement without living together, and then marriage, but BOTH partners have to feel ready for each stage. Studies have consistently shown that couples who lived together before marriage have higher divorce rates than couples who did not live together before marriage. If you are curious about that you can do some research to see what the studies’ researchers cited as the reasons for this result. Best wishes in thinking this through. There is no rush–be at peace.

  9. The world is a big place. Get to know it. Get to know yourself. You have so much to learn, don’t tie yourself down at such a young age. If you love this guy, stay with him, and stay with him as long as he makes you happy. But if you settle down now, you run the risk, ten years down the line, of resenting each other for all the experiences you could have had.

  10. If u said yea that means that u plan to be with this person forever. I kno what ur going through. Im 17 and engaged to a 19 year old. If you know that he is The One that you want to be with then nothing should stop you. But if you think that your not ready to settle down with this guy then let him know instead of stringing him along and letting him think that you want to get married. You either know if he is The One or you dont. But in the end if you guys are meant to be then you two will end up together in the end no matter what.

  11. My daughter is in exactly the same situation (long term BF, she just turned 19) but she (with no small amount of encouragement from mum) is heading to a university in a different Province next year, with the idea being there won’t be any attempt at a long distance relationship. IMO, she needs to date different people, gain a little distance and perspective, and if it is “meant to be” with her long term BF, then I’m sure they’ll find a way to be together later. 18 is much to young to be pressured into an engagement. If you want to live with him, pressure-free, go ahead, but engaged? Doesn’t sound like you’ve had enough different experiences to make that decision.

  12. You do NOT have only one chance at love!! You WILL find that type of happiness again!

    Who makes this stuff up!? Stop filling a young woman’s head with nonsense!

  13. i think that if u have been with him for 3 years and you really love him and you are sure that he wouldnt leave you for something stupid then go for it because you only have one chance to love and be with him and it stay that way. if you to brake up then the next time you too get together it will never be the same

  14. I honestly can’t imagine the place that you’re in. I’m 19 and have been in a series of semi-serious relationships and I wouldn’t give them up for the world. Personally I have had so much fun being intimate with different guys. I’ve met some really amazing people that I wouldn’t have if I stayed with my first boyfriend, and I’ve had some awesome experiences that just wouldn’t have come about if I hadn’t been open to new relationships. Each of the guys I’ve dated taught me something about myself, and I’ve grown into a savvier and independent person because I haven’t been with just one guy.

    That said I do want to say that although I believe getting the chance to get out there and see the world apart from another person has been great for me, I’m not you and I have never been in a really serious relationship. Is it worth it to you to give up your best friend? I don’t know. I only encourage you to consider the future. If you do decide to get engaged (and then married) realize that you are in it for life. You are giving up the chance to let loose and perhaps fall in love with someone besides your boyfriend. Don’t resent your boyfriend later if you feel like you missed out. When you make the choice either way realize you need to commit to it.

  15. Don’t let everyone tell you that you are too immature to understand commitment. It wasn’t that long ago that most women got engaged at your age. Maturity is situational and is not really comparable between people by age. I met my now fiancee at 18 and we were engaged after 2 1/2 years. It was my first relationship, and I am 100% sure that it will be my last. Of course I didn’t plan my life to go; I’d originally expected to date a number of men. After dating my fiance for a while though, I no longer had a choice — I knew I could not ever live without him. I am completely confident about committing to this man at a young age and as my first relationship. Perhaps though, if you are not so confident about the relationship, then it is a sign that you should not be getting engaged. The whole, “if you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t be doing it”, thing comes into play. Are you thinking about getting engaged to this guy just because you want to live with him now, and not because you know you NEED to be with him forever?

  16. I was in a similar situation and I’m now divorced. I won’t patronize you and say that you are too young to be in love, but I can tell you that until my divorce at the age of 34, I had only lived with my parents and my husband and I felt that I needed a chance to finally grow up on my own. I am not saying that you should have torrid affairs, or that you even need to break up with your boyfriend, but I do think that going off to college, living in a dorm or with room mates or whatever is an essential life experience that you may later regret giving up.

  17. Everybody has different needs. I started dating the man I eventually married at the age of 16. However, after less than a year together, we decided to have an Open Relationship. The main reason was, as I was young and inexperienced, and he had some experience, but not as much as he desired, we didn’t want to end up, 25 years later going, “What did we miss out on?” And start trying to FIND OUT after marriage, kids, etc.

    We still saw each other, but also saw other people, and it satisfied a lot of curiosity etc. Neither of us has been unfaithful in our 2 decades plus of monogamy. I can’t say that would have happened if we hadn’t had the time to play around. It takes a LOT of inner examining to say, “I love him, and he loves me, but I am just too young to really know what I will want 20 years from now.” And then follow through with it. It was hard at first, as most of my friends had full time “boyfriends” but virtually none of them are still together, and some of the ones who attempted to marry with little or no experience with other people went through HORRIBLE divorces. And usually with kids involved.

    It worked out for us, but if we had grown apart, at least we would have found out BEFORE we did anything permanent and legal and expensive (divorces are expensive!) Our kids will never have to worry about the pain of Mommy and Daddy not loving each other (I saw my parents go through a divorce and it SUCKED!) and I am glad we had the courage to go through the Open Relationship, despite the obvious lack of support from most of our friends.

    Not being exclusive was the best thing for us, until I was finished with college (he finished before I did) then we decided we had sowed our wild oats and could settle down and not feel we had missed anything.

    It worked for us. It may or may not work for you. I know I am a different person than I was at 16 or 18, and I am pretty sure if we had been monogamous that young, it would have imploded.

    Your mileage may vary.

  18. Don’t do it. Go to college, or save some money and go backpacking or something. You’re young. It’s a big world. See what’s out there.

  19. Why rush to move in together and get engaged?

    I will be the last one to tell you that you’re too young to be in love, or that you need to break up with him and have a series of torrid affairs in order to be happy–it would be hypocritical of me. I’ve only had one serious relationship. I’m twenty-two years old, in the fourth year of a serious relationship.
    But I wouldn’t have wanted to live with my boyfriend during college. College is a time to cultivate yourself as an individual. This is possibly easiest if you’re totally single, still quite possible if you’re in a steady relationship but with ample time and space that is totally yours, but becomes quite difficult, I should think, when you share every space, every moment, with someone you define as part of yourself. Besides, when young people first move out of their homes and into their first co-habitations, they’re probably going to go through an awkward phase of how to be a good roommate. Better to inflict that on a stranger than to let it put even more stress on a still very young relationship with it–especially since you would both have such high expectations of each other!

    I was a mature eighteen year old. But I was far less mature then than I am now–and that’s not something I would have been able to see at 18. I’m glad that I’ve had the time to grow and mature as an individual as well as in my relationship.

    I’ll finish this by echoing others who have said: “You have plenty of time. Why not take it?”

  20. I have to agree with Quite Contrary: engagement to me means in the process of planning the wedding. Don’t get engaged if you’re not sure you want to get married.
    Just curious: Is it really a choice between getting engaged or breaking up? Why isn’t there a third option where you and he wait until you’re both ready to take the next step?

    I’ve been involved a serious relationship for 6 years now–since I was your age. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, have talked about marriage, broke up, got back together, moved in with each other, had more ups and downs, are currently very happy and back to talking about marriage…in a few more years. My point? We’ve done an awful lot of growing up, growing apart and growing together (I’ve heard that’s what your twenties are for.) I can’t picture things turning out this well if I’d said ‘hell yeah’ to getting hitched back when we were 20. He and I agree that the intervening years, the time spent figuring out what we want and who we are, have only helped our relationship.
    I’m not suggesting that you need to have other relationships or spend time apart to know what you really want–everyone’s different. But why rush, especially if you’re so firmly on the fence at the moment that you reached out to em&lo. You have plenty of time. Why not take it?

  21. I am in almost the same boat as you, except I’ve been with my boyfriend for 5 years (since we were 15 & 16).
    I love my boyfriend with all my heart, he is everything I would ever want in a man and I know he feels the same about me.
    But we have decided to keep doing what we’re doing for now, just taking it slow. There’s been talks of marriage, but we both have agreed that it may or may not happen in the future. He’s been considering moving in with me, but hasn’t yet because the rent would almost be double what he’s paying now…

    Anyways, someone who (kind of) knows where you’re coming from, I would say just take it easy. If you want to move in with him, great! If not (or not yet), that’s fine too. Same goes for the whole fiancée thing. It will probably help your relationship to do what YOU want, make compromises, and just take it easy. After all, you’re so young, you have so much time to make tough decisions like this 🙂

  22. I honestly can’t imagine the place that you’re in. I’m 19 and have been in a series of semi-serious relationships and I wouldn’t give them up for the world. Personally I have had so much fun being intimate with different guys. I’ve met some really amazing people that I wouldn’t have if I stayed with my first boyfriend, and I’ve had some awesome experiences that just wouldn’t have come about if I hadn’t been open to new relationships. Each of the guys I’ve dated taught me something about myself, and I’ve grown into a savvier and independent person because I haven’t been with just one guy.

    That said I do want to say that although I believe getting the chance to get out there and see the world apart from another person has been great for me, I’m not you and I have never been in a really serious relationship. Is it worth it to you to give up your best friend? I don’t know. I only encourage you to consider the future. If you do decide to get engaged (and then married) realize that you are in it for life. You are giving up the chance to let loose and perhaps fall in love with someone besides your boyfriend. Don’t resent your boyfriend later if you feel like you missed out. When you make the choice either way realize you need to commit to it.

  23. You either know or you don’t. Don’t listen to anyone who says you need to run around and ‘have fun’. It’s over-rated. If he truly is your best friend and you feel you communicate well and everything is clicking there is no sense to abandon that for some ‘what if’.

    Because if you do abandon it, and the ‘what ifs’ are a bunch of assholes and you’re never as happy as you were, there will be no going back no matter what you two tell each other.

    I’ve got friends married almost 25 years now that were friends as young teenagers. They are happy now as they were then. It happens all the time. Others have to wait until their mid 20s or later to find that kind of happiness, and some never do because they’re always looking for ‘the perfect’ one.

    (I’m 38, Married since ’97 and still very happy)

  24. Don’t know about you, but “fiancee” means someone with the intent to marry. Perhaps, for social reasons, you need this type of cover story to be able to live together without criticism. However, as soon as you tell people you’re engaged, you’ll never get away from them asking when the wedding date is. Whether you want to live with this guy is a separate issue. But if you decide to move in, let it be to live with him. If you decide to take the name of fiancee, let it be because you’re planning a big party with rings and a license involved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *