Dear Em & Lo: Should I Break Up with My Boyfriend?

two_boyfriends_tshirtphoto by MyLifeStory

Dear Em & Lo,

I am 23 years old and Aiden, my boyfriend of four years, and I are currently four months into a long distance relationship until I graduate from my university this summer and move across the country to be with him. I recently connected with Josh, a guy that I was seeing five years ago. Back then, Josh and I never went any farther than making out and never dated since he graduated from our university soon after we met. We reconnected and I am really into him. I spend more time talking to Josh than Aiden and we have a lot of things in common. One night and several drinks later Josh and I ended up making out. I have never cheated on my boyfriend before, but instead of feeling guilty about cheating on him, weeks later I can’t seem to get Josh off of my mind. I’ve been in two long term relationships since I was 15 (the first boyfriend was for 3 years) and I haven’t been single for more than a few months since the time I’ve been allowed to date. Aiden wants to propose and I’m not ready for it, but I don’t know how to tell him this without hurting him. Overall, he is everything I want in a man but he doesn’t know how to satisfy me sexually anymore and has gotten really lazy in the bed room despite the fact that I tell him about this a lot. I also feel really inexperienced because I’ve only been with two guys my entire life. How do I know my current fling with Josh isn’t just lust? Do I just have expiration dates on guys of about three – four years? How do you know if you should end a long relationship to move on?

— Torn

Dear Torn,

Let’s just review:

  • You’re 23.
  • You’re in college.
  • You’re in a long-distance relationship while you’re 23 and in college.
  • You feel like being with only two people makes you “inexperienced.”
  • You’ve never really been single.
  • Your boyfriend, who we’re assuming is also in his early 20s, has gotten lazy about sex?!?
  • You cheated and can’t stop thinking about the other guy.

This is an easy one: it’s time to break up (or at least take a break). You’ve got a lot of living to do and you certainly aren’t ready to get married. We’re not suggesting that there’s something inherently wrong with getting married young or with only being sexually intimate with two people — for some people, that works. But if the tone of your email is any indication, it’s not going to work for you…

Don’t feel pressured to stay in this relationship because you feel guilty about cheating, or because you feel like you’ve already invested so much time in this relationship, or because Aiden is a great guy. He’s just not great for you — at least not right now.

The only fair thing to do — for both you and Aiden — is to tell him you need to take a break from the relationship (which means the possibility of seeing other people, for both of you). He may break up with you right then and there. You guys may break up permanently in a few months. You might get back together ten months or ten years from now, when you’ve both dated other people and realized that you were in fact meant to be together. Or maybe you’ll meet someone who convinces you that breaking up with Aiden was the best thing you could have ever done. Maybe just being alone for a while will convince you of this. Just give yourself a chance to try something new.

Tough love,
Em & Lo


  1. Thanks for the response. I think your answer was what I’ve known all along, but have never had the guts to do. I think it would be more fair to Aiden rather than going behind his back.

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