Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: How does one live happily with a partner without feeling like he/she is settling? I’d love to feel content and stable, but I still find myself comparing my two-year girlfriend to other women I meet. I feel terrible, but it’s generally subconscious, and I don’t know what to do about it.
I’m sure this would only get worse the longer we’re together, and it’s been relatively consistent in past relationships, too. I don’t want it to be a strain on whatever ends up as my lifetime partnership. Any advice?
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CAROLYN RESPONDS: I’m going to go all simplistic here and say you’re not ready for a lifetime partnership, and possibly not even for exclusive dating. Nothing wrong with that, though, as long as you don’t mislead yourself or others about your intent.
I also can’t tell you whether you’re not ready inside or whether you just haven’t met someone well-suited to you – not enough information – but I can say that it’s best just to date, honestly and as noncommittally as you feel comfortable doing, until you see a lifetime partnership as something natural and welcome, vs. a reluctant closing-off of your options.
“ANONYMOUS” CHIMES IN: Are you a “grass is always greener” kind of person in other places? I had a friend who could never be happy at one party because he was always worried that the other one might have been even better. I pointed out that he would never know if the other party was better, but he was killing enjoyment of the better party if he was at it. And that either could actually become the better if he was enjoying himself. He told me later that it was a light bulb moment for him.
Email Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax.