DEAR KELLY: I’m a senior in high school and I fell in love with the wrong guy. I feel so bad but I don’t know what to do. I really just want to be single and not have to worry about anyone else and if they are mad or hurt. We’ve been together for over a year and now that we’re seniors he always talks about “our plans” for things like senior ball, senior trip, etc … so breaking up with him would probably kill him because I know he wouldn’t see it coming.
He doesn’t have a very good family – they’re nice but weird in a way that doesn’t really celebrate birthdays or holidays or other things the way most families do, so he’s become pretty attached to my family because he has spent a lot of time at my house over the past year. My dad has taking him fishing and pheasant hunting a few times and to some sporting events and my BF says things like, “Your dad feels like more of a dad to me than my own,” so then I feel really guilty for wanting to break up.
I know I can always just wait until we go away for college and then have the natural breakup, but I feel like I’ll look back on my senior year with regret because I didn’t have the fun I wanted.
If I break up with him now, I think it will be super hard and cause a lot of drama with our friends because I don’t think he’ll take it well and I think people will think I’m mean or wrong for ending it now after being together for so long. And our friend group is all the same people, so I think I could even lose some friends over this. Do you see how stuck I am? There is no happy way to end this.
I wish we could just be friends and still hang out with all the same people. I wouldn’t even mind if he still came over to visit since my family likes him. I’m so confused and scared if I do the wrong thing either way my whole senior year will be ruined.
– Stuck Senior In Sac
DEAR STUCK SENIOR: Feeling stuck is just a state of mind and you are trying to consider everyone else’s feelings instead of listening to yourself. We all have an inner GPS that is intended to guide us, direct our decisions and navigate us through times like this. Unfortunately, you seem to have turned off your GPS and are letting the feelings of others guide you on a road you no longer wish to travel. It’s time to switch it back on and start paying attention to the directions you are giving to yourself to guide you on your next action that will lead you to a better place emotionally.
Sometimes it’s hard to accept what our mind is telling us (“Take the easy way and just stay together until you leave for college”) and what our heart is saying. This is what makes you feel like you are at a crossroads and don’t know which way to go. The feeling of being stuck is more about your own inner feelings that the actual situation.
Let’s start with the obvious. Your feelings are normal, in so many ways. Teenage relationships aren’t intended to last forever. That’s part of the growing process. You fell in love and now you no longer feel the same. After a year of being together you are ready to move on. The problem is that you are letting fear stop you from moving forward. You are afraid of hurting him and your friends instead of doing what is right for you.
Breaking up takes courage. You have it, you’re just not using it. Doing something that takes courage means trusting yourself to make the right decision and knowing that whatever comes your way, you can handle it. It might not be pretty and it might be painful, but it’s the best thing for you. Do what’s right, not what’s popular.
You are absolutely correct that if you don’t break up now, you could live with regret on something you can never go back and do again. High school does not offer do-overs. You still have time to have fun in your senior year as a single person and insure yourself to no longer live with the “what-if’s” by taking the leap and trusting yourself.
Just because you break up with him doesn’t mean he can’t still come over as a friend or hang out with your dad. If he still feels like he loves you, this could be hard for him and he might be more angry and hurt in the beginning. Be prepared for that.
Listen to your GPS. Trust yourself. Stop allowing fear to hold you back from where you want to go. Walking into our fears is rarely as bad as we imagine it will be. If your friends can’t handle the fact that you were ready to move on and be single, find new friends who will support you and your choices.
You are ready to be single. Take the leap and trust the process.
Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.