How to Strengthen Your Relationship/One-year mark
My boyfriend and I (17 and 18) are approaching our 1-year-of-dating anniversary and I feel we have hit a rough patch. Is this normal for this point in our relationship?
The 'honeymoon' stage is definitely over - the romance, the excessive expressions of love and care, and some of the intimacy. He is widening his friendship group, focusing very hard on his work and study, and making plans that don't involve me (like a volunteer-holiday with his classmates.) While I realise all of these are healthy behaviours, I am personally (selfishly) struggling with it. I still want to be his 'first priority' and need constant reassurance of his love for me. Will I move on from this stage? Will I too become ready for some space? And be comfortable giving him his?
Thank you in advance.
The problem is that preparing for that life time partner requires that you go through steps. Just like learning to walk--first you roll over, then you creep and crawl, then you pull yourself up and then you walk. If you do not go through the steps to preparing for a great marriage and family you need to go through steps. If you try to skip steps of the natural progression to this then it catches up with you later.
Getting into exclusive relationships before you are ready for marriage means that you are skipping necessary steps for happiness. Teenage and early adult years are meant for a period of time when you are exploring life and determining who you are and what you want out of life. The only way you can do this is be free to meet and date various people so that you have some comparison. Also, you learn from others what you do want and don't want. If a person is not free to experience searching, looking and comparing then later on after they have three kids, bills, and into problems of various kinds they start to thinking of how they missed out on being free to explore life. They feel like they have been tied down all their lives. People also change a lot during these years of discovery, and friends of all kinds often grow in different directions.
This constant reassurance that you need comes from a lack of self-confidence and doubts that you can handle life on your own. That is why it is important to develop your talents, get your education and become independent--learn how to be happy on your own before you settle into a committed relationship. You also should be exporing life at this point.
Now, there is never any progress without pain. When you become attached to someone it is painful to let go but if you are smart you will do that so that both of you can have space to grow. A good life has to be planned. This means that you need to be thinking about what you want to do with your life, independently of anyone else. The more whole you are the more lasting a relationship will be when you have learned happiness and satisfaction independently.
Exclusive dating at this age often leads to pregnancy before you are ready emotionally and financially and before you are ready to create a good, solid home for children. Look around you. Those who wait until they are ready for marriage and have a financial foundation, as well as confidence in who they are and what they want out of life, do better all the way around in life and have more lasting marriages and a greater family life.
If you try to hold your boyfriend down he will come to resent you so perhaps it is time for both of you to become more independent and have more space to explore and grow. Yes, there will be some pain, but if you are smart you will not try to hold on through force, which never works. Love must flow freely. If you let him have more space and take some space for yourself as you grow, later you will attract that man who will put you first as a priority when he is ready to settle down. Or, your boyfriend will return fully committed.
Hope this helps and that you develop a great life for yourself and future children.