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Because I Have Already Solved the World’s Foundation Problems

By Amalah

Hi Amy,
I’m a 21 year old woman in college in Washington D.C. I’m currently dating a 23-year-old man who is working at a media company in the D.C. area. This is the first relationship for both of us. We’ve been together for 15 months and on paper we’re the perfect couple. He treats me extremely well, planning little surprises, is always there for me when I need him etc. I try to be the same for him. When I have a problem or good news to report, he’s the first one I call and vice versa. We love each other a lot and get along very well.
And yet, I constantly have doubts. Every two or three months, I have doubts about our relationship. Either my doubts are sexual (that our sexual life isn’t as great as it used to be or that I’m not interested in it anymore) or I’m concerned that he isn’t “the one” or I’m concerned that maybe I ought to have dated more before committing to one person. Sometimes I feel as if he is too emotionally needy and doesn’t give me enough space. (He’s gotten better at that and doesn’t get as upset as he used to when we can’t hang out.) It annoys me that he’s more emotionally needy than I am — it makes me feel like he’s not masculine enough. Moreover, I am currently in India, visiting my parents, and although he says he misses me like crazy, I’ve had uneven feelings. On the plane ride over, I was in tears over leaving him behind. Then for the first week I was in India, I didn’t think of him much at all. Then I started to miss him a little. Then we considered breaking up and I feel that doing so would be the biggest mistake ever.
We’ve almost broken up several times, nearly once every three or four months. Then we always pull back because we feel as if we don’t have any legitimate reason to end it. Then we have another great four months before I start feeling it won’t work. I’m a worry wart in general.
Prior to dating this man, I was briefly involved with another man, who was a friend. After a brief sexual involvement, he cut me off and then began to see another woman who happened to be an acquaintance of mine. I felt (and still feel) hurt and betrayed by that experience. Is this the reason why I’m pushing away my current partner, even though he’s fantastic in every way? Can my relationship be saved?
I hope you can help,

(Well. This is a nice break from all the foundation brush talk, no?)
Really, I think your entire letter boils down to this one sentence: We always pull back because we feel as if we don’t have any legitimate reason to end it.
Point one, I think it would be much, much better to stay together because you have legitimate reasons for WANTING TO BE TOGETHER. Not because you aren’t sure if your reasons for not being completely happy with him are the right reasons.
Point two, you named some very legitimate reasons for why you aren’t completely happy with him. They may not be everybody’s reasons for wanting out of a relationship, but they are yours, and I don’t think you should doubt yourself so much. Leave all the crap about past relationships and your “worry wart” characterization of yourself aside and re-read what you’ve typed here.
You aren’t interested in sex. You feel smothered. You aren’t sure you’re ready for a long-term commitment (and I am guessing he is?). You didn’t miss him all that much in India. You just aren’t sure if he’s the right guy for you, but you’re maybe a little too afraid of being hurt again to be single.
Those are legitimate reasons for re-examining this “paper perfect” relationship. Are they the be-all end-all nails in the relationship coffin? Maybe not. You’re the only one who can make that call. Maybe you guys need an honest-to-God break to see if it really IS the worst mistake ever. Maybe by giving yourself permission to admit that things aren’t perfect, and that you aren’t being unreasonable for not being as into him as you feel you “should” be, you’ll be able to be more honest with him and work through some things.
I mean,

Published August 22, 2006. Last updated August 22, 2006.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Zoot

    August 23, 2006 at 9:37 am

    Dear amalah – thank you for setting the record straight regarding registries. Amen. Hallelujah. Right On.
    Also? One cool idea I heard one time that I totally did for my sons FIRST birthday but never again because I’m lazy? Send thank-you cards for gifts along with pictures of your child WITH the gift. How cute is that?
    Yeah. So cute I only did it one year. But still! Every year I have the intention to do it again! I swear!

  • mdvelazquez

    August 23, 2006 at 9:51 am

    Ditto what Zoot said. That zealous registering is T-A-C-K-Y in MHO!! Registering for weddings and babies don’t bother me, even though I refused to register when I got married because I have issues about asking for things and accpeting gifts graciously.
    Zoot, that is a wonderful thank you idea.

  • Anne Glamore

    August 23, 2006 at 10:10 am

    Zoot- that IS a great idea. I don’t think I could manage it for anyone other than grandparents but still- cute!
    And acne: I about fell out when my 10 yr old started showing signs. And I’m almost 40 and still fighting the battle,along with wrinkles. We’re going to the doc, STAT! You’ve convinced me we can’t do it alone. (Also, I can just look in the mirror).


    August 23, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Weddings, Baby showers, birthday, housewarmings are not gift grabs. Thank you for pointing that out. I wish more people got it.
    I got so many comments about how I needed to add things to my baby registery so that people could have more stuff to buy me. Or register for a pack n play, even if you don’t want one so people will give you gift cards. It’s not about the presents, it’s about the cake, no wait, the guests.
    And do not put the registery information on invitations or with a card insert. Just because a store offers them to you, does not mean you need you use them. When people RSVP (which is another can of etiquette worms) is when they ask where you are registered, and you can go online and search at the usual suspects easily anyway.

  • AmyW

    August 23, 2006 at 10:46 am

    For the 21yr old in DC–This is just my opinion, but I would date other men. If you have any doubts in your mind about your current fellow–he is not the one. Don’t settle. You mentioned traits that may or may not change. If you ignore the traits that annoy/worry you you will probably blow-up on him every now and again. Sounds like your true opinion of him is he is a nice guy..but is not the man for you. When you find the right man you will be 100% sure.

  • Isabel

    August 23, 2006 at 11:24 am

    Amalah, as always…love the Smackdown.
    I also love the free compact you get when you buy a gift card at Sephora. They gave me one for myself and one for the person the card was for. How awesome is that? (it’s very awesome.)
    I think I need to dig my eyelash curler out of the back of the vanity and try it again. Sounds like I was using it wrong all those years. Good to know…

  • mdvelazquez

    August 23, 2006 at 11:31 am

    Oh yes, Mrs. CPA. I hosted a baby shower for a friend and only received two RSVPs. Sixty people attended. Rude, very, very rude!

  • queenann

    August 23, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    About youngsters with acne- I am very blonde & fair w/ sensitive skin and started getting oil & cystic acne at 10!!! Amy is absolutely right about going to a dermatologist- I have NO acne scars and get complemented on my skin all the time. It is worth the initial investment (although it can often be covered by insurance) when you think about the lifetime of products to purchase!

  • robin m

    August 23, 2006 at 12:58 pm has a great, inexpensive regimen that I wish I would have started using when I was a pre-teen.
    I did go to the dermatologist for years but I do have scarring :(.

  • kentucky_kitty

    August 24, 2006 at 11:22 am

    Great! Now I’m going to be laughing about “old-tymey gynecological tool” for the rest of the day! 🙂

  • anony_miss

    August 24, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Re: skincare. Completely seconding the derm route. Also, there’s a lot of books on skin conditions out there. Perhaps doing some research will also help you be more educated on which ingredients and products you should be using, as well as what factors in your daughter’s lives are contributing to it (um, hormones going crazy). Also, OIL-FREE sunscreen and other facial care products.

  • kalisah

    August 24, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    When I read ahead on the eyelash curler entry (I can’t help it) and saw “Eyelash bugs” I thought you were going to give a big warning about not putting your mascara on until AFTER you curl your lashes so you don’t get those big spider-leg lashes. But then I remembered you weren’t a teenager in the mid-80s. I’m not even sure if you were born in the mid-80s.