First Love – Knowing When to Let Go

I’m 16. My boyfriend will not spend any time with me anymore, and it really hurts me because he puts everything in his life before me. I don’t know why he cares so little when he says that he loves me.

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Let me go out on a limb here: you started dating a guy you really liked. He was wonderful. He made you feel special. He told you he loved you, he gave you gifts, and he was very affectionate. You did really fun things together and you felt wonderful. The two of you became physically involved. It seemed really right at the time. Now he seems distant, and you feel used, insecure, lonely, and confused. This is a very common scenario.

The high school and college years are an incredible time of exploration. Life is filled with options. You have new freedoms and opportunities, limitless energy, and raging hormones. This combination is exhilarating and dangerous. The exhilaration is obvious; the danger is not.

Of course there are all the dangers everyone talks about: drug addiction, HIV, unwanted pregnancy, etc. But there is another danger that most people miss: the danger of getting stuck in the wrong relationship.

I’m not saying that your relationship with your boyfriend is wrong. But I am saying that you need to be clear about what you want out of a relationship. From your question, I can tell you want a boyfriend who likes to spend time with you. You want someone who puts you ahead of other things in his life. If you’ve talked with your boyfriend about what you want, and he isn’t responding, then perhaps this is not the right relationship for you. Or at least this is not the right relationship for you at this time. Don’t spend your energy trying to change someone else. You can’t control him, but you can take control of your own life. Above all, stay true to yourself and what you want out of a partner. A relationship is about both parties staying true to themselves while caring for each other. One of the reasons that divorce is so common among adults is that both people in the marriage didn’t learn these lessons as teenagers. All too often, one of the individuals in the relationship attempts to give up things that are important in order to gain the other’s love. As time goes by, this loss is greater than can be tolerated, and divorce seems to be the only way back to finding one’ s true self.

As painful as a breakup is, it is still far better to face what you really have and to deal with it, than to keep trying to make something work out of a situation that just doesn’t feel right. The longer you wait, the more painful it is likely to be. Next time around, look for a guy who wants the same thing out of a relationship that you want. In the long run, you will be much happier.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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