Q: I'm 20 years old and have been dating my girlfriend for two years. We are in a same-sex relationship and I was her first and only woman. She was one of my first female experiences, but after dating for six months, we both went to college where I cheated on her several times with different girls. I broke her heart and we separated for a few months but got back together as soon as we saw each other again. Since getting back together our relationship has been incredibly strong and we've both been loyal.
We both suffer from mental disorders that can mesh in negative ways. She suffers from depression and an eating disorder, often feeling incredibly insecure. Sometimes she tells me I am the only person who makes her feel important and validated. I suffer from a form of bipolar disorder which leads me to externalize issues that can feed her insecurities.
She is the love of my life. When I am with her it is the only time I feel true relief from my own demons.
We have been long distance for the greater part of our relationship and the only way we get through it is because we know we want to spend the rest of our lives together. We talk about our future together and that gives us hope to get through these difficult years. But still I have doubts.
Sometimes I feel like I'm giving something up. In my life at college, and by limiting myself so early to just one person. I have difficulty being close to people I am not sleeping with, and am afraid my experiences with the world and people will be squandered if I don't have the opportunity to explore. Lately I've been feeling the urge to cheat again.
I can't imagine my life without her and feel like my disorder is instigating destructive behaviors because of my instinct to escape from things that tie me to reality and stability.
I don't know if this is all in my head, or if maybe I shouldn't be with her, but the thought of losing her is too much for me to bear.
I don't know if I should indulge just to see how I feel, or stay loyal and feel repressed.
– Confused in the Head, NY
A: I assume you've talked to a professional about all of this, yes? You must keep your doctors in the loop.
Also, you need to be single. You're in a long-distance relationship but you want to cheat. That's no good. More importantly, you both need to be able to exist as independent adults. These things that you're saying -- that you're what she needs to feel good about herself and that she keeps your demons away -- they're of cause for concern. Romantic partners support us, but they don't define us or make it possible for us to live. This relationship has become too important (and too dramatic), and it just doesn’t make sense.
My advice is to talk to her about separating so that you can learn to live on your own. You don't have to tell her that you want to sleep with other people. This is about learning to be happy no matter who's standing next to you.
You're 20. You're an adult. I don't want you guys standing in each other's way. That's all you're really doing right now. It's time for independence.
Readers? Should they be together right now? Why does she want to cheat? Are they good together? Any reason to feel repressed at 20? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.