July 13, 2017 at 2:23 pm EST | by Michael Radkowsky
Marriage or mistake?
marry too young, gay news, Washington Blade

There is always the potential for challenge in a relationship.

Michael,
 
My girlfriend asked me to marry her and I said yes. But I’m having second thoughts and don’t know what to do.
 
Although I love Allie, she is the only woman I’ve ever dated. I’m in my 20s and dated men until I met Allie two years ago. I’m not doubting a bit that I want to be with a woman. I’m just scared it’s a bad idea to commit to the only woman I’ve been with. I am definitely having major FOMO (fear of missing out).
 
How can I decide that this one woman, amazing as she is, is the person to spend the rest of my life with?
 
Everything between us is great. We get along super well, we’re there for each other, like each other’s friends and family, have a ton in common, laugh all the time. Sex is good. I could go on and on. But for gosh sakes, she is the first woman I’ve dated.
 
One other thing — sometimes I think that with all the attractive women out there, it would be a shame to retire prematurely without having had a little more fun. Is that terrible?
 
I did test the water on that one with Allie and she isn’t interested in having a non-monogamous relationship. And actually, neither am I. It’s not like I want to sleep with other women when I am married — I just wish I’d had more time before committing.
 
Anyhow, your thoughts about my dilemma would be appreciated, as well as any paths to clarity.

Michael replies:

How can any of us ever know that the person we choose to be with is the best person for us? Great question.

Of course we can’t. Theoretically there might be someone out there in the world (even more than one!) with whom you would be better matched. But of course, there isn’t time or a means by which to meet, much less date, every potential candidate. And how would you measure “best fit”? Not to mention that you wouldn’t get to keep all the possibilities on hold until you made your pick.

So I’d like to suggest you modify your question and instead ask, is Allie a great person for me to share my life with? Yes, there might be others out there, but Allie is the woman you came across and with whom you are building a life.

All of the strengths you describe are helpful for having a successful relationship. Humor, mutual support, common interests, shared values and attraction are all important. But there is one more quality I would add: Do you challenge each other?

From all my years as a couples therapist (and a 25-year relationship!) here’s what I’ve learned: One of the greatest things about being partnered is that a relationship can push us to grow beyond our limitations in all sorts of ways.

Whether it’s considering a radically different viewpoint, having to speak up about a difficult subject, being forced to decide what is most important to us in life, figuring out how to tolerate big differences between you and your partner, learning to accept major disappointments, just to name a few, relationships give us one opportunity after another to become more resilient and more interesting individuals.

Non-partnered readers, do not despair. Many life experiences can give us such opportunities.

Do you think that you and Allie are partners who will challenge each other in this way?

I’m guessing that the answer is yes, simply because you talked with Allie about your interest in sex with other women, which is not an easy conversation for many people to have. If you’re able to speak with each other about hard topics, then you and Allie are letting your relationship and your partner push you to be stronger.

But if you feel like your relationship is all coziness and no challenge and are looking to push yourself and make life more interesting, start paying attention to what you would rather not deal with. And then start dealing with it. Whether it’s a tough discussion with Allie or a confrontation with yourself about how you are handling some thorny matter, there is always the potential for challenge in a relationship.

Because you cannot both be with Allie and have sex with the gorgeous women you may come across going forward, you will have to decide which of these is most important to you.

See how being faced with decisions such as this, as you go through life with Allie, will help you to define who you are and how you want to live? Then you can see how your relationship challenges you to grow.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with LGBT couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.

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