Commitment Issues; Right Guy at the Wrong Time

Chloe X is a quarterlifer who will gladly answer questions from other quarterlifers (18- to 30-year-olds) about love, sex, jobs, money, friendships, and family woes. Email lifequandaries

How Long Till I Screw Up Again?

Dear Chloe,
I’ve been seeing this guy for a little over a month, and things are going really well, which is unusual for me. I have a history of being bad at commitment, as I’m not a very good communicator and I tend to get sick of people quickly. However, with him it’s different. I can hang out with him constantly and not get tired of him, and when we’re not together I can’t stop thinking about him. I’m trying to just be happy with how we are right now, but I can’t help but worry that I’m going to screw things up. How can I just chill out and enjoy being happy for once?  —Is This The Real Deal?

Dear Real Deal,
Ah, the inevitable beginning-of-a-relationship freakout has begun! “Where is this going? Why aren’t I annoyed yet? What does that mean?” It’s something even the most sane of us have been through.

First of all, congrats on finding someone with whom you feel comfortable and who allows you to be yourself and open your heart at your own pace. Though you may consider yourself a commitment-phobe, it could also be that the previous guys you dated were just not right for you! You were never invested enough in any of those “wrong fits” to work on communication, compromise, and all those other irksome and unavoidable relationship elements. Now, it appears you are, so this could be a huge opportunity to work through some of those things you never had to face before.
The best advice I have is to stop looking at this with a finish line in mind. One thing you can be sure of is that you never know what will happen in life. Deal with what comes next when it comes; otherwise, you’ll drive yourself crazy with what-ifs. That being said, there’s nary a woman I know who doesn’t over-analyze her love life at some point. And it would be extra hard not to worry about it when nothing has ever worked out before.

Try to relax and enjoy your time with this guy who’s shaken your paradigm. Part of what’s so exciting about relationships is that they bring out sides of us we never knew we had, breaking our black-and-white, cleanly categorized self-perceptions. Don’t let yourself sabotage what could turn out to be a wonderful thing by creating drama where none exists. And if things go awry, at least you will have challenged yourself by letting someone in, and you’ll know that you’d be capable of doing so again. So take a deep breath, trust that it’ll all work out as it’s meant to, and enjoy the ride!

Too Soon for the Right Guy?

Dear Chloe,
Months ago I asked the universe to help make my dream guy a reality. I made a well-rounded list of all the qualities I was looking for and—lo and behold—there he was. The only criteria I forgot to include? Available. Now, as I’m nursing my injured heart (and after I added that tiny detail to my list), there’s a new guy in the picture—an amazing, too-good-to-be-true type that I really don’t want to lose. He’s moving full-steam ahead, but I’m not sure I’m ready to let myself fall again. What do you do when something perfect comes along but you’re not in the best place emotionally to deal with it?
—Be Careful What You Wish For

Dear Careful,
Boy, if I had a dollar for every time I thought, “As soon as I get my house organized, sleep 8 hours a night, lose 5 pounds, and feel balanced and healthy in every aspect of my life, then I’ll be ready for Mr. Right to come my way,” I wouldn’t be carrying the credit card balance that I do.

Yes, of course, there is merit to the idea of wanting to be emotionally stable before plunging into a new relationship, but there is also the fact to consider that sometimes, when you least expect it, someone fabulous will pop into your life with no warning. And what can you do? You’ll never have all your ducks in a row.

People are put into our path for a reason. Sometimes it’s to show us that we want something different than what we have, sometimes it’s to remind us that we’re better off alone for the moment, and sometimes, it’s to present us with exactly the person we need, whether we think we’re ready or not. If this guy is “perfect,” as you say (just wait, I’m sure his flaws will be revealed), then he should understand if you need to take things slowly. You have the right to give yourself space and time to deal with being hurt by the last guy—in fact, you owe it to yourself so you won’t drag your issues and hurt feelings into the new relationship.

So I say, go for it! Take it slow, let yourself take the time you need, and if this guy is so wonderful, he’ll be there patiently supporting you along the way.

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