Why Don't My Relationships Last?


Carla Barnhill offers helpful advice on how to make your relationships sustainable and healthy.

Q. I'm 17, and I've had a lot of boyfriends. But I've never been in love, and none of those relationships have lasted. The longest one was about two weeks. All I want is someone who cares for me, and someone I care for, but these relationships go stale in such a short time. If my life stays this way, I'll never get married. Why can't I keep a guy? What's wrong with me?

A. It sounds like you've got a lot on your mind. Let's start with the assumption that your dating life at 17 is an indicator of your dating life forever. It's not, mainly because at 17, both you and the guys you go out with are not ready to commit your lives to each other. In high school, dating is about getting to know people and learning about yourself. It's about learning how to treat people with care, and thinking about what's important to you in a close friendship. Eventually, when you're old enough to seriously consider marriage, you'll know about your strengths and weaknesses, and you'll have a better idea of what's important to you in a spouse.

Although you'll probably have lots of strong emotions about people you like, you aren't necessarily supposed to fall in love in high school—and certainly not in two weeks. It's OK to test the dating waters a bit by going out with a few different people. So you need to readjust your expectations for what dating is all about at this point in your life.

At the same time, I think you're right to be concerned about how quickly you seem to go through boyfriends. I'm curious about how you decide which boys to date. I'd encourage you to only date guys who are committed Christians. Then, I'd encourage you to look for things you have in common: common values, common interests, common anything. If a relationship is going to move forward (and last beyond two weeks), you will need to have some things in common. Start developing friendships with a few guys who seem like they'd make good friends. Maybe some of those friendships will turn into dating relationships, maybe not. Regardless, these male friends might help you see that it's more important to learn how to be friends with someone than to have a date every weekend.

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