I just got single when this guy comes along

I want to be free but I'm falling already. How do I have fun but stay independent?

Published February 10, 2011 1:25AM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I moved into a new share-house two weeks ago. On my first weekend here I went out with one of my new housemates, took ecstasy for the first time and had (mind-blowingly good) sex with him. It was incredible. I've been seeing him every day since, exchanging casual intimacies, sex and stories. I really, really like him. My problem is that I have a strong conviction that I really want to be single right now. I spent four years in a relationship, and while it was a good one, it made me acutely aware of the compromises of commitment, and it's not a place I want to go back to any time soon. We broke up almost a year ago now, and during that time I have kissed a few boys, done a hell of a lot of soul searching, and finally, a few months ago, come to the realization that I am happy on my own.

Only to get feelings for someone again.

Part of me wants to embrace this new thing, see where it goes and what I can learn from it, and part of me is screaming But You Only Just Got Happy On Your Own! I don't want to be someone who is always in a relationship. I really admire people who manage to stay on their own. But at the same time I don't want to cut something off that has a lot of potential for the sake of something that could just be stubbornness and a hollow conviction. I am torn between sex, recklessness and intimacy; and a desire to continue to prove to myself that I don't need anyone. This new housemate/boy/plaything is very intense too, which I find exciting. He interests me, and he adores me, and it's all very whirlwind. He's open to the idea of exploring whatever we have.

So do I give myself in to this experience and roll with what life throws at fun-loving 21-year-old girls? Or do I stick to my guns and stay out of trouble? How reckless am I being? Is it good reckless or bad reckless? The kind that frees you or the kind that scars you? And why do some people always seem to end up in relationships and some people stay single? Is it a choice, do you think? Or chance? Is it braver to be alone or braver to enter into a relationship? I want to be brave!

Right Kind of Reckless

Dear Right Kind of Reckless,

At 21, you can be single even if you are having a relationship with someone. You don't have to decide right away that this is an exclusive relationship. You can talk with this guy and tell him that you're having a wonderful time but you want to take it slow and you honestly don't know what's going to happen in the future.

Being single does not mean being celibate. It means making your own decisions about whom you see and when. I suggest you tell this young man that you're having a very, very good time but remind him that you're both still single. And just see where it goes.

Sure, you are bound to have feelings about what is going on. But you can talk about them. Talk with him about how you will feel if you see him with another girlfriend. Ask him how he would feel if he saw you with another guy. It's too early to make ironclad rules. But you can agree to be kind to each other. You can agree to think about how the other person will feel under certain  circumstances. Perhaps if you are going to see other people he'd prefer not to really know about it, and vice versa. Agree to have safe sex and not endanger the other. Agree that if either one of you does something you feel guilty about, that it's OK to share it. You may want to agree that you can have nights off and you don't have to talk about what you do on the other nights.

It won't be easy but you have a fantastic opportunity now to create your own set of rules and standards. If you start now, you will have a good, sane foundation.

Here is one thing you should be clear about: Don't go out with each other's friends. If he were to start seeing one of your girlfriends, or if you were to fall for one of his friends, that could be very painful. So that is one area you ought to have a clear rule about: no dating each other's friends.

Other than that, I think you have a great opportunity here to live as a single person and learn to make your own limits and be honest with another person and to let kindness be your guide. Talk with him. Talk about your need for occasional solitude. Talk about having balance. Talk about the fact that you just got single and you don't want to be in a committed relationship all of a sudden but you don't want to lose him either.

If you want to be by yourself some nights, be by yourself. And if you should have other attractions, follow them carefully and discreetly, and above all be kind. That is the most important thing, that you and he be kind to each other.

And keep talking. Talk about where it's going and how you are feeling. Talk about what is uncomfortable. Talk about your fears and your hopes. Talk. Keep talking. Have lots of sex. Eat things off each other's fingers. Listen to your favorite music late at night. Fall asleep in each other's arms. Wake up together and have breakfast and then go do things on your own. Be honest with each other. Be frank. Share what you are afraid to share. Be fearless. It's your future. It's your world.

The SYA eBook is here!

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By Cary Tennis

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