Hi Dr. Neder!

I am 18 years old and just about to graduate high school. My girlfriend and I have been together for about 14 months now and I am not sure what to do after high school. My parents are going to provide us with an apartment but should I move in with her?

I was reading your 10 ways to know when your relationship is "right", (http://www.beingaman.com/articleviewer.asp?ID=205) and I have a number of issues with parts of it for my relationship. For instance:

• I’m a bit anxious about what I will do after high school.
• I don’t really look forward to hanging out with her anymore. The idea of breaking up has crossed my mind a few times over the 14 months, am I just afraid of commitment?
• I am interested in what she thinks but she won’t really discuss things with me. She hates President Bush for instance, but when I ask her to explain she will just say "Because" and stop.
• I’m starting to be annoyed by her little quirks. They were cute for a while, but now they’re just irritating.
• While we don’t have to be together we usually are. I have mixed feelings about this. I want my own time but feel bad about telling her.

Well I've written quite a lot, and I would appreciate it very much if you could let me know what you think, thank you!

This is an excellent question!

There's a general belief that a relationship has to "go somewhere". For instance, you meet, you start up a relationship, then you fall in love, then you move in together and then you get married, have kids, etc., etc., etc. Yes, that's ONE model - there are thousands of others ones!

Moving in together is a very, very big step - probably a lot bigger than you even realize. I know you hate hearing this but I'm going to say it anyway - you're very young. 18 doesn't seem "young" to you because it's 100% of the experience and time that you have. When you get to be 25 or 30 or 35, you’re going to feel very different about what 18 years means! Frankly, I think you'd be making a mistake to move in together.

Let me try to explain a little of this reasoning:

First of all, moving in together isn't just a process; it has a meaning - especially to her as the girl. She sees this as bringing together a goal she's had since she was very, very young (probably around 4-5 years old) - that of being married. Whether she tells you this or not, she has fantasies about her wedding and being married and even equates it to her own success. Work and career are far less important to her than this one event! Trust me on this.

I'll bet she even mistakes "marriage" for "love" - and every girl wants to be in love. Thus, she'd be just as happy (she thinks) to be married - or at least to act like it. See where I’m going with this?

You deserve to be in love if that is what you want. From your description, it doesn't sound like you are. You instead have a pretty good (not great) friendship. That's fine, but in fact, it prevents you from having what you really want!

Likewise, you're going to change very dramatically over the next 5-10 years. Everyone does, and you (and she) will too! You're not going to be the same people. If you're already this far apart, do you think that living together is going to make you closer - other than in proximity - to each other? Not likely.

If I were you, I'd move out on my own into that apartment and start to explore the world. You have a lot of time and experience ahead of you. You can begin to meet new people - even people that can rationally discuss their likes/dislikes in politics, sex, movies, and much more. This is a mentally-stimulating environment that will not only challenge you, but change your own way of thinking. The next 5 years can potentially have a very dramatic and profound influence on the man you're going to be. Whereas striking out on your own to discover these things will help you get there, setting up "house" and being with someone that doesn't meet your goals will do the opposite.

So, where does this leave you and her? Do you need to end your relationship in order to move on? Perhaps. I can't answer that one for you. This is a good time to begin to look ahead and see where you want to go with your life. Many people allow external events to set the course for their lives while others take the reins and direct that course themselves through well thought-out plans and corresponding actions.

You have important decisions to make over the next few months. Try to imagine how your life will be in 10 or even 20 years from now. Everything you do and every choice you make right now will affect the outcome of the future. You get to craft that outcome by the actions you take right now.

If you decide to move in together, try to see how that's going to affect your future. If you decide to "downsize" your relationship to something less or even to break up, also try to see how that decision will affect you both. Remember that if she doesn't fit your future goals and you decide to move on with your life you are also giving her the freedom to find what she wants too. I'm not telling you that this is what you should do. I'm telling you that only you can make that decision and to make it wisely based on what you want in your future.

Best regards...

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Neder is known around the world as a tough, but fair relationship expert, dealing with all sorts of dating, sex and relationship issues from a man's perspective. Having written 3 books ("Being a Man in a Woman's World™" series) and is working on others, hundreds of articles, been on hundreds of radio and TV shows, he is funny, direct and intuitive. Do you have a burning question that needs an answer? Are you a man that wants to better experiences with women, or a woman that wants to better understand men? To learn more, go to http://beingaman.com.