Whether you've been together for only a short time or you're in the midst of a long-term relationship, when your boyfriend says he wants to see other people, it's a painful blow. No doubt you didn't see this coming and wish he wanted to continue having an exclusive relationship. If you care about him and want to increase the chance of having a future together, how you choose to respond is critically important.
Keep your emotions in check. Your natural impulse might be to cry, scream or blame. Don't give into those urges. If he's made his decision, it's unlikely anything you say or do will change his mind. Accept the inevitable with good grace, painful as it might be.
Reflect on your recent interactions. Perhaps you were pushing to move your relationship forward at a pace that made him uncomfortable. Time and space might be what he needs.
Determine whether he has already started to see other people. Perhaps he suggested seeing others because he met someone new he finds attractive. It could also mean that he's nervous about making a commitment. Have an open discussion with him to determine why he made the suggestion.
Be honest with your boyfriend and tell him how you feel. Problems in relationships are often caused by problems with communication, suggests Bill Malone, relationship counselor. He emphasizes the importance of expressing your needs. If you pretend you're OK with him seeing others when you are devastated, he won't have a chance to accurately assess his feelings for you. It is possible that when he realizes how upset you are by his suggestion, he'll change his mind. If upsetting you doesn't affect him, you might be better off without him.
Accept the inevitable. Recognize that your boyfriend might want to break up and is having difficulty saying it outright. Cosmopolitan warns that men usually do not give a warning when they feel the relationship is in trouble. This could be his way of trying to let you down gently.
Keep hope alive. Understand that seeing others could lead your boyfriend to the recognition that you are the one for him. If you start seeing others he might get jealous and realize his suggestion was a mistake. Or you might meet someone else that you care about.
Consider breaking off the relationship. Don't agree to an open relationship if the thought of it is painful -- you'd be leaving yourself vulnerable to ongoing heartache. A complete break provides the opportunity for you to get over him and move forward.
- Cosmopolitan: Five Truths Women Don't Know About Boyfriends
- KidsHealth: How to Break Up Respectfully
- Psychology Today: After the Break-Up -- Bearing the Pain When She Dates Others
- The Other Woman -- How To Get Him To Want To Date You Exclusively
- University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center: Handling Common Relationship Problems
- Malone Counseling and Consulting Services LLC: Love is Not Enough... The Making of a Relationship
- If the disappointment has lowered your self-esteem and you are depressed, consult with your family doctor about seeing a therapist. Counseling can help you put this setback into perspective.
Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.