He's Sure but She's Not
Q: I love my girlfriend more than life itself. We have been together for over a year now and I'm positive that I want to be with her for the rest of my life. I know we're young, but I'm sure you understand that when you know, you know. She, on the other hand, is 90 percent sure. She's almost positive that I am the number one only one for her. Is her being unsure normal? And how do I fill in that last 10 percent? Second question, though my girlfriend loves me very dearly, from day one she has never been big on PDA. Is there a way to change this? Should I try to change it, or just let it go? -- Nate, 19
Dr. Susan: What we have here are two different styles: You're an emotional, all-or-nothing, heart-on-his-sleeve kind of guy, while your girlfriend is more of a reserved, holding-back sort of girl. Of course it's normal to not be 100 percent sure that you want to spend the next 60 years or so with someone when you're still in your teens. She's actually wise to hold back a tiny bit. I'd advise the two of you to go on the way you are for at least another year or two before committing to forever. That way, your initial fevered emotions will have time to cool down just enough for you both to determine if what you have can and should be permanent. Don't worry about filling in that last 10 percent right now. You can't do that; only she can. And it may take some time.
As for her reluctance to show affection in public, it's probably just the way she was brought up. Or she's a more private person than you are. Talk it through and determine her limits. Is hand holding okay? Deep smooches, I gather, are out. Is that so important to you? It's possible she may, over time, get more comfortable showing her feelings for you publicly.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.