Should I stay or should I go?

Originally Published: February 13, 1998 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 2, 2013
Share this

Dear Alice,

I have been going out with a wonderful girl for over a year now. She is smart, caring, and pleasant. But, someone else has come into the picture. She is also wonderful, smart, and pleasant, and I can't stop thinking about her. My girlfriend doesn't know this, but it's changing me on the inside...I have this terrible feeling it's only a matter of time before something big happens. I am at total war on the inside, sometimes my heart says "stay" while my mind says "leave." Other times, my mind says "stay" while my heart says "leave." I am so confused. Please help.

Signed,
Torn Between

Dear Torn Between,

Think about what you would lose and what you would gain by "leaving" and by "staying." What kind of relationship do you have together? What plans do you and your girlfriend have for the future? What do you want right now and in the future? Your answers to these questions may help you understand what you're feeling at the moment.

Sometimes, we look for the path of least resistance out of a relationship. Could it be that this new girl is your ticket out of a relationship you no longer want to be in? Perhaps, you want your current relationship to become more open to the idea of seeing other people (if your girlfriend also welcomes this opportunity)? Or, maybe you need "alone time" — not to be in any relationship so that you can decide what's best for you at this time?

Then again, there's the possibility that you're attracted to this other girl. Nothing more, nothing less. And, it may have nothing to do with your girlfriend. If you act on this attraction, something will happen. But, a few weeks or months down the road, you might realize that what happened (say, a breakup with your current girlfriend) was not what you really wanted. Try to decide what you want, and then act on that.

One last thought...the grass isn't always greener on the other side (but sometimes, it is). You have to decide if you want to take the risk to find out.

Alice

March 22, 2012

509000
Alice, It's funny the things you stumble onto on the web... a simple websearch for a topic du jour popped up Go Ask Alice, which made me remember I wrote for advice 11 years ago. I found my...
Alice, It's funny the things you stumble onto on the web... a simple websearch for a topic du jour popped up Go Ask Alice, which made me remember I wrote for advice 11 years ago. I found my article, read it again, and smiled. To review, that 'other girl' was a crush that didn't go anywhere. Still, you offered that this was potentially a 'ticket out of the relationship' that I was seeking, which, yeah, in 20/20 hindsight it was. But, life is life and that ended up being in a relationship that lasted 7 years, even though my doubts raised one year in were suppressed for much longer after feeling the guilt of the wandering eye. I'm glad you responded to that 21-year-old version of me from long ago, providing food for thought. With no other people to ask about what was tearing them up inside, many people sent a message to a Columbia University service, and found advice. 11 years later, I live abroad, have a new wife, and have a life far different from the one 'torn between' could have imagined. That advice probably helped in getting from an unhappy then to a happy now. So, in short, thank you, and keep up the good advice.

November 19, 2004

20835
Hi Alice,

Reading Torn Between's dilemma helped me understand the lame excuse my bf gave me when i asked him why he was acting weird after i was away for two weeks. He used words such as "not...

Hi Alice,

Reading Torn Between's dilemma helped me understand the lame excuse my bf gave me when i asked him why he was acting weird after i was away for two weeks. He used words such as "not sure," "one minute it's black, one minute it's white," and "i'm not in love anymore" — words which tore me up inside right away, trying to actually understand what i did wrong. I was really hurt because six years ago, my first bf said something similar when he wanted to actually end things. I can't believe six years later, although I thought I had learned my lesson by now, it happened again! Guys should actually be more honest, even though the truth hurts sometimes. It makes the situation less painful and with closure, easier to move on.