If you marry the first person you ever dated, it might be natural to wonder if you could be missing out on other opportunities. That feeling is extra intense these days, when it feels like you could meet an endless number of people just by downloading a dating app. The pressure to feel as if you've found your ultimate match can be a lot.
It's definitely normal to feel #FOMO from time to time, but if you find yourself actively wanting to try out apps, or wishing you could experience that rush of excitement on a first date again, maybe settling down right now isn't the right for you. Or maybe it is, and you're second-guessing yourself.
It's understandable to wonder if you're missing out if you marry the first person you've ever dated — but is it normal? And how can you know if you're making the right decision? I spoke with Samantha Burns, couples counselor, dating coach, and author of "Breaking Up and Bouncing Back" to hear her expert opinion.
"Here’s the deal — you don’t know what you don’t know," Burns tells Elite Daily. "If you feel satisfied in your sex life, you can talk openly about what you need and desire, you’re able to achieve orgasm with this person, and you genuinely enjoy your time in bed together then what else is out there doesn’t really matter."
She says that if you're having doubts and feeling like you're missing too much out there in the dating world while you're settled down with your partner, it's worth considering if your partner can provide you with the elements you feel are missing from your life. And if your curiosity is really nagging you, there are ways to calm it down that don't necessarily involve breaking up.
"Fantasy and role-play can be an active part of a couple’s sex life, or it can be your own private fantasy that you use in your own mental stimulation during sexual interactions," Burns says.
If you're leaning toward really leaving the relationship, Burns recommends before doing that, seeing a couples' therapist with your partner.
A successful relationship is almost always based on more than just sexual compatibility and satisfaction, "such as aligned core values, a shared vision for your future, effective communication skills, the ability to speak each other’s love languages, [complementary] personality traits, and equal effort invested into the growth of the relationship. These are the ingredients to an ideal match," Burns says.
She says that if you're with the first person you date for awhile, it can be hard to recognize if you're compromising too much or if you and your partner are truly compatible. But it's important to recognize that every relationship is different, and that you're always going to miss out on dating experiences that other people have (just as you have experiences that your friends might not necessarily have). You might wonder what it's like to spend your college years hooking up with someone new every weekend, just as your friend might wonder what it's like to have such a committed partner during those same years. If you can't shake those thoughts, though — or if you think you'd be happier in your single friend's shoes — it might be time to consider ending your relationship.
If you end up deciding to break off the relationship, Burns advises at least three months of no contact with your ex.
"Move forward in your life and learn about yourself both emotionally and sexually," Burns says. "If what you learn leads you back to your old partner, then you can have a conversation at that point about getting back together."
There's no magical way to know for sure that your relationship should lead to marriage. You have to trust your heart and your gut, and all the expert advice in the world isn't going to change that fact. Ultimately, you and your partner know what's best for you — so you're having doubts, don't be afraid to talk them out.