First love’s end

I’m a 19-year-old male college student. After three years of dating, my girlfriend says she is not in love with me. We were living together because I had financial problems that made commuting to school difficult. I loved spending so much time together, but she felt smothered. Why doesn’t she want me? I know that she is the one. She was there for me during three of the toughest years of my life. I love and appreciate her more than anyone could. I bought her things even though my family didn’t have enough money to buy groceries. My cousin said she needs more dating experience (I am her first boyfriend and she is my first girlfriend), but she and I only date if the person is marriage material. So, if she dates someone, it won’t be short-term. What should I do? I know that I could never love someone else this way. Is there any hope of her realizing that she made a mistake? If so, how much time should I allow before I move on and never look back? I would feel extremely awkward if she dated someone else. She would be used, not innocent, and not mine anymore. I could not look at her the same way. Is it wrong for me to think that?

Yes. She is not ruined (and neither would you be) if she dates another; that’s just your pride on parade. Consider how many people you are condemning on the planet by thinking that someone is less valuable because they have dated more than one person. That’s not a very pleasant way to live in the world or in yourself. Clearly, you are heartsick and suffering, so your mind is producing a multitude of thoughts that are ricocheting all over in an attempt to answer the pain.

Let’s investigate those thoughts. How do you know that you could never love someone else this way? It’s true that, because each of you is a unique individual, you may not know anyone exactly like each other again. But it’s also true that your future is unfolding. The events that will constitute your life from this moment forward are not yet known to you or anyone else. Here’s what you do know: the relationship is over at this time.

My advice: move on now. By holding on to a relationship that has ended, you intensify your pain and skip out on reality. Grieve the completion of your first relationship. Then appreciate what you had and trust that your experience was preparation for something greater. Don’t use this experience as an excuse to hold back emotionally. Be certain that you give freely from your heart in your next relationship, but never give more financially than you can truly afford unless you can do so without strings attached. As you’ve learned, money can’t buy you lasting love.

How can I get my sister to understand that her consumerism is killing the planet? She’s a mall rat and is teaching my young nieces the same behavior. It makes me sick. I’ve tried to talk to her, but she refuses to listen. She says that shopping relaxes her. And, of course, she gets to the mall in an SUV. What can I say to her to get her to change her behavior?

When we talked by phone I asked if you enjoyed hiking. You said yes.

"Do you collect mementos of your journeys? Feathers? Seashells? Stones? Pinecones?" I asked. You told me about your collections of owl and hawk feathers, river stones and seashells. So you and your sister share a hobby—you shop Mother Earth, she prefers Nordstrom. Either way, the planet pays a price.

Meditation of the Week

“The only way we live as we do (in the United States) is by stealing. We need three more planets to keep living as we do in our country,” says Edwina Gately, activist and author of <i>A Warm Moist Salty God</i>. How do you defraud yourself?