Best-Of Advice

On existential FOMO

Is it normal to have a mini existential crisis over a long term relationship? I’m in my mid-20s, I’ve been with this guy for over half a decade, and it’s really starting to freak me out, but I don’t know why. The nagging voice in my head (which sounds like my mom) says I have to decide right now if I want to be with this guy, if I want to get married, and if I want to have kids, or if I have to go and fuck a bunch of other guys before any of that. But I have no idea where I want to be in ten years, let alone five, and there’s nothing wrong with our relationship. I’m not even bored of him. My boyfriend is equally undecided about the marriage/kids question, but he really doesn’t want to break up. So why does this keep me up at night? I have this intense fear that I’m wasting time, but I don’t know why.


Yes, you are having a minor existential crisis, but your relationship is not the cause. It’s merely the focus. The underlying cause of your anxiety is that you’ve hit the coupling stage of the family life cycle at the same time as you’ve hit the self-actualization level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You’ve got all these concerns about realizing your full potential competing with an entire culture’s worth of social programming telling you that maybe it’s time to start thinking about marriage and kids. It’s leaving you terrified that you’re missing out on something, but you don’t even know what that might be.

The good news is, you’re not wasting your time. Not one bit. It sounds like you’re in a healthy relationship that’s meeting almost all of your needs. That’s great. Keep up the good work. If both of you are undecided about the marriage and kids question, then be undecided. That’s okay. No big deal. If both of you are wondering what it might be like to fuck some other people, then talk about that shit together. Better yet, do it together. (Trust me, it’s fun.) Be up front and honest about your sexual needs. Talk openly about what you want out of life. Communicate with each other, keep growing together, and you’ll both be fine.

Most importantly, tell the nagging voice in your head to shut the fuck up. Are you missing out on life experiences? Of course you are. Tons of them, but that’s inevitable. No matter what path you choose, you’re always gonna miss out on something. A little existential FOMO is to be expected every once in a while, but you can’t let that shit keep you up at night.

We only get one life. We only get one path. If you ever wanna be happy, you gotta let that be enough.


14 thoughts on “On existential FOMO

  1. Bunny says:

    I went through this earlier on in the year. I stumbled across some of Coquette’s advice and decided to leave him. Her question was: What is missing in my life now that I’m in a serious and committed relationship? I came up with seven answers that seemed pretty compelling. I moved out. Since then, I’ve spent the last six months enjoying boys and partying and blow and, during the week, working on my PhD. It’s been good. Sure, there were moments of guilt and grief, but all that stuff eventually passed and transformed into wisdom and Sunday brunch anecdotes to share with my friends.

    Even though our relationship was so healthy and happy, I feel like I’m still too young for the happily-ever-after business. (I think I like to leave while the party is still good. I was worried that if we stayed together any longer, I would get angry and frustrated.)

    I totally believe that if I was fortunate enough to have a healthy and happy relationship once, I’ll always have it in me to build up another relationship like that again.

    But… that’s just the path I chose. I think an open and honest conversation with your partner would be a good place to start, and might help you work through some of your existential glitches.

    • Anna says:

      It’s funny, I had existential doubts about my relationship this year. I’m 20, we’ve been together 1/20 of my life officially, 1/10 officiously.
      SO I was inclined to doubt the longevity or the viability of my relationship that I started so young (even though we activiley addressed issues such as openness in relationships, jealousy, communication, etc.).
      In the end, I just can’t figure out how to live a life where I am not pursuing him. I want to spend a decent portion of my life with him, have a decent proportions of my babies with him, and am willing to sacrifice a decent part of my salary to be with him. It’s weird and terrifying to figure that out when you haven’t even reached the third decade of your life, but I’m ready to bet that it’s worth it.

  2. HEYKID says:

    This resonates so hard.
    I was in a very similar place, but it was closer to a decade than half-a-decade. I had spent my adolescence with this guy. I was freaking out; it wasn’t working. He was a perfectly great person, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other perfectly great people out there. We outgrew one another
    I’m absolutely content with my decision to leave. I had to give myself a chance. Best of luck! Be happy, fuck everyone else.

  3. J Lynn says:

    I feel the same as the OP, except I’m 40. 🙂 Too many life stressors going on to rock the boat right now, but something’s gotta change in the next couple years and I need to figure out WHAT. I never took the whole “midlife crisis” idea seriously before, figured it was just about dbags buying silly cars, but it just might be real after all.

    Re FOMO at 25, I left a very suitable (nice but boring) LTR young man at 23, and it was the absolute best decision. But I did succumb to the “coupling phase” just 4.5 years later at 27. It has been a very good relationship but 12 years in we need to push ourselves into a new phase of growth and/or maybe try an open relationship because it’s gotten companionate and I’m feeling stifled and sexless. On the other hand, it’s low-conflict and my man is emotionally competent & not a shitty man-boy so I’m afraid to give that up.

  4. Shells says:

    Maybe you want to be with him forever and that scares you because you are young. Maybe you would like to have kids someday and you can see him as the father and that scares you because you don’t want that right now but you are scared he will never propose in the future. These are crazy guesses and
    are probably wrong, but my point is you need to be honest with yourself. It’s rare that people don’t know what they want. You might feel anxious because you are lying to yourself and you know what you want but you are too scared to put it out there and act on it. If you really don’t want to marry your boyfriend then are you just hanging out with him until something else comes along? Do you even believe in traditional marriage? Do you ever want to have kids? Is your boyfriend the guy you see as the father of possible children? You know the answers to these questions. If you are just hanging out enjoying your time together, but you don’t want to get married then why is hanging out with him for 5 years better then hanging out with new guys?

  5. hm says:

    I dunno. I love being and doing this thing (given we fuck other people together and alone, but,) I’m young. He’s less young. It’s really cool.

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