Q. About a year and a half ago, I started dating a wonderful guy after we had become close friends. Our relationship is everything I want — we laugh, we support each other, we have fun, and there is plenty of physical attraction. Any other ex-boyfriend pales in comparison. We have talked many times about the future, and we both see us getting married and having kids (we are both in our early 30s).
Boyfriend has worked very hard, and he just got accepted to graduate school. He’s elated. I’m proud of him. But the downside is that he has to move to a new city for two years. We will soon be shifting from inseparable to a long-distance relationship. I am trying to support him in his new adventure, but I am also terrified. We had started to plan on living together if he got into a school in Boston. Now we will be three hours apart. Will this delay our plans to get married and start a family? Should we get engaged before he leaves to solidify our commitment? Will we grow tired of the distance and fight all the time? How will we make this work?
These questions are wearing me down, and — putting it mildly — I have not been my best self around Boyfriend. I’m snippy and emotional. All I can think about is what is going to happen with us. It’s been difficult to enjoy my time with him, and I am fighting the urge to avoid him. I have told him how I feel and asked him these questions. He tries to be sympathetic, but he doesn’t have any answers. He says he needs to think about it. So I have backed off. He is leaving in two months.
I don’t want to rush the guy, but come on. I’m freaking out. Give a girl some answers. Show me that you’re still in this relationship for the long term and how you want to make it work. It’s been about four weeks and I am losing my patience. Is there a way to balance his need to process with my need to know what’s going to happen next? This is obviously a big change for him too. Should I be pushing for answers and for a sign of commitment or should I just let things run their course? Am I being a crazy lady?
Losing My Cool,
A. I understand why you’re freaked out. This kind of change is scary, especially when you’re in your early 30s and feel ready for kids. But I’m a little confused about the answers you’re looking for.
You were supportive about grad school and knew that he might have to go far away. You obviously didn’t have a discussion about how distance would work. What are your specific questions now? Are you asking him whether you’re going to stay together at all — or whether this move simply delays some of the hypothetical plans you’ve been talking about over the year? Does he understand what you need to know? If you don’t know the answers, should he?
All he can really say right now is: “I love you, and I want to make this work.” That’s the statement you should be looking for.
My advice, for now, is to make these questions a bit smaller. Instead of talking about your timeline for marriage and procreation before he even knows what grad school will be like, can you sit in bed with him and Google restaurants for you to try together in his new town? Can you talk about how you might spend summers?
You shouldn’t get engaged just because he’s going away. If he was going to propose anyway, fine, but you can’t jump from point A to point M (marriage) just because you have a new challenge as a couple. You can’t speed this along out of fear.
Ask smaller questions and consider the spirit of his answers. I’ve found that tiny questions often turn the big, scary questions into no-brainers.
It won’t be easy. It’s a shame he did not get into a program locally, but these are the cards you have been dealt. Try to relax and take things as they come. Two years seems like a gaping maw at the front end, but it will fly by. You will have to find a path that works for the two of you by talking and testing and trying.
I think Meredith is right about this. Take a breath, and know that it’s hard right now to see what the future will bring. Three hours — by car? That’s not really all that far. I agree with Meredith that it would be a mistake to push anything out of fear. Neither of you can know for sure what’s going to happen right now. Baby steps.
“Am I being a crazy lady?” you ask. YES. You think he’s leaving you, so you’re driving him away. He’s going to GRAD SCHOOL, for Pete’s sake. And only three hours away? Honey, you are NUTS. This has nothing to do with his commitment to you and everything to do with serious abandonment issues on your part, issues that you probably have been carting around for years.
I’m throwing down the “I want a ring” card. The underlying issue is really that he hasn’t proposed and she wants him to, as a sign of his undying love for her. That’s why she’s freaking out.
I’m surprised you and your boyfriend are so close and yet you did not talk about the ramifications of this before he was accepted to this program. Didn’t you two have the if-this-then-that kind of conversations when he was applying?
Not to be insensitive, but three hours away for two years of school isn’t really this huge obstacle. If you can’t make that work, it probably is a sign you weren’t going to make it work in the long run anyway. My current wife and I managed to do long distance for one year, between D.C. and Massachusetts. A friend had a job in Boston while his wife completed med school in Philly. If you are really committed to each other, the time goes by fast, and three hours is nothing.
Move . . . or move on.
Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@
@globe.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.