Q. I met this guy and have fallen completely head over heels for him. The feeling is something out of a Nicholas Sparks film — entirely magical. Unfortunately, I leave for my first year of college and he is starting his first career job in the fall. I wish to experience all the wonders college life will bring, but I also question if any man will make me feel the way he does. As I shuffle through the options in my head, I turn up completely empty. How do I keep this man in my life without us both limiting each other as we experience important life events?
– Hopelessly Helpless
A. You do not want to compare yourself with a Nicholas Sparks character. So many terrible things happen to those fictional people! (For those who don’t know, he wrote The Notebook — and many other stories designed to make people cry.)
Instead, if you want to compare your life with something you’ve seen in media, think of TV shows where the main characters go to college. Often, they don’t break up with their significant others the second they leave, nor do they pledge forever. Instead, they get to a new place (a.k.a. start a new season) and grow. They figure it out day by day, episode by episode.
Maybe you’ll see this man less, but the quality time will be better. Or, perhaps it’ll become clear you’re on different paths. You won’t understand this new phase of life until you’re in it.
If you need to address it in some way before you start classes, tell this man you’d like to check in over time to see how it’s going. Acknowledge that there might be new routines — and big changes. Ask him if he has concerns.
You might decide after a week of college that you need to be single. If that happens, that’s OK because you are the most important person in your life right now, and as far as love goes, there are a lot of people out there. You just started this journey. So much is going to happen! Get used to unknowns, and make peace with the answers coming later.
You have your entire life in front of you. And, you’ll NEVER meet as many people in your age bracket as when you’re in college. Do NOT spend your time pining for someone (likely) hours away. Enjoy it. GDCATCH
Unpopular opinion: You can have the full college experience and do all the things that come with it without sleeping around. Just don’t sit around your dorm room, or be a slave to your phone and him, at school. Go out, go to parties, make new friends, do all the college things, but stay faithful. If in the process you two grow apart, then it is what it is. You weren’t meant to be. GBREAULT85
^This describes my college experience to a T. We’re still together 42 years later. ADAM-NO-SPACE
This sounds like my life story. I met a girl, fell head over heels in love, and then went off to college. We had plenty of arguments over four years, and would break up every once in a while, but we made it through those tough times and got married and had three kids. Then, after just six years of marriage, we realized we hated each other. Keep your eyes open as you go through college, and when you realize you like somebody at school (or like the idea of being free) more than you like the guy at home, break up with the guy at home and don’t look back. PMCD101
Find the latest season of the Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show. Meredith Goldstein wants your letters! Send your relationship quandaries and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Columns and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.