It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Long Distance Quandary,” a woman from the East Coast who was in a long distance relationship with a man in Germany and worried about the future of their relationship since neither once seemed interested in moving to be with the other. “I don’t want to go back into the dating pool right now, as that’s a huge step backwards from all the truly great stuff I have going with him,” she wrote, “but I also don’t want to keep moving forward with this if there is no way it could work in the end.” Keep reading to find out the status of their relationship now.
About a week and a half before I was supposed to travel to Europe for thanksgiving, I told my boyfriend that I would possibly have to cancel as my grandfather had gotten very ill. I was a little put-off by the fact that he didn’t seem to take the situation seriously, but my grandfather had been touch and go before, and it’s possible he just did not understand the severity of the situation.
Exactly a week before I was supposed to fly out, it became clear that it would be a bad idea for me to travel that far away at that time and that I instead needed to make new travel arrangements back home to be with my family. Because we had already seriously discussed the (to me, very real) possibility of the trip being canceled via Skype, I went ahead and just sent him an email telling him that I was very sorry, but that I, in fact, did need to cancel my trip. In retrospect I regret that I didn’t call him to tell him, but I knew that he was in meetings all morning and I wanted to let him know before actually going through with the cancellation and possible re-booking of new flights, and I wanted to get that done ASAP. I also regret that I did not spell out more specifically what was going on with my grandfather to make it clear that his time was very, very near.
My boyfriend called me after reading the email and, when I was already holding back tears about both my grandfather and being disappointed about the trip being cancelled, he yelled at me for not caring as much about our relationship as he did (he even said something like, “You know how hard it was for me to take off of work for this!”). I was absolutely shocked, was very short with him, and eventually just hung up on him.
I was still at work, and barely keeping it together, so wrote him a pretty scathing email to blow off some steam, including bringing up the fact that this was perhaps a deal-breaker for me. I just was appalled that he would kick me when I was already down.
He profusely apologized almost immediately, saying he had lost all of his grandparents early in life (so did not quite understand what I was going through), and that he really wished he would have talked to someone else first to get out his disappointment, before calling me angry when I was already upset. He also emphasized again that he could see himself marrying me, etc. I told him I still needed some time and we decided to not to communicate for a week.
During this week, my grandfather passed away, and my family had the emotional drain of that and the funeral. Once he learned that all of this had happened, he was very very apologetic and sympathetic (I still wonder if he simply did not understand the severity of the situation, and just thought I was backing out because I didn’t want to come for some reason).
I was and am no longer angry about his reaction to the cancellation; he really did apologize, and I fully believe that he means it and regretted his reaction and words to me that day. I also was honest, and admitted that I was perhaps so defensive when he accused me of not caring about the relationship as much, because I was deep down afraid it was true (though I could never regret getting to see my grandfather one last time in lieu of the trip).
I’m not sure if it was the loss of my grandfather, or the fact that things obviously got hairy for us due to the fight about the cancellation, but I really very seriously started re-evaluating the relationship.
We tried to work things out for about two weeks. For me, working things out entailed figuring out a plan for the future, if there was to be one. As you also say, an end date is necessary for long distance. This is what we were going to talk about when I went to Europe. He, however, just wanted to go back to “how things were” and wait to have the discussion once I was able to go to Europe to see what it was like there with him. He kept repeating that he didn’t want to have the conversation via Skype. I tried explaining to him that I had already lost a lot of money on the missed trip to Europe, and that I really could not afford to make that trip any time soon.
At the end of the day, I broke up with him because I realized how much I wanted something more (yes with him, or if not, then with someone else). I realized how much I want a genuine relationship. I just could no longer see the point in this indefinitely long distance situation — I would find it great progress to have had an end plan of some kind, most preferably a general date when the distance would be over, even if there was nothing set in stone, but he couldn’t give me that.
I’m still doing my best to move on, and I actually feel prepared to look for and genuinely want a relationship with a future, rather than…however I was running my life before. At the end of it all, my relationship with him was a really good thing for me.
Thank you for the update. I’m sorry about your grandfather, but glad you’ve moving on from a relationship that seemed to be at an emotional dead-end.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.