It’s been very difficult being apart now that he’s had to return to work 1300 miles away. We’ve talked about my moving up there, but, seeing as neither of us has been in a long-distance relationship before, we are both worried about moving too fast. I can honestly say this man is the kind of man I’ve always dreamed of being with. He is respectful, motivated, caring, and has an amazing sense of humor. My question is: how should we pace ourselves in this relationship? When would be the right time to move in together, and eventually, possibly even get engaged? It’s difficult being separated from someone I feel so instantly connected with, but I don’t want to move too fast before either of us is “ready.” — Afraid to Move Too Fast
You know, I really believe that you just “know” when you’ve found the right match. Sometimes that knowing takes a while, and sometimes that knowing comes immediately. Maybe you fall into the latter category. Maybe for you, this isn’t so much about figuring out whether this man is a good match for you, but whether his life and lifestyle is a good match for you. Actually, I think that’s often what it comes down to. Finding a person we click with really well is often the pretty easy part (or easier part, anyway). Finding someone we click with really well whose dreams align with ours and who is living in a way that is appealing to us both in the short-term and long-term (or who can adapt to our way of living) is more of a challenge.
For argument’s sake, let’s assume you have met someone who is a perfect match for you. What you don’t know yet is whether his lifestyle is a good fit for you. As far as a timeline goes, I would not recommend getting engaged until you know for sure your lives and future goals fit together, but beyond that there is no too fast or too slow. I mean, what happens if you move “too fast”? Maybe you break up? You’d only break up if you discover you aren’t quite a fit and that’s going to happen whether you move fast or move slow. So… why not just figure it out sooner rather than later?
I’ve written extensively about long distance relationships, and specifically, how to know when you’re ready to move for love and what you need to do before you move for love. Check out those posts and if you believe you’re ready to give a move to your boyfriend a shot, I say go for it. Just make sure you have an exit plan — leave breadcrumbs to find your way home.
Once you have moved to your boyfriend (either into his home or into a home of your own for a while), I would spend a lot of time getting to know the ins and outs of military family life. Talk to military spouses and find out what their lives are like. Consider that your boyfriend will likely be deployed several times over the course of his career. If you marry him and have children with him, there could be long stretches of time when you are alone with the kids, essentially living like a single parent. As much as you really like this guy and could see yourself spending your life with him, the military lifestyle may not be a fit for you. Beyond figuring out whether your boyfriend is a good longterm fit — whether your future dreams and goals align and whether you could be good domestic partners — you need to figure out whether you are cut out for the life of a military spouse.
Those are questions you aren’t likely going to find the answer to until you test out living with/near your boyfriend. To that end, I say just do it. Why wait? If everything is a great fit, then you’ll know sooner rather than later and can get on with it already. And if it’s not a great fit, you’ll know sooner rather than later and can move on already.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.