Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by film and writing student, Callie Schuette.
I have been seeing my boyfriend for about a year and a half now, and am really happy to be with him. We respect and love one another, plus have a lot of fun together. We’re in our senior year at college and he is applying to go to graduate school in the UK, which I’ve known he would do the entire time we’ve spent together. Despite this knowledge, I’ve only recently started to think about whether we have a future together, for the obvious reason of impending graduation. The more I thought about it, the less I could imagine losing him, even if he does get into school abroad. Basically, I realized that I’d be willing to entertain the idea of moving with him or temporarily having a long distance relationship until moving became feasible. I don’t have an attachment, professional or personal, to any particular part of the world and I’ve always wanted to move to a new city after school anyway.
The problem is, it turns out he doesn’t feel the same way. He says he loves me and that I am the number one person in his life, but that at our age and in our situation, he didn’t like the idea of either one of us building our life around the other, that we should take the example of so many others before us who met disastrous ends by doing so. He has a valid point, to be sure, but it doesn’t stop the reality of our imminent separation from hurting me. He says we have a long time and shouldn’t worry about it, and I can tell he hasn’t allowed the same reality to sink in for him yet.
How do I stay in this relationship with the knowledge that in nine months it will be over? Are we really supposed to live and love with the knowledge that, after we get our diplomas, we may never see each other again? Do I stay with him knowing this hurt will come, and if so, how do I deal? Or do I cut my losses now and live without him starting a little sooner, even though our lives here are so intertwined and trying to separate them will be hellish? — Senior Love
The sad truth: breakups are hellish. It’s going to be hard no matter when you choose to do it. However, each option does provide its own unique set of challenges. If you choose to break things off now, you will likely have to deal with seeing him around campus, occasionally hearing about him from mutual friends, and simply occupying a space where you have spent a lot of time together. If you choose to put it off, you will circumvent the mess for a while, but you will be living the next nine months with a pit in your stomach.
It speaks volumes for your relationship that your boyfriend respected you enough to be upfront with you, but the result is that you are both blessed and burdened with the knowledge that you two are simply not on the same page anymore. You see a future in your relationship, and he does not. You can try and push that fact to the back of your mind, but in doing so you risk letting your feelings over it fester. You may not be able to see your boyfriend the same way. You may find yourself constantly doubting his feelings/intentions, growing suspicious of him, or becoming resentful of him and your situation. At the very least you will lose a lot of your sense of security in the relationship itself. And of course it will still come to a close eventually.
Regardless of which route you choose to follow, I would suggest that you spend the next nine months focusing on YOU. You mentioned you “don’t have an attachment, professional or personal, to any particular part of the world.” while I respect your openness to moving somewhere totally new, it concerns me that, when contemplating your postgraduate life, the only plans you came up with were to remain tethered to your boyfriend. This is your senior year of college! A time when you are supposed to be really nailing down where it is you might like your life to go. This is the perfect time to really begin to discover yourself and your path. I recommend you research graduate school programs, look up internships in fields you might like to try out, or look into programs that would allow you to travel or spend some time overseas. Look for something YOU want to do after you graduate. You have the chance to reclaim your independence and rejoice in the fact that you are in a position where you can really make decisions just for you. Trust me, it may be wrapped in scary packaging but it truly is a gift.
On the personal side, you can work to expand and strengthen your support base outside of your relationship. Nurture your old friendships and perhaps even foster some new ones. Check out some clubs or take a course in a subject you’ve always wanted to try – you may just find some people with common interests there. Having a wider network of people to rely on will do wonders for confidence and security. Overall, whether you choose to remain in the relationship for now or not, you will benefit greatly from focusing on your growth (and your direction) and really making the most of your time left at school.
On a final note: I may be wrong, but I suspect part of the reason you want to stay in the relationship until graduation is that you hope your boyfriend may change his mind in the coming months. While I won’t say that outcome is impossible, I will remind you that he’s already had a year and a half to make up his mind. What you can certainly look forward to is eventually reaching a place where you feel grateful for your relationship, the experiences, and the growth it has provided you, but you accept that it may no longer have anything to offer you.
*Callie is a 21-year-old student and aspiring comedic screenwriter from Austin, Texas. She’s pretty well-practiced in the art of giving advice (thanks to her friends, family, and the odd stranger) and attributes her enjoyment in doing so both to her deep sense of empathy and her somewhat nerdy love of analyzing things. She also enjoys excessively long car rides, sweet thai chili sauce, and space westerns.
oldie October 11, 2011, 3:18 pm
I think she’s concerned that any new relationship she starts in college will be doomed to the same graduation-time breakup, leaving her in a nine-month holding pattern if she breaks up with her bf now. I agree, he’s not going to feel tethered to her, when he goes off to school abroad. Also agree, she needs to be seriously thinking of grad school or a job, rather than just being a tag-along to her bf. That is just capitulating her life, really.
Addie Pray October 11, 2011, 3:19 pm
Great advice, Callie. Well done, well done.
silver_dragon_girl October 11, 2011, 3:22 pm
I have been in this position exactly, only it wasn’t college, it was my ex-boyfriend getting out of the military and moving back to his home state. We said we would just stay together until he left, and then end it…well, that didn’t work. It was insanely stressful on both of us, and it took away all the impetus to resolve fights/disagreements, of which there were suddenly many more due to the stress of being in a relationship with an expiration date. I eventually caved and said I’d try to move out there with him, if he would do the LDR thing until then. He agreed.
When he dumped me two months later, I could tell that his heart had never been in it. When he originally said he wouldn’t do another LDR, he meant it. I think it was just too hard to break up with me without the distance between us.
LW, your boyfriend says he doesn’t want to continue your relationship past the point at which he leaves. Listen to him. Do NOT stay with him if you are secretly hoping he’ll change his mind. And do NOT stay with him expecting everything to be perfect up until the end. It will be hard- VERY hard. Especially so when he starts intensely planning his travel, his living plans, his explorations of his new school and city, and you aren’t at all included in those plans. Will you be able to calmly and supportively discuss these things? Or will it make you angry when he talks about moving? Will you lose it when he starts dreaming out loud about how awesome things will be in his new life?
In my situation, well, I wish I would have ended it on my terms when I had the chance. I didn’t, and it burned me. I’m not saying that will happen to you, because your situation is of course different. Just think about it.
DebMoore October 11, 2011, 7:27 pm
I was waffleing until I read what silver_dragon_girl said and I think she nailed it on the head. Yes it will be hard to break up now, however think how painful it will be when he starts making plans for the future that do not include you. Of course he will be excited for this new life adventure and everytime he is excited it’s goning to be like a knife in your heart. So I would suggest MO.
I also agree with Callie, it’s going to hurt either way and now is the time to focus on you and your new life adventure. Take the time you have right now to do that before lifes burdens start to way you down! Good luck!
kali October 12, 2011, 9:23 pm
Sounds like the boyfriend wants her around until he leaves for his ease and comfort and to hell with what’s best for our LW. Ditch him now.
Calle October 11, 2011, 3:28 pm
If he is doing a master’s program, it will only be a year in the UK. I did one. I know two girls who were in long distance relationships-one broke up, the other stayed together with her bf who was back in Canada. Honestly, he may see a future but he has a point…moving to the UK at this point in your life is a little extreme. I would wait and see. In seven months, he may beg you for a long distance relationship or you may be the one who wants to break up. You don’t have to move there or have a temporary long distance relationship until you move, you can have a long distance relationship for year! I think you are seeing the situation in black and white. Long Distance can work, especially with skype and if you can afford to visit/he can afford to come home for a visit.
katiebird October 11, 2011, 5:52 pm
I don’t think this is very good advice for this LW because her boyfriend has already told her that he doesn’t want to continue the relationship past graduation. In general though, I think this would be good advice for a couple who was ambiguous about what they wanted to do or hadn’t decided yet. But the LW’s boyfriend seems pretty set on not having a LDR, and doesn’t want the LW to uproot her life when he isn’t sure if he really wants to be with her.
Kerrycontrary October 11, 2011, 3:28 pm
Awesome advice! LW, I was in a similar position with my now-boyfriend. I met him at the very end of college, right before I was about to graduate, but he still had another year left because he was in a 5 year program. We dated over the summer and although I wanted more, he never expressed that he felt the same. I thought that I would just go to grad school and things would fizzle out. Fortunately, he changed his mind and we’ve been together (long-distance) for the past two years. Since then, we’ve planned where we want to live long-term and made our lives fit each others. Unfortunately, your boyfriend doesn’t want to do that. The thing is-I’m the exception, not the rule. And when your boyfriend says that he doesn’t see a future with you then you need to take that at face value. Whether you break up now or later is your choice, but is your relationship ever going to be the same knowing that it has an expiration date? No. If I were you I would break up now and enjoy your last year of college. It’s tough to hear the truth but be thankful that your boyfriend was honest about his feelings.
Ktfran October 11, 2011, 3:29 pm
Wow Callie. Lovely stated.
LW – I don’t have much to add. Both situations are going to suck. But I do think Callie is right. Concentrate on you. Figure out what you want to do after you graduate. Network. Make new friends. Hang out with old ones. Travel.
If you do these things – fill your life with things outside of your relationship that is – I guarantee the decision you make about your boyfriend will be much, much easier.
Sarah October 11, 2011, 3:32 pm
Great job, Callie! Such good advice! If it were me I’d break up now because I hate that pit in the stomach thing Callie described so well. Plus even though it reeeeeally sucks to have to see your ex everyday at school, its kind of a blessing because you get to see them over you everyday and you build up a resistance to wanting them back. If you wait to break up when he leaves for the UK, you might get that awful piny lovelorn thing because you broke up AND he’s across the world. The right guy will want you in his life, no matter what.
Budj October 11, 2011, 3:37 pm
LDR end date = zomg we can start our lives together now
SDR end date = drama and eventual break up typically well before the end date.
LW save yourself the headache and heartache and break it off now. No need for nastiness…just know that it will get nasty and if you want to be able to think fondly of this guy you should break it off now.
theattack October 11, 2011, 7:45 pm
cdubs October 11, 2011, 7:52 pm
short distance relationship
Budj October 12, 2011, 10:13 am
A failed attempt at acronym cleverness!
FireStar October 11, 2011, 3:38 pm
Your boyfriend did you a favour by being honest with you. Now take that gift of honesty and do what is best for YOU with it. I personally don’t think I could go nine months of pretending the axe wasn’t about to fall – but maybe you can since upheaval during your last year would be too distracting for you. Only you can make that call. Are you the type to appreciate every day for what it is and can completely live in the moment or will you grow resentful because he expects you to pretend everything is cool so he can have his cake and eat it too? Whatever you choose silver_dragon_girl is right – definitely do not stay because you think he will change his mind. Doing that is the best recipe for disaster and even more heart-break.
Cporoski October 11, 2011, 3:38 pm
don’t feel like this is the end of the world, just the end of this time. My brother and his fiance dated in college but he graduated two years before her and moved home. Well three years later they found each other in the same place and re-fell in love and are getting married in a few months. I agree that you should work on you and figure out your future. If you are meant to be together, you will find each other again.
GatorGirl October 11, 2011, 3:44 pm
LW, I had a very similar experience. 4 months into dating a really great guy, he was accepted to grad school 400+ miles away. He told me up front he did not want to do a LDR but we could keep having fun until he left. I agreed and over the next 4 months we had a wonderful summer romance. He moved, a month later I visited him, and he told me he completely changed his mind and couldn’t imagine not having me in his life. We spent 3 years in our LDr, and this past summer I moved 900 miles to be with him. We’re planning on moving in together in January.
I guess my point is- you need to decide how far you are willing to put yourself out there. I took a chance at having my heart broken and it worked out for me. If you’re willing to take that chance it might work out for you, but it might not. You won’t regret trying to make it work (over the next 9 months or maybe long distance) but there is a good change you will regret cutting ties early and never knowing what could have been.
MJ October 11, 2011, 5:31 pm
I did something similar and he told me “eh, it’s been fun, but it’s really over.” And I thought I’d be okay with having my heart broken, because hey, you have to put yourself out there. But it really, really sucks.
So, LW, you never know.
hhr October 11, 2011, 5:31 pm
I agree that there’s a chance the LW’s bf could decide he can’t live without her after being separated for awhile. With this in mind, if I were the LW, I would break it off now, amicably, and let them both live life on their own before the move. This could just be the end of their relationship, in which case it is probably for the best and the LW can work on moving on and focusing on herself. Or, possibly, her bf will realize he is making a mistake and ask her back. The LW says she can tell her bf “hasn’t allowed the reality [of moving away/breaking up] to sink in,” so how about helping this reality along a little faster? He could do a complete 180 and decide he does want to plan a future with you. But if he happily moves on with no regrets, he’s not the guy for you, LW, because a guy who loves you will do whatever it takes to be with you. And you’ll have had that 9 months to get over him.
theattack October 11, 2011, 7:50 pm
Exactly what I was thinking! He might change his mind either way. Breaking up now will allow her to get out of this awful feeling of impending heartbreak, and it will give her a chance to work on herself during the likelihood that he doesn’t change his mind. But it does still give him a chance to change it before he leaves and she moves on.
Renee October 12, 2011, 6:47 am
I agree with these posts. Break up now with no drama. Focus on yourself and what you need to do for yourself, because he can’t see himself going to the UK and being with you at the same time.
kf October 12, 2011, 11:35 am
“a guy who loves you will do whatever it takes to be with you”
Apparently somebody’s not a Sting fan.
Eljay October 11, 2011, 3:50 pm
Great advice, Callie! Well thought-out & very impressively stated. I’d say break it off now, give yourself time to heal and when the time comes for him to leave, you’ll already be on the road to “over him.” Good luck, LW!
Elizabeth October 11, 2011, 4:11 pm
Same situation. Had been dating a guy over 2 years when graduation hit and he went off to the marine flight school etc etc and i stayed behind to start graduate school. We made it until December, when I realized not that I couldn’t be in an LDR, but that I couldn’t be in a relationship where the military was always before me and my choices (I wasn’t going to grad school for nothing!). In the end, I was glad we stayed together and tried it out, BUT we BOTH wanted to try it. Not just one of us. I would present this fact to him now and say, look.. we can have this deadline, or we can see how it goes. If you are firm on this deadline, then I’m sorry, but I’m out. If you’re only saying this because you’re scared, then let’s take it a day at a time. At least we both gave it a good shot.
ReginaRey October 11, 2011, 3:39 pm
LW, you’re not necessarily wrong for being willing to uproot your life for your boyfriend. But the problem is, for a relationship to work BOTH people have to be willing, in theory at least, to uproot their lives for the other. If one isn’t, it creates an imbalance of power that’s impossible to ignore.
And your boyfriend isn’t wrong, either. You really SHOULD be concentrated on your career, your goals, your life in your early twenties. The fact that he wouldn’t uproot himself for you may sting, but he’s not wrong for NOT wanting to do that.
Trying to continue a relationship after this will be difficult. Ultimately, he doesn’t want it as much as you do, and that’s not fair to either of you. Relationships revolve around balance, and the balance of yours has been irrevocably thrown. You both have to want the same things, be willing to sacrifice and compromise on the same things…and you aren’t.
I highly suggest that you take Callie’s advice and start to focus on YOU. What are your goals, your aspirations? What steps can you take to get there? Your ex has given you a gift, albeit in a less-than-ideal way…you now have the freedom to pursue whatever it is that makes you happy. Take that and run with it!
thyme October 11, 2011, 4:51 pm
Your boyfriend is planning an exciting adventure that will begin at the end of your relationship, and you don’t have any plans. So it totally makes sense that you are dreading the end more than he is (regardless of how much who loves who). He has something big to look forward to, and you don’t. Get something. You say that you aren’t tethered to your current lifestyle and that you like the idea of moving to a far-away place. So do it! Pick a place you’d love to go (NOT the UK!), and start researching and making the arrangements. That way, when your boyfriend gets all excited about his trip, instead of feeling empty and sick, you can be excited about yours too.
Not that anything will make breaking up not suck. But if you choose to stay together until the end, I think this is the best way to do it, and the least likely to lead to resentment.
Emma October 11, 2011, 5:24 pm
I was in a similar situation. I had been in love with my best friend for awhile, he returned my feelings a year before I was leaving to go to another state for school, and while we never thought it would work (he didn’t want to move, I just couldn’t stay), he changed his mind, and said he’d move with me. He stayed behind for a year, and we had an LDR, but we got through that, and now he’s my live-in fiance.
I’m not saying that this is what will happen… but it does work sometimes. So, if you want to hold out for that chance, I say wait until he leaves to end it. He might change his mind, he might not. Stranger things have happened. But even if he doesn’t, you can learn to enjoy the time in between.
MiMi October 11, 2011, 5:35 pm
There certainly is a recurring theme of women who want to stick with their long-term guy and move the relationship forward and men who are finding those women “good enough for now.”
Yeah, the dude should be honest, but right after he tells you there’s no future and you’re not the one, he should pack his bags and move the hell out, not just drop a stink bomb on you and expect you to sit around smelling it for the next 9 months!
LW, I think you’re worth more than “good enough until graduation.” Don’t you?
Chilosa161 October 11, 2011, 4:58 pm
I recently was in a relationship while I lived abroad that we both knew would end at a certain date. It was hard, because we cared about each other and we passed many beautiful moments together…but it was totally, and completely worth every second.
Just because you know that your relationship has an “expiration date” doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it for what it is and love it for what it’s worth; I learned so much from my experience with my ex and we were able to pull off a nearly-miraculous feat…the completely amicable breakup. We remain friends and talk from time to time, but we always knew that it would one day end and we would separate.
Honestly, it took the pressure off. We could just be two young lovers, and not have to think about the future or marriage or kids or anything like that because we both knew that there was none to be had together. I used to not see the point of dating someone unless I could see a future with them, but now I do. Every relationship is a unique experience and should be treasured for what it is.
That said, the way that I do it doesn’t have to be the way that the LW should.
Ktfran October 11, 2011, 6:03 pm
I think it’s wonderful that for some of you, the boyfriend or girlfriend decided that they absolutely wanted to stay in a relationship after thoughts of moving on with life. But, LW, I don’t think you should look at these examples, hold onto them and hope that this will happen. That sets you up for a lot of disappointment.
The only reason I’m saying this is because I know for a lot of people, they seek and then only heed the advice they want to hear and ignore the rest. Please don’t do that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the wait and see approach. It’s true, you never know. I also believe things work out the way they’re supposed to, which is why I might be more lackadaisical than some. But for your own sanity and mental health, plan and do things for you and don’t count on the boyfriend. Again, you just never know.
CottonTheCuteDog October 11, 2011, 5:49 pm
A person that says he loves you and then doesn’t want to try to be with you doesn’t love you!
Love is when you can’t even imagine any other path but the one you take together. I say leave now.
theattack October 11, 2011, 7:53 pm
“Love is when you can’t even imagine any other path but the one you take together.”
I really like that. Did you come up with that yourself?
Chilosa161 October 12, 2011, 8:31 am
“You will have to say goodbye many times. But don’t like that stop you from loving.”
He’s in love, but he’s realistic.
WatersEdge October 11, 2011, 7:24 pm
If you two stay together and break up at graduation, he may decide that he wants you back because of the pain of losing you. If you break up now, the same thing may happen. I truly believe that whether he’s going to have that realization or not won’t be different if you do it now vs. later. It’s been a long day and I’m not being clear, but what I’m trying to say is, you can get your answer now. Either he’ll want you back or he’ll move on. Don’t waste 9 months of your life wondering what the answer’s gonna be.
Sue Jones October 11, 2011, 8:01 pm
My college boyfriend, who was 1 year ahead of me in school decided to join the Peace Corps. The whole year was spent with this knowing. We spent the summer after his graduation together as he prepared to leave the country and I was in summer school. He left, it was all tearful and all of that and yet I prepared to be single and open to new possibilities for my senior year. Well a few weeks back in school, I am visiting my parents for a weekend, and I get a phone call, from HIM! He quit the Peace Corps after 1 month because he missed me! We spent another 2 years together until I ended the relationship for other reasons (I felt smothered). That was almost 30 years ago. You never really know what the future may bring, so focus on yourself, whatever you do.
savannah October 11, 2011, 11:01 pm
I am so afraid of doing something similar as your old BF–I’m on the other side of LW’s relationship. I went to grad school abroad while in a LDR and it really affected my time away. I plan on spending a lot of time abroad in my career and am terrified that I’ll be too narrow-minded and throw away an opportunity to be with the person that I love. It’s really a balancing act and I think it’s hard not to imagine lost opportunities the younger one is. Sill figuring out my whole independent-traveling-women bits with my in-love-really-miss-my-man bits.
CMonster October 11, 2011, 8:38 pm
Leave him now. You might nearly be over him in nine months, rather than being right at the beginning of a painful separation and breakup, after 9 months of that gut wrenching feeling of knowing you’re going to lose him anyway. Being in a relationship that has a time limit, especially when it’s NOT mutual, is incredibly difficult, and if you decide to stay, you might find that any resentment and upset you might feel will break you up before graduation anyway. If you part ways now, I’d say you have a better shot at doing it amicably (well, as amicably as a relationship breakup can be done!). He has laid his cards on the table and it’s great that he’s done that instead of being a wimp and stringing you along. It’s only fair that now you make the best choice for you.
Futhermore, a breakup can be a great breeding ground for making changes in your life and making plans. It’s about time you did make some plans and figure out who you are outside of the relationship.
L October 11, 2011, 9:27 pm
What I don’t get is that he called you “the number one person in his life” and on the other hand he says he wants to break up. To me that is sending major mixed messages.
It sounds to me as though he is confused. He doesn’t want to tie you down to him but yet he wants you in his life. Things indeed might change in nine months after graduation. He may change his mind. He may see things in a different light. He might not. He may get into grad school in the UK and end up missing you like crazy. No one can tell what will happen for sure.
My vote is to stay with him. If you are indeed his number one, things will work out in some way. Talk through your feelings throughout the next few months. Keep your options open. I’m not saying just up and move to the UK with him by any means, but if this relationship means something to you, why end it now? It is indeed a big change come graduation, but people have made relationships like this work in the past.
CatsMeow October 11, 2011, 9:35 pm
That’s a tough position to be in, LW.
The best advice for you right now is to focus on what YOU are going to do after graduation, for yourself. You said you have nothing holding you back, so the sky is the limit! Are you thinking about grad school? Peace Corps? Finding a job in your field? Don’t let anything your BF is or isn’t doing with his life influence how you want to live YOUR life – especially now that he’s made it clear that he wouldn’t make any sacrifices for you. Anyway, at your age, you both have a lot of living and learning to do. Breaking up will be tough in the short term, but I think you’ll be glad you did it in the long run.
And to answer your question, I personally would break up now rather than later, but I see benefits and disadvantages to both options. After graduation, you’re going to go through a LOT of changes, no matter what you end up doing. Do you want to add the stress of a breakup to that major life shift? Or will it be easier to just say goodbye to him and then go off and start a new life on your own? It’s up to you.
bittergaymark October 11, 2011, 9:50 pm
Eh, going against the grain here, I’d just enjoy the next nine months with him and see what happens. Who knows, you could break up in nine months and then find you miss one another. Or you could find that you don’t. Either way will be very revealing…
It seems to me that far too many people start planning for the future wayyyyyyy to early in relationships. Me? I’d play it cool and simply enjoy your time together. I’ve had summer romances like this and, funny, it never even entered my mind to spend all those months worrying about how it would all have to end and how devastated I’d be. Instead, I had fun. We both had fun. Now, years later, I look back on some of those flings with great affection. And, yes, one of them burned brightly for a while several years later after an unexpected reunion…
It does worry me that you seem to have no plans for your own future other than hoping to be with your boyfriend. Frankly, that is more than likely why he is pulling away. I mean, that’s a huge burden to place on somebody else. You have to find your own path in life post college, don’t dodge the responsibility by simply tagging along on somebody else’s big adventure…
Painted_lady October 11, 2011, 10:55 pm
I absolutely agree with your point that the pressure of her building all of her life’s plans around him may be part of why he’s pulling away. While eventually to be in a long-term relationship some sacrifices have to happen, for the vast majority of people we want whole partners who are more than just “bittergaymark’s boyfriend” or “painted_dude’s girlfriend.”
GatorGirl October 12, 2011, 9:41 am
I definitely agree that people are planning way too far ahead in their relationships. Who knows what could happen over the next nine months for the LW and the BF? They could break-up due to other reasons or their relationship could get stronger.
Deciding what to do with their relationship now is like deciding what to have for breakfast next Tuesday. You won’t know the right answer until you get there.
liza October 12, 2011, 3:23 pm
I agree. Liking this also because you are a Gator as well! Go, go Gator Nation.
DDL October 12, 2011, 8:22 am
Don’t worry about your boyfriend because it sounds like, in his mind, he’s already moved on and he’s told you his final decision. Don’t stay with him if you’re hoping he’ll change his mind, cos he won’t; he’s already told you he doesn’t see a future with you. This is something I’m sure he’s thought long and hard about, but he needs to make decisions for himself to achieve what he wants to achieve and you need to let him, LW. Which means he’s encouraging you to do the same by telling you the relationship will end once he’s gone.
So you’ll need to focus on yourself and what you want, and I’d take all of the great advice that’s been offered! Don’t rush into any major decisions, like moving, unless you want it for yourself and no one else. Explore who you are, have fun. 🙂
cdobbs October 12, 2011, 9:18 am
ah, i feel for you letter writer, i was in a very similar situation about 6 months before leaving to go to grad school. the guy i was with basically told me the same thing, that he was leaving, but that nothing should change in our relationship. to me, i think that is a selfish attitude to have. I have always felt that relationships should build towards something and if not, then end it. some people don’t agree and are just in relationships for the sake of being in a relationship. i personally can’t do that. it just hurts to much if you love someone and you know they are just going to leave you. my advice, get out now, because you are only going to hurt the whole time you are together.
fast eddie October 12, 2011, 9:05 am
This LW seems to want a no risk guarantee on a relationship. She wrote that her plan was to move away after graduation, if he doesn’t go to UK what’s he supposed to do, tag along at her whim? For the time being it’s working as is so why change it?
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com October 12, 2011, 10:00 am
Callie, this is so well written. And you’re only 21??? I’m so impressed.
mlippart October 12, 2011, 11:11 am
A similar thing happened to me four years ago. I was living abroad in Myanmar and had been dating this woman for about a year or so (she worked at the British Council). One day she sat me down and said, at the end of her contract, she had decided to move back home, that being away from her family was too hard. A point I totally understand, so no worries there. I told her that I would have no problem moving there with her (we had been living together for four or five months at this point). To my surprise and disappointment, she said she didn’t see us working out long term and didn’t want to make the investment. I was stupid enough not to follow her own advice, haha, and tried to do the whole “well, lets make the best of our last few months together”. We had some good times, and still talk once in a while, but overall it was pretty hard, on both of us, and looking back it would have been better all around to have ended once she had made up her mind. She was honest with me, I just didn’t listen to what she was really saying. In your case, LW, a part of him has already ended the relationship and is okay with that- so why prolong the inevitable?
liza October 12, 2011, 2:59 pm
Callie provides a good advice: no matter what you decide to do, focus on you.If not for my own personal experience, I would agree with most of the letter writers and tell you to move on now, rather than dragging out the inevitable. However…
My boyfriend and I had previously both been in LDRs, so on our second date (before we were officially an “item”) we agreed that we NEVER wanted to go down that route again. Long story short, we were both offered jobs that we both HAD to take (offers we couldn’t refuse!), which also meant that we would eventually be put in a LDR-or-breakup situation. I made a similar offer to yours (after my job, going to school in the UK rather than the US to be near him) and he gave me a similar response to what your boyfriend gave you. He was adamant about not wanting to do a LDR again and I thought that I would never be able to handle one of that distance. I was in your position and confused as well – was I more committed to him than he was to me? After some tough discussions and tears, we decided to take it a day at a time, enjoy the time we had left, and deal with it when our “deadline” came. I never thought I would be able to put myself in a situation like that, but I focused on my friends, my own future, and enjoying my time with him that I did have. Ultimately, we stayed together and are currently in a LDR. When it came down to it, we were willing to try it rather than give up completely. Things have worked out for us and he is now in a place where he is ready for us to start building our lives around each other and making decisions with our relationship in mind. His job is ending soon, so he and I are applying for jobs/school in the same places.
Here is my point: Does he see a (hypothetical) future with you? Does the idea of not having you in his life upset him? If so, give it time and see what happens. It’s okay if you can’t define that hypothetical future, as long as you both know you want it. You can deal with it as challenges arise. If he does not desire to have you in his hypothetical future, or is not saddened at the thought of you not being in his life, then I would exit the relationship now. It was easy for my boyfriend to be highly logical and say that our relationship would end because (a) it was important to his career/future that he take the job and (b) he didn’t want to be in a LDR. BUT, as with many matters of the heart, love supersedes logic sometimes. I realized that it wasn’t a matter of love or commitment for us, so much that it took him longer to get to a point where he was comfortable with “building [his] life around the other [person],” which happens on a different time schedule for everyone.
Good luck! Let us know what happens.
Tracey October 12, 2011, 3:40 pm
Have you ever taken off one of those adhesive bandages? No matter how hard you try, how much you brace yourself, how many time intensive steps you take to remove it (alcohol to loosen the grip, soaking to relax the skin, counting to ten to give yourself time to prepare), it hurts once you pull it off.
If you pull it off slowly, you risk opening the wound the bandage was protecting and you end up taking longer to heal. Plus it hurts really bad because the process is prolonged. You stop and start, stop and start, until it finally comes off. Plus you end up with a lot of sticky residue you have to clean up from where the bandage stuck to your skin.
If you pull it off quickly, guess what? You risk opening the wound the bandage was protecting, and you end up taking longer to heal. But you know what? If you pull quickly, it still hurts…but not as long. You don’t have as much sticky stuff to clean up. And you actually less of a risk of reopening the wound. Why? Because you’re focused, and moving with deliberate speed.
Now I’ll grant you this was kind of a gross analogy, but hey, breakups are gross. They’re messy, painful, there’s usually a bit of a sticky situation left behind that will need some attention…but they all heal in time.
So I ask you this: How do you want to heal? How badly do you want to remove the bandage from your relationship? Quickly or slowly?
Only you know the answer, the risks each entails, and how you truly want to heal.
Good luck, and know all will be well in time.