Should I have a long distance relationship or MOA? I’m 29 and I’ve been with my boyfriend for about eight months, and he is absolutely amazing. Not only are we a perfect fit for each other, but he always encourages me to do what’s best for me, even if it’s at an inconvenience for him – such a rare quality that not sure I’d easily find again! I can see myself marrying him at some point in the future, and I have no doubts that he would be a very considerate husband and awesome father.
Even though he’s such a great guy and I do want to be with him, I am having doubts about the actual logistics of this relationship working out long term. I am moving away to a small town in a different state to continue my education and he is moving away for work to a small town in a different state. So, considering that I won’t have the funds needed to fly from my small town to his small town, I will have to travel for three hours to a large nearby airport, fly for three hours, and then travel another two hours from the airport to his place — that’s around eight hours travel time each way for me!
Furthermore, once he’s finished with work, he’s free to do whatever he pleases; however, once I am finished with class I have books to read, problem sets to solve and papers to write – all of which I can do while traveling of course, but still highly inconvenient. Also, since I’m a student, I’ll already have to be cutting costs in all other areas of my life, giving up some student activities and opportunities so that I can get more work done during the week and we can spend time together, in addition to spending the last of my late 20’s and early 30’s traveling for a long-distance relationship.
We will have to do this for 2-3 years, and I’m not sure if a relationship can survive this type of hassle. What I am afraid of most however, is that after I invest all of these things in him, eventually he’ll break up with me because of the “distance” or because he’ll at some point meet someone who is available to him all the time. My program is largely male dominated – I’ll easily be able to meet other guys, although I doubt I will like or respect anyone as much as the current boyfriend.
I am so torn over this; should maintaining a relationship really be this difficult? Are we better off finding more accessible significant others? Or am I just being selfish because I feel like I will be investing the most in making this relationship work, without any idea of what the future holds? We’ve only been dating eight months — too early to discuss marriage or life three years down the road. Ironically enough, he encouraged me to attend this program because it’s top in my field, I don’t want to turn around and punish him for being a good guy. — LDR Anxiety
It sounds like you already have your mind made up and you’re looking for someone to give you any reason to change it. But I’m not going to do that. The truth is that long distance relationships are very challenging, even in the best circumstances (the best circumstances being: ease of commute, enough funds to pay for the commute, plenty of time to make the commute as well as to talk on the phone and communicate regularly, an end-date not too far off in the future, a stable foundation prior to the distance, and, of course, a strong commitment), but you admittedly don’t have the best circumstances. Given the impracticality of the commute between the two small towns you and your boyfriend are moving to, respectively, you’d have to be hella committed to making it work. Your letter doesn’t indicate that to be the case.
And that’s a shame, isn’t it? After all, your boyfriend sounds like a great guy and you see qualities in him you admire and respect and know to be rare. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find them again in someone else. There are a lot of men out there. A lot. Just because this is the best match you’ve found for yourself so far doesn’t mean he’s the only one. You said yourself you’re going to be in a male-dominated program in school. Maybe you’ll meet a someone who has many of the wonderful qualities you love about your boyfriend and isn’t an 8-hour commute away.
But maybe you won’t … and that’s the thing about life: we can never truly predict what’s coming ’round the bend. If you’re looking for some sort of guarantee that the investments and decisions you’re making today are going to lead to happiness, success and personal fulfillment, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. There are no such guarantees in life. You could very well commit to your boyfriend and decide to make this distance work, traveling the 8 hours each way to see him, scrimping and saving for the plane tickets, sacrificing what little free time you have for him, and he could dump you. Or, you could do the dumping. You could find someone you like better. The game-change doesn’t necessarily have to be his doing for the outcome to be the same. But, does the end of a relationship make what came before it a waste of time? Does it make the return on your investment completely without value? I would hope that you would find meaning even in things that don’t result in the outcome you initially hoped for. Some of life’s best learning lessons come from our biggest disappointments.
Finally, if you do decide to end your relationship instead of trying to maintain it across the distance, don’t think of it as “punishing” your boyfriend or anything silly like that. Yes, he’s made an investment of eight months in your relationship, but hopefully there’s been enough meaning and lessons in it that he’ll feel like his time as been well-spent, whether you end things in the immediate future or not. If you only look at life in black and white — as punishments versus rewards, right versus wrong, good versus bad — and fail to see the beauty that exists in the technicolor of unpredictability, you’re missing out on so much. There’s richness in life’s messes. Don’t be afraid to experience it.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.