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Short-term relationship. How fun! Now what?
November 9, 2009 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm part of a short-term couple. We both know it will probably end in about six months from now, due to a long-distance move. I feel that there's a multitude of things I can experiment with here, due to the short-term nature of the (non?)relationship. But what are those things? Also: I know that each relationship is different, but what are the general rules of such relationships, anyway? How am I supposed to be in love, without falling in love? What can I do to make the most of the time we have left?

Sure, I'm probably wasting my time in a dead-end relationship. But never mind that.

By experimentation, I don't necessarily mean sexual experimentation. Although I'm open to that, too. The sex life has been great so far, because my inhibitions are gone (no future for us! nothing to be embarrassed about in the future!). "Oh, you came? No, you will not go to sleep. I'm having my turn." Although this, of course, is good for both of us, and for any future relationships?

So far, I've learnt to be more assertive, because I don't think, "Oh, shit. Did I do something wrong? What if we break up?" I know our relationship is likely to end in about six months, and am not worried about long-term impact. At the same time, I don't want to come off as a selfish jerk.

In the future, I'd like both of us to look back at this time and think, Ah, those six months were fantastic. Hivemind, tell me how to behave in this sort of thing!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Expiration dating is always tough.

I would recommend that you do your best to remain considerate of the other person's feelings, regardless of the fact that your relationship has a clear end date. It's nice to know that you aren't likely to weird someone out in a way that will alienate them forever (and if so, you've got a healthy dose of 'so what?' to carry you through), but it's still important to make sure that you're acting in such a way to alleviate the distress that this sort of relationship can easily instill.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:34 PM on November 9, 2009


Alright, I am going to tell you that even in a relationship between two smart people who both know it is going to end due to a move in a fixed amount of time it will very likely still end badly. I tried to do the same thing with a wonderful girl when I was graduating and moving to China and she was still in school and it turned into a giant crazy fun heartbreaking clusterfuck.

You need to figure out if you would be better off ending things now then setting yourselves up for heartbreak down the road.
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:35 PM on November 9, 2009


"Oh, you came? No, you will not go to sleep. I'm having my turn."

I don't know what the hell that's supposed to mean, but if that's your attitude toward sex, you should probably knock that off. That's not going to make your partner remember you fondly... unless that's precisely what gets your partner off.

Just treat him/her with respect. Do a lot of fun things together. Make the most of that time. A shorter time limit doesn't mean your partner deserves to be treated any differently. It's nice that you don't feel as inhibited, but don't burn your bridges.

You may also want to discuss the terms of your relationship with said partner just in case one of you decides to dispense with your inhibitions with somebody else during this period, and the other of you is not aware that was okay.
posted by katillathehun at 1:36 PM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would treat it as an experiement in impermanence. Nothing will demonstrate its ubiquity more than a transient love affair.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:36 PM on November 9, 2009


Why don't you agree to being non-exclusive. You know, friends with benefits?
posted by teg4rvn at 1:38 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think there are any "general rules" here besides have fun and try not to overthink things.

So far, I've learnt to be more assertive, because I don't think, "Oh, shit. Did I do something wrong...

It's healthy (but as you know, not always easy) to be assertive. Relying a relationship's presumed transiency may embolden you the short run, but making assertiveness a permanent matter of self respect (something you can rely on whether or not you are in a relationship) is your goal.

I would suggest not being so certain about what your future holds.
posted by applemeat at 1:38 PM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Relying on a
posted by applemeat at 1:39 PM on November 9, 2009


Did it. Still play the what-if game with myself just about every day, but overall I do look back on it fondly.

We didn't make a huge deal out of the fact that there was an expiration date. The week before he left, we spent every minute together, talked about it, and decided that even though we were really happy, long distance wouldn't work. Actually, it was basically the same conversation we had when we decided to start dating, but with more crying.

Aside from the fact that I lost a great relationship, it was actually the easiest breakup I've ever had. I was really, really sad, but I had a very concrete reason for the relationship ending and we actually got to keep our friendship (which was a nice surprise for me). My advice: make sure you're on the same page about ending things, talk a lot, and (seriously) don't be surprised by your feelings when it ends.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:45 PM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


About 4 years ago, I had a non-exclusive sexual and friend relationship with a guy I knew was leaving town within a few months. We had a great time and did lots of experimentation. He was used to having 'open' relationships, and I am more of a one-man man. I ended up falling in love a little, so it hurt when it ended, but it was a lot of fun while it was going on.
posted by hworth at 1:48 PM on November 9, 2009


I've had a few "short but meaningful" relationships in the past - and most of them ended very well, despite what other people might tell you. The best bit of advice I can give you is to keep the lines of communication open. Don't think that just because the relationship is ending soon that you don't need to talk to your partner. All relationships need good communication, even short ones. As long as everyone knows where they stand, and everyone is happy with the arrangement, then these things really do work out.

As to making happy memories, the best advice I can give you is to treat your partner as you would any other partner - but don't make any long term plans (that's misleading). Having an expiration date on your relationship shouldn't change the way you act because every partner you're with should be with the real you.
posted by patheral at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2009


Have a threesome. Or a foursome. Maybe moresome? They're awesome.
posted by Netzapper at 2:51 PM on November 9, 2009


"We're just going to do this for the summer until I move 500 miles away"

Thirteen years and one child later I think I can safely say that expiration dates are really a lot softer than they may appear.
posted by paanta at 2:56 PM on November 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


How am I supposed to be in love, without falling in love?

Why are you supposed to be in love? You're just dating them, it can be fun and sweet and healthy and tender without being, you know, love.
posted by you're a kitty! at 3:49 PM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


The next step after being assertive. Try experimenting with being open and vulnerable - speak honestly about is happening for you in moment. (Just remember to make it about you - attacking the other person in the name of honesty is just mean.) It's a very hard but very valuable skill to master that will lead to greater intimacy in any loving relationship. it can also lead to really good sex. (See David Schnarch's Passionate Marriage)
posted by metahawk at 5:26 PM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heh, you sound like you're doing just fine. Enjoy the hell out of it. Also seconding getting another person or few into your bed, if that seems like it might be fun. Mmmf.

As for protecting your heart, well, you know it's coming. For me, this meant a sort of open-minded compartmentalizing -- I can be sad with THIS part of my brain, and still keep that strut in my step with THIS part of my brain.

"Oh, you came? No, you will not go to sleep. I'm having my turn."

I don't know what the hell that's supposed to mean, but if that's your attitude toward sex, you should probably knock that off. That's not going to make your partner remember you fondly... unless that's precisely what gets your partner off.


Allow me to provide some interpretation. See the context about embarrassment. It's altogether too easy to not be assertive enough to get one's own sexual desires met. It would be more satisfying for both participants to get to make each other come if not for a wave of shyness that inhibits further acceptance of sexual pleasure.
posted by desuetude at 6:41 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Have fun. Seriously. that's what being with someone else is all about. The legal and social benefits of a long-term partner notwithstanding, being with someone else is all about having fun with them. So have fun. We're all just here temporarily anyway.
posted by chrisinseoul at 2:43 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


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