Dear MeFi, How the heck do I handle relationships, and the possible end of a promising one, in my mid-20s?
posted by mostly vowels to human relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In September, my ex and I broke up. We had been dating exclusively for 8 months, and I wanted things to move forward in terms of just general feelings of potential future commitment. We weren't on the same page, and we broke up. All things considered, it was a great relationship after a stretch of pretty bad ones for me.
In early November, I started dating a new guy who lives and works about an hour away. He's very awesome, and he asked about where things stood earlier than I expected. I told him that I had no other irons in the dating fire, but due to my recent breakup, I wanted to take things slow, and wasn't ready to define the relationship. He also said he wasn't dating other people, and was fine with taking it slow. During this same exchange, I noted that when I finish my masters in a couple of years I'll have to conduct a national job search (it's a field that requires you to be open to moving anywhere to advance your career), so I couldn't say if I'd be in the area long term. He's also in a field where opportunities to move up are often far away, and said he also was in a place where if an opportunity came knocking, he'd seriously consider it.
I had just gotten to a point recently where I was beginning to feel more emotionally ready to step up and define the relationship (basically we've been dating exclusively, but have not defined things as "boyfriend/girlfriend") and also feel ready for more physical closeness (things have been pretty PG-13, no sex yet - we've talked about this and he's been cool with the slow pace).
Fast forward to now, and that opportunity has come knocking for him - in a country on the other side of the Atlantic (we are in the southeast United States). He has only been through a phone interview for what he describes as a dream position (except the location - he would prefer to remain domestic). Although he has certain reservations about the country, if an offer is made, it seems chances are good he'll take it because it would be such a boon to his career. I'm happy for him to be advancing his career, but I'm having trouble figuring out what to do next, and I feel pretty upset right now (in a sad/wistful way more than anything).
We haven't talked too much about how this would affect our budding relationship. I'm not interested in long distance, and I don't think he is either. I want to keep seeing him while he's here, but I told him that this may mean I keep things at the same slow state so I don't get too emotionally attached if he's going to leave in a couple months. He said he understands and respects that.
Other relevant details:
a) I am 25 (female), he's 28.
b) I am in therapy for some anxiety issues, many of which were brought to light by the breakup in September
c) Although I've had sex during flings before, I generally dislike it and prefer sex in the context of a defined, committed, long-term (or at least not, "I might move away in 3 months") relationship.
d) I would eventually like to be in a relationship that progresses to marriage, but am deeply ambivalent about having children.
e) I've been in a few "expiration date" flings and relationships before. But before, the expiration date was certain - this time the expiration date is up in the air and not even certain.
f) I did not know he had applied for this job (as he told it, it was more of a "I'll apply for this but I'm not holding my breath") until he told me about the phone interview. He told his parents right before he told me about this whole thing (he is close with them), so I don't feel he was keeping me in the dark. I am not aware of any other potential jobs he's looking at, though I know he has applied to (and in some cases declined) other jobs across the country previous to meeting me.
1) Any advice on how to proceed with this particular guy? I think it's premature to call the whole thing off at this point.
Part of me feels like I'm putting the cart before the horse (which is the kind of person I often am) - this job is far from a done deal, and there are also other candidates and lots of bureaucracy/potential visa issues. And it very well may be that I could hit the job market before he does if this offer doesn't go through, and we could have the same situation in reverse. So I really would like to find ways to keep enjoying whatever time we have together while a) recognizing the possibility it may only last anywhere between a few more months and a couple more years and b) learning to balance the need to protect myself without closing myself off to intimacy and the reality that all relationships have the potential for heartbreak, and c) figuring out whether to keep things at the comfortable (slow) state they're at, or if/when to step things up the way I was prepared to do.
2) How does someone who can be guarded, but bonds fiercely once things are a bit more solid and especially when sex enters the picture deal with the transitory nature of relationships in your mid-20s?