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Long distance relationship fizzled out, because of distance. Do I move to salvage it?
December 25, 2011 6:30 PM   Subscribe

My relationship broke down because of the distance. Can it be salvaged, or do I just let it be?

I've been turning this over in my mind for the last six months and it has caused me a lot of pain. I'm no closer to finding a resolution to the situation or coming to terms with it. After endlessly consulting my friends who are now tired of listening to me and whom have their own problems, I put myself at the mercy of the internet and ask whether anyone with a degree of detachment could give me advice.

I was happy in a long distance relationship for 18 months. We dated growing up, together in our teens and properly  together last year. I did the majority of the travelling. This was fine with me. Things were going well, for both of us. We began to discuss moving to the same city. I was keen to do so, being stuck in a rut, careerwise and in terms of my social life. It would have been a good move for me I think. Thinking we would be living together I was initially keen. Later I realised I would be expected to live either alone or in a flatshare with someone and I began to be reluctant, as I have a comfortable living situation. I was happy to continue until we could move in together. My partner was less happy about this and found the distance difficult. I ignored warning signs.

We began to bicker and have pointless disagreements because of the strain distance placed on our relationships. These weren't major but cumulatively they became irritating. Seeing each other weekends meant that small issues were magnified, my partner was living life in a new city and get their career going. I felt hassled into moving to a situation I felt was perhaps rather one sided. I believe my partner didn't feel I was committed enough to her. I don't think I made it clear enough that my reluctance was purely situational. I also know now that I came across as a fraud, because it didn't appear that I was looking for with in this new city. In reality I was, but it was difficult for me to both find decent work and to reconcile leaving a relatively well paid job and living with very good friends, to taking the first job that came up and living in a new city in a less then ideal situation because I felt forced into it. I was reluctant to move and I believe this began to show.

Eventually my partner began to read a lot deeper into a few issues than she should have. A passing remark one day that I'd like to know if she wanted to have children was interpreted as me being desperate for children. I'm not, I don't currently believe I will ever want them, and explaining this seemed like backtracking. We had other areas in which were differed but these weren't big issues. We couldn't work on them, because the time we had together was brief.  These were not reasons I would agree with, I think we were very well matched, different but complementary. I think it was purely the long distance strain that made these small problems loom large. I think it was also the shadow cast by my reluctance to move that made us seem incompatible to her. If I'm brutally honest with myself, I don't think there were good reasons for us not to work, but I don't want to say I'm right and she's wrong, her reasons are her own.

Eventually she said we should have a break for a few weeks. This was ok with me, I thought it could work, but we met a few times, got drunk and you know the rest. This didn't help.

I'm stuck in limbo now. My friends tells me to move on. Maybe I should. I love her, she did love me, I fully intended my life would be with her and her with me. Now I am torturing myself every minute, wondering what would have happened had I moved. I have mentioned to her I would do whatever I could to try and make this work. She was not interested, telling me not to move for her, because we wouldn't be together again.

FarTLDR: Do I move to try and salvage a relationship which was so good but fizzled out because of distance, or do I carry on trying to let it go? Just to be clear, I am of sound mind and highly conscious of her feelings and happiness, I would not do anything that would make her unhappy, intentionally or recklessly. And if the answer is move on, how do I do this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sounds like it wasn't about the distance for her. Are you sure it was about the distance?
posted by empath at 6:38 PM on December 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let it go. With very few exceptions, long distance relationships are temporary, until the couple can be together in person. You were given the opportunity to end the long-distance part, but your comfort was more important than moving to be with her. That's OK! But it clearly wasn't for her.
posted by maxwelton at 6:41 PM on December 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


It sounds like you were just not compatible.
posted by mleigh at 6:52 PM on December 25, 2011


It sounds like she wanted you to move to be with her regardless of whether it made sense across the board for you, a bit like 'you would if you loved me' and that's never a good sign. She wants to be the only thing that matters but realistically, jobs and housing and income matter too. You'll never know if you can make it work, however, if you never live in the same city and that can be what is driving her behavior, i.e. move already so we can be together. She wants you to stop waiting for things to be ideal.

You need to decide what is important to you for moving. How do really feel about not being able to live together, do you want to move so you two can just date? What makes sense professionally and economically for you? What happens if you move and it doesn't work out? You may need to expressly communicate your desire to be with her as well as your desire for specific circumstances (job, home, income). Moving for her with a no matter what attitude, is not a good position to put yourself in. But if you want to be with her, at some point, you have to shit and get off the pot.

You two sound young and like you haven't dated much. I really hate the saying that 'timing is everything' but it could just not be your time and that's perfectly OK. You can move anywhere you want and determine your own criteria for what you want and need out of new city.
posted by shoesietart at 6:58 PM on December 25, 2011


We began to bicker and have pointless disagreements because of the strain distance placed on our relationships.
...
I don't think there were good reasons for us not to work, but I don't want to say I'm right and she's wrong, her reasons are her own.

It seems to me that when people start finding things to bicker pointlessly about, and come up with reasons to break up that seem weird or lame, the actual reasons that are being bickered about are a red herring. This person just wants to break up with you and is coming up with justifications.

You were doing all the traveling to her city.
You were the one who was going to move to her city.
Even if you moved to her city, she did not want to live with you.
She said you should have a break.
She said you shouldn't move to her city and you would not be together again.

My instinct is that she wanted to break up with you but things had gotten so far with the plans for you to move to her city that she didn't have the courage to do it outright, and tried to do it by winding things down slowly in drips and drabs, first telling you she didn't want to move in together, then picking the fights, etc.

I think there is nothing you could have done. I think it is pointless beating yourself up wondering what you could have done to make it come out differently, because I think she just wanted to break up with you and there is nothing you could have done.
posted by cairdeas at 7:26 PM on December 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Later I realised I would be expected to live either alone or in a flatshare with someone and I began to be reluctant, as I have a comfortable living situation."

Huh?

Initially I was going to write that I, too, would be unhappy in an indefinite long distance relationship. But I'm not sure why you'd be "expected" to live apart? It's not entirely unreasonable, but I can absolutely see how that was off-putting for you.

Anyway.

For some reason she sounds totally over it, and I think you need to face it and stop beating yourself up. Now.

Now!

Now is the time for you to self-develop some GREAT techniques for coping with the demise of an intimate relationship, as you are young, and there will be more that begin and end. Until one sticks. This one just didn't stick. It's OK.

At your age I wish someone had told me I could develop techniques and perspectives that could help. I ended up learning over time. There is a meditation technique where you acknowledge feelings and thoughts, but you let them wash over you and float away. Battling your feeling will cause them to persist. If you truly feel what you are feeling, face it, naturally process it... it'll soon become a thing of the past. If you engage and obsess, well, don't do this. I know there is a rubber band trick where you where it on your wrist and snap it whenever you find yourself obsessing, and then think positive thoughts instead. Shaping your thought process is not the same thing as battling "what if's." In fact, it's kinda the opposite. Don't engage the "what if's," do acknowledge the reality as it is today and how you are feeling.

You can make quick work of this if you are keen to experiencing a better tomorrow.

----

In your post you relate being in a rut where you are, but then not wanting to leave friends and a good job behind on a risk. Which was true?

You might need to leave your current circumstances in general, but not to jump deeper into this relationship option that is no longer on the table, anyway, at this point.

----

It jumped out at me that you liked being in a long distance relationship. Uh, no one really likes this unless they enjoy the buffer zone that this type of relationship affords. I suggest you just didn't really want intimacy, or aren't ready, or whatever (which is super cool when you are young!) rather than it being a judgement against this particular person. I suggest it's just not the time for this sort of thing for you. And that's OK.

----

Stop beating yourself up. Move on.
posted by jbenben at 7:31 PM on December 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's nothing to salvage. She's gone. Sorry.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:34 PM on December 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thinking we would be living together I was initially keen. Later I realised I would be expected to live either alone or in a flatshare with someone and I began to be reluctant....

I felt hassled into moving to a situation I felt was perhaps rather one sided. I believe my partner didn't feel I was committed enough to her. I don't think I made it clear enough that my reluctance was purely situational. I also know now that I came across as a fraud...


Um, this doesn't make as much sense as you think it does. Soo you both wanted you to move to the city, but she didn't want you to move in, and from this you concluded that you were a fraud and she felt you weren't committed enough? It doesn't add up. Normally the one who wants to move in together (and do all the traveling and life-changing moves) is the committed one.

She was not interested, telling me not to move for her, because we wouldn't be together again.
The question that you're asking us has already been answered by the only person who can answer it. Now how do you move on? Write this on a post-it note and look at it every morning when you brush your teeth. Then with your minty fresh breath go and find someone new.
posted by bleep at 9:01 PM on December 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


She is done, and said so. It's over. You have to move on now.
posted by ead at 12:31 AM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


" ... my partner began to read a lot deeper into a few issues than she should have ... A passing remark one day that I'd like to know if she wanted to have children was interpreted as me being desperate for children. I'm not, I don't currently believe I will ever want them, and explaining this seemed like backtracking ... these weren't big issues. We couldn't work on them, because the time we had together was brief ..."

There seems to have developed a mismatch in communication between you that resulted in a bit of a mare's nest of crossed lines. It seemed like backtracking to explain that you didn't want children - so you didn't explain? You couldn't work on things because your time together was brief - no communication between meetings? This is not meant to be a criticism, at all - just be aware that without clear and constant communication, people will almost inevitably "... read a lot deeper ..." into things, because there will be no way for them to do anything else if you (as a couple - this is not just your responsibility) are not talking properly and correcting any misapprehensions between you.

As others upstream have said, it sounds like there was more going on here than just the physical separation - it's not the miles, it's the distance as they say.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 5:09 AM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's possible I'm reading this wrong, your timeline is a bit hazy, but you seem to be saying that you wanted to move in with someone that you hadn't even discussed the future possibility of children with. That reads to me like you're so invested in this relationship that you're not (or you weren't) evaluating the relationship in a very realistic way.

Even if that's not the case, and even if you're right that things could have worked if you'd moved a year ago, you didn't, things didn't work, and moving now won't change that. Let go, that's the advice of this detached internetizen.
posted by solotoro at 6:47 AM on December 26, 2011


You move for relationships that are working, not relationships that aren't.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:34 AM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's nothing to salvage. Stop beating yourself up over the "woulda-shoulda-couldas," because you have no idea what your future might have held if you'd done things differently, and there's no guarantee there wouldn't have been a similar conclusion.

As for moving on, one thing I would suggest is focusing your attention on something else that you can resolve right now - like this rut you mentioned you were in.
posted by sm1tten at 11:05 AM on December 26, 2011


She Is No Longer That Into You.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:55 AM on December 26, 2011


Let it go for now, work on yourself, improve your own life as much as possible, get to know new people and learn more about the world. If you two end up reconnecting sometime, that's wonderful. If not, it won't matter because you'll have created a rich life for yourself.
posted by hermitosis at 1:48 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


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