chop off the hand to save the arm?
January 19, 2012 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Relationship advice: Boyfriend will be relocated soon. Should I break it off before I become too attached?

I am confused as to whether or not I am acting in my best interest. I met a guy at a concert in December and we started seeing each other. He lives about 2 hours away, and I have been going to his place on weekends, or he will come to Atlanta (less often). We immediately clicked because we have a lot of the same interests.

I disclosed I was transsexual before we took it anywhere physical, and he initially said it changes things and that he couldn't pursue, but called me the next day after changing his mind. Since then it's been great, except for the distance. However, he is in the military, and is going to be relocated to the middle of the desert some time in early march probably.

I am already severely infatuated, and am worried that if I don't break it off now, I will become even more attached, and thus his departure will have a negative effect on my emotional state. I haven't dated in like, 5 years. Mostly because it's hard to deal with rejection when I disclose that don't have all of the expected parts. So, it's not like I will be jumping right back into the dating scene after this. Also, maybe I am just so taken by this guy because he is accepting of me, and I was attention starved? I don't trust myself to think clearly on these kinds of issues.

Half of me thinks that I should just enjoy it while I can. The other half says I am just setting myself up for heartbreak. Is it worth it to date someone you have no chance of a future with?
posted by polywomp to Human Relations (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Why don't you talk to him about it? He may be having similar concerns.
posted by elizeh at 7:50 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is it worth it to date someone you have no chance of a future with?

If you're 18, yes. If you're 40, no. It depends. But, if you have both no chance of a future and no chance of actually spending time togther, I really don't see the point. It ceases to be a relationship and starts to be self-imposed torture. If you think you could stick it out while he's away and have a life together when he gets back, then maybe it's worth it. Those are judgment calls no one else can make for you.
posted by Dasein at 7:50 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

No matter what your do in life, there will be times when your heart will be broken, but there are only a few opportunities at happiness.

"Is it worth it to date someone you have no chance of a future with?" Im pretty much in exactly the same situation right now. I'll be transferring colleges in a semester, but am crazy in love with a local girl. Hell no am I going to sacrifice the 6 months that I have left because I know Im going to be weeping tears of loneliness when we split. Better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 7:55 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're having a nice time with this guy. I was in a very similar position with my girlfriend at one stage, when I moved +1000km away. We kept it up for nearly two years, flying to see each other when funds and schedules permitted, messaging and email and calls in between.

That was nearly seven years ago now. Eventually I moved to be closer to here and I'm glad of it every day. It doesn't have to be a dealbreaker - it doesn't not have to be a dealbreaker either; what worked for us may not work for every couple, but I just want you to know that distance isn't the be-all end-all, and I certainly wouldn't say that it means you will "have no future".
posted by smoke at 8:03 PM on January 19, 2012

I know that I sound like a greeting card but:
- Don't risk certain thing now for a probable anything in the future.
- Just live in the moment, you never know what is around the corner. All we really have is the now and it is precious.
- Think of it as an opportunity to experience some emotions that you might not otherwise get to feel.

I would talk to him about it.
posted by dantodd at 8:05 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Talk to him. Ask yourself and then him if there's any possibility you guys could keep in contact or even do the long-distance thing in the future.

Military deployments vary in length-- ask him how long his will be, and decide how that makes you feel.
posted by devymetal at 8:06 PM on January 19, 2012

He's in the military permanently, as an officer, so I expect he will be moved around every few years. Possibly overseas, even.
posted by polywomp at 8:07 PM on January 19, 2012

Well, is that a deal-breaker for you?
posted by devymetal at 8:16 PM on January 19, 2012

Well, him being 2000 miles away would certainly kill the relationship, as I wouldn't be able to ever afford a visit, and only spouses can live on base. Text messages and Facebook do not a relationship make.
posted by polywomp at 8:28 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that you should at least talk to him about it. You can always give the long distance thing a chance and it should be obvious pretty early on whether or not it's going to hold. If it doesn't work out, then at least you tried. If it does work and you both want to keep it up, then he could help pay for your visits, or he could visit you when he gets leave. But you won't know how he feels until you ask him.

I was in a long distance relationship where the distance part spanned two and half years. At one point, we did not see each other for 8 months. Now we're happily married. We wouldn't have what we have now if we didn't take the risk of heartbreak.
posted by keep it under cover at 8:43 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

And we were about 4000 miles apart. Maybe I'm biased, but I don't ascribe to the notion that these things never work out. I have several friends whose relationships survived quite a bit of distance, and they're all still together now.
posted by keep it under cover at 8:45 PM on January 19, 2012

Um... *subscribe*
posted by keep it under cover at 8:46 PM on January 19, 2012

Frankly, from what you're writing here, it sounds like you've written the relationship off already so it can become confirmation of your narrative of a bad love life. All serious relationships, long distance, close distance, no distance, require investment and work - that is what separates the serious relationships from the non-serious ones.

It doesn't sound like this guy wants it to end himself, and he's not even moving for months - so why are setting fire to the bridges? You might get hurt. But it doesn't matter how far apart you are; being in a serious relationship means exposing yourself - vulnerabilities and all - to someone else. The potential for hurt is omnipresent if you care about the relationship.

I can understand your fear and reluctance for heartbreak. But I feel like it's that fear which is driving this question, and not any particulars about the relationship, the distance per se. You aren't seeing the glass as half-empty here, you're seeing it as smashed up and ready to slice you to ribbons! You deserve to be loved. Let that knowledge guide how think about this, rather than fears for a future that's yet to come about. Maybe he'll leave the army. Maybe you'll join the army! Who knows, but cross that bridge when you come to it, don't sabotage yourself based on fear, that's just self-destructive and sad.
posted by smoke at 9:09 PM on January 19, 2012 [10 favorites]

Does he also not see a future?

If he does not see a future, I would bail. I dated someone intensely for a few months knowing it had a distance-related expiration date, thinking that short-term pleasure would outweigh the later pain of separation. It didn't. It took me months to get back on track after the breakup.

Since you are already so emotionally invested, this soon, it sounds like the same might happen for you. Knowing what I know now, I would not again date someone for the short term only. It's great to date, but you need to watch out for yourself in this world.
posted by baltimoregirl at 11:03 PM on January 19, 2012

I have avoided talking about it with him since he haven't really been dating all that long anyway, and I don't want to be that girl that starts talking about the future right away. I like him quite a lot, but I also worry that part of my infatuation may be a result of basically not even having a hug for years, then suddenly being able to enjoy human touch. Then again, maybe I am just rationalizing. I can't analyze it.
posted by polywomp at 11:14 PM on January 19, 2012

I've been in your situation - relationships where there's an expiry date because one of us will move away, and I'm now in a serious semi LDR with a military man. The choice to remain in the relationship long-distance has to be a practical one - if you can't afford the time/money to see each other regularly, and it's not practical for you to move, you're gonna get your heart broken within a few months. But my perspective on knowing it will have to end is that's not a bad thing. My favorite Dan Savage quote is that all relationships fail... Until one doesn't. And there's something very nice about knowing this one won't end in rejection, just a parting of ways. If you choose to simply enjoy it while it lasts, there will be only good memories of your time together.

I, for one, think you sound like a person who could really use some positive relationship experience, and this is your opportunity. He might not be destined to be "the one" for you, but he's here now, and willing. Talk to him, as a military man he's no stranger to having to deal with facing the realities of a situation.
posted by lizbunny at 5:22 AM on January 20, 2012

Well, him being 2000 miles away would certainly kill the relationship, as I wouldn't be able to ever afford a visit.

What about the possibility of him visiting you? We don't know his side of the story, but he may be interested in trying to make it work long distance and coming to visit you when he has the chance.
posted by asnider at 10:11 AM on January 20, 2012

"I like him quite a lot, but I also worry that part of my infatuation may be a result of basically not even having a hug for years, then suddenly being able to enjoy human touch."

I don't accept that as a legitimate reason to discontinue seeing him.

People need physical contact. They need compassion, intimacy and tenderness, whether from a significant other or from their friends and platonic relations (although the latter cannot substitute the former). You as a person, as a functioning human being who seeks emotional well-being and balance, you need this. You might not need it all the time, but with a 5 year's romantic dearth to your name, you probably need this *right now*. That you can self-analyze and recognize this hunger for human contact is a display of emotional maturity on your part, but it does not disqualify your attraction as misguided. I think pursuing an intimate or even a primarily sexual relationship with someone on the grounds of seeking passionate physical intimacy can be justified, provided you are both willing, reasonable and honest throughout.

Of course, there is your long-term emotional well-being to consider--the tremendous risk of being hurt, or of dealing hurt, as your inevitable separation looms closer. However, I think you should consider that your positive experiences can outweigh the pains you might suffer later on--and I don't just mean in the palliative sense. You don't have many opportunities to enter a relationship, and staying with him will provide you with a touchstone for your own feelings and expectations; you will be able to reflect on what you liked and what you didn't like, what went right and what went wrong, etc. This is information that only comes with recent experience; the person you are now is likely very different from the person you were when you last dated 5 years ago. Without having any recent romantic or even sexual experiences to reflect on, it's going to be that much more difficult for you to find someone compatible if you leave this relationship prematurely.

Additionally, if you left him, the time between now and your next sexual or romantic encounter could be indeterminably long. Think of how sensitive and vulnerable you will be then, how much emotional charge and risk will come attached to being with your next significant other. The longer you wait, the more open you are to insecurity and pain. I say seize the opportunities for experience that come your way, and if you must suffer in the end, at least you'll walk away with a greater knowledge of what you're looking for in your ideal mate. And a tougher skin to boot. Hope this helps.
posted by Sine_Agraphia at 5:12 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

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