Girl of my dreams and I decided to not do long distance when shes abroad
January 3, 2014 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Girl I've been dating for a few months, who is perfect for me, has left to go abroad for 10 months. We decided not to do long distance but to keep in close contact. I'm planning to visit her. I'm in this grey area where we are in an unlabeled, romantic friendship and care deeply about each other but due to distance and uncertainty of the future, we can't commit. I'm just scared we are going to lose our amazing connection and fall apart, so I need some perspective on how to keep close and be as intimate as possible in the face of this distance, and the freedom to date other people.

I'm a very happy person. The last year I've been very happy with my life and myself but this girl had made it incredibly better. She's changed my perspective on love, and happiness, and human connection. All I want for her to be happy being herself. She is just so lovely, a warm and welcoming amazing personality.

We met about three months ago, and started dating 2 months ago. I entered this knowing she had received a teaching scholarship halfway across the world. We worked on the same floor, and grew very close, fast. We instantly connected physically and mentally. We get along so well, and we have such an amazing chemistry that she and I think we were made for each other. When we are together we radiate this positive energy, that people come up to us and congratulate us on our happiness together. Needless to say, it's unique and special - I've never felt this way with someone, and neither has she.

Well, this morning I dropped her off at the airport..

We stayed up all night together, talking, enjoying each other's company. I brought up to her the idea of a long distance thing. I told her that I'm not too keen on them, because since we've only bee dating for a few months, and a year is a long time, that I don't want to hold her back. I don't want her feeling tied down on her journey and end up resenting me. She agreed, and said she doesn't want spoken obligations. We don't even know where we will be at the end of the year, since both of us have grad school ambitions. It's not like we've been dating for a year, and she made these abroad plans after we met.

At the same time though, we both wish there was a way to ensure that we could get together in the future, and be committed to each other. She told me that she thinks we could be made for each other, and she hopes our paths intersect again, and that I make her so happy. She says people with this type of connection will always have it. Now I don't think she is thinking to herself, "I want my freedom so I can date other people." That's not her intention, but I know that it's probably going to happen. Just like I will most likely meet another girl, and have sex or date during the time she is away. But right now I do t want anyone else and I'm just scared she is going to meet someone and forget about me, or that we will lose our connection does over this long course of no physical contact with each other. Our entire dynamic might change and that worries me because I don't want to lose her.

We've agreed that I'll come visit her. It may be on 3 months and she told me that we will plan it once she figures out where exactly her teaching position will be, and when she plans to travel. So it might not be for a few months that we make these plans solid. And I worry about her meeting someone and changing before that happens. It would suck to visit her and not be intimate as be have been, if she's dating someone else. We also agreed to talk and communicate as much as we can and that she will see me, when we said goodbye. So I hope this isn't the end.

I just have this anxiety and sadness about the situation. She's really touched me, and there's so many positives about us. I should be focusing on that, and how lucky I am to have this chance to meet her and be with her in the first place. But I need some perspective and guidance as to how to process these feelings and come to grips with this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is kind of my last relationship basically. It sucks a lot.

Here's the thing, though: if you guys cross paths again in the future and can pick up where you left off and everything is great, then great. But if you guys cross paths again in the future and find that (as you are concerned about) your dynamic has changed and you have grown apart and can't make it work, then chances are pretty good that the relationship wasn't going to work anyway.

People change and adapt through their life experiences. You can't stop her from changing just like she can't stop you from changing. But you'd be doing it regardless of whether you two were in a relationship or not.

So basically, go ahead and live your life as if you were completely forever broken up. Be your own person. Grow. If who you are in a year+ meshes well with who she is in a year+, perfect. If not, no loss.

Worst case scenario, the relationship never picks back up, right? And here you have this lovely 2 month nugget of an absolutely perfect relationship that never got marred by any of the unpleasantness of a true breakup. It's kind of a nice thing to have, life experience-wise.

p.s. This will get a lot easier for you, I promise. You just dropped her off at the airport this morning. Give yourself some time, maybe a month or two tops, to grieve the relationship, and then start dating other people. It will make it easier.
posted by phunniemee at 1:46 PM on January 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

I'm just scared we are going to lose our amazing connection and fall apart, so I need some perspective on how to keep close and be as intimate as possible in the face of this distance, and the freedom to date other people.

No no no... a thousand times no. You have agreed not to have a long distance relationship -- to end what you have and date other people, with the hope that you'll be able to pick it back up when she returns. This is the exact opposite of "keep close and be as intimate as possible."
posted by DarlingBri at 1:48 PM on January 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

This can work. It may not. My experience has been that couples that can do long distance may have a larger success rate than the rest of the population.

Your one unbreakable rule has to be to be honest to each other, otherwise there is no point and it's all a charade. If you find someone else and do things with them, you/her must talk about it like adults or at least be on the same pageconcerning things...

Also, and only slightly less important, IMs are evil as they can be easily misunderstood, to the detriment of both of your sanities. Seriously...

Cite: MsEld and I met over summer vacation for one week then entered into a 'open'/hope to see each other again phase and saw each other only occasionally and during summer break for, oh, six years give or take, got married a year or so ago and our first kid is due in Feb.

Memail if I can be of any help, as this may be too public of a forum than you, or I honestly, would prefer.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:51 PM on January 3, 2014

How old are you? You sound rather young.

It's not unheard of that long distance can work. I dated my first boyfriend/fiancé long distance for one year out of four. However, we dated in person for a year beforehand, and two years after, and were exclusive. We ultimately broke up anyway.

If you are young, I would let this one go. If you are ready to get married and settle/emotionally mature, a LDR might work, like a relationship in which one spouse travels. But that requires a lot more practicality and a lot less twitterpation than I'm reading here. And distance tends to make the young and impractical play up the drama and the violins and imagine things are a lot better than they really are. Everyone has flaws, every relationship has mundane moments. A LDR that would be worth undertaking would come from a very prosaic place.

Then again, sometimes the heart wants what it wants, and maybe you need to learn this the hard way.
posted by quincunx at 1:57 PM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Reading your question, are you sure you don't want a long distance relationship? Because the kind of closeness/intimacy you describe sounds like a relationship to me. Your reasons for not wanting one seem focused on her and the time you've been dating.... but if you want one, its OK to ask for one, its still up to her whether its right for her or not. If you don't thats fine, but it kind of seems like you do but didn't ask for one for her sake, without really knowing how she would react if you had asked for one.

The reality is you can't predict how these things will turn out. RolandOfEld has one story about how this worked, I've been in a LDR for a while now that started after only a couple months together and is going amazing, so I think it can work as a relationship as well and not just a "lets see" (and I don't think you have to be dating for X amount of time before becoming long distance, its all about the specific connection and desires of the people involved).

I think you have 2 options: keep it as is, and accept that you can't really maintain the intimacy and connection without effort and while dating other people. Or ask her for a LDR, and see what happens. Long distance relaitonships of any kind take effort, IMO more than a "local" one, and it seems implausible to me that you would keep that connection without making an effort, which implies a relationship (in at least some definition, I mean it could be a LDR but _also_ be an open relationship of course, the key difference to me is "relationship" implies a sort of goal and acknowledgement you will both do things to keep the relationship/connection going).
posted by wildcrdj at 2:02 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well - I'm here to tell you my love story (briefly) and I hope it helps you.

I met my SO in Australia the WEEK before I flew home after over a year of travelling. We had an amazing connection, the chemistry was indescribable, I knew we had something special, but I was coming home and he was continuing to travel - I resigned myself to never seeing him again.

Anyway, we kept in touch. The chemistry never died. Over 3.5 long years we spoke on the phone regularly, he visited me in England, I visited him in Canada and when we were together we were "together" but when we were apart we had a "don't ask, don't tell" agreement.

We both had our flings but - you know what? - I never felt about anyone else the way I felt about him and eventually I moved countries to be with him. We met in 2005, I've been in Canada since 2008, we just got engaged and we are as happy as we ever were.

You have made the right decision to set each other free for now. No-one can guarantee that you'll both feel the same way about each other after some significant time apart, but take hope from my story that it can happen, and it does happen..... but it also might not be the same, it might not work out, and that's ok too.

The only advice I have for you really is not to pine on this girl. Live your life as if you are single and be happy about it. I truly believe that's why it worked out for me and my guy, neither one of us placed any expectations upon the other one - we just lived our lives, kept in touch and that spark (luckily) never evaporated for either of us. I guess it was just meant to be.

Perhaps it will be the same for you, but be prepared for the long haul - this situation won't resolve itself overnight. You may need to be patient, like I was! Good luck!
posted by JenThePro at 2:20 PM on January 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

OP -- you're really not supposed to be jumping into the thread like this, responding to our answers.

I really think you need to mourn the passing of this relationship, accept that it's over, because this .........

At the same time though, we both wish there was a way to ensure that we could get together in the future, and be committed to each other. She told me that she thinks we could be made for each other, and she hopes our paths intersect again, and that I make her so happy. She says people with this type of connection will always have it.

..... sounds like the words of a girl who is trying to console you, but in fact is looking forward to moving on.
posted by jayder at 2:38 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

she hopes our paths intersect again

Does not compute with We've agreed that I'll come visit her. Does she think plane tickets are manifested by fate rather than Travelocity? She doesn't expect the attachment to last long enough for visits.

You are having pretty woo words waved in front of you to spare your feelings, which is a selfish thing that people pretend they're doing to be nice but it's really just to avoid an argument. If she ever comes back to where you are and the two of you are still compatible and available, that's awesome, but unlikely. It doesn't really sound like she expects to see you again.

But you CAN be happy about the wonderful time you actually spent with her, and you can put that in your experience file for future relationships. Some experiences are incredibly valuable life lessons even if they are very brief and we don't get as much of them as we want. (And you may think this is a lesson about love, but it might actually be a lesson about pain. But we need those too.)

I'm sorry, it sucks.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:05 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

TL;DR: Honestly, the best advice we can possibly offer you for dating this girl in the future is also conveniently what is conspicuously your least shitty option by a very long shot.

Relationships that break down suck hardcore, but relationships cut short are a very special kind of hell to deal with. This sucks, and its going to keep sucking for a while no matter what you do. Just how dramatically it sucks and just how much longer than necessary it sucks however is very much within your power to control.

You're going to get a big old parade of mefites stopping by who have all been here before and each deeply regret the stupid and self-destructive thing you desperately want to do to yourself and will try to convince you to rip off the band-aid that you already know deep down can only fester. Having each been there, we will each all know our chances of dissuading you from dragging yourself and this girl through whatever keeping as close and as intimate as possible means without actually dating each other, but you've asked the question.

This girl does not want to date you and wants to date other people, you aren't even sure you want to date this girl, and neither the unfortunate timing nor how desperately you don't want to do anything that isn't dating this girl are relevant to the truth of these statements. That the relationship could have continued to be awesome were circumstances different and that you both still clearly care for each other deeply are also totally irrelevant to what you need to do to protect your heart. Having broken up, you need to do what healthy people who have broken up with someone they care deeply about do, which includes progressing your way through the five stages of grief knowing that that is what you're doing and that there is nothing you can do about it.

It sounds like you are both really compatible with each other and that is a truly awesome and special thing. However, when she returns she will be a different person and so will you, if you both find yourselves single and in the same place you would need to construct an entirely new relationship if indeed you are both still interested. Keeping aspects of the current relationship around as some kind of undead weight around both of your shoulders can only possibly hope to hinder any efforts along these lines, but is sure to make both your year and hers a lot more awful.

If you want any chance of dating this girl in the future, don't buy that plane ticket, wish her well, don't check her facebook, get her address, and send her a real snail mail letter like some kind of geezer. Don't address it intimately, talk about what you've been up to, don't write anything a friend wouldn't, and ask her for a post card. If you get a post card or a letter back, Great! Send another letter in a couple of months doing the same thing, that is if you still feel the same way.

If you don't get a post card back and still feel crazy about her in 10 months when she returns, send her an email or something, but whatever you do don't harass her.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:21 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm a pie in the sky optimist but I don't think this means she doesn't want to date you.

Your relationship was still very new at the time of her departure. It was probably too new for either of you to feel that asking for a commitment would be fair to the other person.

Keep the lines of communication open. E-mail, skype, send cards, care packages of her fav products from home - whatever. As long as you remain interested in sharing and learning about each other the relationship can grow.
It may end up working, it may not. But as someone with a lot of years on you I can say that this sort of connection doesn't come around often.

When this early into exploring something the distance can plant seeds of doubt, worry and jealousy. Don't let those feeling fester - they are poison to a relationship.

The distance may cause one of you to loose interest. It may allow a chance for the closeness to deepen. I'm simply a believer in taking chances, especially when something feels really right. Time will tell!
posted by cat_link at 3:52 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

You do sound like you're young. And also in love and pretty grounded about the whole thing. People who are a decade or two older tend to have their stories of how their first loves didn't work out for them, and the baggage and the slightly tarnished memories. (I know I have mine!) Don't let it take away the glow. Write her love letters, keep your feet on the ground and let it play out as it may. Who knows, maybe it will work out! Anything can happen :-) I don't think you need, as you said, guidance and perspective - You're being realistic. Follow your gut on this one.
posted by mermily at 5:53 PM on January 3, 2014

I understand the idea of holding onto someone in your mind and remaining close, but I don't understand how the mechanics works when it comes to dating other people.

If you meet someone who is actually single, who isn't pining away for their true love abroad, and you have sex or a relationship with that person, you are not being fair to them. You could really really hurt such a person by not being emotionally available.

I suppose you can let them know right up front. Maybe that is what you should do. However, people might still get pretty hurt.

The other option is to look to date people who are in the exact same situation as you -- people who have another person in mind and just want something casual. People who are leaving town, etc. But that limits your options because it's hard to find such people.

I say this as someone who is probably 10 years older and I've been on the receiving end of dating a guy who had another girl in mind. It was really hurtful and damaging to me. I was always being compared with someone else, and he wasn't as invested with me as an actually single guy would be. Now that I'm older, I would dump a person who was carrying a torch for someone else. I wouldn't let the relationship get far. But a lot of girls your age are not going to be so wise, and they are going to think, "I'll just give it a try." In those situations, they are likely to end up hurt.

I think that if you want to date anyone in the US, and not just for one-night stands, then you have a tough conundrum if you are still in close contact with the girl abroad.

I think that if you want to date, your best bet is to cut off communication with this girl who is abroad (and it doesn't mean an email every month... it means no contact) while you are dating someone else. Then you can have another relationship on its own merits, and give the other relationship the chance it deserves. You should still tell the new girl that there is a girl you loved who is abroad, but you can reassure her that you are not in contact.

That would be my recommendation anyway.
posted by htid at 7:43 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

You should not be focusing on the positives of your (now changed) relationship with her, your special connection, anything like that.

You need to focus on your own life right now. Keep making yourself happy; you cannot put her first. You've done everything you can for her, now you need to do for yourself.
posted by RainyJay at 11:37 AM on January 4, 2014

You really have to put it aside and not hope for a future with her in order to be able to do this.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2014

You sound like you are infatuated, and that always feels great! However, the intensity tends to fade within a year or so if it doesn't turn into a committed relationship. It may fade for you at different rates, and this could be painful. It's okay to enjoy it in the moment and to try to preserve the feeling for as long as it makes sense for both of you, but you need to be open to the idea that it could fade for either one of you at any time, since you don't have the element of commitment to preserve it.
posted by unstrungharp at 10:47 AM on January 10, 2014

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