How to cope with a long distance relationship & losing my independence?
February 26, 2014 3:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm 21, I've been living in Canada for six months with my originally long distance partner and now I need to return home for financial and health reasons, leaving my girlfriend and new friends behind. I need advice and coping strategies to deal with a return to a long distance relationship with an unknown reunion date, returning home and then moving to a smaller house where I will have to share a room with my 18 year old brother for at least five months.

I've been dating my girlfriend for two years, starting when I was in University. We met online and were long distance originally (me in the UK - her in Canada), I got a job in my final year and with mine and her student loans we could afford to visit each other every few months.

After I graduated I managed to get a working holiday visa that would let me stay and work in her country for a year. I've had real trouble finding a job since being here and other than some seasonal work have had absolutely no luck finding anything. I also need to get my wisdom teeth removed which I can't afford and would be covered if I went home. I used the last of my money to buy a one-way plane ticket.

I'm feeling really torn up about it. I also won't have much money when I get home. Before we managed because we could afford to see each other regularly with breaks in-between, now I have no idea when I'll be able to see my girlfriend again and it feels horrible. I feel like I'm losing my independence as I'll be moving in with my mum and brothers (I've been living away from home for over three years now) and to top it all off my mum is downsizing to a smaller house very soon. It feels like I'm losing both my homes as I'm leaving my girlfriend behind in the apartment and my childhood home too. In the new house I won't have my own room or any real privacy as I'll be sharing it with my brother.
posted by fallingleaves to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
Best answer: This is tough. The easiest thing might be to focus outside yourself - on the impact of this situation on your Mom and brothers. Presumably they have been living in your childhood home all this time since you left to go to university. In some ways, you've made a new home in Canada - you have friends and a girlfriend there. They, on the other hand, really are losing their home as your Mom downsizes to her new place.

Could you try to focus some attention on the impact of this situation on them? Focus your energy on loving and supporting your Mom, for whom this is no doubt difficult, and your gratitude on your 18 y/o brother, who no doubt is just as unhappy about sharing a bedroom as you are.

This might help in small ways. I'd also suggest scheduling alone time together via skype. If possible do this during times that your family is away, but with a smaller and house and multiple brothers this may be tough. I might then negotiate with your brother for use of the bedroom during X hours X times per week (in return you'd do the same for him for an equivalent time). This gives you both some space and alone time - and a private place to have conversations and together time with your girlfriend.

Good luck. Focus on the short term goals - going back to the UK to get your teeth fixed, the next step in finding a job (could she look for jobs in the UK?) rather than the much more inaccessible and difficult long term.
posted by arnicae at 4:17 PM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

My strongest suggestion is to prioritize your success. And I mean success as health, career, money, and balance.

By focusing on these, you will in fact strengthen your relationship more than if you just focused on her. Women typically are more attracted to a man who has priorities and ambitions outside of her.

I don't mean to suggest you aren't already doing this. I can empathize. I have been long distance on-and-off for 1.2 years out of the past 2.5 years. But my reasons for leaving were (a great) grad school and career. While it's painful, the knowledge that we are both working towards strong early success, with the (very nearly fulfilled) goal of ending up in the same city with a very strong career foundation (for each of us) gives us this really great and ambitious goal to work towards, and suffer towards, together.

With that said, I really like the previous posters idea about focusing on your family. SO I won't go into that, but it's also a great point and fits in with mine, the general idea being you will do well not by focusing on yourself, but on focusing on family/success/ambition, which will turn back and better your relationship and yourself. Also, if for some sad reason your relationship falls apart, you're still good. You still have something to work towards and a personal dream you can accomplish.

*I had been unemployed for 7 months between a great grad school and a job. I really know how it feels, and I've spent more nights than I'd like to admit crying myself to sleep in some strange city I moved to with the attempt to hustle/network/find interviews. Fight towards a goal. Also consider working out. I took up boxing two years ago, and it did incredible incredible things for helping me deal with frustration/anxiety in a healthy way (great community of friends)
posted by jjmoney at 4:34 PM on February 26, 2014

I suggest that you talk with your brother about the new home and sharing one room. He may be just as bothered as you are about leaving his childhood home, and after the novelty wears off, he's not likely to be crazy about sharing a bedroom with you. You can approach it as a strategy session -- how can we make this better for both of us?

Even if you were never one for chores when you lived at home, it would be good to voluntarily do various jobs around the house. If you initiate, you get to choose what things you're going to do -- or at least negotiate your way out of doing chores you don't like. Besides that you'll be the cause of overcrowding and you'll be living there at low or no rent, it'll give you something to feel good about.
posted by wryly at 6:37 PM on February 26, 2014

It's going to be okay. Know that.

Living at home will be temporary. Accustom yourself to that. Your priorities will be as follows:

1. Get your Wisdom Teeth extracted. It's no big deal. I had mine done all at once and I was back to work that evening. I did local anesthesia only, but I'd do twilight sedation in a heartbeat if it had been available.

2. Get a job. ANY job will do to start. Be a cashier at a 'stop and rob', or flipping burgers, or tending bar, whatever it is that you need to do to start the money rolling in. If you get a night job, you can use days for going on interviews to more long term jobs, or you can get two jobs. What else is there to do?

3. Once you have a secure source of income, get your own place. A roommate situation or a studio/bed-sit. Clearly your Mom is not wanting to have a large household and you should respect her wishes.

4. Save money and have a plan to have a long distance relationship with your girlfriend.

5. Figure out a way to immigrate back to Canada with a job and/or have your girlfriend move back to the UK.

Knowing that you have a plan, with achievable milestones, will help you structure your life so that you can get back to being with your girlfriend.

Another option is, perhaps if you feel this strongly about it, you both should marry. This would afford you protections that you can't enjoy as a single person. Just a thought.

Good luck to you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:35 AM on February 27, 2014

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