How do I deal with a relationship that'll end when I move away?
October 9, 2014 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Started a relationship with someone and it feels like the closest most intimate relationship I've ever been in, but, I'm financially committed to starting a new job in another country, in a month's time. We've already talked about spending as much time together as possible before the move (and we have a trip somewhere planned our last weekend together) but I don't know what to do after I move away.

Historically I've done very badly with long distance relationships. (I need a lot of physical intimacy, and I don't yet know that flying back and forth on weekends will cut it.) I don't really know if I can and should be making this huge emotional commitment right now if the relationship can't and won't last. Historically I do very very badly with breakups too. Though, I guess for now I should just live in the moment and keep enjoying stuff with them until I can't.

How do I prepare myself for the eventual emotional fallout from all of this, being in a relationship that I know will likely end once I move? Am I overthinking things?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Some of us are able to live in the moment and enjoy things without worrying about the future, and some of us are not. If you can't continue to see this person without becoming emotionally attached, you should probably end it now. By the way, it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you if you can't "just live in the moment and keep enjoying stuff with them until [you] can't." Some people like doing that and some do not. There's no moral failing if this is just not something that will work for you. It takes a lot of courage to take a look at yourself and something you are doing and to say, "Hey, this thing that feels good right now might not be good for me in the long run and might do more harm than good, in fact, so as hard as it is I am going to step away now."

I am currently in a relationship that has what one of my friends called an "expiration date." My boyfriend and I care about one another a whole lot and are important to one another, but our lives are in transition and have been since we met. The place we live is a stopover for us, even though we are a bit older than most people are when they "settle down." Because of this, we talked a lot when we started dating about how this would likely be an impermanent relationship. We are both career-oriented and are launching ourselves into the world in a major way and it's not a great time for either of us to tie ourselves down.

Sometimes it stings when I think about it too much, but overall it's been an incredibly enriching relationship for me. It works very well for me given the place I am in in my life. However, we've been together for over a year. If we had met two months before one of us had definite plans to move I don't think I would have made the same choice that I made knowing that we'd be able to date for at least a year or so if we ended up liking one another. But that is just me.

This is an incredibly personal choice and whatever you do will be difficult, so please be sure to pay attention to yourself and to take care of yourself. Best of luck to you.
posted by sockermom at 6:15 PM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

Some of us are able to live in the moment and enjoy things without worrying about the future, and some of us are not. If you can't continue to see this person without becoming emotionally attached, you should probably end it now.

Seconding this. A year? Maybe worth it. A month...I don't know but I personally wouldn't go through some of my bad breakups for less than...I don't know, 10 years of awesome relationship. YMMV
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:31 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been there.

Look at it this way: it's going to be a sad but sweet ending, not a sad, miserable, drawn-out, this-relationship-is-dead-but-let's-fake-it-for-another-year ending. Your time together is more precious now because you know there's an end date and no time to wait for enjoying the moment-to-moment experience of being together.
posted by mibo at 8:11 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

War-time relationships tend to be very intense, in part because everything could end any day now -- one of us might die, etc. So I kind of suspect you are both opening up more than usual because you will leave soon. That is kind of a situational thing and does not necessarily suggest this relationship has awesomeness potential. And you can't really a/b test this. You won't have the chance to find out how you would have behaved if the relationship had started under other circumstances.

I personally wouldn't make a huge emotional commitment. I would probably say something like "You really mean a lot to me and I would like to keep in touch after I leave. But I think it is unrealistic to frame it as a committed, monogamous relationship. I think we should be free to date other people."

That might allow the two of you to gradually and naturally grow apart without a lot of drama. It would also leave the door open for pursuing a serious relationship if distance alone fails to kill what the two of you have.
posted by Michele in California at 11:00 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

This might be just me, but if I knew for sure I was going to be leaving the country in a short amount of time, I wouldn't invest myself emotionally in any new relationships in the current place. I know, you're "falling" for this person, but you're also choosing to let that happen by spending time with them and allowing yourself to become attached.
posted by deathpanels at 6:01 AM on October 11, 2014

Three years ago I was on the opposite side of this; he had to move away. Like you, I need a lot of physical closeness. We tried to make it work long distance, but a combination of issues made that impossible. Hindsight being what it is, we should have ended it. But we were optimistic and in love.

I think you should pay attention to what you know about yourself. Don't close the door, by any means. But maybe letting it slowly swing shut before you leave will be the healthiest option for both of you.

You didn't say in your question, but: how likely is it that they can move?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 AM on October 11, 2014

I just got done with a very similar situation-- I fell in love, and hard, maybe two weeks before I moved a thousand miles away. It's different for me for a number of reasons-- mainly that I assumed a sort of mentor-type relationship with this beautiful young man-- but I do get where you're coming from. I decided early on that I was going to roll around in this brief happiness, and accept that the joy of physical intimacy would be short-lived. We still talk every other day, and I feel immensely connected, but I almost think I wouldn't have been able to commit myself as hard as I did if there hadn't been a built in expiration date?

I guess what I'm saying is this: love as hard as you can, as long as you can, with the knowledge that it'll be over soon. Treasure this interlude in your life, and treat it as a bit of serendipity mostly outside of your previously laid plans. That's how I'm handling my thing, and it's working pretty well so far.

I hope this was helpful, and the best of luck to you. I'm here if you want to memail me.
posted by dogheart at 8:03 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since you are already in the relationship, you say it might end or most likely will, but there are no guarantees to any relationship. You have invested this much, let it play out. I am in year 20 of one of those......just did not go as I "predicted" and there I was...happy.
posted by OhSusannah at 4:06 AM on October 12, 2014

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