Is it silly to wait around for love?
September 20, 2016 7:51 AM   Subscribe

You see it in the movies, two lovers split but somehow run into each other and fall in love again and are able to be together. It seems silly, but I've fallen in love and I'm not sure if it's a stupid idea to wait around for something like the movies.

Maybe you can help convince me either way. At 24, I just finished grad school and am on the market for jobs. So I had to move from my school's city to be home and save money while job hunting. I met someone here in the city though, and we dated for a while, and I'm happy/sad to say that we love each other.

We had to break up a couple of days ago, not because anything was going badly in our relationship, but because I was moving and he would be moving for AmeriCorps in two months. We have no clue where we'll be in the future and are going wherever a job will take us. We decided not to do long distance because we've both done that before and it wasn't ideal. However, we have this idealistic hope that we will meet each other again in another city and be together.

Now, is that silly to think? Are we sort of hindering each other from moving on if we're still talking and hoping that in X years we'll date again? Part of me thinks I won't move on, and it's all so fresh that I don't want to move onto anyone else. But maybe he might! But how long is too long to wait? Do you or do you know anyone that reconnected in the future? I feel stupid even asking this. But I don't know, I'm head over heels for this person! If there was an actual reason besides different life paths to break up, maybe I wouldn't feel so desperate to hold on. Please talk some sense into my mushy, broken heart.
posted by buttonedup to Human Relations (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's not silly, but not super realistic either. You have a really good attitude about it. As long as you are both clear that you aren't together in an long distance relationship, I think that's fine. It shouldn't stop either one of you from dating around and meeting new people. You only think right now that you won't move on because you haven't moved on yet.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:55 AM on September 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

Now, is that silly to think?

Sure it's silly. But so what? What about love isn't silly? Hope away. Do your thing, work your plan, and maybe it'll happen, maybe not. But there's no reason not to hope, especially right now when it's all super-fresh.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:59 AM on September 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

You're 24, you just finished grad school, your adult life is just beginning. In so many ways you are lucky NOT to be involved with someone because that would, naturally, limit your options. Go on and make your life what you want it to be. When you are solidly on your way, look around for a partner. Or not. Who knows what your future holds? For now, embrace your freedom.
posted by she's not there at 8:03 AM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, it's silly to wait around. You have agency in this situation. If you want to be with this guy, do it. What is stopping you from looking for jobs in the city where he's doing his AmeriCorps? Why can't you keep a long distance relationship going until you're able to live in the same city? Why don't you make a surprise trip to visit him?

I mean, there are stories. One of my friends from college, her dad ended up marrying his high school sweetheart when they were in their 60s. She had moved to Idaho, and his first wife had died, and they reconnected on Facebook. But even then, it didn't just happen. She sent him the friend request. He flew out to Idaho to hang out. You can't just wait for life to happen to you.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:14 AM on September 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Entrust that the loveliness, memorialized, stays fresh: it is uncommon to see a couple so clearly delineate where they need to go, with seemingly no ill will towards each other except regret that it couldn't happen right there & then.

You should enjoy the fact that you will go on to do what you will in life, no matter what: but the more that you can live your life in the present-moment, ready to endear and enjoy and experience yourself within it, the greater time you're going to have. Please accept this as simply a request that you enjoy your freedom, and not shirk back from experiences, because of this.

From the way you acknowledge your emotional state, I don't foresee you will avoid life, but really, acceptance and acknowledgement of your total whole is important right now. Embrace the bittersweet, the churning, the rawness, and the tension: they are all beautiful emotions; and, given the right time and right experience, will only amplify the fullness of how you feel going forwards. This is a powerful moment for you, and you've made a call for yourself that will have resounding impact.

But surely, as kevinbelt says, sometimes you have to just take the bull by the horns and face into discomfort if you want it to happen in the future. I'm now friends with someone with whom I had the best relationship of my life - and, even better than needing a relationship with them - now, I get to enjoy life alongside them. Get close to what is important to you right now, and continue that into your future. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want, always.
posted by a good beginning at 8:32 AM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's fine to think about, if it gets you through the night right now.

It is not fine to make real-world life decisions based on it. Do not move, buy or sell property, choose educational options, shun family, join cults, or cut off/prevent connections to other people because of an imaginary future relationship that does not exist and very likely, six months from now, you will be over and not even really remember why it seemed so important to do this right now.

(Except it almost always feels really important, at the end. Change is hard.)
posted by Lyn Never at 8:41 AM on September 20, 2016 [6 favorites]

Real talk here.

You kind of can't have this both ways. I want to be gentle with you and tell you, yeah, it's all going to work out! This can definitely happen! You can have this!

However, even right now, at the height of limerance, you're not even serious enough to try to make a plan for the future. Any love that isn't enough to counter "long distance relationships are a pain" or "but who can know where on the entire planet we will be in a year" isn't a very big love.

You can have this, but you also have to try. The fact that you've both chosen not to try means that you should probably look at the situation you're in as one that you will get over and move on from, and find someone new in the future. Because you're only 24, and you have plenty of time.

Unfortunately, if you remain as noncommittal about this relationship as you are right now, no, you will not be together in the future.
posted by Sara C. at 8:48 AM on September 20, 2016 [13 favorites]

If one wants a relationship in the future, one must make active plans to make it feasible. Are either of you looking at what happens after, say, AmeriCorps? Are either of you looking at prospective employers in overlapping, mutually-agreeable cities? Lay the foundations for what you want to happen, because hope for an outcome without planning to enable that outcome is more properly called fantasy.

(My partner and I met ten years ago, when we lived across the country from one another but he had work travel that routinely brought him to my town. After his work travel dropped off, the six months of limited in-person contact was what motivated us to start planning for... something. At the time, we didn't know if that would mean scheduling regular travel between our cities or something more drastic. At the end of that six months, I'd explored enough options to be ready to uproot and move to his town. It was chaotic, but worth it.)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:59 AM on September 20, 2016

Purely anecdotal, but it CAN work in the right circumstances... there is a lot that has to align though for it to all come together.
I met my husband when I was 23. We had a fling in Australia and then returned to our respective countries and stayed in touch.
There were no expectations put upon each other, we both had other "relationships" during our time apart but we had a firm "Don't want to know" policy.
We would visit each other every year and go about our lives in the meantime.

It got to the point, after 4 years, that I knew I didn't want to be with anyone else and luckily he felt the same. I moved to Canada and we're married now.

But all of this was dependent on so many other things aligning. For example, even though we both had flings with other people, neither one of us met someone else that we clicked with the way he and I click. That could easily have happened for one of us and I wasn't naïve about that.

You guys have done the right thing. There's no reason why you can't stay in touch and for it to work on later down the line - I mean, it worked for me. But you also have to be realistic that LOTS can change in a few years and you need to enjoy life right now and not dwell on what could happen later.

Good luck to you both!
posted by JenThePro at 9:38 AM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

You can wait around until there's a reason not to wait anymore. That reason could be that you've met someone or that you're just not feeling it anymore. No need to set anything in stone right now.
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:40 AM on September 20, 2016

You see it in the movies, two lovers split but somehow run into each other and fall in love again and are able to be together. It seems silly, but I've fallen in love and I'm not sure if it's a stupid idea to wait around for something like the movies.

I guess it depends upon what you mean by "wait around." Should you swear off all dating forever until some fate magically brings you both together? Nope. Should you stay in your hometown waiting for him to come home? Noooooope. Should you throw over your moving (and job?) plans to be more available to him? FUCK NO.

Should you allow yourself to think hey, maybe at least this isn't the last time in my living days that I'll see him, and surely in this age of social media we might find a way to reconnect later? Well yeah, of course! That is eminently comforting and not at all unreasonable.

Now, that said, and I know it sounds cynical and like a grumpy old lady lecturing a teenager but...odds are you will totally not give any shits about this in a year. You will have gone on and lived your very preoccupying young life and met people and done things and made decisions based on good reasoning and not limerance mush-brain. (and maybe a few based on limerance mush-brain for someone else.)

Hey also, watch those movies a bit more closely, yeah? Because what happens, 9 times out of 10 in those movies, is that in between the first parting and the reunion, those lovers lead long, full, crazy lives, usually with another person. If you're going to re-enact a Nicholas Sparks adaptation with your one given life, make sure you do it right. ;)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:44 AM on September 20, 2016 [12 favorites]

It really depends what "waiting" means. You should both date other people if you meet anyone else you want to date. It does not have to be a serious relationship, just a casual date. Seeing other people can really help you clarify your feelings for your ex (and his for you). Maybe you meet lots of people you like just as much or maybe you realize how truly unique and special he is and move heaven and earth to be with him again. You should be upfront with anyone you do end up dating about your feelings for this ex. One of my favorite quotes sums this up nicely: "Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires."- Francois de La Rochefoucauld
posted by soelo at 10:02 AM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ah, I see. Y'all have a point that we haven't really set up anything concrete, that's a sign that maybe we're non-committal. I think in some way we are, because it's scary to put love in front of our careers and passions. Fortunately, we did talk today, and we have a plan to see each other in less than a year in whatever city that we're living in or at a midpoint.

I guess I shouldn't become celibate in the waiting, huh? I think we'll both date around, we're both 24. I guess time will tell if we don't find other loves (boy. That is gonna suuuuuck.) or if we do.

Thank you for the sense and the hope and the realism!
posted by buttonedup at 10:51 AM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I had a friend on the west coast for several years while I was living on the east coast; I was passing through his town once a year or so, for various reasons, and always made time to see him. Sometimes I stayed at his house; other times one of us was dating someone and I stayed with other friends. There were moments I really wanted to just move there and date him for real, but it never happened. It's interesting to to realize as I'm thinking of him right now for the first time in years, that we never officially called it off, we just stopped having reasons to visit the same city, and settled down with other people. But we're not dead yet, you can still write your movie someday years in the future when I'm a widow and he's divorced and we meet again because our children are coworkers... it's a very romantic movie.
posted by aimedwander at 11:13 AM on September 20, 2016

My point is, no, don't wait for him. That's almost as much work as a long distance relationship, with none of the benefits. You'll meet other people and if none of them live up to the high standard that he has set for all your future partners, those relationships won't last, and you'll be single when you see him next. Don't worry too much about it. Love will happen the way it happens, no matter what kinds of plans you make.
posted by aimedwander at 11:16 AM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was in a similar situation and it worked out for me but only because I moved with her for her americorp gig.

I've never personally seen "waiting" work. Usually the "waiter" ends up facebook stalking the "watiee"s wedding photos.

Love is great, celebrate that you had a marvelous summer, but a lack of willingness to even give it a go long distance or move to be in the same place is pretty much ending the race at the first hurdle. And that 100% ok. I'd leave it for good while you're still on great terms; so that in 4 months it won't feel like a knife in the side when one of you is loving someone new.
posted by French Fry at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2016

“Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

That is one of my favorite quotes about love. I think it is an important idea for any couple to remember. A relationship takes some work. As far as work goes, it's much nicer than digging ditches or directing traffic. It's "nice work if you can get it" type work. But love can't sit there completely unattended, it can't live in a vacuum.

You may meet again someday, your love may rekindle at that time. What seems more likely to me is one of two things:

1. You two work at the relationship, be it in person or over a distance. You decide that you want it to exist, and make it so.

2. You both move on, move away, build your own lives, and remember each other as a pleasant memory.

If we don't marry our high school sweetheart, most of us have "the one who got away". More often than not, it is really "the one we let go". This is a popular subject for sad songs and setups for rom coms, but I have another view. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing. For me, reflection on "the one who got away" helped me recognize the real right one, when I finally met her.
posted by Cranialtorque at 11:29 AM on September 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

It's not that people expect you to put love above your careers and passions. It's that, barring some huge constraint that you didn't mention, you don't really have to do that to make plans to be together.

Americorps is only a year. That time will pass very quickly, and depending on where your partner is going, there's no reason you can't visit, they won't be home for holidays, etc. It's reasonable to expect that you could see each other during this separation, if you wanted to.

If one of you is definitely joining the Peace Corps and the other is definitely teaching English in Japan, yes, sure, you may want to be realistic about this relationship's chances. But here's an example from my own life. I'm a transplant to Los Angeles for career reasons. I've never had any great love for this city, and recent career shifts make my location more flexible than it used to be. But just as I was contemplating relocating, I fell in love with a local who is tied to this place much more strongly than I am. So I decided to stay. I'm not "putting love above career or passion", I'm just making a decision that ultimately has to be made. You have to live somewhere.
posted by Sara C. at 11:30 AM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, to go along with what French Fry says: If - if, indeed! - you do meet again on similar terms, be sure that you mentally acquiesce that both of you will have been in the process of growth. I'd recommend not thinking of it in terms of "waiting," even. That induces expectation that things will be as they once were. This will be the toughest (and the best) part of reconciliation, is adapting to where the other person is in their life right now, and not holding expectations for them to fill the gaps they once did. The bright side is, growth looks magnificent on those you once loved, once you allow them to demonstrate, now, how they are.
posted by a good beginning at 11:31 AM on September 20, 2016

Frankly, I feel you'll do well giving yourself acceptance: you'll need to take some form of closure on this, sooner rather than later. It doesn't have to mean goodbye, but it does mean that you don't contort your heart for someone more than is truly necessary.

That, ultimately, is the hardest part of loving yourself in all of this. But it is also the most beautiful struggle to be going through.
posted by a good beginning at 11:38 AM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

So...should I then try to move to his new city for AmeriCorps? (I mean, we would have to talk about it.) what if I don't find a job there that I want for my career? I guess I'm 24, I have time to build a career later right?
posted by buttonedup at 12:19 PM on September 20, 2016

There's no one that can answer that question for you. You have to answer it for yourself. There are movies and other media about that, too, e.g. Felicity. You just have to be prepared for what happens if you move to be with him and the relationship doesn't work. Are you OK to live in that city by yourself?

As for finding a job, there are very few careers that are only available in certain cities. How specialized is your career that you wouldn't be able to get any job anywhere else but where you currently live? I mean, even auto workers no longer have to live in Detroit. It sounds to me like you're using "not being able to find a job" as a way to avoid thinking about the question in my first paragraph, honestly.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:28 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

So, I had this same decision to make when I was 22. I had a boyfriend I loved dearly who graduated a couple years before me and moved to Dallas, and I had a burning desire to have a career in book publishing, which meant moving to New York. I'd been going along blithely imagining a long distance relationship that would work itself out... somehow. He, more realistically, had seen that we were headed on different trajectories and broke up with me about a month before I graduated. I was devastated, but I also was really really committed to my New York dream. So I went and I did it. And actually turned out to hate working for a big publisher and left to do something entirely different after about a year and a half. But by that time he had already met the woman he's still married to now, 20 years later.

So. On the one hand what we had was true and real and one of the best relationships I've had. But. First: HE didn't want to make it work, so it didn't matter what I wanted. Second: in the intervening 20 years I've spent five years in New York, almost a decade in central Illinois having the time of my life in grad school and grad school related jobs, and then five years in West Virginia. He's... still in Dallas. Still at the same job he got after graduation. (Which has been fantastically lucrative for him, don't get me wrong.) And so, would the person I am now have been possible if I'd upended my life to not move to New York all those years ago? Unlikely. And I really LIKE who I am now. If I was in his fancy house in Dallas now helping him decide on a new swimming pool for their backyard like his wife is? I think I would hate it.

Now, I'm still single at 41, so you might say I'm a cautionary tale, but I don't see myself that way. I see myself as someone who stayed true to what I wanted even when what I wanted (like living in New York) changed. And I think if he had REALLY been the right person for all of me, not just part of me, we would have found some way to make it work. But I think he was an "almost" right person for me, and so I have no regrets.
posted by MsMolly at 12:35 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

No, you will not necessarily have the chance you have right now to build your career.

I'd like to add that keeping the flame alive for this guy is going to keep you from embracing whatever life has in front of you (ask me how I know!) So, go for it if you want. But speaking from experience, I wouldn't? Nah, I'd still follow love! But it would still not be ideal...

Please don't put your life on hold on in any way large or small. That's my advice, otherwise, you do you!
posted by jbenben at 12:46 PM on September 20, 2016

I guess I'm 24, I have time to build a career later right?

Maybe. Depends upon what field you're in and the job market. You also have plenty of time to look for a relationship.

If I were in your place, my first priority would be on establishing the career (and means financial self-support).
posted by she's not there at 1:22 PM on September 20, 2016

I just looked at your previous questions and something occurred to me:

Is this the guy you've been with for 4-5 years, who in a previous question you mentioned you were probably on the road to marrying? If so, wow it would be a huge shame to break up because you were living apart for a year.

If this is someone new, this sounds like a somewhat short-term relationship. I think it could go either way and probably depends on a lot of details you haven't mentioned. But, yeah, I would be much less inclined to make possibly life-altering plans with someone I'd been dating for under 6 months. Especially if, immediately prior to that, I was in a very serious long-term relationship that ended less than a year ago.
posted by Sara C. at 1:39 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

So...should I then try to move to his new city for AmeriCorps? (I mean, we would have to talk about it.) what if I don't find a job there that I want for my career? I guess I'm 24, I have time to build a career later right?

Mmmm well like...yes? But also...not exactly. Fucking up your career in your mid-20s isn't the end of the world, but it also sucks a lot, a whole whole lot, and could pretty much make the rest of your life a WAY bigger drag than it needs to be. (HAHAHAHA ask me how I know.)

Others have of course astutely pointed out that this depends hugely upon what your intended career is. I would like to note that if the option of you moving to his new city for AmeriCorps **has not even come up for discussion** and you **have already broken up without having that convo** then honey, no, I think this relationship is cooked.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:00 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

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