Are we too young?
September 24, 2006 7:02 AM   Subscribe

LongDistanceFilter: Ok, well technically we're broken up but its purely for strategic reasons. But we both believe that we both have serious long term potencial, the only problem is that circumstances are against us.

Ho boy, I know you guys love these.

I'm 21, he's 20. This is a major factor, how young we are. We've known each other for a year and had been dating for 7mo before he left. Simply put, this is the healthiest, most fulfulling relationship I've had yet. We work extremely well together, problem solve well together, intense physical attraction, respectful, mature, the list goes on.
I am by no means an idealist. I've considered every possible situation with great skepticism. I don't want to get into something that is based on a fantasy. I know deciding who you want to be with for the rest of your life isn't easy, and living out that time isn't easy either.

The other side? He's gone for an academic year, 4 months in the UK, 5 in France. This is my senior year at college, I'll be graduating by the time he comes back. Granted I'll be within an hour reach when he's home again but we don't know how long that will last. We both want to go to grad school, we haven't a plan for ourselves, let alone our future. All we know is that we want this to continue. We've both decided to break up so we are able to make the best of our situations, my senior year, his year abroad. We've accepted the fact that we may fool around with other people, that is understandable.

However we've both got it in for each other real bad. We've discussed what the future may hold already, but we're both freaked out because we're so young. That said, I still can't see myself leading a life without him.

I'm just starting to think this may be a disasterous situation once our luck has been pulled out from us. The last thing I want is to have a falling out with him because the stress became too great.

I've read about other MeFites who've had long distances relationships going on for years, let alone our paltry 9 mo. Read that people doubt their marriages soon after they've got em. I've done a lot of reading to make sure I don't screw things up. But it's just reading.
This is the biggest thing for me yet. We're both doubting our decision to break up, that's natural. Would getting together be a bad move, guys? Would it be a bad move to get into such a serious relationship so soon?
posted by apfel to Human Relations (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If your relationship is strong enough, than nine months apart is do-able. If it's not strong enough, then you'll break up somewhere along the way, which may seem tragic at the time but won't forever. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't really understand the pre-emptive break-up. If you are doubting it, then just decide to try to stick out the distance, temporary as it is.

You tagged this question with "marriage," and mention it in your question. Am I missing something - are you trying to decide between breaking up and staying together, or breaking up and marriage?

we've both got it in for each other real bad.

I don't think this means what you think it means...
posted by amro at 7:17 AM on September 24, 2006

My aunt and her partner were high school sweethearts. After high school, she stayed in her home town and he moved away to pursue a career in show biz. Almost 10 years later, after her post grad degree, a canceled engagement, starting a career, and his (succussful) struggle to become stable in an unstable industry, they got back together and now have two kids.

Anything is possible regardless of if you think it is or not. Just make the decisions that are best for the both of you and let it ride from there.
posted by ChazB at 7:25 AM on September 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

The answer is always to break up, absolutely and for real. Hearts don't care about technicalities, and it's doubtful things would be much different if "broken up" gets air quotes around it. Then, six months later, when you're (a) running with some other fox or (b) both dead and dying for want of each other, you'll know what the right decision to make is.
posted by soma lkzx at 7:32 AM on September 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

We both want to go to grad school, we haven't a plan for ourselves, let alone our future. All we know is that we want this to continue.

Doesn't that say it all, rigt there? YOU BOTH WANT IT CONTINUE. So continue it and let it go its course. It may lead to marriage. You guys may break up in a year. Either way, from the sound of it, it'll be memorable and you guys probably won't need chocolate covered midgets to spice things up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 AM on September 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

We've both decided to break up so we are able to make the best of our situations, my senior year, his year abroad. We've accepted the fact that we may fool around with other people, that is understandable.

You don't have to break up to make the best of any situation (unless it's the situation where the relationship is in ruins). At this point in your life, if you both really feel this has potential, stick it out. Being on a "break" and able to fool around with other people while still pining for each other isn't fair to each of you or your respective hookups. Not to mention the fact that it just clouds everything if and when you do get back together. If you want to be with each other, be with each other. Some distance for nine months doesn't seem like enough of a reason (to me) to break it off and hope for the best.

Nine months of LD and then an hour's drive after that isn't so bad. Even at your age. If you both really feel that you are meant to be together, start making decisions that will ensure you can be together. Try to go to grad school on the same city, or at least neighboring cities, for example. This melodrama doesn't need to exist if you don't want it to. (on preview: Brandon Blatcher)

FWIW, I've done way too much long distance in this lifetime. I'm finally of the opinion that the long distance didn't end our relationships, WE ended our relationships. Our foibles, problems, etc. Blaming the distance was easy, but that really wasn't the root of the problems. Letting the distance or other factors ("luck"???) control your relationship, as you appear to be doing, is uncool because then you take your own responsibilities out of it. Basically, everything becomes the fault of the distance, rather than either of you owning up to anything. Take control of the relationship, don't let distance and circumstances get to you. I played the "circumstances have ruined us!" game when I was younger. It's tough to not want to shift blame elsewhere, but once I found that our problems were due to us and not entirely circumstances, suddenly things like long distance didn't seem so scary or troublesome. And my relationships got a whole lot healthier.

Best of luck to you both, whatever you decide.
posted by ml98tu at 7:51 AM on September 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

I lived in the UK for 9 months while my SO was in the US. Granted, we had 4 years together before, that, but I promise you, just continue your lives as normal and it'll all work out.
posted by k8t at 8:06 AM on September 24, 2006

What ml98tu said.

Personal experience: I was in a LD relationship while living in NYC with a guy in DC that lasted about two years, and included two summers of me being abroad. After a while the "distance" sucked. Then the relationship ended. I think in reality the relationship sucked. But, because we had limited contact I had limited time to figure that out, it took the relationship longer to end than perhaps it should have. I really, REALLY did not want to go long distance with someone again after that, and after meeting a great guy this summer almost broke it off with him when I found out that I'd have to move away from NYC, where I met him, to DC for four months. He convinced me to stick it out using logic similar to ml98tu's and Brandon Blatcher's.

Now I'm in a LD relationship with the guy in NYC while I'm in DC. The distance sucks a bit, but doesn't strain the relationship - it actually adds an artificial challenge to things and tension that can be fun. Then again we visit each other almost every weekend. I was in Albania for all of August, and that was a strain because we could only talk about every other day and couldn't see each other, *and* the relationship was only a month old when I left, but it became something of an "I'll wait it out" situation. As of now I'm very, very glad that we're together. I love talking to him each day and can't wait for him to visit, I like his family and he likes mine, we're a really good match for each other in all kinds of ways and I'm finding out daily new ways in which he rocks.

Here's a piece of advice for you that's practical, if you decide to see it through. Get webcams and use Skype with each other. I didn't realize how much just seeing the other person live can make a difference. I'd never used two-way webcams before, and it's pretty awesome. It's like a portal into the other person's world, and being able to interact "face to face" across miles in a natural way helps alleviate some of the problems of feeling isolated from your loved one.
posted by lorrer at 8:10 AM on September 24, 2006

(I wasn't clear on the timeframe of the original LD relationship. We were both in DC for about a year and a half with two summers away on my part, and then it was long distance for two years with him staying in DC and me in NYC.)
posted by lorrer at 8:12 AM on September 24, 2006

All I can say is, I did something like this, and it worked for me. My husband and I met when we were both 18, started dating at 19. He went home from university for the summers, a thousand miles away. That first summer, we'd only been together for about six weeks, and we were pretty sure there was no way we would make it to the fall... but we decided it was worth the shot. Six weeks and 19 years old and we were already ridiculously serious!

And yeah, we had the same doubts about whether we were too young or knew what we were doing, etc. etc. You do change a lot in your 20s, but you can change a lot in your 30s and 40s, too; love doesn't come with a warranty at any age.

Well, that summer, we were miserable, but we endured. (Daily "dates" for at least a few minutes on IRC every day did a lot for keeping us close, I think.)

He graduated school and moved back home a year before I graduated. That was even more miserable, but again, we endured. I can't say it wasn't hard, and lonely, but you do what you have to when the alternative seems worse, you know? When I graduated, I moved in with him, found a job, and we've never looked back.

That was about ten years ago, we've been married for eight, two kids, and a really happy life together. My advice to you is for the both of you to take a good, hard look at what you WANT to do and leave practical out of it. Practical is what you USE to get what you want. It shouldn't decide what you want in the first place.
posted by Andrhia at 8:22 AM on September 24, 2006 [2 favorites]

...we haven't a plan for ourselves, let alone our future. All we know is that we want this to continue.

If you want to be together, then be together! You know this one thing, okay! Go with that! There is no right or wrong way for a relationship to go, or even a right or wrong time to meet someone. Nowhere is it written that after X number of years lived or X number of relationships or X number of traumatic life experiences, then you are qualified to love someone for the rest of your life. No one can tell you how your life should or shouldn't go. We can offer you all kinds of advice, people here will say YES, TOO YOUNG, others will say NO, LET ROMANCE LIVE! but only you have the right to say "Yes, I want this" or "No, I want something else." Maybe you'll be together forever, or maybe this is "just" another relationship that helps you understand yourself and what you want in a partner. Both are good, right? I really like what Andrhia says to this. Leave practical out of it and look at what you actually want. Being young is actually a good thing, if it doesn't work out you have so much time (really, humans live a ridiculously long time) to learn from it and try again.

I think you are actually asking two questions. One: can our relationship survive the distance? and Two: are we old enough to make this kind of decision? As far as me, a total stranger, being able to give you insight or advice into these questions I can only offer my own experience. I personally think the answer is yes to both of these questions, preciesly because of what you said in your question, and how you describe the importance of this relationship in your life.

My boyfriend and I did four years of long distance. We talked about it for a long time, before we were apart, and decided to just see where things went. We loved each other, we wanted to be together, so we were together. We decided that every day we could go to sleep knowing it was worth it, that we still wanted to be together, well that was sign enough to do the next day, and the next. As long as we were both happy, felt our relationship was moving forward, and had relevance in our daily lives, then that was good. We were always on the same page about that. Guess how old we were? All of eighteen. I was going to college in another country, and he wanted to take time off. We had our separate lives, but we wanted to be part of each others' lives, so we made it work.

Today I'm back home, we're living together, and I couldn't be happier. No, it wasn't a cake walk and I wouldn't say it would work for everyone. You will have times that it just hurts to miss someone, because you do love them and of course you would rather be with them than apart. But, I think if you can make your conversations be more than "Oh God I miss you!" and/or "Wasn't it great when I was with you?" then you can have more to associate with that person than missing, and hurt. If you can see can see that a relationship can continue to grow even when you aren't physically together, and not treat your relationship as "on hold" for nine months, well then I think it's very possible to weather and even benefit from the time apart.

To that end, there are many great AskMe threads on how to make a long distance relationship actually work, and I think one of the best is this one.

P.S. Stop reading, start talking. Every relationship is a universe. You and your beau can set your own rules regarding communication, sexual activity, commitment, etc. As long as you both continue to be satisfied with what you have together, and it can grow with you, then keep it!
posted by nelleish at 10:32 AM on September 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm going to guess that your answers are going to end up about evenly split between "STAY TOGETHER" and "BREAK IT OFF" depending on whether or not the responder had a positive or negative experience with a LD relationship.

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I was in a similar situation to you at the time I graduated college - in a relationship with a woman I was madly in love with, who I couldn't imagine my life without and who I fully imagined would one day be my wife. We made a go at a long-distance relationship while we waited for her to graduate (she was two years behind me) and afterwards when she started an intensive graduate program. To this day, while I don't obsess about it or anything, I still regret having put so many aspects of my life on hold during this time period for a relationship that ultimately didn't work out.

Of course, all of our experiences are unique and just because my LDR didn't work out does not prove that the concept itself doesn't work for anybody. However, I think your original idea of keeping your options open during his year abroad is probably a wise one, sort of as a "test" in determining whether this relationship is truly a potential lifelong one or just another fleeting college romance.

If during this 9 months apart you realize that you simply cannot live without this guy in your life, that you feel no connection to any other human being on the planet that even comes close to what you feel for him *AND* he comes back from Europe feeling the same way about you, then fantastic.

I'm just not convinced that artificially setting up a scenario where neither of you are "allowed" to see other people is the best idea in the world, primarily because of what you hinted at in your OP (you're both young and oftentimes the person we think the sun revolves around when we're 20 is not the person we end up spending our life with, etc.)
posted by The Gooch at 10:54 AM on September 24, 2006

I know people for whom LD relationships worked out fine, including myself, and I know people for whom the stress was too much or circumstances just couldn't be made to work unless one person gave up on serious career/education advantages. I know people for whom taking a break worked to their advantage as they realized from being with others that they really couldn't bear to be apart, and I know people for whom taking a break just demonstrated that ultimately they didn't need the other person at all.

It's a crapshoot - nobody here can say with certainty which way things will go for you. If you're certain you want to be together, then be together. Nine months apart is hard, but doable.

On a practical level, here are the things that helped me and my boyfriend (now husband) when we had to be apart: phone calls; chatting online while having a camera on, so we could see each other (remember that others can see you too, and get some sort of security if you use this technology for naughty stuff); visits; mail (even though we talked daily, we would send each other little cards and stuff like that). If we were doing it now, we'd probably use voip and text messaging as well.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:48 AM on September 24, 2006

Do you love each other? If the answer is "yes," get engaged for the nine months. Wear rings and be faithful. When he's back, see where you are then. (If it's "no," then break up for real. Now.)
posted by Carol Anne at 2:26 PM on September 24, 2006

What fun. I'm not going to add anything new, just another voice along the same lines: your relationship is just that- yours. You can make it whatever you like, whatever makes you the most comfortable and whatever makes your lives happiest. For some people, that means breaking it off entirely and seeing what happens when they get back. For others, it means staying together but having an open relationship. For other people still it could consist of pure loyalty and not a glace at anyone else. This is all up to you.

Long distance doesn't end relationships. It tests them. It puts a relationship under more strain than usual, and how you cope with that together can be quite telling about how you work as a couple.

So if you both agree that breaking up is the best option, then do it. But if you did it out of some mistaken belief that it's the only way you'll last, then change it. You have to think about the best way you can do this. The distance is mandatory, but within that limit you can have whatever relationship you like, as long as he wants it too.
posted by twirlypen at 4:53 PM on September 24, 2006

A data point: I live about 1.5 hrs. away from my beau now (after 4 years of college dating interspersed by summer apart), and this will probably continue for at least 2 years. We see each other every weekend, and talk a lot on the phone/IM. All in all, the only thing we lack is phsyical closeness on weeknights. It's hard (especially during personal crises, like car crashes, failed tests, work issues, etc - when one of us really really needs a hug), but not unbearably so.

It's important to note that after college we made the CHOICE to follow one another to cities near each other - relationships generally involve some level of sacrifice, so it may be important to ask yourself whether you can see yourself sacrificing future goals to stay with him, and vice-versa.
posted by muddgirl at 7:41 AM on September 25, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for the advice you've given me. It's been a long day and i did read all of your comments - I'm of the opinion of those saying that we should just go for it if we want to be together.
While my SO and I had been discussing what we'd like to do, we both agreed that being broken up would put less strain on us than if we'd been together. It would be like more of a 'pause' than anything. In theory we would be able to do whatever we wanted ,with anyone, but if we had both chosen not to - well it would just show how much we wanted to be with one another and the answer would be clear. that isn't to say that we're sure of this. We're just giving it a try.
I spoke to him last night and he had told me his original intentions of going abroad were really to leave behind everything in the states and be independent as he could over there for a year. That changed with this relationship, while he still wants to do that, he wouldn't just leave me behind.
In the month that he'd been gone we still act like we're togheter, we still use webcam and talk to eachother late nights, mostly every day, or every other day. This isn't helping clarity. The problem seems to be that we're stuck in this middle ground of 'we want to be together but we want to try being apart.' heh, you can see where that would cause some confusion.
Now I think I've come to change my mind. I was never completely sold on this idea to begin with, but I am willing to try anything that will preserve the connection we have.
His main reason for wanting to be split - this is fresh off the presses, folks - is that he doesn't want me to be influenced this early in my life about what I want to do. I too have goals of traveling and possibly moving out of the country. How much of that would change if we were together the whole time? I'm not sure. I believe anything is possible if you really want it, that is why I'm not worried about becoming a regret for him (that's what he's thinking).
posted by apfel at 8:00 AM on September 25, 2006

My thinking on this is:

(a) Stay together, but don't insist on monogamy during this year. It'll be a year in which a lot changes, and it might help to have some flexibility in there. That to me seems like the best "together yet apart" strategy.

(b) The thing that drove me nuts in an LDR (which didn't work out, but not particularly for this reason- it was a factor though) was having no end date for the separation. Indefinite apart-ness is rather soul-sucking after two years, plus the money I spent on travel sucked me dry. Try applying to the same grad schools, or at least ones that are fairly close by to each other. That way you've at least got an end date for the separation- "only 8 months to go! only 5 months to go!"
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:23 PM on September 25, 2006

« Older Gatorade on a digicam... too corrosive to salvage?   |   How can I make our dog stop whining every time we... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.