She might leave for a job for good. How do I enjoy the month until I find out?
June 20, 2008 7:17 PM   Subscribe

She might be leaving for good in one month, or not leaving at all. We find out in one month. How do I not ruin the next month for myself and her by being miserable about it?

We've only been dating a few months, but we were getting really close and enjoying that "honeymoon period" of a new relationship when something very unexpected came up. She entered a contest on a whim before we started going out. She got contacted that she is in the running with a handful of other people for what amounts to a full-time job in another country. She is thrilled and really hopes she gets it. It is a ridiculously good opportunity. It would be like winning the career lottery for her line of work. I fully support her, but I can't help but be ambivalent because this would mean the end of our relationship. I told her, and she understands. It's just one of those strange things that you don't expect. Following her after only three months would be foolish obviously. And I have some crazy opportunities of my own in this city I have to stick around for. And it would be a 24hr+ bus or $500 flight so visiting on weekends isn't really an option either.

So in any case, the thing isn't a guarantee, but she has an extremely good chance and I can't stop thinking about it and it's making me more miserable than I'm letting on to her. We're living in a beautiful city, it's summer, and all I want to do is hang out, have fun sexytimes, and enjoy it.

The first thing that stands in the way of that is the understandable sadness about likely losing someone I'm becoming attached to. I'm not an aloof guy. It's been almost three years since I felt this close to someone and I barely dated in between. When I fall I fall hard and fast.

The second is the thought of being on my own again. I'll be thirty-one this year and I'm tired of being lonely. So tired of it. It makes me sad. And although I totally feel like I'm a catch, I have a very difficult time meeting girls, and a veeeeeery difficult time meeting girls I would want to date. The thought of being on my own again for several months, if not years, makes me pretty despondent. I'm even starting to cry a bit and I'm concerned I'm going to cry in front of her at some point. God damn, I don't want that to happen.

What should I focus on in my mind to not drag the two of us down into a sad hole and ruin what could be a wonderful time together?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total)
Something similar happened to me. I met my future husband in October. I interviewed for a dream job in November. I accepted the dream job and left the country in December. He visited me twice, and we got engaged on the second visit in February. We were married in July, and we've been married almost three years now (long enough to say that even if our marriage turns out to be a mistake, we would have made the mistake anyway).

So, I say that if it's meant to be then it will be. You're old enough to get married when you see a good thing. It's not necessarily foolish. If she means that much to you, then you will make it happen. That kind of hope should get you through the next month or so.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:05 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're trying to suppress or sequester the sadness from the happiness. But really, it's all one. Why not share both? Watch the movie The Shadowlands: "The pain then is part of the happiness now. That's the deal."

That suggestion works for your "first thing," but less so for your second, which is more about you and what you want for yourself, as opposed to you and her. I'd minimize this second one. It's your imagination that's giving you the pain there. You don't know you'll be on your own for months or years; you really don't. You might enter into an amazing pen pal courtship with her, or meet someone else. Surprising things happen. Let Pain #1 be what it is, but don't make it worse with Pain #2. When both pains come, you'll be able to handle them. Just take it one day at a time.
posted by salvia at 8:13 PM on June 20, 2008

I'd like to reiterate what saliva said. You need to separate your worries about being alone for the long term from your feelings from this girl. If things with this girl work out, that is no guarantee you won't eventually break up and be at square one. If things don't work out, that is no guarantee that you won't meet Miss Perfect a couple weeks later and get married and live happily ever after. It is irrational to think you can predict the future based on one event. So let yourself relax about that. No one needs that kind of stress.

Have you talked to her about what she'd like to do about the two of you if she gets this opportunity? People do manage with long term relationships. People have done far crazier things than follow someone to a new city for the sake of love (even if it is early in the relationship). Does she want there to be a future for the two of you? If both of you want it, and are willing to put some effort in, it's possible. But it's not possible if you don't talk about it, or if you shoot down any possibilities right away before you even fully explore them. And if she's not worth the occasional awful bus ride or train ride, or 4 hour late night phone calls, then why are you so upset about this anyway?
posted by tastybrains at 8:27 PM on June 20, 2008

What should I focus on in my mind to not drag the two of us down into a sad hole and ruin what could be a wonderful time together?

Focus on each day as it presents itself. Lots easier said than done. But it's the only thing you can do, anyways; you can only live right here right now.

How you handle this will show her most everything she'll ever need to know about you, if she stays or if she goes.

How you handle this will show you most everything you'll ever need to know about you, if she stays or if she goes.

Watch yourself in this, be detached as you can, when you can, an observer watching a person in a difficult human situation.

And it is a difficult human situation. Please don't think I'm tossing off some horses ass easy answer. I'm not. I do see the difficulty in this. I feel your pain. Okay, so I don't feel your pain. But I do, sortof; I felt compassion, as I read your tale.

Good luck, either way.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:38 PM on June 20, 2008

This may sound radical, but here's my first instinct: why not assume she will get the job and live out this month like it's your last month together? The key is both of you making that assumption together -- accepting that loss together and being honest about what it makes you feel. I think the key is opening up to her. There's nothing wrong with the two of you comforting each other.

Then, if she does get the job, you will have had one hell of a farewell month (and I strongly suspect you won't regret having jumped in with your soul bared).
posted by kalapierson at 12:45 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

In situations like this, when I have been saddened by the natural, unintended consequences of events that are good for other people, I've found that it's best to be genuinely sympathetic about my own feelings. Say to yourself -- and listen, as if you were a friend of yours -- "I know she'd love it if this happened, but I'm going to lose her if it does, and I'm torn and miserable."

If you were a good friend of yours, would you say, "Suck it up, cowboy, and don't let her know a goddamn thing about it"? No. You would concur that that, in fact, sucks, and is very difficult to deal with. Telling yourself that, and meaning it, actually helps the pain retreat and become secondary, much more so than angrily kicking your own feelings out of the way whenever there's an opportunity to enjoy the present. I have found this out from personal experience.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:14 AM on June 21, 2008

What's the worst thing that would happen if you went together? The very worst thing.

Now imagine being sixty years old, having stayed put right where you are right now, looking back, wondering what could have happened if you had gone on this adventure together.

Which is worse?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:53 AM on June 21, 2008

Either way you've got a month to spend with someone fabulous. Life is offering you something good. Grab on to it with both hands.
posted by 26.2 at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, I met my partner in February 2005, knowing I'd be leaving town in mid-May and then starting grad school somewhere else that autumn. I thought he was just a really fantastic quick fling, and approached our relationship with that emotional perspective. After a few months, he told me he'd been thinking of moving to the city I was headed to for graduate school. I was incredibly freaked out about what his moving with me (and living with me until he found his own place) "meant." It was kind of awkward for the month we lived together, but he was graceful at dealing with my nervousness about it and not at all pushy about commitment or love or any relationship milestones. When my nervousness had abated, I realized he was still pretty wonderful. Things have only gotten better since then. We're still together and totally in love. I would never have followed him (or someone else in general) after four months, but I'm so glad he was gutsy enough to follow me, even knowing I wasn't as serious about him at the time as he was about me.
posted by soviet sleepover at 1:09 PM on June 21, 2008

I wouldn't worry quite so much yet - these things have a way of working themselves out. I had a PhD all lined up back home in the States, got involved in a "fling" sort of relationship, and ended up canceling the PhD to stay abroad and make a serous go with my "fling." Four years later we're still very happy and i'm in a lovely life and career that I never could have planned. Just enjoy yourself and trust that if it's meant to be, it's meant to be.
posted by ukdanae at 5:44 PM on June 21, 2008

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