Graduating College: How Long Can You Do Long-Distance?
No easy way to start, so ill just jump in:
I spent the summer abroad and during my travels I met a very charming man with whom I am now in a serious relationship with. I have to admit that at first I didn’t take it very seriously but after only a couple of dates it became clear that we have great chemistry and that it was more than an exotic summer fling. At the end of the summer, we didn’t talk about how it would work out in the long run. I assumed things would naturally fall into place.
They did, and we have now been in a long distance relationship for longer than we have been in a normal relationship (a total of 5 months, my longest relationship ever). The distance, while annoying, isn’t all of the problem. The real problem is the uncertainty of life after graduation and my indecision on whether staying in New York or moving to where I spent my summer. Before coming back, I was convinced that I would return soon after receiving my diploma, but now I feel distracted by my (imagined) wealth of post-grad options. Do I stay here? Do I go back? Do I go somewhere completely new? These of course, are decisions that I have to make for myself, but where does that leave my man? I do want to go back to him, but it also seems stupid to give up such a pivotal time in my life for someone whom I have only known for 5 months. I have yet to broach the subject with him; the thought of making a real decision scares me more than the uncertainty of his response.
What do I do? I want to be able to make real decisions about this, but I am paralyzed by a feeling of impotence when thinking about any future after May 2011. More than anything, I am racked by the thought of stringing him along for something that may or may not ever come to fruition.
(ill think of a clever pseudonym and email it to you shortly!)
Before I start, I’d like to make clear that I’m facing similar decisions myself as a member of the class of 2011, and have absolutely no idea what to do, so please take my advice with a sympathetic fistful of salt, if you can.
Moving on: from what I can tell, you have two overlapping problems. Although you had ideas about what you were going to do after college as early as last summer, it seems like you’ve changed your mind since then and are now struggling to decide what to do. And in the meantime, you’ve accrued an obligation to your boyfriend, who’s been waiting for you with the implicit expectation that you’ll be together again as soon as possible. And the longer he waits, the greater your obligation. By now, if you don’t move to his country, you run a high risk of losing him, possibly for good. Not to mention hurting him.
Although you imagine an infinite dearth of possibilities, the reality is that you’ll probably have a very tangible number of options. Start by applying for all the jobs and programs that appeal to you, here and elsewhere, and then see what your options really are. You could get lucky: your problem could resolve itself before you really have to make a decision.
But if that doesn’t work, and you still have to decide, I’d advise you to go wherever you feel the most potential. You’re probably thinking, “Oh, great. Potential, what does that mean? Personal potential? Romantic potential? Financial potential?” But I don’t think you need to differentiate too much here. In fact, I think regarding those things as distinct is what’s making you so confused. You’ve been trying to choose between these things as though you could weigh them against each other, but what matters is what you want, and that might not fall into a single category. So once you’ve figured out what your options are realistically, try it: close your eyes and think about which feels like it has the potential to be the most right, the most beautiful, the most like your daydreams.
I realize that this leaves your boyfriend in the lurch, so to speak, but I think you owe it to him to ignore your obligation to him. I know that sounds heartless, but it really isn’t. If you make the decision out of a sense of duty, you’re only going to resent him, and it’ll take the sense of freedom out of your relationship — and that’s the magic ingredient, in the end: the sense that both of you are there because you want to be and for no other reason. Without that, you’ve got nothing — there’s nothing to save. So don’t let yourself think about your obligations. Just think about what it would be like to be with him, in his country, and weigh the potential against your other dreams, and make a selfish decision. There’ll probably be a cost either way, but at least this way, you won’t regret it.
Best of luck.
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