Q: Lately, I've been a pretty lucky girl. I met the perfect man for me and as of January 2011, we will be going on two years strong. We moved to the 'burbs together in the spring.
The boyfriend (let's call him Guy) is truly a great match for me. He's outgoing, smart, motivated, compassionate, and seriously handsome. I love that he comes from a great family. Essentially, everything is hunky-dory, right?
Eh. Not right. This is my first live-together relationship, and I'm not entirely sure if my behavior is, well, sane. Let me explain.
I work a fairly standard job downtown and commute every day. I'm home at the same time every night and I like this routine. I relish it. I travel infrequently (two or three times a year.) Besides my job, I have a small circle of very close friends and the friends I share with Guy. My life is quiet but after pretty wild adolescent and college years, it's what I love.
Guy, on the other hand, works a very high-pressure job. While he works a couple days a week with a similar schedule to mine, he also works nights and the occasional weekend, usually until quite late. His job requires him to travel much more often. He is planning an overseas trip next spring that will be at least two weeks long. He also gets gigs at the last possible minute and has had to cancel plans with me.
I never want to stand in the way of him and the work he loves, but I don't love it. Not one bit. When we were dating, he was working a very different job and we shared more friends. Now that he socializes in a different circle and works in such a high-profile world, I feel lonely and anxious. I worry that he'll up and leave me. I worry that I'm not exciting enough for him. I worry that one day, he simple won't come back. (I have abandonment issues from past experiences. All it takes is one bad relationship to seriously screw someone up!)
I love him so much and I've never doubted that fact. However, I feel so depressed when he leaves, so nervous that he'll return and not want me anymore. I feel stupid for thinking this, and angry with myself for doubting him. I'm surprised how lonely I get when he's not around. (I've spoken to him about this, and he's always said I'm crazy for thinking he'd ever walk out.)
So what do I do? What am I supposed to do when he works late, or when he leaves the country? What does it take to erase those abandonment fears? I'm young but I’m not THAT young. I don't think I should still be worrying about the man I love disappearing but I can't make it go away.
– Afraid of Being Afraid, Boston
A: What do you do when he works late, AOBA? You watch TV. You hang out with friends. You remind yourself that he misses you, too.
My guess is that you're romanticizing whatever it is he does on the road. You're imaging Guy going out with attractive people and living a better life. I'm not sure what he does for a living, but most likely, when he's out of town and finished with work for the day, he goes back to a hotel room and watches television. That's what people who travel for work do with their free time. They watch TV. They read. They get homesick. They eat alone at restaurants.
Some of my friends are traveling writers. It's tough on their boyfriends/girlfriends who are understandably anxious about what happens on the road. The truth is, most of my traveling writer friends spend much of their away time counting the days until they can come home. They love their jobs, but they often find themselves calling me from rental cars and airports, desperate to find out what they're missing back in Boston.
My advice is to tag along with him on a trip or shadow him during one of his late-night gigs. Tell him that you'll stay out of his way. See what his work is all about so that you can relax. And then, please, listen to Guy. He lives with you and is telling you that you're crazy for feeling insecure. Why not believe him?
Yes, he could bail at some point, but so could you. All relationships are risky. I'm not sure that yours is any more fragile because Guy is working some fancy job on the road. If anything, he's probably more psyched than ever that he has someone to come home to.
Readers? How can she calm her nerves? Am I being naive about Guy's road life? Is she meant to be with someone who travels less? Should she shadow him like I've suggested? Vintage Hall & Oates song of the day? Yes, please. And discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.