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I can't do distance

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  December 23, 2010 09:36 AM

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We'll do updates tomorrow for Christmas Eve.


Q: Meredith,

It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but I am wrought with heartache. My girlfriend and I have been dating for almost a year. We are both in our early 30s.

Our relationship was great up until now. We had a brief moment of playing house before she went of to grad school (she applied before we met), and despite reservations about the pending distance (two hours) we decided to take a stab at it. So, after five months of dating, she moved in, which we both knew was temporary. It was great. Two months and change passed and our affection toward one another was unmatched. Then, poof, she was off to her new life as a student. Things seemed OK for a while, a visit or two a month, and talking on the phone worked. We had seemed to be able to work out most things that bothered us. But after three months of her at school, things have rapidly deteriorated.

The problem boils down to the distance and my fear of what's to come. She says that I need to make a choice. I told her that I need to figure out whether I dislike the distance and all the problems associated with it, or her not being in my life. I think the only way to figure that out is to take a break from our relationship. The problem is that it may be too late by that point. We both care a lot for each other -- that much is clear -- but I am having such a hard time with the distance. I didn't think it would be this hard, but for me, it is. I need more from our relationship than weekend visits. When we are together for longer periods, it's great, but hurts all the more when it's time to part again. I am left with my empty apartment and she is off to her life at school. It's been such a roller coaster.

Lately, I have been guarded and distant with her. My recent behavior has been selfish, and not at all OK. I sunk below my own standards for being a good boyfriend/mate/partner. It makes me sick looking back at how casually I have treated a person for whom I care so deeply. She recognized this and called me out, for which I am grateful. I could only apologize, because she is right.

We had planned to spend her birthday together and now she doesn't want me to be with her on that day, which is days before Christmas. She isn't mad at me, she says, just hurt that I can't seem to make up my mind about what I want. I don't blame her -- it is completely understandable even though I wish it weren't that way.

Does it make sense that if we care for each other enough we should be able to stay together and work these things out?

Thanks for reading. I hope Santa brings me a fresh outlook on relationships. Because I can't seem to get it right on my own.

– Holiday Heartacher, Boston

A: "Does it make sense that if we care for each other enough we should be able to stay together and work these things out?" Sure. You only live two hours away from her. And from what I can tell, you're not in school. That means you can get in a car (or on a bus) and meet her as often as you need to. You had five months with this woman. That's not a lifetime, but it's certainly long enough to know that you feel strongly about her.

Santa would probably tell you go follow your heart because he's a total sap. And I am, too, for the most part. You've gone out of your way to sabotage this relationship, and it's just not working for you. Your maturity level needs to catch up to your heart and gut.

There is a way to keep her. Just sit down with her and map out how you can see each other more often. Maybe concoct a plan to live in the same place as soon as possible. Then, put up with the temporary distance. If she's worth it, she's worth it.

The whole "taking a break" thing is pretty cowardly. You seem to want to play pretend to see if you can handle losing her. If your feelings for this woman are really about her -- not just about having any old girlfriend -- getting rid of her won't make you feel any better. You'll just have none of her instead of some of her.

Readers? What does he really want? What is the solution here? After five months, should he be ready to come up with a plan to close the distance gap? Is the distance so bad? Discuss.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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