Q: Recently a guy I've been seeing for eight months told me he needed space and would reach out to me when he wanted to talk. This was days ago. Let's call him Bob.
To give some background, I moved up to Boston last June after college graduation from Washington D.C. for a job. I didn't know anyone up here when I came up, and the majority of my friends I now have come from work. I met Bob through a coworker. In January, Bob took me on our first date. It was fun, there was great conversation, and never a moment of awkwardness. I, however, did not feel the so-called "butterflies" or mushy stuff -- I simply had a really nice time. We ended up going on a few more dates very sporadically over the next few months, one date happening every few weeks. I started to enjoy talking to him more, but I still wasn't sold on if this was relationship material. Then the frequency of seeing each other increased, and we broke the physical boundary and became intimate. Still, I wasn't sure if I wanted a relationship but nonetheless genuinely enjoyed Bob's company and being with him. Over the course of this summer, we've seen each other/slept over at each other's houses nearly every day and we haven't been seeing anyone else. We've acted as if we were boyfriend/girlfriend even though I have withheld the title. Bob is very vocal about wanting to be with me and make me his. He told me he loves me. I've been very vocal about wanting to go back to D.C. by next year.
I have always been very clear with Bob about where I stand and the reservations I have. Our communication with one another is one of the strongest things in our relationship -- we've always been very open with where we stand -- it is unlike anything I have ever had with anyone else. I feel like I can be myself around him because I don't have to try and impress him. He's my best friend here. And the truth is that ever since he asked for space, I've really missed him. He's the only thing that feels like home to me since I've moved up here. I know it's all my fault for causing this drama and confusion.
The question is, why can't I figure out what's holding me back from committing to him? Is it my strong desire to go home to D.C. stop me from committing to something up here? I don't believe that you should enter a relationship unless you can see yourself marrying them, which is greatly evidenced by the large number of my friends back home getting engaged. Is caring about someone enough for relationship? Do I miss him because I'm lonely or do I miss him for him?
– Displaced, Allston
A: There's no way to know whether you want to marry someone before you're in a relationship with them. You must jump into the relationship and then make decisions. You've been in a serious relationship with Bob whether you want to admit it or not. You've had a boyfriend for the better part of a year.
My guess is that you're holding back because of the D.C. thing and because you're just too young to know what you're going to want in a year. That makes perfect sense. If Bob reaches out, you can talk about what you can offer -- a relationship that works right now. If he doesn't reach out, you can either invade his space and tell him where you stand or simply let him go and spend your free time preparing for your move. See how you feel about those options in another few weeks.
Just know that whatever you do -- whether it's with Bob or someone else -- you can't put the cart before the horse. You have to be able to say, "I'm in a relationship and I don't know what's going to happen." No one knows until they're in it.
Readers? Are you supposed to want to get married when you start a relationship? Should she contact Bob or just let him have the space and float away? How do you stay in a relationship with someone when you know you want to move?
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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.