Is it time to date other people?

Hi Meredith,

I'm 22 years old and graduated from college just a year ago, and have been dating my younger boyfriend long-distance while he's still in school. At present, we're a few hours drive from each other, but we manage to meet up about once a month by splitting time between my city and his, or sometimes meeting in the middle. It's been working well, though there are weeks where being apart from each other is really difficult.

As graduation approaches, my boyfriend is getting offers for great jobs, the best of which is across the country. He is the most hardworking, driven man I have ever met, and I whole-heartedly believe this job is the best opportunity for him. I want the world for him. He is my best friend and my partner in everything, and has supported me while I figured out where I belong and what I'm doing. I love him enough to know that this job is the right choice for him. I just don't know if it's wise to factor myself into that equation.

Long-distance is already hard, and I know it will be harder when he's a plane ride away and several hours behind my time zone. Realistically, we're both going to be on tight budgets, and I don't foresee us seeing each other more than once every few months. His family is nearby where I am now, and I know he doesn't intend to stay across the country forever – more likely just a few years. Is it wise, at 22, to hold out for him across all those miles? Or should I take my mother's advice and date other people, to "learn more about who I am and what I want in a relationship?"

– Growing Together, Apart

Interesting that you're not thinking of moving with him. I guess that's not a good option either.

I like your mom, and I think she knows what's up. Long-distance works best when there's money and a plan to close the gap. You don't have those things, which means staying together would be a painful experience. He could love it out there and stay forever, or it could take him years and years to return. You can't wait around if you don't know what you're waiting for.

The big question is whether you should keep in touch after you end the relationship. With an amicable breakup, you might be tempted to continue the phone calls and lean on the friendship. My advice, though, would be to take some space, because keeping him around – even by phone – might make the transition more difficult. You should give yourself time to adjust as you let him go.

– Meredith

Readers? Is Mom right? Should they stay in touch?