I’m Far Away

Submit your letter to this form.

Dear Meredith,

I met my girlfriend when we were in college. The night we met there was an instant connection, and we were strong from day one.

At that time, I had already made a commitment to become an officer in the the Marine Corps, and upon my graduation in January of 2013 I was commissioned. However, due to sequestration, etc., I had to wait until 2014 to actually go active duty.

In that year, I got a great job, I lived at her place (grandmother's house), she finished her degree, got a job, and we were solid. But at the same time we both chose to some extent to totally ignore the looming distance. Whenever I'd bring it up, she didn't have much to say, and I guess I just assumed that once I finished up training in 2014 we'd close the gap somehow.

Here's the catch. I'm looking at another four years in my current duty station which is 700 miles from home and in a place that definitively isn't anything like Boston. I like to think I'm adapting well as I've never been much for going out a lot, and the area I'm in is more of a town than a city. But Boston is most definitely her home.

To compound these problems, she asked for and received a promotion in December at my encouragement, which is great for her. Her grandmother is getting much older, and her family has other issues of concern.
Over the past year or so we've each done our best to reunite, usually averaging once every six weeks, but that was back when I was training in the DC area. But as of now she's only visited me once in my permanent station, and she just didn't get a good impression of the place. The area is more of a summer town and I plan on moving closer to a better nearby city when my lease is up in May. The way she puts it, "One of the top activities in your state is berry picking.”

Whenever I have attempted to discuss at least setting a timeline to close the distance over the past year, it's been like pulling teeth. She has all of the aforementioned issues stated above, as well as her promotion. But even so, she is heavily underpaid for what she does, lives at home, and doesn't own a car. I've offered to help her look for an even better position out here, but we never seem to make any progress on the subject, which leaves me very frustrated and her upset because of it.

Meredith, I'm in no way expecting her to totally uproot her life, make this huge sacrifice for me, and abdicate herself from her responsibilities to her family anytime in the near future. But at the same time, I would like some type of commitment or at least some type of positive affirmation that we will be together someday. I've seen little sign that she is even seriously thinking about closing the distance.

Finally, we've discussed getting engaged and I put a deposit down on an engagement ring. But with the uncertainty of our situation and the arguments that arose because of it, I let my doubts get the best of me and decided not to go through with it in the end. It wasn't because I wasn't sure that she's the one, it was because the topic of marriage would bubble to the surface during the arguments. The way she has asked how I can expect her to sacrifice her entire life to move halfway across the country when she's just a girlfriend. The way I see it is, I don't want to make an engagement ring a prerequisite to her relocation, especially when it's a lifetime commitment to someone who isn't willing to seriously consider making a move otherwise.

Meredith, what should I do? The last thing I want is to force her to do anything against her will that would inevitably lead to resentment. But at the same time, I have no choice in the matter. I miss my partner in crime dearly, and the anxiety of a four-year long-distance relationship is something I don't know if I could handle.

– Far Away

Maybe your girlfriend would tell a very different version of this story, but it seems that if you weren't working so hard to keep this relationship together, it would fall apart pretty quickly.

The only way to survive a long-distance relationship is to communicate like grownups and to have a plan. Your girlfriend was bad at communicating even before you left (how could she avoid talking about 2014?). And she answers your legitimate questions about the plan with passive-aggressive comments about marriage.

At this point, your best option is to put it all out there and see how she responds. Tell her where you stand on the engagement. Remind her that you signed up for years (and maybe a career?) of moving around, and that if her goal is to remain in Boston no matter what, this might not work. I don't like ultimatums, but if there's no plan for more visits and a move, this has to end.

I understand that you don't want her to have to make big sacrifices for you, but when she decided to be with someone in your position, she knew that was part of the deal. You both did.

It's OK to ask for specific answers. You're long overdue for some real honesty about what's to come. If she refuses to make any sacrifices, this won't work. ... And for the record, I grew up down the street from a berry picking farm and it was awesome.

Readers? Should she move? Is it time for an ultimatum? Are you on her side about getting engaged before a move?

– Meredith