My girlfriend and I have been together for almost five years, the past 1.5 of which have been long-distance as she pursues an advanced degree in another state and I work to build my career locally. My field doesn't really exist in her current location.
My years with her have been the best of my life. I know we're in the same boat; we long to close the distance. Despite her early claims that she's never been a fan of marriage and is hesitant to commit, she's made it clear she wants to grow old with me, nuptials (eventually) included.
Recently, our relationship has undergone a slight strain. We believe the cause is rooted in mismanaged work stress on both of our parts. It's also distance fatigue, as we just learned we will have to be in separate cities for an additional year because of a great opportunity for her. As we prepare for another 1.5 years of distance, I'd like advice on how I can approach conversations surrounding closing the distance in a way that acknowledges that there are still unknowns (mostly regarding where her work might take her after this next opportunity). I don't want to fan the flames of stress.
We've lived together in the past and are eager to again. She knows I would move to her in a heartbeat if we believed our relationship required it, but we've managed the distance incredibly well so far and agree another 1.5 years is doable, especially because this next opportunity will bring her slightly closer. I'm a planner and would like to start discussing the logistics of our next steps.
While at a wedding few weeks ago, she admitted she was afraid I would propose soon, before she's ready. I assured her that I think we still have some growing to do and that I'm in no rush to get engaged, but how can I effectively navigate our next steps while remaining sensitive to these concerns?
Long-distance relationships can be miserable for hard-core planners. There's so much to plan (routes, fares, schedules), but it's all about the little stuff. Often, the big decisions have to be tabled until the distance goes away.
You must get better at focusing on the small plans that will help you connect as a couple over the next year and a half. Maybe come up with one vacation you can enjoy together. Figure out the best way to make a quick visit.
I know you're desperate to focus on the bigger next steps, but there are too many unknowns right now. What is there to talk about if you don't even know where you'll live? You say you won't propose until she's ready, but you seem to be asking for a similar promise. You need to trust her intentions and give it time.
Accept that it might be eight months or more before you can talk about the future. Save these conversations until you know more about the next move.
Readers? What is there to plan?