Thousands of miles away for a year and a half

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Dear Meredith,

We're in love, but we'll be 7,000 miles away from each other for a year and a half. We made our relationship "official" and exclusive right before he deployed, after only about two months of dating. His deployment is six months. This week, I got the news that I'll be deploying for 13 months right at the end of his deployment. This means that we'll be physically away from each other for a year and a half. In addition, our communication is necessarily limited given the time change, poor wifi connection, and longer deployment work hours. We can email and text about once a day, but only get the change to call about twice a week.

So far, things are going well. We've both been patient, trusting, and flexible with each other. I'm happy to be in a relationship with him. But I'm very worried that this distance will inhibit us from truly getting to know each other, masking potential flaws in our relationship or points of incompatibility. I'm worried that when we're finally both back stateside, problems will emerge between us and we'll break up. I'm not in a rush to get married, but I hope to find a serious partnership with marriage potential as I enter my mid-20s. I wonder if I'm making a mistake by investing so much time and energy into a relationship with so much uncertainty. On the other hand, maybe this situation is an unavoidable consequence of working for the military. As one of my friends pointed out, "There's never a good time to date in the Army." What are your thoughts, Meredith?

– Afraid of Distance


Your friend is right; there's no easy way to date right now. Your schedule is intense ... and you don't even have good wifi.

But my thought is: Why not try?

You and this man like each other a lot, and you want to continue your connection. So go for it. Just stay honest about what this relationship is at the moment. You shouldn't pretend it's the most important thing in your life because it isn't. You shouldn't make massive commitments – because you can't. Maybe drop the expectation of exclusivity – and the "in love" talk – and revisit when more months have passed. It just seems more honest.

Slowing things down might also make life easier when you return to the same place. You'll have less on the line, with fewer big promises to keep. You'll be giving each other permission to get to know each other over time, without deadlines.

You should know that many letter writers fear investing in relationships that won't work out once circumstances change. You're not alone in that; there is no certainty.

All of this is a risk, but in your case, it seems worth it.

– Meredith

Readers? Continue this relationship?