Is it possible to overcome a 17-hour time difference?

New podcast episode day. And it's a revealing one.

We dated for three years and he just moved to the other side of the world to continue his studies. We tried long-distance for a couple of weeks but it was too hard for me with the 17-hour time difference. He would be sleeping when I woke in the morning, he was in school when I was free, and I was headed to bed when he was finishing school. It just never worked out and I was so stressed. We both work and go to school for long hours, so sacrificing sleep isn't really an option. Our communication ended up being random texts throughout the day whenever we could send them, but never long and meaningful conversations. We would sometimes wait hours for the other to text back. We would not be able to see each other for four months at a time (school semesters), and even then plane tickets cost about $1,500, so maintaining communication while apart was key for us.

Then we tried to just be friends. I thought this was doable because we wouldn't feel the pressure of trying to maintain constant communication. Soon after, though, I realized that trying to be just friends with someone you love is too hard. I either wanted to be all in or all out, and all in just wasn't working for us. I ended things completely even though I love him so much and I know he loves me too. We were such a good couple and had a really healthy relationship. I asked for space/no contact so we could have time to grow on our own and learn to be without each other, and hopefully one day, when the timing is right, try again. I feel like maintaining contact with my ex as a friend (even though we really are each other's best friend) is unhealthy because we are both hanging onto the idea that one day we will be together again, and at the same time blocking other potential opportunities (being friends but acting like we're in a relationship). Did I make the right decision? Or am I being selfish for feeling like the situation is too hard for me? I am torn. It sucks going through a breakup when the relationship was good, healthy, and both people were so happy and in love.

– Doubts


You made the right decision. That doesn't mean it won't make you miserable. You're doubting yourself because there was a lot to lose here, but the math is clear. You're separated by thousands of miles. To see him means buying a $1,500 flight. You have almost no time for trips, even if you could afford them. The time difference requires you to lose major sleep to say more than a hello. To make this work, you'd have had to sacrifice just about every other priority in your life. Ending this wasn't selfish at all, it was practical. In many ways, it was kind.

The best way to recover from this heartache is to take space. I understand why you wanted to try a friendship, but casual conversation won't feel like enough. It might also feel a little selfish to take up space in his life if he was the one who wanted to stay together. There's no reason to suggest that this decision will be reversed.

The good news is that the space will come easy. So many people want to make a call to an ex when they feel lonely, or text an impulsive “u up?” when they’re feeling like they might want some attention. With this kind of time difference, the answer to “u up?” is probably a big no. Or a "yes I'm very much up – because I'm in school." The distance is pretty much all you have. Take it and remember that feelings of doubt and regret do not mean you made the wrong move.

– Meredith

Readers? Selfish?