Waiting for your letters at [email protected]
Last year, I studied in Argentina for a semester. I fell in love with it and decided to stay on, once the school year ended. I had just gone through a devastating breakup. But in May, toward the end of my semester, I met a guy. Sweet and handsome.
At first we saw each other a few times a week, then nearly every day, and by the time my internship was over and my visa had expired, we had confessed our love to each other. I didn't expect that we would stay in touch — I had fallen in love with him, but I thought distance would snuff out the romance — but here we are over a year later, still communicating. We've spoken nearly every day.
Since I left Argentina last July, I've asked him to visit twice. Both times he said no, but he expressed an intense desire to be with me. He told me I was his best friend. He said "te amo." After that second rejection, and without a label, I decided I needed space. We didn't speak for two weeks. And then the coronavirus hit. I was alone in the US, and before things even got bad, I had to recognize that he wasn't just my quasi-boyfriend; he was my best friend, my support system, and the person with whom I most wanted to share all of the terrible things happening around me.
Each time he rejected my desire for more, he justified his decision by saying that he didn’t want to be in a long-distance relationship. It didn't make sense because he treated me like a girlfriend and still does. I couldn't understand what it would cost him to call me his girlfriend, especially if I wasn't asking for exclusivity. A few weeks ago, he joked about sending our children to a certain school near Buenos Aires. He often talks about activities we'll do "when you come here," and he says it with such earnestness that it feels completely true. He said if I were there with him, he would've asked me to be his girlfriend months ago. At this point, I don't know what to do. I want to go back to Buenos Aires, and I think it could be a good move for my career, but I don’t know how long it would take for me to build the resume necessary to get there. I just graduated from college and things aren't exactly looking rosy for me.
He can't move to the US, though he plans to, because he hasn’t finished grad school, and that will take years. No matter how much hedging we do, it seems like we can't help ourselves, and we keep getting closer even though we're continents apart. What do I do? How can I communicate my desire to be with him now, and not just in that hazy future? How can I make our separation a little bit easier to bear? I want to come up with a solution that gives us a date to look forward to, and some ground rules for the not-relationship we currently find ourselves in. I love him and I know he loves me. How can we make this work?
– Far away
I want you to remember that you only knew this man in person for a few months. I'm not saying the relationship isn't all the things you say it is, but there are so many unanswerable questions about what life would be like with him in Buenos Aires now. You want promises and plans, but there are too many unknowns.
What stands out about your letter – to me, at least – is that he became the "person with whom I most wanted to share all of the terrible things happening around me." What pressure! It makes me wonder who else is around, and how much the isolation of post-college life (and coronavirus) has affected your other local connections. You've fallen for this man, but that doesn’t mean he has to be your go-to for all things. Who else can you talk to about your experiences right now? Perhaps if you had more conversations with others – including friends who are also experiencing life after graduation – you would feel like there's less on the line with this relationship.
I do think you should talk to him about ground rules, and about how he defines this relationship for himself. The future is hazy, so what can he promise you? When he tells you what you'd do together if you were with him, does that mean he wants you to move to be with him? If he can't give you definitive answers or confirm his desire for more, please minimize his place in your life. Distractions are great right now, but he's getting in the way of you building your world after college. He's become such a big part of your equation for happiness that it doesn't sound like you're focusing on much else.
Find out if these feelings – and your desire to try to make this work – are reciprocated. If you don't leave the conversation feeling like you're on the same page, call this a breakup. I know it will be difficult, but you don't want to go on like this.
Readers? What questions should the LW ask of this man? What's reasonable?