Should we try a long-distance relationship?

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My boyfriend and I have been together for three years and we're going to college later this year. Up until recently, the plan was to try a long-distance relationship because we thought we would both be living in the states. We both recognize that we are young and haven't been in any other serious relationships, so the thought of making such a big commitment was scary. We see each other most days right now, so we knew a long-distance relationship would be very different than what we're used to, but the thought of being apart hurt more than not seeing each other as much. We understood that we weren't unique, and that there was a high chance of our relationship not surviving, but figured we had a really healthy relationship and we should try.

However, recently he decided he was interested in living in Japan. We don't know what to do anymore. We try talking about it, but it gets confusing. We're excited for each other but are sad at the thought of being even farther apart than originally planned. We can see two paths; we either break up and eventuality get over it, or we try to find a solution. Neither one of us wants to break up, but as the date to leave our homes gets closer, we start considering it even more. Not because we’re sure that’s the right choice, but because we feel like that's how things are normally done in the situation. We're trying not to be naive and overestimate our commitment to each other, but it's hard for me to picture a life without him. Of course I know if we broke up we would eventually be OK because we've placed such importance on having our own hobbies while in the relationship, but I would rather share my new college experiences with him. I'm happy he has found an experience that will be interesting for him, but I want things to work out. We just don’t understand how something so painful could be the correct answer. Nothing is finalized, so we are just looking for some input. We are completely at a loss right now, and any advice will help.

– Far Away


It's difficult to be in limbo right now, but this is a good time to rely on the friendship you've built over three years. You can say, "Hey, let's stay honest with each other and play it by ear." You don't have to make any decisions or rules right now. You can wait to see how you both feel when you're in two different places.

It might be very annoying to take FaceTime calls to catch up in the middle of the night. It might be tough to make new friends if you're focused on someone who’s not around. But you also might learn to exist as a couple with less rules and constant contact.

The point is, who knows? It's so difficult to lose control over something that's been so stable, but try to breathe through all of these uncertainties. (That's something a lot of people are learning to do during this pandemic, by the way. Many people are confused about where they'll be or who they'll get to be around over the next year.) Promise each other that if one of you needs space or a breakup, the other will understand. It doesn't mean there won’t be pain and confusion, but it helps to know you're both free to state your needs.

All you can promise is to be good to each other. Enjoy each other's company before you leave. Try not to treat this as a countdown to misery, because you said it best – you're both excited for each other and have a lot to look forward to.

Remember that this is the hardest part, the anticipation of the unknown. This is a good lesson – how to be with someone and enjoy their company without knowing what will come next.

– Meredith

Readers? Do they have to make decisions now?