I'm 26 and I've been in a long-distance relationship for about three and a half years now. Hard to believe, but we were only in Boston together for the first eight months or so for our senior of college. I loved dating him, and we'd made a plan to move to the same city after graduation. I graduated college and moved as planned, but at the last minute, he got the job offer of his dreams in a different city and has been there for the last three years.
We're both in entertainment chasing challenging industries, and we're both in the best locations for our professions. He has always talked about moving to me one day (my industry is nonexistent in his city, but his industry exists at least a little in mine). Time passed and we're now about to hit three years of this. Before the pandemic, we managed to travel to each other every month or so for at least a few days. We both had a lot going on, so even though it was hard to be apart, we were great at long-distance, and in a way, it was exciting. The pandemic has changed things. We quarantined together for the first few months, but as work picked up again, we went back to our homes and now must deal with longer bouts of not seeing each other. All this time on my own has made me wonder how long I'm willing to wait. I love him so much, I love that he's never pressured me to move for him and that we're both so supportive of each other's careers, but it's dawning on me that when we began long-distance, I think we both imagined it would never be more than a few years. Right now it feels like there's no end in sight, and of course, right now I wish I had him beside me to ride this out with. I go back and forth between waiting to see how I feel when life gets "back to normal," and then feeling like who knows when and what normal will look like. I've even thought of suggesting we try to keep in touch and see each other when we can, but not date exclusively anymore. I have no idea how he'd feel (or I'd feel in practice) about that.
It's time to have a talk. Ask your boyfriend how the last few months have been for him.
Has long-distance been harder after having the opportunity to live together? Does he long to have that lifestyle again? The year has brought up some significant questions about if and when you’ll ever be together. Now is a great time to discuss how your early plans have changed and if they'll ever change again. Maybe you'll come up with the answer as a team.
I'd think about the exclusivity thing before you offer it up as a real solution. Is this about wanting to see other people or about seeking a new partner who can be around more often? If it's #2, you’d be better off letting your boyfriend go. It can be difficult to connect with someone new if you're still attached to a person who's been in your life for years.
You mention waiting on decisions until there’s a "normal," whatever that is. I understand that idea, and sure, vaccines will probably help anyone who has loved ones far away. But this very difficult year has inspired many of us to ask for what we want. To seek it sooner than later. If you want a partner who can share daily life with you, in your presence, you want more than what you had before COVID-19. If there's no plan on his part to make moves – no shared desire to figure this out within the next year or so – I think you'll both know what's best.
Readers? Time to ask about plans?