Grad school might end this relationship

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My boyfriend and I have been together for three and a half years. I have been attending college and we live together. I am applying to grad schools this fall. One is in another state, one is the school I go to now, but my dream is to be out there, where I've wanted to move long before we even started dating.

My mom moved away a few months ago and is a 17-hour drive from me. If I move to the school of my choice, I'd only be a four-hour drive from her (my siblings and extended family live where I am now). My boyfriend is telling me he won't be ready to move in a year from now, which is about the time I'll find out if I got into my grad school choices. His family and friends are here, and he just got a promotion at work and is making good money.

I’m so conflicted about what I should do. I can't decide whether we should do long-distance, end the relationship, or if I should stay for him. I'm scared that if I stay where I'm at now until he's ready to move, I'll settle here, which is something I've never wanted to do. I also don't know if we would end the relationship now or if we would wait until I'm ready to move. We have the same friend group and I don't know where he'd live if we broke up. But I also don't know how beneficial it would be for us to stay together for another year knowing that I'd be leaving him, leaving us in a relationship that we know will eventually end. I'm so heartbroken over this and have no idea what to do.

- Next steps

If you know you want to live in this faraway place, and he knows that moving would be too big a sacrifice, that's your answer. You speak more passionately about the move than you do about him. You call this other place your "dream" location. Long-distance doesn't seem like fun after four-plus years. At that point, if he's not ready to take the leap, you'd want to go it alone.

My advice is to ask your boyfriend whether he'll ever want to move to this place – if it would ever be his choice, as opposed to a massive compromise. That might get you some clarity. Maybe you'll both say the things you've been holding back. For the record, it sounds like you care about each other, but that you're not life partners. There’s a distinction, right? Especially when it comes to big decisions.

As for staying together because you're still here, well, he might not want that. If a breakup is on the horizon, you both might want space. He can find his own housing. Your friends can be shared. It's painful – absolutely heartbreaking – but you are working toward some big changes. That part of the letter is exciting. Hopeful. No matter what happens, it's not all loss here.

One last thought: you can also table the discussion until fall. I think it'll be easier to feel good about a plan after a summer out in your communities and with the people you love (assuming everyone can have more of that soon).

– Meredith

Readers? Time to break up? Table the decision?