Dear Miss Information,

I'm twenty-years old, and currently in a long-distance relationship with my twenty-two-year-old boyfriend. I feel the need to elaborate on "long distance." We met two years ago. At the time, he was living only an hour away, finishing his last couple months of college. Once he graduated, he had to move back home to south Florida. At first, it wasn't that much of a problem. We got to see each other for a week or so every three months; some people aren't that lucky. A little time together is better than none at all. 

But now I'm moving a couple miles north of my current location to start college. This will put us at a total of 294 miles apart. To solve both the issue of distance, and the fact that I really could use a roommate to help with bills, I asked my boyfriend — even though I knew the answer — if he would move in with me. As I expected, he said that he couldn't because he needed to fix his broken car, and find a job to pay loans. This I understood and accepted, even though I was really unhappy with the answer. 

Instead of getting any job that will pay money, just to get him started until he could get he job he really wants, he has teamed up with his best friend, who also went to college for something similar. He's aiming higher and is chasing only his desired career (which is great, don't get me wrong). Waiting for him to get a job, pay off his loans, then get enough money to move will take a long time as it is. 

I don't see why he couldn't start that here with me. I would be willing to help him move — even pay every bill myself until he could find a job. Lately I just feel second to his career and less important in his life. It feels like it'll be years before he is ready to move in with me. I know he isn't blowing me off, because he never wants to leave when it's time for him to go home and we both cry every time. I almost snapped not too long ago from the weight of distance once before, and he saved our relationship. No one who wants to blow you off would bother with that. 

I feel that I'm being selfish. I want him, but at the same time I don't ever want to stand in the way of his dream. Is it wrong of me to want him to put the dream on hold for just a little while? Would it be bitchy of me to give him a choice: "It's either me or your company?" I want no one but him, but I just don't understand why can't he chase his dream here, with me. 

— Too Selfish for Love

Dear Too Selfish, 

When you graduate from college in this economy, your options are basically "marry rich," "nepotism," or "Artificial Flower Factory." Until you do it yourself, it's hard to understand the peculiar cocktail that is post-graduation. Your frustration is understandable, but you have to let your boyfriend put down his roots right now. The years immediately following college are, for many, more important to who they become than the years they spent in college.

Though "boyfriend = roommate" seems like an attractive option, no jump in commitment should ever be borne of economic interests. ("Let's have a kid so we qualify for those sweet food stamps!") If you need a roommate, go through your university or your friends, or hit up Craigslist. Pulling your boyfriend close at the expense of his stability, while you're both on unstable ground, couldn't possibly end well. 

You're right, though: it may be a long time before you two are in the same place. Being geographically tethered by college and/or unemployability is just one of the things that sucks about being young. But "living together" and "stuck apart" are not your only options. There's a whole range in between to explore, so enlist your boyfriend and make a plan. Schedule some visits in advance, and, if he has flexibility with his self-made job, see if he can crash with you for extended periods. Ask him what his vision is for this company he's starting, and see if he has plans to take it away from Florida in the long-term. Enjoy him when you see him, and throw yourself into your own life when you don't. 

This isn't a rooting and growing time for him alone — you're in a big transition phase too, and you'd do well to commit as best as you can to your education and what you hope to gain from school. Ideally, you'll become more settled in your academic life, he'll have some traction in his career, and then you guys can meet in the middle — no compromised dreams required.

Commentarium (14 Comments)

Jan 15 12 - 12:47pm
Been there

I hate to be wet blanket, but honestly, the couple in the second letter should just break up. If they really feel that strongly about each other, they can remain on friendly terms, and maybe if they wind up living in the same place, then they can try a relationship again. Trying to keep this a relationship afloat while he tries to launch his career, and while she goes to school, is being a servant to too many masters. Neither one of them will give the rest of their school/work the focus it needs because they are distracted by the relationship, the relationship will probably eventually buckle under the stress of separation, and they'll wind up regretting not putting more into the other aspects of their lives. They both sound pretty young, and this relationshp sounds like a limiting factor on their individual potentials.

Jan 15 12 - 1:50pm

LW#2: The truth is, you are less important than his career right now. He has made that decision, and frankly, it's probably a pretty wise one. You have also made the decision that he is less important than your education --after all, there are schools in Florida, yeah? Neither of you are wrong for these decisions/priorities. But it's not benefitting anyone to pretend that your relationship is or should be #1 on both of your minds.

Now, as to whether or not you stay together: That's really up to you two. It sounds like you won't be getting together sooner than four years from now. If that sounds unbearable, you should probably just end it as amicably as possible, as Been there suggested. And you don't sound selfish at all, but you do sound a little bit immature, unwilling to accept that in life, there are things that you need to do that are more important than the things that you want to do; you can't just determine for your boyfriend's life and decisions for him — as much as he may love you, he has to look out for himself and his future.

Jan 15 12 - 2:23pm

When you're going for your first real good job after college, sometimes you have to move cross-country to get what you really want. Unless you're living in a place that happens to have a lot of the kinds of positions he's looking for, it may not be the place where he wants to "set roots." Give him a chance to explore all of his options, and if that's too hard, you may want to consider opening your relationship or ending it.

Jan 15 12 - 3:24pm

When you catch yourself thinking, "if he loved me, he would _________," you're going down a dangerous path. You're probably thinking about following some script you have in your head and not looking at the real, loving person in front of you.

He is - wisely - focusing on creating the foundation for an adult life. He needs to do that to feel successful and be self-sufficient, which will make him a better partner. He wants to be with you and even cries when it's time to part. He sounds like he is worth waiting for if you can realize he loves you in his own way, not in the way you thought someone would when you were little and dreaming of your future life. I'm not trying to be hard on you. Navigating an adult relationship is hard because it often means giving up long-held fantasies for what will eventually be a better reality.

Distance is hard but not insurmountable when two people have a clear vision of what they are working toward. If you aren't ready to give up the script in your head or believe you will never be happy unless that script is followed, it might be time to break up. Good luck.

Jan 15 12 - 4:56pm

Relationships work when two people share a strong emotional/romantic connection, and when the timing is right. The timing may not be right for the couple in the second letter. LW2, if you do end up growing apart and away from each other, try not to blame yourself or him. It sounds like you care about each other, but you may be growing into different people, with divergent paths. You have to be true to your own vision of your future, and let him do the same, and then see if those visions eventually line up. It will either happen or it won't, and there's no way to force it.

Jan 15 12 - 10:36pm

Thanks to all of the positive good advice in the comments, and from miss info. It was really hard to compose a letter where the most important bits of the story came across.

As for schools in florida, Yes there are schools in florida. I currently attend one, But it is still far from him, and it is the one my scholarship paid for. As for the script in my mind, there isnt one. I'd just like to point that out.

Since writing in, my boyfriend and i have sorted this problem out for ourselves. He was the one to bring the issue up, without myself mentioning it. He has changed his goal from a Desk job that he apparently hates, to something he enjoys doing, and is even a movable career. This first year I am sorting out my life, and he is sorting out his. Our relationship is still intact and he is moving in next year. Even if it takes a little longer, i feel better knowing when I will get to be with him, rather than having no idea at all.

My biggest issue is that I didnt bring up how i was feeling about the distance because I was worried it would come across as selfish or needy. I was afraid that I would unintentionally be giving him a choice.

If this message sounds immature also, I apologize. I'm just not very good at putting down my thoughts and feelings into a composed form.

Jan 18 12 - 2:49am

Well hell, no matter what anyone says thanks for updating us on the letter. It's super rare that happens and it's always something I've wanted from these things.

Jan 15 12 - 5:25pm

I bet the "bi" guy in the first question has banged dudes in the past.

Jan 16 12 - 10:21pm

Possibly. But then everybody has a first time.

Something to remember is that that can be real physical danger with "straight" guys who veer into gay territory. I've seen it myself if milder forms: guys who come onto you when they're horny only to angrily accuse you of seducing them the next morning.

A gay guy I knew started doing coke with a 20 year old "straight" dude at a party. They went upstairs and started getting frisky. The gay guy went down on the kid and at some point the kid freaked out and started to beat the shit out of him. Left blood on the walls of the bedroom and he had to be hospitalized.

So, be careful out there.

Jan 16 12 - 10:48pm

Yeah, I've got mixed messages from this guy. I think he has some unresolved issues to get through before I jump into anything sexual. Didn't hear anything from him post-NYE. Although this weekend I woke up having received a drunken sex text from him during the night and a second sober text apologizing for said message and that he had drank too much blah blah blah. I think I may well steer clear!

Jan 17 12 - 12:17pm

I am bi and agree with being careful. The first time I ever got together with another guy he was cool about asking at each stage if I was comfortable. But he also knew that I was into experimenting. I have just heard too many stories of straight guys freaking and something bad happening.

Jan 18 12 - 4:40am

They are afterall, straight. I guess.

Jan 19 12 - 5:43pm
Bob in Tampa

Ok, so i'm wondering in the first question, why the gay guy just didn't do the deed that night (New years eve) with the bi guy? I mean, why not? Now he's in this mind-bending conundrum on how to get back to the SAME point he was with bi-boy on NYE!

As far as Too Selfish for Love goes, if he has enough money to pay his bf's bills for month (or until he could find a job), why not just use that money to continue visiting him once a month? OR, is the REAL reason, he wants to lock his BF down because he's having feelings of insecurities due to the long-distance (and his BF's new zeal for wanting to work in his chosen profession).

Just sayin'!

Jan 27 12 - 4:31pm

Long distance relationships are a bad idea unless both parties feel very strongly about them. From the letter it doesn't strike me that is the case here.

The only ones I know of that have worked are where the parties just feel like they will die if they are apart, but are responsible enough to stay focused on school/work and hence not move.

My wife and I lived 3 hours apart at the beginning, and it took less than six months beofre I was looking for a job in her town.