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Is it better to long-distance love and lose than to never long-distance love at all?
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by Cait Robinson
Dear Miss Information,
I've been dating this guy for about a year and a half. I knew him for a couple years while we were dating other people, but I always had a crush on him and thought he was too good to date someone like me. Around that time, he had a lot going on and had just gotten out of a nine-year relationship. So he didn't want to be serious with me, but I fell in love with him anyway and just kind of lived in agony for the first six months. After that, we became official, and I finally had what I wanted. I met his parents, started spending time with his friends, and got to call him my boyfriend.
But now, six months after his return, something is wrong. We’re together, but he still seems to want to keep things casual and light. He gets weirded out when I’m too emotional or when I talk about anything serious. And at this point, telling him "I love you" is on the tip of my tongue, but something is holding me back. I'm terrified that he doesn't feel the same way, and I can just tell by the way he looks at me that he doesn't think of me as "the one." I am afraid that if I tell him I love him, he won't return my feelings.
I can't be with someone who doesn't love me. And I can't understand how he can be so intimate and engaged in other ways but not emotionally. I should mention our age difference; I'm twenty-five and haven't really been in a long relationship before; he's thirty-two getting out of a long, serious, committed relationship.
I just don't know what to do. I didn't mean to fall in love. I don't even think we're compatible in some ways. But I can't help how I feel. Should I tell him how I feel, wait for his reaction, and walk away with my head held high? (As you can see, I'm pretty convinced I know the outcome.) Or should I wait longer for him to figure it out and save myself some pain? Will he fall in love with me eventually? Or am I being hopelessly naive?
I'm glad you wrote in. The other day I saw a teenager wearing a t-shirt that said "Don't use YOLO as an excuse. It's stupid." It was one of the first times I felt like a real, pleated-khakis, penny-loafers adult, because I had no idea what YOLO meant. The kids today just make up words faster than I can hear 'em, you know? When you wrote in, I fired up my 1998 modem and AltaVista'd the answer. Thanks for bringing me up to speed. You're jiggy.
And to your question: ugh, it burns. I think most of us here can relate to being on at least one side of a lopsided relationship, and it is the worst. In your case, you've got a lot of things tipping the power-balance scales: he's older than you; he's more relationally experienced; he's the one who'd just endured heartbreak (and thus ended up being the one to set the pace); and he's the one who's less invested. This is a toxic mix.
The hard truth is that he's unlikely to wake up one day and magically feel differently. And any relationship with this drastic a power imbalance — you thought he was "too good" to date “someone like you?" — is off to a rocky start.
That's my armchair diagnosis. Only talking to him will reveal whether this is true. You can bring it all up without dropping "I love you." I think you put it well already: "When you look at me, I can tell you don't think I'm the one." Start with that, then see how he reacts. If your relationship does break up, YOLO, you have plenty to look forward to with the next one: a dynamic where you can be an active, rather than passive, participant.
NEXT: Is it actually better to long-distance love and lose? Or does it just really suck?