I have been with my boyfriend since my senior year of high school (6 years). We have been together through the “growing up” phase of life and let me be the first to shout that it has not been easy. We’ve broken up three times for different reasons that can all be summed up as “growing-up pains” and we’ve still always gotten back together again. We’ve been through fights, vacations, financial hardships, apartment and house hunting, family drama, new pets, heartbreak, and so much more together. We’ve gone through some of the hardest parts of life together, and if we weren’t together, then we were at least still there for each other. We were still in each other’s lives. We’ve been through hell and back together and I can honestly still say that I wouldn’t change any of it for anything.
Now that our relationship has navigated through the tumultuous waters of “growing up,” we’ve entered into the “adulting” part of life. A much longer, much more strenuous stretch I’ve quickly discovered, full of unexpected twists and turns leading in every direction. And once again, my relationship has reached an impasse. A big, scary, hard-as-rock, impasse that neither of our inexperienced new-adult brains have no idea how to navigate around. Basically, to keep a very long story very, very short, the
bump mountain we’ve run into is: his career path is taking him to a different state while mine is keeping me here.
First off, it took quite a while to come to terms with the fact that there’s nothing I can do to change his mind, and what’s more, I shouldn’t want to. I am head over heels for this man and I want his happiness over anything in the world. So why would I want to limit his chances at success, to stop him from following his dreams and pursuing his passion? Just because I am unable to join him doesn’t mean that I should try and stop him. That’s what you do when you love someone, you put their happiness above everything else in the world. You do anything you can to help them succeed. As a long-term-relationshipper, I’ve always known that. But to truly know that and actually accept it as true, not just something you know you’re supposed to do or say or feel is a little different. Once I actually, really, truly, deep-down knew that I can’t stop him from going, I was able to step toward discovering a real solution to keeping our relationship together. Can we really do long distance?
Well to be frank, we haven’t even gotten close to discovering if we can do long distance yet because we can’t figure out how to handle the time leading up to it. What he needs is space to learn to be independent, to create some distance between us so that it is easier for us to be apart when the time comes. Right now, he depends on me for a lot both emotionally and in everyday life (isn’t there a saying about men being your most needy child or something?) so I can absolutely understand why he feels like he needs to create more space between us in the time leading up to our separation in order to be successful apart. After all, the goal is to figure out how to have a successful long-distance relationship. (And yes, we’re still asking the question, “Is it even possible?”) What I need to be successful through the distance though, is the exact opposite of what he needs. I need him to be overly invested in our relationship in the time before he leaves. I need to feel over-confident, over-comfortable, and more loved than ever in order to get through my part of the long-distance thing without breaking (me, him, or us).
So what do you do, when the person you love most in the world, needs the opposite of what you need in order to get through an impossible situation?
We don’t really know either.
All we know is that we love each other so much, it hurts. Even just the thought of not being with him rips my heart open, and I know he feels the same. So we’re stuck in the excruciating and awkward weirdness of logically knowing that we shouldn’t be together, that we should walk away so we don’t hurt each other more and emotionally knowing that if we do break up, we’re giving up a chance at the future we’ve worked so hard for and walking away from our hearts.
So what do you do when you need the opposite of what your significant other needs? I’ll let you know when we figure it out.