Long-distance Pining vs. Driving Him Nuts

My boyfriend and I met in college and he’s about to graduate in the spring. I have one year left after that while he’s headed off to a once-in-a-lifetime internship in Denmark. I’m proud and excited for him but also very worried about what this does for our shared future.

Q: My boyfriend and I met in college and he’s about to graduate in the spring. I have one year left after that while he’s headed off to a once-in-a-lifetime internship in Denmark. I’m proud and excited for him but also very worried about what this does for our shared future. You see, my guy is a real catch, smart, fun-loving and just a total cutey-pie. An all-American type I’m sure the European girls will go gaga over. He’s told me more than once that we’ll make it through, e-mailing and having web cam conversations and all, but I’m not fully convinced. He’s my first serious boyfriend and I don’t want to lose him. But I’m already having jealousy issues thinking about all the fun he’ll be having while I’ll be finishing up school. I’m sure this will be the best year of his life; mine will probably involve a lot of studying and pining over him. What should I do? Should I just save myself the heartache and cut him loose now? I guess my main question is, do long-distance relationships ever work? – Denmark Doubter

 

A: The short answers to your questions: 1) Try to stop freaking the hell out. 2) If you can’t stop freaking the hell out, then maybe. 3) If “work” means that the long-distance relationship survives the distance and the couple eventually gets married or stays together long-term, then the answer is rarely. But then again, by the same criteria, the majority of relationships in general don’t last either.

 

The longer answers: No doubt your boyfriend is in for a life milestone. But while he’s reassuring you that the relationship at least stands a chance, you’re already chipping away at it with this ridiculous omg-what-am-I-gonna-do-without-him schtick. Keep up with this, and I guarantee he’ll be developing a taste for hot Danish in the non-pastry sense faster than you can say “plane ticket.”   

 

One significant variable is how long he’ll be gone: three months? Six months? A year? Indefinitely? Obviously, a shorter time frame is easier to work with. Whatever the case, though, you two need to have a nice, long talk about expectations, like how often you’ll chat and whether they’ll be visits. (Also keep in mind that the time difference can make for some scheduling frustrations.)

 

Then stop talking about it – and focus on the time you have with him now. He’s either going to be true to you or he’s not, and again, neediness is definitely not the way to nail the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” effect you should be striving for. Buy a couple of web cams, download Skype and get juiced up for some cross-continental cybersex. And never underestimate the power of a heartfelt, handwritten letter when you’re feeling especially lonely.

 

If it doesn’t work out, you’ll know you gave it your best shot. And if that’s the case – which it very well could be – you’re headed into your senior year of college, for God’s sake, not an Iraqi jail. This can be one of the most delicious times of your life – with or without your boyfriend – if you let it.

 

 

Q: Recently, I went on several dates with a guy who is probably the nicest one on the market. He brought me a small gift on our first date, frequently complimented me and always agreed with whatever I had to say. After just breaking free of a tumultuous three-year relationship, you’d think I’d be overcome with gratitude. He began wanting to see me daily – he thought I was his girlfriend. I broke it off and told him I wasn’t comfortable with the momentum of the relationship. Before ending the uncomfortable conversation, he told me he had a gift for me that he still wanted to give to me. I thought it was odd, but felt even stranger when he said it was for Valentine’s Day. He’s still calling regularly in hopes of getting together. How do I break it off entirely without hurting his feelings? I feel like such a jerk! — Cowardly Dater

 

A: Nah, you’re not a jerk. A jerk would do something like, I don’t know, telling him that while there’s no future for the two of you, she was flattered by the gift and that he can drop it by while she’s at work. If he pressed for a time when she’d be home, a jerk would say that her new job – talent scout for a male modeling agency – is so erratic she could never predict her hours. Then, a jerk would recruit the biggest, beefiest dude she could find – bonus points if he had lots of tattoos and piercings – and have him answer the door with lots of grunting and fist-in-his-palm slapping.

Not that I’d, ahem, know anyone like that. And not that I’d necessarily use the word jerk. If she’d firmly told him she wasn’t interested and to kindly stop calling (you’ve done that, right?) I’d say she was a creative, assertive type who’d finally had it with someone who can’t take a hint.

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