Should I do long distance with my GF or not?

I'm so conflicted because I love her and she has made covid a lot more bearable and I would miss her so much if we broke up.

A PERFECT GEM:

I'm currently trying to figure out whether to do long distance with my girlfriend once I move to a different city at the end of November. We've been dating since April and have been pandemic podded up since May — we're both very cautious about covid so it's the only exception we have outside of our roommates. It's been so nice and happy and wonderful, and I really do love her, but I'm having a hard time deciding whether it's the right call to do long distance. Every relationship I've been in has been long distance at some point, so I've probably done a year and a half total, but I'm not a huge fan. (Is anyone?)

For more context on our situation — I graduated from college recently, and she'll graduate in May. I'll be moving about 6 hours away, and she'll be staying here until May, at which point she'll probably be going back to her parents on the East coast, so there would be a long time difference eventually. I'm not sure if she has other plans, but I think with covid she likely won't have a job for a little while post grad. I'm just not sure whether it actually makes sense to do such far away long distance when it's just not going to be feasible to visit each other, especially with cases rising, the fact that her roommates only let me go inside of her room without a mask, and the fact that she doesn't have a car and transportation is particularly difficult right now.

The other thing I'm worried about is that she is historically not that good at communicating — she doesn't like making decisions or taking initiative to find times to hang out, and she sometimes will say she's fine with things that she's not actually fine with because she wants to make other people happy. This is already an issue we've talked about (and she is in therapy / she talks about it with her therapist) but it would be so difficult in long distance. In general things are really good, but this is one issue that feels relevant.

I'm so conflicted because I love her and she has made covid a lot more bearable and I would miss her so much if we broke up. There are a lot of really good and wonderful things about this relationship, and also so many people are doing some form of long distance because of covid anyway. I don't think she thinks we're going to break up. Should I try to do long distance and see how it works? How do you decide whether to do long distance with someone, pandemic notwithstanding? Aah!

Also (only semi-related), it terrifies me that we will all just be in love with multiple/many people over the courses of our lives, and sometimes/often those relationships don't work out, and you and this other person who have shared so much just suddenly won't share those things any more and so many things become bittersweet! And maybe what makes a relationship right is as much timing as compatibility, and there's no knowing what would make you happiest for the long term, or even if that's what you should be searching for. I hate the mortifying ordeal of being known! I'm just going to listen to 'Make Out in My Car' by Moses Sumney and Sufjan Stevens alone in my room, thanks.

SUBMIT A QUESTION

This situation has nothing to do with Copenhagen; I just liked the photo.

SOPHIA:

Ahhhhh existence! What a nightmare!

You’re in one of those Adult Scenarios where there are no clearly bad options and no clearly good options. You have no way of knowing what the Best Choice is because there actually isn’t one! You can’t run a test and see how your life would go if you did long distance and you then run another to see how it would go if you broke up. The secret truth is this: it will probably be about the same no matter what you do. You will still be as brilliant and kind and loving no matter what you choose.

The somewhat good news in scenarios like this which feel fraught as fuck is that because neither answer is the right answer, neither answer is wrong either. You can’t mess it up! (I mean, I guess the way you go about this could be harmful, but I’m assuming you’re a good person who will treat others with kindness).

I think the vast likelihood is that you two break up at some point. Not because I’m cynical about young love or anything. It’s just that, as you explained above, you’re two people with a lot of life decisions ahead of you, who are likely to be in different cities for the foreseeable future. Studies show that long distance works when there is a defined end date—say, one person takes a one-year job somewhere out of the city or after graduation you’re both moving to Bloomington. Long distance rarely works (although that’s not never) when it’s two people who have no clue when they’ll end up together again. It’s just too much.

I also think the fact that you’re seriously breaking up with her is a sign that some part of you is ok with the break up. I’m not suggesting that any time someone even thinks about breaking up with a partner it means that they want to end things and that the relationship is doomed. Thinking about breaking up also doesn’t negate your love. You can be very very in love and still think about if it’s right to be with someone. I’m just suggesting that if you’re this far down the path of considering a break up, it’s probably because you’re getting yourself used to the idea. You’re doing some of the early grieving of the relationship ending. I also think that it’s telling that while you make it clear how much you love her—and of course you do!— you also mention how much easier she’s made covid. I think a lot of the attachment you two have right now is probably related to that. Which is important! Someone making covid easier even 1% is a miracle!!! But that doesn’t mean you need to end up together.

Does that mean this will end? Does that mean you need to break up with her? NO! Maybe I’m totally wrong and you try long distance and you both work really hard at it and it works for you.

I frankly think it’s very wise of you to be thinking about these questions now before the move. I think you bring up very important things like her issues about communication— that’s huge! To be successful in a long distance relationship you must be better at communication than the average couple. I mean really, really, really good. (I’m sure you know this; I’m just affirming that it’s something that is smart to care about!). Long distance is hard enough without a partner who struggles with honest, vulnerable communication.

Of course it’s heartbreaking to even entertain the end of something so wonderful, especially when your partner doesn’t necessarily see it coming. That fact is sad! There will be a lot of things that you will miss out on doing with her if you two do break up. But there are also a lot of good things you will experience, too! It will take some times and a lot of sad songs and impulse purchases at 2am, but you will recover from the sadness and the mourning of the end of this. You will have laughter and happiness and good books and amazing coffee and even hot sexy love again after a breakup.

I do think you’re very correct in believing that what makes relationships work is timing just as much as compatibility. I still think of this article about the issue often; while the author is writing specifically about marriage, I think it applies to all long-term relationships. The line that sticks out to me the most is this: “Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”

Being with someone for a long time and working on your love creates a type of compatibility, a type of meant-to-be-ness. You can love people a whole lot and it not be the right person to stay with. It’s the sad fact of life that not every person you love do you get to do a whole life with. But I also think it’s really, really lovely. Just because a relationship lasts a year or five months doesn’t make it less real/good/important than a relationship that lasts 50. You don’t have to stick it out for a longer period of time to prove that it was good.

No matter how long you two stay together, it was and is real. It’s love. That’s delightful that you both got to be in love, especially during such a suck-ass time in the world! What a boon! Breaking up does not negate or erase that. You are not cruel or mean for breaking up with someone when the relationship no longer works for you.

If you do decide to stay together, talk early and talk often. Consider couples therapy if you’re able to find/afford it. Be clear about what your wants, needs and priorities are. Let her know that this doesn’t work if you don’t communicate; be patient and gracious with one another. Long distance is hard and sometimes it’s really worth the work. And it’s ok if it’s not. ❤️


You can email me with your own questions at 1followernodad@substack.com.