Adapted from a recent online discussion.
HI, CAROLYN: I’m contemplating a long-distance relationship with a guy I met at an event through an organization we’re both part of. We’ve been texting nonstop for a few months and have had a couple of in-person dates. I’m waiting to decide until after we see each other during a weeklong event we’re both going to for this organization.
The issue is we live about eight hours apart by car, and both like where we live in terms of community and job options. I’ve done long-distance before and know that the end result is either we break up or someone moves. I’ve never made final decisions about where to live and what to do based on who I was dating — I traveled a lot because I wanted to, and found a place to settle down where and when I wanted to. I may have considered someone I was dating, but they didn’t hold as much influence.
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But now this guy seems worth at least contemplating it. Do you have any advice for helping me either make that decision, or to go one step at a time without jumping to conclusions just because at some point that conclusion will have to be made? We’re both late 20s, if that helps.
DEAR LONG-DISTANCE: It’s such a personal thing. One person’s happiness could be hugely dependent on location while another could already be open to a move just to shake things up and so why not? Plus there’s the obvious X factor of how good you two are for each other. Maybe you really, really fit, and maybe you’re just enjoying a pleasant time with someone … pleasant.
If you pursue this, it’s not just that you will eventually face the who-moves-for-whom decision; you will also have to make that enormous decision without ever having lived in the same geographic area — meaning your relationship up to that point will have consisted of a series of vacations.
That will deny you essential information on day-to-day (-to-day-to-day) life together that you just can’t get from visits. So, one of you will be uprooting everything based solely on a whole lot of what-ifs — and knowing only one person but needing connections of your own outside that to maintain some healthy independence.
You really have to be game for it to pull it off, so that’s what I’d be asking myself if I were in your spot right now.
FOR LONG-DISTANCE: Does one of you have a job that can be done remotely at least some of the time? That way you could spend longer periods of time together before having to make any significant decisions.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: That would help. A temporary relocation would be ideal — several-month training stint, one-year grad program, etc. — but I can’t see many jobs allowing that.
DEAR CAROLYN: My daughter has been asked to be a bridesmaid for her boyfriend’s sister. She wants to say “no” because if she doesn’t marry her boyfriend, his sister won’t want to look at her in wedding pictures for years to come. I think this is silly since she and the boyfriend do plan on marrying eventually. What do you think?
DEAR THINKING: I think this is silly because that’s the sister/bride’s problem to anticipate, not your daughter’s.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.