I met my boyfriend within the first few days of college, and we’ve been together ever since. This is my first serious relationship and I love him to death, but I’m going abroad to England next fall and I’m not sure if I should stay with him. He’s sure that we’ll be fine (he’ll visit twice, and it’s only one semester), but I’m not as positive. I just got back from Spring Break and it was really exciting being alone and talking to other guys, and I even met a really cool guy I could see myself dating if it weren’t for distance. Of course, I didn’t cheat, but now I can’t help but be curious about what else is out there. He thinks we’re going to be together after graduation, and I never doubted that until recently. We never fight and I don’t have problem with us right now, but I’m afraid being on a different continent will be too hard.
Dear Long-Distance Lola,
Basing any decisions on feelings you got during Spring Break are pretty much null and void. It’s a crazy week of tequila, wet T-shirt contests, messy hookups and constant half-nakedness (at least in my experience). Spring Break cannot be compared to everyday normal life or even studying abroad, where you will be taking classes and learning about culture. You can’t compare a boy who was able to pour on the charm for one week to the man with whom you’ve developed a long-standing, intimate relationship.
You said it was fun being alone and meeting new people, but you were quick to point out that you did not cheat. What I get from that is you enjoyed yourself without him while doing nothing wrong. Did you simply enjoy the freedom of being out on your own, or did you like the idea of being able to hook up with other people? There’s a big difference.
On my Spring Break, my friends could make out on crowded dance floors if they wanted to, but I was more likely to be found rolling my eyes and being grateful none of the blowout Bennys wearing their sunglasses at night resembled my loyal boyfriend back in Jersey. You can have fun away from him without feeling guilty; you can be on your own and not cheat.
Independence is a wonderful feeling, and it is important in any relationship. Whether or not it’s your boyfriend’s fault, you obviously feel a bit bored or stifled. Perhaps your semester abroad will help both of you learn to be less dependent on one another and your relationship will be better than ever when you return.
I know everyone says “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but that’s pretty much a load of crap people feed their friends when they’re feeling lonely. Yeah, it makes sense when you can’t see your boyfriend for five hours while he’s in his bio lab, but when you’re talking weeks and months, absence only makes the heart grow pissy.
So there might be some arguments, but if you both love each other as much as you say you do, what’s three months in a lifetime? It sounds like a lot, but you’re going to be so busy getting to know your temporary home and peers, visiting places you’ve never been, studying for classes and doing your fair share of pubbing. The time is going to fly by, and before you can say “God Bless America,” you’ll be back on campus, damning Eickhoff food and cuddling with your honey in the Stud.
But before we get to your homecoming, let me say a few more words about when you’re actually abroad. As I mentioned, you’re going to be busy exploring a whole new world, and you’re going to be very excited and anxious to tell your boyfriend all about it. It’s going to be hard for him; you’ve been together a long time and he’s used to being a big part of your world.
Going abroad is about becoming worldly and stepping out of your safety zone, and there’s going to be some sort of unavoidable rift between your old life and your new life, even though it’s only temporary. Your aim should be to not let your relationship fall into that frustrating hole filled with attitude, accusations, tears and hundred-dollar phone calls that consist of fights instead of I-love-yous.
You’re going to have to understand that it’s probably going to be easier for you than it is for him. Sure, you might get homesick for him, but at least you know he’ll be at school with the same people as always. Meanwhile, he’s going to be totally in the dark about what you’re doing, who you’re with and where you are. All I ask is that you be patient.
But if you decide you really won’t be able to be as exclusive abroad as you are at home, do the kid a favor and talk it over before you cross the pond. You’re better off being honest with him than pretending to be faithful while scamming him. My whole deal with cheating is don’t do it.
Don’t string him along, but don’t shut him out. He still should visit, and be sure to keep in touch and update him on your life. Remember, this is three months of your life, and he just might be forever.
PS: Have you seen the average English boy? You won’t be missing much besides crooked teeth and not-so-cute accents.