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Author Topic: Long distance relationship and grad school
pantokrator
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I've been dating my boyfriend for over two years. We met in England while I was studying abroad and for the last school year and then some we've been trying to make it work. Last year, I applied to grad schools in England in hopes of joining him after graduating. I got rejected from all of them and it was a pretty soul-crushing experience. I tried to find a job in my field in England but it was impossible due to my visa status and lack of Master's degree.

I applied to grad schools again this year and I'm waiting to hear back and right now I have a really amazing internship that's filling my time. However, the disaster of last time has left kind of a bad taste in my mouth, per se. He went got completely hysterical over the fact that we wouldn't be able to be together as soon as we thought. He wants me to marry him in order to get residency in the UK so that it would be easier for me to find a job and then I can move to England and be with him "no matter what". He keeps wanting me to promise that to matter the outcome of grad school applications, job searches, whatever that I'll come to England.

It's been a hard realization for me to swallow, but I don't want to move to England "no matter what". Especially because he is no way willing to even consider moving to the US for me, I will only move if it's on my time and my terms and if it is going to further my general life goals in some way because, honestly, I'm not ready to get married and settle down and all that. I may want to someday, maybe even with him, but not now. And he really doesn't get that. I have big plans for myself and his main life goals are to have a significant other and be a homeowner and that's pretty much it. I'm not about to derail my goals for myself for him or anyone.

However, I love him and I really want our relationship to work out. I'm also his first and only significant other and I don't want to break his heart. Because of the extreme long-distance situation, my friends and family have been making me feel like a break-up is circumstantially inevitable but I don't see it that way.

What should I do?

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Frenchiex
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Ok this is just my opinion from one girlfriend to another, and no ones replied on here yet from what I can see so I just thought I'd give you whatever I can offer. I think personally you're totally right about not wanting to move, I mean I live in England and America is a long long way away. You don't want to move for him sort everything out and things to go bad when you're away from all your friends and family. You need their blessing. I think the only option is to really talk it out to him and trust that if he is being difficult then he is not excepting your feelings and not being a good boyfriend. Tell him you don't want to rush into marriage just because you live far away, marriage is a life long thing and you have only been together 2 years some of that being spent a long way away and people can change very fast. You need to tell him that you're not ready and assure him that you do love him very much. I think it's important to remind him that you want to stay because you want to be happy as well and a relationship is about both of you being happy together. You can always tell him you two can still have a future together just in some time. If things aren't right right now for you then they're just not, they might be in some time, but not right now but that doesn't mean you don't love him. Your feelings haven't changed. He just needs to except that and if he's a good boyfriend he'll wait for you [Wink]

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T.T.French

Posts: 28 | From: England | Registered: Jul 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
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Hi, pantokrator.

It sounds like you already know what you want for yourself, but you're not sure how your boyfriend will respond and that you're concerned that he won't want or be able to work with what you want. Is that right?

Would this relationship continuing as long-distance be something that would feel good, rewarding and worthwhile to you?

Moving country generally isn't something to be done lightly, and not because someone else wants us to. There are many reasons why we might want to move, very much including because we want to be with a partner, but I do think that if we're moving, it's important that We really, really want to. Also, I understand that some people get married because of immigration regulations when they wouldn't otherwise, but again, I think that it's not a good idea when someone really doesn't want to. If you don't feel ready, it doesn't sound like you'd be happy.

It seems a little imbalanced, too, that your boyfriend won't consider moving himself but expects you to move. It's ok for any of us to have limits on what we will and won't consider, but it's generally not ok to expect someone else to radically change their life for us. We can certainly ask, but we shouldn't expect. It's more concerning when the person asking us won't consider it themself - are they really putting themself in our shoes and thinking about what we want, too? Is what we want for our own life as important to them as what they want for theirs?

If the situation did result in a break-up - and that seems far from certain at the moment, I think it's clear that you'd need to talk to him to find out how you both would feel about the possibility of continuing long-distance - I don't think I'd frame it as "you breaking his heart". You're saying that you want the relationship to work out, so it's sounding like If there was a break-up it would be because he didn't want to do long-distance. That's not you breaking his heart, that's what you each want and need just not being compatible at the moment. If he won't consider moving, then he would be equally responsible for the circumstances, so I don't think it's fair or right to put it all on you. If he won't move to be with you, then he's making a choice about his own life and priorities, too.

Does it seem like your family and friends are coming from a place of supportive concern, or of negativity? If it's more negativity, perhaps it would help to put it aside a little, and focus on your individual situation, rather than a broad picture of general long-distance-relationship prospects and challenges. Personally, I'd say that long-distance can indeed cause relationships to end, but it's certainly not inevitable for every single LDR.

It sounds like this partly depends on the results of the grad school applications. How long until you hear? If you get in, do you want to go, for yourself? If you want to go, is it an option to put some of this on hold until you Do hear?

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pantokrator
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Thank you Frienchiex and Redskies. I appreciate it a lot. My boyfriend doesn't want to move to the US because he is convinced that he wouldn't fit in and I understand why he would feel that way. He is genderqueer which is something that I love about him and find incredibly attractive. Where I'm from (and the only place in the US he's ever been to, to visit me) is very conservative and people generally were not so welcoming towards him due his love of make-up, high heels and women's jeans. There were times when we were out (particularly at night at bars) and he didn't even feel physically safe, let alone welcome. I've tried to tell him many times that he could feel quite at home in a more liberal American city like San Francisco or Portland but he won't believe me. Even though he's had similar experiences in his small, semi-rural hometown he seems convinced that discomfort with gender non-conformity is somehow unique to the US and prevalent everywhere in the US.

He recently moved to London for his own graduate education but he only applied to schools in London because it's a better place for me and my career choices. He didn't want to move to a big city but it was a compromise we came to. If I got into a grad program, I would have no problem moving to London (at least for the duration of my degree, time beyond that would depend on circumstances) with or without him. However, if I don't get into graduate school I would be much more comfortable figuring out my next steps at home. I was supposed to be in London right now but I couldn't find a job or an internship that could accomodate me visa-wise so I didn't move. He was pretty devastated. He even signed a lease on an apartment he couldn't afford by himself under the assumption that I would get a paid internship or a job and be able to help him pay for it. We didn't even discuss this. He just made assumptions and did it anyway. Now I have no job, no internship, and no money to help pay for an apartment I don't even live in. For the time being, his parents are helping him pay the rent. He says he feels betrayed because he made the sacrifice of moving to London, which he didn't want to do, when I haven't yet.

So far, I've felt pretty ok about long-distance. Since I've always been so busy and had other priorities, having a sense of love and support but without the time commitment of a partner nearby has been really nice. He can't stand long distance. He is constantly counting down days, weeks and months until this mythical time that we can "just be together". That time has not yet happened and I honestly don't know when it will. He keeps insisting that I give him dates of when the long distance will be over. I keep saying that I can't give him a date because I don't know. When he continues to incessantly press me for a date, I give him one but I always end of changing it. So he feels like I'm just leading him on and jerking him around when I really don't mean to. He says he feels like his life is on hold until I move to England and that there is no way he can lead a fulfilling existence until we are physically together for an indefinite period of time. I've been really trying to put myself in his shoes and understand his sense of desperation. I mean, it's not that I don't want to be together too it's just not the same level of all-consuming need for me as it is for him. I don't know. It's hard.

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Molias
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You know, I can understand his frustration at being away from you, but I find it a little worrying that he keeps pressing you for a date when you can "be together" when he knows you don't have a job lined up. Even if you do decide to move, getting a job, internship, or visa aren't entirely up to you, so there's no real way for you to have a concrete date. I realize you could move without having a job or anything set up first, but that's a lot of risk for you to take on.
And the fact that he signed up for an apartment without talking to you about it and is now feeling "betrayed" by the fact that you aren't there makes it seem like there's some major disconnect in your communication. I don't see how things outside your control not working out the way you planned counts as any sort of betrayal on your part.

It sounds like he's pushing and pushing until you give him a date you know you can't actually hold yourself to, so you both end up upset. Do you feel like you can ask him to just cut out those sorts of questions for a while, until you feel a bit more settled and have a better sense of what will work for you in terms of job, living situation, etc?

Also, on US stuff: I wonder if y'all could look at some genderqueer support groups/forums to get input from people living here? I live in San Francisco now and feel like I (genderqueer/trans person) and my genderqueer partner get along just fine, but before we moved here we were in central North Carolina and there's a huge, supportive queer/trans community there too. It's not just in the stereotypical Liberal Cities that folks like him can feel comfortable. =)

Posts: 1352 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
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It sounds like your boyfriend doesn't have a strong enough grasp on reality the way it actually is, and expects the world to work the way he wants it to. Which never really goes well, and tends to make life hard for the people around. No matter how much anyone wants to be together, immigration issues can be really, really tricky, and anyone who doesn't factor that in and make back-up plans is just completely not living in or accepting reality. It's just not possible to magic some of the issues away, sometimes. Also, it's very peculiar to me that he would write off all of the US - as someone originally from a semi-rural UK town (and I would So not want to try being visibly gender-non-conforming there...) too, there are places in the US that I imagine would be much worse, but many that sound super-cool and very much better. Again, it sounds a bit like him having his own idea of the world, and then that's how the world Is.

It's a bit concerning too that he says he can't lead a fulfilling existence without being with you. It doesn't seem healthy to have that level of dependency on a relationship. For sure, it can feel immensely painful and even joyless if we're without someone we really want to be with, but each of us is responsible for our own fulfilment. Even if we're without the person who makes us delightfully happy, there should still be things in our own life and our own selves that we can find fulfilment in. Life never (or it never should) just begin and end with a significant other. It's too much pressure on you, really. I'd suggest that your boyfriend would be better off paying some attention to things he individually wants, and his own interests. Does he seem willing and able to do that?

I'd suggest making it clear to him that making assumptions and acting on your behalf without discussing it first - like signing the lease - is not ok, and that he must discuss it with you first and make the decision together, and have you make your own decisions.

(Extra to what Molias said, I agree with everything else, but moving internationally without a job can be Extremely problematic, because some kinds of temporary visas don't allow a person to look for work and stay anyway, and even when they do, often it's too hard to find a qualifying job quickly enough. I wouldn't know what exactly applies to this kind of US-to-UK move. I'm guessing you know those things anyway, pantokrator.)

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pantokrator
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We just had a really soul crushing chat on skype in which he was really upset with me for not being online and talking to him enough because he doesn't have any friends in London and really needs me right now. This led to me telling about how it's so exhausting for me to always be "the bad guy" because I've repeatedly put off moving to England (for reasonable reasons), he moved to London for me and I don't spend enough time with him. I admitted that I sometimes actively avoid going online when I know he's online because I know that talking to him will just be this barrage of negativity that I don't feel I can handle. I want to talk to him but I just want him to be nice to me and not constantly bring up stressful topics. He said that this is indicative of some deeper problem in our relationship that may not be resolvable. I then had to leave because I had friends coming over and needed to get the house ready. We're going to talk again in the morning but I have a really bad feeling about this. I think we're headed for a break-up and this sucks a lot.
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Haleigh H
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Pantokrator,

It sounds like you got a lot off your chest in your chat with your boyfriend today. How are you feeling now? Do you feel any better about the situation?

It can be so hard to tell people we love the painful truth about how we are feeling but I think it is so important for our relationships and for ourselves that we do.

Maybe time will give your boyfriend the chance to see things from you point-of-view a bit better. I applaud your honesty with your boyfriend, I know that is not always easy.

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Haleigh

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pantokrator
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Thanks everyone. I really appreciate all of your thoughts and words of wisdom. I'm feeling kind of strange right now. Brutal honesty is not something I do often, usually only when I literally cannot stand a situation anymore. I talked to him yesterday morning and we're really not sure where we are. He told me that at this point, after being long-distance and fighting for this relationship for so long that he just wants me and that's it. The part that was very relieving to me was when he said that he is more than willing to back off if it will make us more likely to like happily ever after someday. He said no more deadlines or ultimatums but I have no idea if he will be able to stick to that.

I told him that as of right now, I will more than happily move to England for the duration of my graduate degree (at least) if I get into a program that I am happy with. Otherwise, I will look into other arrangements but there will be no guarantee that I will move to England anytime soon. He acted like he's ok with that but I don't really know if he is. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

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