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Author Topic: Weird situation with long-distance relationship.
mizchastain
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I think this is just me being an excessive worrier, but advice would be good.

For a year, I've been in a long-distance relationship with an old friend. Problem was he hadn't sent me a picture of himself, because he couldn't get access to a camera. I asked him a few times to get one, and he finally did yesterday. Seeing the picture is kind of freaking me out and making me worry about us. It's not that he's got three heads or anything, but it's kind of brought home the realness, and since then I've been worrying about all the various potential problems we have; distance, a five-year age gap, both of us have mental health problems. Before this I was fantasising about a future together, which is probably just as unhealthy because we haven't actually met up in real life yet, but I knew that was just fantasising and didn't say anything about it. I think part of the reason I liked him in the first place was because he was far away and thus entirely safe.

I feel awful and shallow for this, particularly since I asked him for the photo. The photo's not particularly flattering, but I think I'd be reacting the same to any picture of him. I don't want to break things off, but will this pass?

(Edit: I'm also deeply concerned about losing his friendship if things do go wrong. He's important to me and we've both helped each other through bad times, and I don't have many friends at all.)

[ 05-03-2013, 06:19 AM: Message edited by: mizchastain ]

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Robin Lee
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HI mizchastain,

So, you've said you were fantasizing about a future with him. Can you perhaps talk some about how much of a reality that could be? Had you and he discussed future plans at all?

What do you find you get out of the relationship right now?

What do you feel would be the benefits to breaking up with him?

I hear you describing the potential problems you two have as problems for the future, not necessarily problems that are affecting things right now. What do you think?

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Robin

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mizchastain
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1) We hadn't really discussed much beyond him mentioning he might want to leave the US at some point. I don't know if he really does want to or was just vaguely toying with the idea. I know I definitely don't want to move outside the UK, I don't think I could handle it. Neither of us has much money, so it would be a very long time before either of us did manage to move. I knew this, and didn't bring up my fantasising to him because I knew it was jumping the gun rather seriously. I did ask him a couple of things like did it bother him that I don't want children (it doesn't) and said that if it was going to go anywhere we needed to know that in advance, and I apologised for sounding pushy when I did because I didn't want to move too fast. He doesn't really express much emotion, which is another reason I'm dubious, so I don't know how he felt about that.

2) I end up talking about my problems with him a lot, and I would like to support and help him with his in return because I don't feel it's fair otherwise but he doesn't talk about them much. I can only think of twice I've helped him out. We share a lot of conversations about stuff we like, but we did that when we were just friends as well. I asked if my asexuality bothered him and he says he's not comfortable with sex in real life either, but the way he phrased it made me unsure if he genuinely isn't interested or if he's just shy about it, and if it's the latter I don't want to hold him back.

3) I think both of us would benefit from socialising more in real life, we spend a lot of time and energy talking to each other online and I think we might be holding each other back a bit, though that may just be me. I love knowing him, but friendship is important to me and I don't think an awful lot would change if we switched back to that. I'm just afraid he would want to cut off contact entirely.

4) The distance has always been a problem, it just feels like a bigger problem now. He broke up with his last girlfriend when he moved across a few states, and the distance between me and him is even bigger than the distance he moved. I don't know

I think my best option is to wait a while to see if my concern clears up and so he doesn't connect it to the photo, and tell him I think going back to being friends would be a good idea unless/until we're both on the same continent long-term. I'm concerned that it would hurt him to still talk to him without wanting to be in a relationship with him. I had a pretty bad crush on him before we made it official, and being friends with someone you have feelings for hurts, but I didn't say anything for so long because the idea of not being friends with him at all was worse.

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Robin Lee
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HI mizchastain,

So what it sounds like here is that as a long-distance, mostly online relationship, this works really well for you, but that you're not sure how or if it would or could progress in the future. Does that sound like an accurate analysis?

What di you feel like you would get if you broke up with him that you don't have now? What do you feel would be the benefit for you from switching back to being friends? Do you feel as if this relationship is holding you back from being in a relationship with someone else?

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Robin

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mizchastain
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I think I'm putting more effort into it than he is. It's tricky for me to get subtlety in a text-only medium at the best of times, but he uses very few words and very little description so it's impossible for me to tell what he's thinking, and he doesn't tell me much about his life. I have already brought this up, but not a lot changed. As friends that's not a problem, but in a relationship I want more, and I don't think he's comfortable with that. I'm also finding myself wanting real-life interaction, which I struggle with in general.

I don't think I would go and seek out a new romantic relationship for a while, I'm happy single and setting up my life to be more stable is more important to me. My asexuality complicates matters because there aren't a lot of us out there. But yeah, if something outside the internet came along I might take it if I was free to. I think he should have that chance too.

[ 05-03-2013, 12:26 PM: Message edited by: mizchastain ]

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Robin Lee
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Just because I'm curious and it's not really clear to me from what you've said: What makes this a "rlationship" versus a continuation of your friendship? That is, what changed when you agreed to be in a relationship with each other?

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Robin

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mizchastain
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Not an awful lot, to be honest. We started making comments about potentially moving together, as I said, but they were strictly hypothetical, and we opened up a bit more about the porn stories we look at, but I'm involved in fandom and was becoming more open about writing porn stories with my platonic friends as well (I'm uninterested in it in real life but have no problem with it in fiction). I felt different, but it's difficult to put it into words.
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mizchastain
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How long might it be a good idea to wait before I bring this up so he doesn't associate it with the picture? We're still conversing in the meantime the same way we usually do. My mother suggested a week. It's not the fault of what he looks like, just kind of that it made me feel weird, but he may not take it that way so I want to err on the safe side.

[ 05-04-2013, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: mizchastain ]

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Robin Lee
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It's really not possible for anyone to guess what he will or won't attribute your discussion to. Everyone's brain works differently, and everyone's tendency to associate what may or may not be random events is different.

Unless you explicitly mention the photo, you won't be sending a message that it's because of the photo. You have no control over what he thinks.

So really, it's whatever you're comfortable with.

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Robin

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mizchastain
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My timing kind of sucks. We just had our anniversary, too [Frown] And I'd been making vague plans to go over to see him, but couldn't afford it yet.
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Robin Lee
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Well, ultimately, you do need to do what's right for you. It also sounds like your plans were pretty vague in terms of when your trip would happen, etc, so, at least from the impression you're giving me here, it doesn't sound like you're going back on a promise, if that is what is concerning you.

Again, though, you can't control what he's going to think or how he's going to react, only what you do.

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Robin

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