Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while Wendy is taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by prolific Dear Wendy commenter and social media consultant, Sarah Huffman.
My year-long relationship recently went long distance. I had gotten into several master’s programs — a few decent ones near him and an amazing one far away — and because of future career potential and pressure from everyone (including him) I chose the more prestigious, far-away program. The problem is that I am completely miserable. I am so in love with my boyfriend and I miss him so much, I don’t know what to do with myself. My school is a lot of work, which adds to the stress level. My fellow classmates go out and have fun – I’d rather get more work done so that I can have a few days to visit the boyfriend. I think I have different “priorities” than my classmates, but I do also feel anti-social because of them. There is really no time to balance school work, social life and a long-distance boyfriend – something’s gotta go. Because of all of this, I’m also having some panic about the relationship ending. I feel as though if I maximize our time together, I’ll feel a bigger loss if we don’t make it because of the investment I’ve made. I also wonder if made the right choice with my school. I see couples who give up a lot – from education to moving – to be together, and I’m wondering if I should have done the same thing. Furthermore, my boyfriend thinks that I can do anything and I don’t want to ruin that impression by confiding in him. Do you have any advice for handling this situation? — Long Distance and Lonely
Do you know what a self-fulfilling prophecy is? It’s you being nervous making your relationship a long distance one, so you change your behavior to make moving seem like it was a wrong decision the whole time. It’s being scared that you and your boyfriend might break up, so you emotionally shut him out and don’t confide in him which could easily end the relationship on its own, with or without distance. It’s knowing that being in a new place alone can make a person feel lonely, so you shut out any chances at hanging out with classmates therefore making yourself feel lonely and anti-social. Grab a crystal ball, girl, because you are creating your own prophecy.
But don’t let it discourage you. We all have self-fulfilling prophecies. I warn myself that if I buy Pop-Tarts, I’ll gorge myself on them til I’m ill. It isn’t until I’m staring at the bottom of my boyfriend’s Pop-Tart box in the bathtub crying with the lights off (that’s my secret eating place) that I realize that I was the one who talked my boyfriend into buying Pop-Tarts in the first place. But somewhere between crumbs stopping up the bathtub drain and my boyfriend not eating breakfast for a week, we have to learn to stop the problem in its tracks.
A big part of your problem is in your statement: “There is really no time to balance school work, social life and a long-distance boyfriend – something’s gotta go.” You see, you haven’t actually balanced anything. You spend too much time without breaks doing schoolwork when you’ve already said it’s stressful; you reject going out with classmates because you think they have different priorities (I’m sorry, but fun should not be a different priority to you) which makes you feel anti-social; and you’re pushing yourself away from your boyfriend even though you miss and love him so much. I wouldn’t call that “balancing” as much as would “hanging for dear life over a pit engulfed with flames and chimps (what? Chimps are scary)”.
Get a calendar, get a pen, get a Pop-Tart, and start adjusting. Your whole schedule needs a reboot. From now on I want you to treat your free time like the most precious thing in the world. Your free time is Unicorn tears. Include as much time as possible to balance out school, LDR, hanging out with people, and hanging out by yourself. Yeah, that means less time to drop everything to see your boyfriend. But guess what? If your boyfriend is any kind of a stand-up guy, he doesn’t want you to make yourself miserable to see him more. In fact, a good boyfriend would want you to see him less if it meant your life was in a better place. That doesn’t mean being more distant with him; in fact, just the opposite. Call your boyfriend more, and for sweet Pete’s sake, start confiding in him. The more things you do to make yourself happy while you’re there, the easier it will be to tell your boyfriend about your life. Have HIM come out to YOU. If he can’t, *heavy sigh*, then spend more time emailing him. Plan Skype dates. Plan naughty Skype dates (is there any other kind?). Plan weekly time to hang out with other people. Force yourself. Every week it will get easier.
Give it your best try there and if in a semester you really don’t want to keep up your LDR or you want to transfer schools, you’ll know that you gave it your best shot and you wont have any regrets.
Sarah Huffman is a social media consultant who is freelancing art and photography along the way. She lives in Hollywood with her boyfriend, David, and their two cats, Mia and Daphne. She likes spending her free time spying on the neighbors through her window and ruining her boyfriend’s Netflix recommendations by watching bad reality wedding shows and movies starring Sarah Jessica Parker.