Thursday, August 20, 2009

The thing about long distance relationships...

Dear Brooke,

I have been dating the most amazing man for the past 5 months (we'll call him Jake). But it just so happens that this amazing man lives 1500 miles away! (I'm in Chicago and he's in New York). I love him with all my heart and cannot picture my life without him, but there is always that lingering questions of...who will have to give when it comes to moving?

Both of us have pretty settled lives in our respective cities. Jake is currently a student and including law school, he still has another 5 years left. I work for a prominent Illinois politician and love what I am doing. We have discussed the possibility of one of us moving (he could look at law schools in Chicago and I have looked into a job in politics in New York), but neither one of us are gung-ho about packing up and leaving.

After a very long talk one night, Jake finally broke down and said he didn't think he could move to Chicago. Not because he didn't love me or love the city itself, but he couldn't imagine leaving his family. Jake is about 7 years younger than me and in all honesty, when I was his age, I couldn't imagine leaving my family either. But as I've gotten older, my objection to moving has diminished a bit and I confessed that I would move to the East Coast if that is where he decided to go to law school.

When I said that I would consider moving to New York, he said that he would feel incredibly guilty if I moved for him...because he wouldn't do the same for me. Without sounding too dramatic, does this mean that I love him more than he loves me? Or am I reading too much into it? I know he loves me and cares for me immensely, but should I worry that at this point he can't see himself moving to Chicago? Part of me believes because he is much younger than me, his views on moving/leaving his family may change, but I don't want to bank on it.

I know I have met the man of my dreams, but should I see his hesitance to move as a red flag?

Living in Chicago, while my heart is in New York

Dear my sweet sweet Chi-Town love,

So first and foremost, I can visualize your googly eyes and smitten smile from here. You seem very much in love. So yummy. So delish.

One of the things that I promise to my readers, and to you, is that I will never pretend to know what I don’t know. I’m fabulously human, and proud of it. Nothing is black and white. Every situation has color, texture, and feelings that are different from the next, different from the rest. Every relationship is different. That being said…

I don’t know Jake. I love that he’s being honest about his present feelings and limitations, but I can’t tell you why he doesn’t want to move to Chicago. Maybe it’s his age, or the city, or his readiness for an intense commitment? Maybe he just loves his life in NYC and wants you to be in it…there? Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Would he be willing to let the relationship end if you weren’t willing to move? I don’t have that information. I don’t know why he feels guilty for letting you come to him, and what that’s all about. All questions to be curious about. All things to consider asking. Soon.

But for right now… even though you may think that all of those details matter, they really don’t. Let me explain…

My hope for you my love is that you can get quiet with yourself and listen. Listen to that inner voice that we all have. Some may think it’s fluff, but I say with confidence, if you don’t think you have an inner voice, well, then your just not listening.

What do you really feel? Do you really feel that Jake doesn’t love you as much as you love him? Do you really feel that you’re the weaker link in this relationship because you are willing to compromise and try something new? Do you really feel like you love this person enough to take a chance, to take a risk? Do you really feel like Chicago has a no return policy?

Speaking of feeling…we don’t do it enough. We think too much. Sometimes all of our thoughts are on the prom dance floor twirling around, having a blast, and our feelings are sitting on the side, wishing someone would invite them in.

I can’t tell you what to do. I can’t make any decision for you. But I can give you this challenge: Feel about it for a while, pause on the thinking about it part. When you come to your deepest gut feeling, when your inner voice catches your attention…be there for a while. Then think. Job, housing, money, realistic, whatever. But for right now, just feel about it.

Any decision you make is yours. You own it. Choose to allow that decision to empower you. Don’t let it be about “giving in”. Compromise is not a sign of weakness, contrary to popular belief. If you decide to move, you’re not moving because he won’t, you’re moving because you are choosing to. I know this may not be what you wanted to hear. You wanted the answer, right? Sorry gorgeous. It lives in you, not me. You already got the goods my dear.

So here it is. The thing about long distance relationships is that there is no one thing about long distance relationships. Every relationship is different. Thank goodness. The reason someone moves or doesn’t, the reason the relationship works or doesn’t...different every time. The only person who knows what to do, what the next step is… is the person in it, feeling it. And in this case sweet thing, it’s you.

Congratulations, you get to be in charge of your life.


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