A Boyfriend who's Never There
Visitor's Question from a 13-15 year old Female
I'm 20 years old and studying abroad in the Netherlands for the year. I've been dating this guy (24) for just over a month. We initially met through the Internet but then met in person just a few days later. Everything seemed to click very well, and we're 'exclusive', even though we haven't come right out and called each other 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' yet.
I'm worried because in a monthlong relationship, I have physically seen the guy only three times. My last relationship was long-distance so at first this didn't seem unusual, but now it's beginning to bother me. We do call almost every night and send text messages, but it's not the same as seeing someone. He has an extremely busy job (security guard) for which he often works nights, and he does live fairly far from me. I understand both of those things. However, I'm concerned, not only because he has become less affectionate of late, but also because I have reason to believe that he hasn't told anyone about me, not even his parents (whom he has temporarily moved back in with). I'm baffled because things seemed to click so well in the beginning and now he seems more distant. (Language is not a factor; we're each fluent in both English and Dutch.)
When I started to notice this, I e-mailed him - not accusing him of anything, simply telling him how my last boyfriend (7 months) had simply continued the relationship for the last 3 months without telling me that he wasn't in love with me anymore, and how much pain that had caused me. I said that I never wanted that sort of thing to happen again, so if his feelings were to change, he should immediately say so, because I would respect him a lot more for his honesty than for the 'not wanting to hurt me' line. I wasn't trying to be paranoid, but I did want to give him an 'out' in case the same sort of thing was happening again - why prolong something that's not working? But that was three weeks ago and he has shown no signs of breaking up. And I definitely feel like he would be honest with me. But I still feel like things are different than in the beginning.
I'm wondering if he is perhaps distancing himself because he knows that I will be leaving in a few months. I would of course visit as often as possible - I have many other friends here too - and I do have plans to return to the country in two years' time, perhaps permanently. And he knows that, but two years is still a long time. My theory is that he likes me and doesn't want to break the relationship off, but is afraid to get too attached - a kind of self-protection, because he knows there's a 'deadline', so to speak. I can understand that, but I can't go on with neither of us giving ourselves completely. I *really* like this guy and I want to give him a real shot, and that can't happen like this. Besides, I wouldn't use distance as a reason to end things - I've been in a long-distance relationship, and it was hard, but we made it work.
I know that I should talk to him about this, but I don't know exactly how to bring it up. It's the kind of thing that needs to be discussed face-to-face, but I hardly ever see him and I feel like we should talk about this ASAP before things get worse. What do you think is going on here, and what should I do?
I think your whole take on the problem is right on. And you're completely right, a relationship where you only see each other a few times a month and are getting distant too is on a road to destruction. Relationships need work and energy, and your boyfriend isn't putting any in because probably he's worried about it all ending soon anyway.
LOTS of people are in long distance relationships and are quite happy. They can definitely work. But you have to both talk about it and understand it and agree to it. And you *have* to do this in person, this isn't the sort of talk that works well over the phone. Too much gets left out.
I have advice on having that talk here -
be totally honest and encourage him to be the same. That's the only way to really understand the issues and find solutions.
-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at RomanceClass.com