I know this has probably been done to death but curious as to the opinions on choosing travel vs a relationship. Bit of a predicament at the moment and just after some opinions. I've spent the last few weeks on relationship forums and only just today occured to me to browse travel forums as well. It's remarkable how different the tone is in the replies haha. Obviously the relationship forum people tend to be pro-love, thought I'd see what answers I get here!
The basic story is as follows. Met girlfriend when I was 19, she was 17. Had been in a previous 2 year relationship, she'd had a semi-serious past relationship too. Anyways, that was 4 years ago. We're 24 and 21 now and still in love. The first 3.5 years were absolutely amazing. She is incredibly attractive, she's smart, she gets on well with my friends and family, we love spending time together, "bedroom life" somehow still gets better and better, and it blows me away how I landed such a catch. She loves me for who I am, accepts my many flaws, bless her, and there's never been and never will be any sort of question of trust or anything like that. Friends say we are a great couple, we think we are a great couple!
However, like many of you, I am quite independent and the need to explore and feel like I'm really "living" runs in my veins. Last year I applied for a 1-year student exchange program in South America through my university to learn Spanish and because, well, why not? She hated the idea of being apart so we decided she would take a break from her uni for the first 6 months and come with me. It was fantastic! The things we saw and how close we grew I can't explain. I imagine relocating to a new city, living together, barely speaking the language, etc., is a pretty stressful time for a relationship but it brought us closer and I just knew I could spend every day of my life with her. But then it was time for her to go home, and time for me to finish the last semester of my exchange.
As soon as she left trouble started. She feels like I have "left" her. She sees me doing fine/enjoying myself over here and she says I don't need her and she feels let down. We knew it was coming and we message/Skype every day, I send her flowers and nice emails, I try to make it work but she just isn't OK with it. She can't handle being apart, she doesn't understand how I can "want to be away from her" and ugh, we've been apart for 2 months now and it seems like every conversation is heavy and draining. She says things like "you better never do this to me/us again" and "you were the perfect bf but a perfect bf doesn't want to be apart from his girl".
The problem is I'm enjoying this time to myself. I'm enjoying learning Spanish. Like I said though, I absolutely adore this girl, and I'm boxing so far above my weight it's not funny. If I lose her I'll never have as good a partner. I could go home and move in with her and settle down and I see that future and I smile and I picture us being so happy together. But.... I want to do another exchange next year. I spent all day reading about different colleges in America and got so excited. It seems I can't have both. I wish there was something wrong with her, I wish I was older and knew how important a stable relationship is, I wish both options weren't so gosh darn appealing. It's really, really sucky. I have the girl that I could spend my life with on one hand, or another year or two of travelling while I'm young. She doesn't understand how I could want this and she wants our relationship to come first.
What would you do? I picture myself 5 years from now and feel like I will regret both options.
Didn't the six months with you in South America open her up a little bit to travel and exploring? If not, then no matter how perfect she appears right now she has to be a little.... well, let's be honest here.... boring.
Good luck no matter what happens.
It is not weird if your gf want relationship
Comes first that is a girl she wanna be with you.
Do what ever you like..... Goodluck with you
Cheers , pahn
Long distance relationships (because that's in effect what you're having at the moment) are incredibly hard. They can work, but they require really hard work from both people, and constant communication. It actually sounds like you're doing most of the right things there, with the daily skyping and emails. Still, I can imagine it feeling "uneven" to her, with you "choosing" to be there, while she "has to" be back home.
Do tell her how being apart makes you feel, as well. Don't always try to put a brave front on it, but let her honestly know that not being with her is tearing your guts out, too. Shared misery is really much more bearable.
That said; be very certain yourself that this is actually how you're feeling. I'm sorry if this comes over rude, but I don't actually read in your message that you really love her. Forget about how good a "catch" she is. Make certain you're not merely in love with the idea of having someone like her as a girlfriend. Intelligence and attractiveness are certainly important qualities in a partner, but there's so much more, and at the end of the line, objective 'ranking' of a possible partner is completely unimportant next to the subjective way a certain unique person makes you feel.
If she is this person for you, then I'm certain you'll work things out. Let her know about your wishes and your worries and your dreams. Be honest; don't try to shield her from things. And don't give up on her. You don't have to set off to the USA immediately, and can take some time to talk through options and find a style of living that gives you both what you want, and will be sustainable. (She might not feel like she could accompany you with full-time travelling now, but I haven't read anything to say that she is opposed to the idea. Only opposed to the idea of being apart. Relationships are give and take; maybe you could make do with a few smaller trips for the next two years, and then do something big together?)
And if she isn't this person for you, then also be honest about that to her.
Write her this letter, not us! At least then you have perfect honesty and you will never blame yourself for not being honest whatever her decission.
You sound like a decent person and you owe this to yourself to be completely, no, COMPLETELY HONEST for your sake not hers.
Good luck with this.
Thanks for the replies, it's good to hear what others think. I think putting it all out there to her and letting her know exactly what's going through my mind is the only option I guess I'm just fearful cause I suspect she's going to tell me I have a choice to make.
The 6 months definitely opened her up to travel and exploring, in fact we've talked a lot about all the places we would love to explore in the future and the idea of spending 1 or 2 months every year or two getting to know new parts of the world. So there's no issue there. Our future would contain a lot great trips, I'm sure of that.
The problem for me though is that travelling in your 30s or 40s is quite a different experience to travelling in your 20s, and further still the experience of a month or two away with a partner is incredibly different to a year of being on exchange. Not that one is more preferable than any of the other options, they're all unique and great in their own ways. The exchange experience though has a rather small window of opportunity - it's the next year or two or it's never. And right now the idea is really appealing to me. Semi "settling down" in a new city, the amount of interaction you have with other students and all the events and what not that the colleges organise, so many friends to be made, etc., it's an experience that I won't so easily be able to have once I'm finished studying.
The problem is the idea of being apart, or travelling without each other, especially for 6-12 months. If she wanted to do an exchange somewhere I would tell her to have the time of her life, that we'll do the long-distance thing and be awesome about it, and I would be anxiously awaiting her return home. I guess that's what I was expecting from her but unfortunately our outlooks on this matter are very different. She tells me she would never even consider doing an exchange and leaving me for even a month.
If there was no option for me to do an exchange things would be fine - we would struggle through the rest of this year and then move in together when I got home and start enjoying a life together. But the option *is* there for me, and I fear if I don't take it that one day maybe 5-10 years from now I will kick myself for not having that experience when it was on offer.
Of course the flip side is that in 2 or 3 years I've finished my studies and done the exchange thing and don't feel very fulfilled but rather wish I still had my girl in my life to grow old with. Not having life-long regrets is the prime goal here I suppose.
Unfortunately her studies don't allow her the opportunity to take an exchange so she will very much see me applying for it as leaving her again and the hurt will be too much and we'll break up and she'll probably end up resenting me
Sander you make a good point about whether it's *her* or just a relationship in general that I'm scared of losing but either way it's the knowledge that I'm gambling with a certain lifelong relationship with no guarantee I'll ever find another...
i read the full thread and i gotta say, i kinda think you have already made your choice. you are living it day to day. i mean, you had a cozy relationship but you went out to explore the world anyway and not taking into consideration the ramifications on your relationship...while as a matter of fact you are very young to be in this tough predicament, i do applaud the way you are handling yourself (seeking advice and all) i do believe that you need to realize that this is the last lap of the race. own it.
being in a relationship is not a status on facebook. it is also taking into consideration what you actions will do to it. its a day-in day-out status. it is the ability and will to share that precious thing we call time with that one other person, time investment if you will.
you need to come to term with the fact that you need this exchange student/travel/ culture sponge thing for your soul otherwise you wouldnt so easily gotten up and whisked away to the unknown land and further want to continue this escapade.
i might be to blunt and i do apologize, but the bottom line is; i think, that the responsibility of ending it with someone who is holding you back, is the real issue here.
so she is wonderful, way beyond your league yada yada yada...but she isnt rolling with the punches and neither are you. life is full of these surprises and whims of the soul...
wishing you luck
also just watched a movie regarding the same issue-
'5 year engagement'
As mentioned, long distance relationships are incredibly challenging. I was in one for almost two years before one of us moved. We're still together after 5 years, but our situation is not the norm for LDRs. Most people simply do not have the patience or determination to make them work.
The only way to make them work is communication, communication, communication. Much of our interaction with people is non-verbal. When your only connection to a person is phone/video you need to make up for the loss of those visual cues by talking more.
From what you've written, it sounds like your girlfriend is feeling insecure in the relationship right now. I don't know if that's because she's naturally a bit dependent or if it's just due to the distance. You need to tell her what you've told us here in this thread and be very clear about just how important travelling is to you and why. You also need to be prepared to make a choice, because I think it is very likely that she will lay down an ultimatum.
Questions to ask yourself while you mull this over: If you decide to give up your travels and stay with her, will you regret it in five years? Will you grow to resent her for asking you to give up on your dream? If you choose to travel and give up the relationship, what's the worst that could happen? Is that a consequence that you can live with?
Personally, I would choose travel. I've done it before and I'll do it again in the future if need be. You can always find another partner, but you can never replace missed opportunities.
thanks for all the replies, dardar i especially liked yours. i explained my feelings with her and obviously the news that i was considering another exchange and would likely go even if she couldn't come with me didn't go down very well and she was upset. she pretty much gave me the ultimatum, i couldn't guarantee her I would give up the exchange to save the relationship and things got a little ugly, she was real hurt and said she never wanted to speak with me again etc.
as it is now she's come to terms with it a little more and wants to be friends and then try to get back together when i get back, although part of me thinks the relationship is doomed for now i've said i just want some space to wrap my head around it all, we're currently not officially together which is a weird feeling but at the same time I think of enjoying the rest of my time here and getting to do another exchange and I feel like I've made the right choice.
Although obviously there's moments when I see photos or something and wonder what happened to the bf I used to be and how amazing the relationship was and how I could just throw it all away...
Anyways, just thought I would update, thanks again
Just follow your heart and there will be no regrets
[ Edit: Edited on 31-Aug-2012, at 17:40 by luvtravelin ]