Dear Ms. Marist,
I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for six months now, and I feel like she’s further ahead in the relationship than I am. She’s been talking about moving in together after we graduate (different schools, same year), and I don’t know if I’m ready to even think about that. I do love her but I feel like I don’t know who I am yet. Do I tell her how I’m feeling?
Dear Long-Distance Lover,
It sounds to me like there’s a whole lot of feelings flying around here, and listen—that is genuinely A-OKAY. Feelings are what keep us human, and you should be proud of yourself for trying to work through it in a mature, productive way. As I like to say, if you can articulate your worries into a few sentences for an advice column, you’re on the up and up (that last part, my mom likes to say. Still true.). You’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing – asking yourself the right questions, no matter how difficult they may feel, and looking for your own personal answers.
Since it seems like you have more than a few obstacles to face together in your relationship, however, I’m going to break this one down for you in a new thang I’d like to (start) call(ing):
MS. MARIST BREAKS IT DOOOOWN.
Here we go!
1. “I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for five months now, and I feel like she’s further ahead in the relationship than I am.”
I can tell there’s a lot about your relationship that you really value. I can tell because long-distance is not for the fainthearted, and if I’m reading your submission correctly, you’ve been going long-distance for the majority of your relationship. Throughout this process of understanding how you feel and what you want and need, it’s important to single out what you appreciate out of the relationship. Love isn’t perfect, and I’m glad you have love in your life.
2. “She’s been talking about moving in together after we graduate (different schools, same year) and I don’t know if I’m ready to even think about that… Do I tell her how I’m feeling?”
One of the trickier aspects about long-distance is the need to plan ahead for the next time you’re together—and because you’re both so far away from each other, I think it’s fair that she’s looking ahead into the future—especially since it sounds like you haven’t given her a reason not to do so. However. You have the right at every point in your relationship (and in your life) to voice how you feel. So, to answer your question: YES. You must, must, must, MUST tell her that you’re not ready to discuss living together yet, especially if it’s giving you anxiety. Hiding your feelings from someone you care about is not only bad for your relationship but bad for your emotional health, too; and communication is important in any healthy relationship, no matter how near or far or short term or long term that relationship is.
3. “I do love her but I feel like I don’t know who I am yet.”
These are two very powerful ideas that sound like they have equal importance to you. Do they have to contradict each other, though? It may feel that way. But if the two of you have handled long distance thus far, it sounds like you are both capable of greatness in other areas of your relationship. I’m wondering why you feel like one influences the other, though. Is there a part of you that you’re afraid to show your girlfriend? Think about these in your free time, and see what you come up with. And no matter what—don’t hide how you feel. The right answers will come to you when you are ready for them.
Sincerely, Ms. Marist