He speaks in facts, she in emotions: Studying abroad; should I break up or do long distance?

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Dear Guys,

I am 25 years old and my girlfriend is 24. We’ve been dating for exactly one year, though we had been friends for two years before that. She is my first serious girlfriend. Before her I had only flings. I love her very much and I’m sure she feels the same way. We see each other almost every day; we’re best friend and have complete physical intimacy. In this year we’ve been through some fights. Two of them were pretty serious and we almost broke up. The reasons for these fights were always very silly (for me) and I managed to convince her of that and avoid breaking up. We agreed that the reasons for all of our fights were lame compared to the love we feel for each other and made a pact for being more tolerant and reasonable. Since then we didn’t fight anymore and the relashionship is at its best.

I’m an engineering graduate and currently have an excelent job that pays me well. But the firm I work for is going to be sold in a couple of months and I will have to keep working for them for one more year. After that I will leave the company. I thought this was a good opportunity to accomplish one of my goals in life that is to get a good MBA degree. To do so I will have to go abroad for one year. I would love if she could come with me but she still has two years to complete college.

She overheard my conversation with a friend about my MBA plans and asked me if I intended to go abroad. I told her the truth: yes, I want to go but only in September 2013. That’s a year and a half from now, more than twice the duration of our relationship. I proposed to her that we keep dating during this period and break up only when I leave. From then on we live our lives separately and that includes meeting other people. My intention is to get back together when I come back from the MBA.

She, on the other hand, thinks differently. She said she prefers to break up right now even even though she would suffer a lot since she loves me very much. But when she overcomes the suffering she would be free to find another man and not “waste her time investing in a relationship destined to end.” She doesn’t think we will get back together when I come back nor that she could bear thinking of me dating other girls while I’m away.

I don’t want to break up right now mainly for three reasons:

–       Living in the same city we would bump with each other all the time and know about each other’s lives, making it much harder to forget. If we wait until I go, the distance will make being apart easier.

–       During the period that I’m still here we can have a great time together. We’re talking about one and a half years. Almost twice the time we’ve been together. The bond created in this period will be strong enough to survive the year apart. (I think)

–       I think in my heart that we will get back together when I come back. (I know one year is a long time and I will gain lots of experience and may change my mind. And that’s what she’s afraid of.)

Well, I would be glad if you guys could help me out. Am I missing something? How can I convince her of staying together until I go?


Dear Thomas,

Thanks for your question.

How do we say this nicely? Yes, you are missing something. Actually you’re missing everything on this one. And this is a classic example of the different ways men and women think.

You’re giving her facts and she wants emotions. She wants you to tell her that you love her so much that you’ll do anything to make it work, even if you have to go away for a year. She wants you to reassure her that nothing will come between the two of you, even if you’re far away. She wants you to be strong and tell her it’s all going to work out. (Sure, ultimately she doesn’t want you to go, but she might come around if you sang a different tune with her.)

But you’re not doing any of that. You’re treating the relationship like it’s a business. This is what she’s hearing from you: “In a year and a half, we’ll dissolve the company and split the earnings 50/50, and then maybe we’ll put the company back together when I get back.” So why would she want to stick around, knowing that in the near future the two of you will be breaking up? Women don’t work that way.

From your point of view, you see only benefits from having this sort of arrangement. And we understand. Having a wonderful woman to hang out with, go on dates with, and have sex with is a great thing. And when you combine that with a fulfilling career it’s a great combination. But once again, she doesn’t give a (blank) about any of that.

But having said all of this Thomas we do understand where you’re coming from. It seems like you might really love this woman but you just want to be 100% sure. And you don’t want to give up your career aspirations quite yet in order to have her. And guess what? We totally get it. You’re young, and it’s okay to put your needs first, and frankly you probably should, because if you’re feeling this strongly about pursuing school and furthering your career, you’ll probably be quite resentful later in life if your plans were to be derailed by this relationship. And the fact that she’s your first serious girlfriend makes us think you’d like to explore more in that department as well.

But it all comes down to timing doesn’t it? When people say “love conquers all” they are forgetting to factor in the all important “timing” variable. And this is what we’re seeing here. The timing is a bit off. But unfortunately Thomas you can’t have it both ways. She’s probably isn’t going to want to wait around while you figure this all out. (Although see below for the one caveat.) So you either need to stay with her, and see if you can give a long distance relationship a chance, or break up. (And please don’t make promises to do a long distance relationship but then break up with her just as you’re leaving. That would only perpetuate some women’s perceptions that guys are not to be trusted, which is not true.)

So Thomas, please stop treating this like a business decision and really start having some heartfelt conversations with the woman you love. And we’ll let you in on a little secret. (Our caveat) If you’re honest, and treat her with respect and love, even if you do break up now, and you go away for awhile, it’s likely if she’s still single, her heart will still be open to you. However, if you continue treating her like she’s a business partner you won’t ever have another chance with her.

We wish you the best in figuring all of this out. Please feel free to ask us a follow up question. And we’d love to hear what you think about all of this. And what you ultimately end up doing. Keep us posted. We’ll respond in the comments section as well.

(And readers: Please comment as well. We love a great discussion!)

Good luck,


ps. Let your friends know about us.


Some other questions for THE GUYS:

Not over his ex; should I leave now, or give it a chance? 

Booty call or relationship trouble?

Is he too into me?

Three questions for guys: Dating my best friend’s boyfriend, Bumps on my butt, Dating an older guy?

Wooing at a distance

Text messaging, tears and betrayal

Dating in my 20s as a single mother

My boyfriend is on dating sites; is he cheating?



5 Comments on He speaks in facts, she in emotions: Studying abroad; should I break up or do long distance?

  1. He is 30, I’m 32. We’ve been in a long distance relationship for over 2 years and a half. The first year we saw each other each month, I went down to visit him every other month, and he’d do the same. Then I stopped going, since it was 3 times more expensive for me, than it was for him, so sometimes he came 3 months in a row, sometimes he wouldn’t come for 3 months or so. Also, I stopped going because I felt it was getting a little too convenient for him…we had agreed that he would find a job here and move, and time went by, and nothing.

    Sometimes I felt he was reluctant to move, and jokingly asked me to do it, but never asked me seriously. We both have great jobs, but I make more money, have two homes here, and a really nice place to build a new one. He has no assets, although he has some savings. Besides, he never actually proposed or something that made me seriously consider moving.

    He said he was making big efforts finding a job here, and I know its hard, but sometimes I felt he wasnt trying hard enough. I asked him to at least consider moving to another city, but in the same state (2.5 hour drive) but he refused. He said that it he was going to move, he wanted to move here…still, he was pursuing a job in a city an hour away from here.

    So this year was specially hard for me, since my grandmother died (she lived with me) and 3 months later, my mom got diagnosed with breast cancer (I’m an only child and my dad is MIA). I begged him to double his efforts because I really needed him by my side. But he wasn’t very supportive, the only thing he did that made me say “wow” was that he dropped everything and was ready to come over the day grandma passed (which I asked him not to, because I wanted to mourn alone the first few days, and didn’t wanted him to come just to watch me be miserable).

    2 weeks from the day my mother was diagnosed, he dumped me. True, I started it, telling him I felt this wasn’t working, but I said that in hopes he would do something already! Instead he broke up with me. I even offered to support him while he got a job here, if he just move already, but told me he couldn’t quit his job because he had to support his mother and pay for her medical inssurance. I made it clear I DID NOT wanted to break up, specially now, since I was having such a hard time and couldn’t handle another loss…but he said it was for the best, and that he’d keep trying to find a job here, and hoped when he did it wasn’t too late.

    I must add he’s going through a lot himself but not as much as I am. He got transferred to a different state, his brothers and sister are a big mess, and his mom depends on him for eeeeverything (she doesn’t work although she’s young and healtht, she doesn’t even go buy groceries for herself or personal stuff). So I get it, he’s stressed and confused and blah blah blah, but why is he doing this to me? He always was a great guy, thoughtful, compassionate, caring, he really loved me, never cheated, I can’t say ANYTHING bad about him.

    When we broke up, I told him to never ever come back or speak to me…EVER. 2 days later I took it back, and said I loved him very very much, and would be waiting for him to come around, although I didn’t know for how long Id wait. I said in the mean time I’d back off and wouldn’t talk to him to give him space to clear his mind. A week later I emailed a book to help him through things and told him I wasnt expecting a response. He did respond, told me he’d been meaning to msg me but didn’t, because he “wanted to respect my decision” of having no contact, and didn’t want to disturb me. I replied and said it was ok with me if he did…but he hasn’t and its been almost a month.

    I feel like he doesn’t even care about what I’m going through, and I didn’t expect that from him, as he had always been loving and caring. He even told me he had been looking at engagement rings…but now he has dissappeared. What gives? Do you think he was afraid to commit, or is it that “he’s not that into me?” He seemed to adooooore me, everyone could see it 🙁

  2. @Lilly….It seems like both of you have a lot on your plate. You’re mourning the loss of your grandmother—our condolences— and are worried about your mother. He’s dealing with a dysfunctional family. Throw into the mix, a long distance relationship, and then a job search in a different city and this adds up to major stress on both sides. The break up to you probably seems sudden and and ill-timed, but breakups often happen during very stressful times. It doesn’t mean he’s changed suddenly, or that he doesn’t care about you, or that he’s not that into you, it just means the cons were outweighing the pros to the point where he couldn’t take it anymore. The thing is Lilly, relationships might take a lot of work, and require a certain amount of compromise, but in the end they need to be fun. And from what you’re describing, the fun part had left your relationship for a long time. (Long before your family events.) We’d suggest continuing this break and then coming back together and try to reestablish some of the fun part of your relationship that’s been missing. Sure, you certainly don’t want a partner that can’t handle the tough times, and is looking to bolt when that happens, but at this point there’s no pattern of this kind of behavior. This is a one time thing, and to us, part of a bigger picture. But certainly if it happens again after you’ve reestablished your connection then it would be a red flag. Our suggestion: Let him know that you’re open to trying again, but after that let him take the initiative. He was the one that broke it off, so he should be the one reaching out to put the pieces back together. Good luck. Keep us posted and let us know how things are progressing. And feel free to ask a follow up questions anytime. Take care. ps. Please let your friends know about us. Thanks!

  3. Dear guys, thank you very much for your response. I did let him know I didn´t wanted to break it off, and that I´d be waiting for him, so I will just do that: wait…as long as I can (I promise I won´t become an old single lady with then thousand cats waiting for him 😉 )I´ll keep you posted, and of course I will spread the word about you guys. Thank you! 🙂

  4. @Lilly…..You’re welcome. Glad we could help a little. Yes, please keep us posted. And thanks for spreading the word.

  5. Hi guys,

    My boyfriend is 23 and I am 22. We’ve been dating for 6 months and everything is going great. He is in his senior year and wants to go abroad for a 2 years master’s degree starting from September 2014. It is not clear whether he will definitely go or not, but if he goes, he also wants to live there afterwards if possible. My question is: Should I break up with him right away if he decides to go, or break up with him when he is leaving. I know it is illogical to continue a relationship with a guy who is going away and maybe not coming back ever. So, it is sure that we will break up. But I love him so much and I do not know whether breaking up beforehand is better or not. Also, how do you think I should behave/talk when the subject comes up? I want him to feel like I love him but I am also a sensible person who does not have crazy long distance fantasies. Help, please!

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