Closing the distance

This letter writer is studying in the US, while her boyfriend is in the UK. Should she move there? Should he move here? 

One of you might need to be flexible, says our elder.


Dear EWC

I am currently a college student in the United States, but my boyfriend lives in the United Kingdom. I’ve been dating him for a little over four years, and I only see him at Christmas and over the summer. Because I am getting older, and we are discussing marriage, I was wondering how we would be able to close the distance. I’m unsure if I should go there, or if he should come here. I would love to live in the UK, but I don’t want to leave my family (neither does he). I also understand how things work here. I’m generally more comfortable here, but I do love the UK. I’m just unsure how we would close the distance. We are currently still college students. Would my degree be useable in the UK? Would his be usable in the US? I am studying music, photography, and English/writing while he is studying music and quantum mechanics. I just feel lost, but I know for sure he’s the one. I just don’t know how to close this distance.


Aondreaa replies

Because you don’t seem to have any hesitation about declaring that “he’s the one”, I won’t suggest that perhaps your prolonged long-distance relationship is about the best you can do in your circumstances. I won’t suggest that both you and he have forfeited dating experience for four years and may have unfulfilled desires to know others before settling down with a single partner.

I will, however, suggest that you both complete your respective courses of study so as not to jeopardize your future earning power, should self-sufficiency become necessary later on. Unless one or the other of you can transfer to the other’s university without losing credit toward earning a degree, I recommend sticking it out where you are.

It is not clear from your letter exactly where you (and he) are on your (BA? MA? PhD?) program. What I do read is that your major (music, photography, English) could probably be marketable anywhere in the world, whereas his (quantum mechanics) might be more specific to location. It would probably be timely for each of you to explore, with the assistance of your university placement office, the kinds of jobs which would be prospects upon graduation. I just looked up what kinds of jobs are directly related to quantum mechanics and see that teaching secondary school is on the list. If both you and your boyfriend are interested in teaching, you could probably find jobs near each other. Teaching, as you know, is ‘portable’.

I am reminded of my own first marriage, when my husband and I moved from our home town (leaving parents and family) when we completed our undergraduate university studies (chemistry-him; anthropology-me) to relocate for his graduate work. I was definitely the secondary wage earner (social worker, library clerk, teacher’s aide) and we moved to several locations, including a year in South America, as he pursued his PhD and a postdoc year, eventual university teaching position. When we divorced 16 years later, l needed another year of university study to qualify for a teaching credential. What I am suggesting here is that one or the other of you may need to be flexible, and that several major moves may be part of your future.

I think it’s good that you are talking about options at this point, before either of you makes a decision that you may regret later. Of course, one cannot map out a perfect future, but ensuring that each of you maximizes your education and earning capacity will go a long way toward providing a buffer for unforeseen eventualities.

Most moves, and most jobs, are not permanent nowadays, nor were they 50 years ago, which is when my saga began. In other words, relocating to the UK or USA might not be a lifelong, irrevocable decision. You have already demonstrated that you can cross the pond for Christmas and summer, and that may be the pattern you put in place for extended family visits in either direction.

I hope this helps to clarify your options. I should probably mention that all my own relocations have resulted in unexpected benefits, and no regrets from a 75-year-old’s perspective!  

Article #: 433564

Category: Dating/Relationship

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