**About a week ago, we received an email from a reader that was in a tough spot regarding her next career and relationship move. Her situation parallels what many of us have encountered at some point. For today, I will keep it simple. Her question followed by my response. -Slim**

Hi,

My boyfriend and I have been together for about 18 months now. We’ve been friends since our freshman year of college and are heading into our fourth year now. I graduate next spring and will be continuing my education somewhere else, to get my J.D. and MPA. He is in a 5 year engineering program, so he has another year where we go to school now and hasn’t yet decided if he wants to work or go ahead and get his Master’s too. We love each other, communicate well, and enjoy spending lots of time together. He has even said he would like to marry me and I feel the same way (although we are not engaged at this point).

My question is, should I go to grad school out of state or stay to be with him? My boyfriend says that he will come see me no matter where I go, and is encouraging me to do what is best for my education; but that if I choose to stay he’d like to move in together. I know I would really miss him if I leave (we already spend summers apart because he lives in Houston, and I live in Atlanta where we attend school). Also, I know grad school is going to be very challenging and I’m not sure if I can deal with the multiple stresses of academics, missing my family and friends, and missing him too. I don’t mind staying because Atlanta is my home, and there’s at least one school that is pretty well-ranked nationally for what I want to pursue. The biggest obstacle is that my family and several of my friends would say that I’m putting my dreams on hold to play house.

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I’d just like an objective opinion on the situation. I’ve heard of similar things with people I know, but there was always a big drawback- e.g. the girl decided not to continue with school at all, the boyfriend was abusive or unfaithful, etc. Thanks for your time!

My Response:

When you have deep feelings for someone, it can really cloud your judgment or make you do things that you wouldn’t normally do. I’m not too far removed from college and I can remember dating a girl a year ahead of me that went off to med school elsewhere and the strain it was putting on us before she even left.. I also dated a girl in college who was three years behind me that moved to Atlanta after graduation because that’s where her family was. I was and still am located in Boston. You can imagine the difficulties that caused. Needless to say, both of those relationships ended even though I thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread at the time.

Now I’m not saying that your relationship will end, but coming from the perspective of someone that once thought he found “the one”, I gotta say that basing where you go to school on where he will be probably isn’t the best idea. He still sounds somewhat unsure of what he will do ultimately and 18 months really isn’t that long a time. I’ve personally seen people date from freshman to senior year of college then break up despite the fact that everybody around them thought they would get married. Your primary concern should not be based on your family, friends, or the hubbykins. You should be focused on what’s going to put you in the best position to be successful.

Today’s Discussion

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What advice would you offer to this reader? Have you been in this situation and what were you willing to compromise to ensure that the relationship was successful? Do you think that distance relationships can work? Please keep the responses to this one respectful for the reader that wrote in.

Slim “I put this blog post together from the beach. My signature will be back next week” Jackson