Life vs love
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. But I can't just go home and move in with her and settle down. Infact, I want to do another exchange next year. I spent all day reading about different colleges in America and got so excited. But at the same time I know I can't have both. 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. Reply to this
And be incredibly happy. But it means giving up the idea of another exchange, which is such an amazing/cheap/great opportunity to experience life/another country. Reply to this
This is never an easy question to answer, but I would say to not only follow your heart, but equally follow your head. The problem comes when they contradict each other.
Now as for this wonderful lady, it sounds as if you would regret losing her, and also regret if you could not travel. My question would be, is there any way you can combine these activities? You've done it once, why not again?
Not having regrets is your prime goal here, I am glad that I never settled with anyone in my twenties, nor in my thirties actually. It has given me a lot of time to explore the world and to analyse my role in it all. One thing I have learnt though is that the my impression of who was my perfect partner in my twenties is very different to who that person was is in my thirties.
I usually suggest to people in this situation to travel or do an exchange first, but I'm tending more to remaining with your lady and see if you can work something out where you can share similar experiences in the future.
Most importantly, if you think things are getting bogged and tired in conversation, I would take the lead and say "I know that you are not happy, and I've been thinking..." and to tell her your future plans - give the situation (and her) some certainty.
I am coming at this from a male's perspective, so I may not be the best person to comment on how your lady would feel at this point of time.
In saying that, i've left my bf/hubby on many occassion to travel. Quite a lot of 6 to 8 week stints and a 5 month stint to live in the UK. When i got a visa to the US for 5 years i did say the 'i am going and i'd love for you to come but its up to you' and he came. So if you know it is in you then i'd do it, but she has to realise that too....
and i do believe that if it is meant to be, it will be. So even if you were to break up come back together in 5 years so it will happen :)
good luck! Reply to this
In response to: Msg #160107
When I married as a young man, I gave up my dream to bicycle through Europe. Thirty years later after two children grew up and set out on their own, we divorced. In hindsight, I do not regret settling down.
Fortunately, I met someone new. We have been together for over 5 years, and we have visited 10 countries so far together. I am pleased to say I now have the best of both worlds.
Best advice in my life: 'Follow your bliss.' - Joseph Campbell Reply to this
Sometimes, we have to make decisions like this and what is important is what you want right now. Remember, it is your life and nobody can tell you how to run it, but you.
It would be nice to be able to always have our cake and eat it, however unfortunately, most of the time, life simply doesn't work this way. Reply to this
On one hand, travel is my dream and I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with anyone who couldn't respect that. I would think that someone who loves you would want you to seize your opportunities. Ideally she would share your interest in travel or be secure enough to let you explore on your own. Your girl sounds very clingy and unable to occupy herself for a few months or be happy without your complete attention. That would really annoy me, but it seems to be something you enjoy.
If you travel and explore the world now you will meet so many new people and expand your perspective. I think your girl would benefit from some time being single and learning how to be an interesting person in her own right.
But on the other hand, the world isn't going anywhere. You could move back home marry this girl, have a family and travel when you retire. I am sure there are lots of things that make you happy at home.
Reply to this
I don't think it necessarily needs to be 'life vs love', but at your age I think the more important need is to find out who you are and what you want to do with your life, and that should be what your girlfriend is currently focusing on in her life too. A lot of relationships end when people are 28 years old, mostly because they have not given themselves enough space in their 20s, and at 28 go through a crisis.
I am quite independent and the need to explore and feel like I'm really "living" runs in my veins.
And, that is how it should be at your age. There is nothing wrong with enjoying your relationship, as long as you both have some independence from it.
I don't know if the following is reading too much into the situation or not, but one thing I noted about your relationship is the perfection you describe, and then the abandonment your girlfriend feels when you are away. I kinda wonder if she may be sacrificing too much of herself, to make the relationship perfect? Seems to me that she could become a bit happier, if she would become a bit more ''selfish'', and consider her own needs, rather than putting herself under pressure to make a perfect relationship, in order to be loved, or so you won't want to be away from her. Also, I am sure you are not perfect as she says you are, and is she being a bit manipulative, by saying you are, and pretty much threatening to take this perfect status away from you, if you don't do what she wants. Well, this is just my guess, and you are the one in the relationship, so will need to look at it, and figure out if what I said is true or not.
If I lose her I'll never have as good a partner.
You could get as good a partner, even if it is not her. There is more than one mr/ms right for everybody.
What would you do?
I would insist on some space to live my life, at the age you are at. I am not saying you should do the following, but what I would do is reduce contact, and even consider breaking up if somebody would not respect my need to live my life independently at 24 years old, because I have no commitments such as children. I'd also suggest to her that she thinks up some things she wants to add to her life, that have not to do with the relationship and then she should go ahead and start with them, and keep doing them no matter what the relationship status is.
And be incredibly happy.
You might also be buying a bit too much into this idea that there is a perfect relationship. Already, before you even start, you won't be as incredibly happy as you say, because you are sacrificing your needs for what you say is a perfect relationship. This perfect relationship where you are both incredibly happy because neither of you needs anything else in your lives will soon fade, and if you are honest with yourselves rather than keeping up a pretence it will have died of boredom after a number of years.
I picture myself 5 years from now and feel like I will regret both options.
You will lose and gain way more than this in your lifetime. That is what it means to live your life. The only way you will end up not gaining anymore, is if you don't recover from your losses in life.
Mel Reply to this
You get one life, live it the way you want to. Reply to this
We talked about things a week or so ago and I brought up the fact that I was considering another exchange and I thought she should know. It would be nice to have the best of both worlds and incorporate her somehow in my exchange but if it can't be done then I told her I feel like I probably need to do the exchange anyway, even if she can't, and she predictably told me that that would mean the end of our relationship.
She had suggested flying out to see each other again and trying to "save" the relationship or something and it dawned on me that I actually don't want her to come. I love her, I love the relationship, but I feel more than ever that this is something I need to do by myself and while I have the freedom to be young and commitment free I have to make the most of it to avoid regretting it down the line. I tried to explain that it was something I need to do, and that even if I chose the relationship over further travel that it could possibly doom us anyways, that I'm not ready to commit myself to her fully until I've taken care of this first.
She was obviously very hurt, hearing her bf of 4 years pretty much tell her he wanted to go and be young and free for another year or two and she was supposed to either put up with it or lose her relationship and be unhappy while I go and have fun. I feel incredibly selfish and I look at photos of us or think of her and can't help but feel almost ashamed. It's as if I spent 4 years building this relationship with her which one way or another she has grown to depend on and now, out of no where really, I've handed her a live grenade and run off.
I don't know how it came to this, or if I've really changed so much in just a few months of living by myself, but while I'm over here it seems that the idea of continuing to explore the world and find myself, by myself, grows on me more and more each day. I just can't help but feel like I terrible person for it though. Her family, her friends, even my family, are going to look at this and shake their heads and wonder how I can be so emotionless and selfish.
She told me she never wanted to hear from me again, that she couldn't believe who I am any more and stuff like that, it got a little ugly but after a few days she said she wants us to be friends until I get home, that she doesn't want me to be with any other girls, and that when I get back we can try and again and try to organise doing the exchange together. Maybe when I get back the old me will reappear and we'll do exactly that. But at the moment, as I mentioned, I'm kind of finding the idea of doing the exchange alone a lot more appealing. I've learnt and grown more in the last month or two by myself than I did in 7 months of living with her.
I've told her I need some space to wrap my head around it all because the truth is with every day I think I grow more and more accepting of the fact that I need to do this, and that I probably need to do it by myself. But I think she's still hanging on and wanting to talk about what we do from here to get back together.
Anyways, I guess our relationship from here is another issue. Just thought I would update everyone and thank you for your responses. As it is right now we are officially broken up, the fact that I seem to be OK with it I think shows I made the right choice. That or it just hasn't sunk in yet and in about a week or two from now I'm going to have a meltdown haha. Reply to this
I rushed in and got married too early, at 21, and while I now have two, beautiful grown up children who I am immensely proud of, the sad fact is that due to my haste, I ended up spending 16 years of my life, languishing in a relationship with a woman who became extremely selfish, self centred and who wanted everything her way.
Two decades later and I have finally found my kindred spirit and I am now married to a woman who I love dearly and who adores me, loves to travel and takes a real and sincere interest in everything I do. You have plenty of time to worry about relationships later, life is too short...just enjoy it :)
Reply to this