Dear Ms. Doyle:I wrote a while back and got some really good advice from you about how to approach a guy I had a crush on. “Darcy” and I have been going steady for a little while now and it's been great! We go out, do many fun activities around town, study together, cook together, and just hang out. We are also co-presidents of a gardening club on campus that grows and donates vegetables to community members with food insecurities. I have been anticipating our senior year together, the shared enjoyment of the gardening club, and continuing getting to know each other as we approach graduation.
Now there’s a wrench in the works. Darcy told me the other night that he has been accepted to a study abroad program for the fall semester. He’ll be half way across the world for five months, gone for the busiest time in our garden. Not only that, but I'll very sadly have to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on my own.
What do we do? I know many college students face this same problem and it’s never easy, but I feel like my wonderful image of my final fall semester of college has started to crumble. Is it worth it to stay together when we're so far apart? Should we be dating other people instead? I know I have to talk with him about it, but I would appreciate any wisdom that you could shed on this situation.
Dear Ms. Gardener:
It sounds as though the recent news about Darcy's semester abroad is a bit of a shock, disrupting your anticipation of a lovely next year together. I wonder if he had told you about his application beforehand and had expressed any feelings about it.
You're right: the terms of your relationship can only be determined by the two of you. The only “right” answer is the one that you two agree on. This is accomplished through honest conversation and over time. It can and should be revisited whenever either of you feel the need.
But the other thing I want to say, which I am sure that you know, is that, whatever the two of you "decide" is that YOU, Ms. Gardener, continue with the activities that you enjoy and be open to all experiences and relationships however they may be defined, romantic or not. If you find yourself having romantic feelings, you don't have to act on them. If you find yourself drawn to someone new in his absence, you have a comparison that could further clarify your feelings for Darcy. You will grow stronger by keeping an open mind and heart.
I put “decide” in quotation marks because all relationships are fluid, even within a solid commitment. Your give and take can always be looked at anew. Your exploration of it together often refreshes and invigorates the commitment. So you can stay in conversation with Darcy while he is away even as you enjoy your life back home.
If your relationship with Darcy survives the separation while you both continue to lead your lives to the fullest, it will be all the stronger.
Do you have a question for Ms. Doyle? She would be happy to respond to questions on love and relationships, and anything else that leaves you in a quandary. Please email: Ms.Doyle.DailyUV@gmail.com
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