Dear Dr. Love,My girlfriend and I have been involved with each other for a short while ( 5 or 6 months). She is the most wonderful woman I have ever met and I don’t want to lose such a gem over trivial matters involving distance and having opposite schedules. For the first time in my life, I let down my guard early and have fallen deeply for her.I live in San Francisco and she lives in San Jose which is about a fifty mile distance. In reality, we are not very far part. The problem is that before I met her I had left my previous career so that I may go back to college and attain a degree in a field that I discovered I would love to do for the rest of my life.I gave up a lot of wealth, stability, and my car in order to make such an important life changing opportunity. Being without a car has me relying on public transportation to visit her and has turned a simple one hour trip by auto into a 2-3 hour journey. The changes forced me to accept undesirable late evening work which includes weekends so that I may attend classes during the day.My girlfriend on the other hand has a great career and is the typical 9 to 5 with her weekends free. As things are now, I am on summer break. I usually visit her once or twice during the middle of the week and she does the same during weekends.One of the great things about our relationship is that we avoid problems by openly discussing our thoughts and feelings. We have agreed that these problems are frustrating, but have chosen to make the extra effort. I know that she wants to stay in a relationship with me.But lately, I have expressed my deep concern that when college starts next month, my crazy schedule will prevent me from being able to visit her most of the time and she will only be able to visit me for brief periods during weekends. She is avoiding the topic.This worries me, because I remember her stating in the past that she couldn’t deal with being limited to seeing me once a week. I feel she is avoiding the topic because she wants to try and make our relationship work or worse, she is reluctantly toying with idea of terminating the relationship. I want to solve this problem now, because the potential emotional drama will seriously affect my ability to focus on my education during the initial months.On a final note, I have been planning to move out of the city and closer to San Jose to ease my expenses and to regain my mobility (a car). I would like to believe that love will conquer all and need advice on finding a way to keep the relationship going until I can relocate in December.
What a clearly written letter! You express your ideas so well that your first step is to tell her exactly what you told me in your letter. The focus of your talk should first be on checking out if you are reading her avoidance of the ‘discussion’ correctly.Tell her that you sense that she is toying with the idea of breaking up rather than living with the frustration of infrequent visits. If she confirms this, then you need to understand that you are dealing with a person who has a hard time tolerating frustration.The reality is that infrequent visits between now and December, when you can relocate, is a very short time to wait in the scheme of your entire lifetime together. If she can’t see herself tolerating this short period of frustration, she has a big problem.To help her begin to address this problem, you might point out that life is going to deal her lots of frustrating blows. Her success depends on her learning to tolerate the frustration. If she gives you up in order to avoid the pain of this frustrating period of separation, she is going after short term gratification (avoiding the pain of missing you in the short run) instead of going after long term gratification (the joy of forming a long term relationship with a man who loves her so much).People who are successful in love and work learn how to tolerate short term frustrating in favor of long term gratification. Helping her to see that it is in her interest on all levels to learn to tolerate this temporary discomfort should motivate her to hang in there. You can also talk about ways to make the discomfort of the separation more bearable. Talking on the phone, sending love notes, reminding her of your devotion, and any other ideas that she can think of would all be wonderful to hear. Let me know how your discussion goes.