Hi, Carolyn: I was casually dating/hooking up with Nick at the end of the school year. He’s a year older, and graduated and moved back home. We didn’t want whatever was going on between us to end, so we decided we would be “together, exclusively,” albeit at a three-hour driving distance.
We are both working six days a week this summer, so most of our communication is through long texts.
I’m worried that because we’re at a distance, he is going to realize he could be with any other girl and will not want to be with me, but I won’t know because it’s easy to hide through texting. I go out several nights a week, and have a tendency to drunk-text him, but when he doesn’t always acknowledge the drunk texts or takes forever to respond — which I do, too, so it’s not fair of me to judge him for that — I become immensely insecure.
What can I do to not spiral into an endless pit of doubt? — Worried
Dear Worried: You can stop out-drinking your judgment, which only yields new messes to wake up to, which hardly serves the interests of serenity and self-confidence.
And, you can see this: that Nick could just as easily realize the possibility of being with any other girl when you’re walking distance apart.
And: See that you can realize the possibility of being with any other guy. Such freedom goes both ways.
If you see this freedom as cause for even greater worry, then that’s where you start in building confidence — not in this relationship, but in yourself.
You imply the only reason Nick chose to stay with you over the summer is that he hadn’t yet “realized” he had other options. The logical extension of that mind-set is possessiveness, meaning, you make sure loved ones are tethered to you as tightly as you can get away with, because people with opportunities to escape will use them. (And lie about it!)
Please ask yourself: If that were true, why would anyone stay with anyone? There’s always someone “better,” someone else.
What keeps people together is their freedom to choose each other, over and over again. And what drives that choice is the inherent value of what they share. Yes, distance makes choosing each other harder, objective attractiveness makes it easier, and formal connections like marriage or kids or shared real estate make the exits harder to use.
But if you want a relationship to last, then don’t waste angst on things you can’t control, like who he meets and what he does in your absence. Focus on things you can control: Treat yourself well; treat him well; be yourself versus who you think he wants you to be; pay attention to who he is, especially since you’re apparently still getting to know each other; and know that being compatible — or not — will have more say in your staying together (or not) than anything else.
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