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 the majority of our communication is through long text messages.
I’m worried that because we’re at a distance, one day 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 this because it’s easy enough to hide through texting. I go out several nights a week, and have a tendency of drunk-texting him (I’m a notorious drunk-texter), but when he doesn’t always acknowledge the drunk texts or if he takes forever to respond — which I do, too, so it’s not fair of me to judge him for that — I become immensely insecure that he even wants to be with me.
What can I do to assuage my fears and not spiral into an endless pit of doubt?
Worried: Um. You can stop outdrinking 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: Nick could just as easily realize the possibility of being with any other girl and not wanting to be with you when you’re walking distance apart.
And: See that you can realize the possibility of being with any other guy, from long- or short-distance. 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 with this guy, but in yourself.
The way you’ve set out the facts, you imply that 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 obviously 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 vs. 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.
Short version: Deep breaths, and deep trust you can handle what comes — self-medication-free.
Write to Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost....Read more