Relationship question: Is this fair?

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Rose217 Posts : 474 Registered: 8/9/08
Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 22, 2009 8:05 PM

No juicy sex topic today, just looking for opinions and/or advice on what is fair in a relationship... If you're bored at
work, maybe this can distract you for awhile. ;)

The issue: Is choosing
to spend consecutive summers overseas on the same scale as choosing to attend a
faraway college when you're in a long distance relationship?

The background: My boyfriend and I have been dating for two
and half years and have been long distance for the majority, since I go to a
university 200 miles from my hometown where he attends school. He's spent the better part of the past two
summers in Japan working as a camp counselor for a company that travels around
and teaches English to little kids.

The disagreement: In
talking about Japan, I expressed that while I'm happy for him, support him, and
want the best for him, I can't help but feel a little bit abandoned that he
chose to be gone (twice) during two months that we could be together. He responded that I chose to go to a distant
university and therefore we are both making choices that put distance between
us. I pointed out that I chose my university
a year before we even met or started dating, but he views it as a choice I make
every semester.

My opinion: I
honestly don't see how he can call the two equal. Sure, college is divided up into semesters,
but I came here with the intention of attending all four years and it has never
been a question. I looked into
transferring for a semester to be near him last year, but decided it would be
too complicated concerning credits, living situations, etc. He couldn't/can't transfer here because his grades
are too low. My life is here and I don't
see how he can compare that to a two month program. In his
benefit, he did apply for Japan in high school but was rejected, so it's been a
goal of his since before we met.

This issue isn't going to break us up or anything, but it is
the only debate that we can't even seem to get in the same ballpark on. I wouldn't care about it so much except that
he's applied for Japan a third time and I know it's going to be a big
discussion within the next month....... Am I
missing something obvious? Can you help
me understand his side better? Or is he
really being as unfair as I think he is?
Is there a good compromise to our debate or should we just let it lie? Let me know if I've forgotten any important
details, and thanks in advance for any help....


ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 22, 2009 8:34 PM Go to message in response to: Rose217

I'm on your boyfriend's side, though I understand why you feel the way you do. But think about it: you are asking him to give up a great opportunity so that you can spend the summer with him. Does that seem fair? The fact that he has been to Japan before is irrelevant, as I'm sure he'll get something new out of this experience.

Look at it in the same way that you look at your decision to continue at your school from one semester to another. Why do you want to continue at your school? Because it's your best opportunity to get the education you want. Why does he want to go to Japan for consecutive summers? Because it's his best opportunity to gain the skills and experiences that he's interested in gaining.

Also consider the sacrifice you're asking him to make. I understand that you don't see him much over the rest of the year, so it's hard that he won't be around over the summer as well. However, should he really have to give up this experience so that you won't be so lonely over the summer? In the grand scheme of things, will spending a few summers without him affect your life? I doubt it. If you're meant to get married someday, the fact that you spent a few summers apart won't matter. Skipping this opportunity, however, may affect his future opportunities. Should he really give that up for such a small (in the grand scheme of things) reward?

Look, I get long-distance relationships. DH and I spent 4 years out of our 7 years dating far apart from one another. We also spent about half of our engagement 600 miles apart. The reason we chose to have a long-distance relationship was because we didn't believe that either of us should have to miss an opportunity because of the other one. In the long run, sacrificing a personal opportunity for a relationship will eventually make you resent the person who made you miss that opportunity. We weren't willing to take that risk, as we both had our own goals. While we loved one another, we knew that love itself is not enough to build a successful marriage and that we'd each be unhappy if we were unable to take a big opportunity because of the other one. We're more settled now and our jobs aren't going anywhere, but I don't regret spending most of our 20s separately. It allowed us both to get to where we are now without regretting a missed opportunity.

My advice is to look at it this way: at this point in your lives, you should both be focused primarily on building your own futures. Take advantage of opportunities rather than passing something up to spend more time with the other one. If you're meant to be together, things will work out eventually...and when they do, you'll be better off having taken the all the opportunities you've come across. Look at the big picture. If he skips going to Japan, you get to spend a summer with him. If he goes to Japan, perhaps he'll meet an important contact which will land him a great job in the future or the experience that may land him a better job. In which scenario will you be better off in the long run?

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Rose217 Posts : 474 Registered: 8/9/08
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 22, 2009 9:47 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

Thank you for the response, ArtBride. It really helps puts things in perspective.

Our relationship has been built on communication and not holding the one another back from any opportunity, which is a huge reason I've been conflicted over him going to Japan. I feel selfish and guilty for wanting him to stay, yet I swore to him I'd push him onto the plane if he thought he was going to change his mind.

You're right. We should be focusing on what's best for ourselves right now, and hopefully that'll benefit us as a couple in the future. We're not married yet so there don't have to be any major sacrifices (i.e. our summers). We'll have plenty of years together in the future.

I guess the underlying issue was the main one--how I feel about him leaving again and not really if comparing school to Japan was fair. It's my own insecurities that I battle with, but they're improving. Thank you for telling it to me straight--it's what I needed to hear.


PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 22, 2009 9:57 PM Go to message in response to: Rose217

So I read your post and I waited to reply. And I'm SO GLAD I did.

I agree with Art and your FH.

And Art put it so much more eloquently then I could at this time.

So thanks Art!

Good luck. It does sound like you guys have good lines of communication open. I can't stress how important that is.





kelleyiskelley Posts : 11,590 Registered: 7/2/06
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 23, 2009 9:41 AM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

I agree with everything Artbride said,but just wanted to add something that might help you to deal with this situation better. Whenever you start to question whether or not his Japan trips are beneficial,the right thing,etc - think about tomorrow, and think about 5 years down the road. If you two are meant to be together for the long run, for life - then you will get through these long distance parts of life and you will each grow individually and then come together as stronger people with a very strong foundation. When he looks at you and thinks of you, he will think "this is the person who supported me living my dream, my goals. " Whereas if you currently give him anything but true support right now, years down the road he might think in the back of his mind "Will this woman really support me in my life? She tried to hold me back when I wanted to do something that was important to me." People dont forget when you have their back, and the favor will be returned. Throughout your relatioship you will both make sacrifices at different times, for each other. The key is to talk through them, tell him you miss him when hes away, but also make it clear that you are fully in support of what hes doing and that you "get it." It will make a world of difference later on.

And this is coming from someone who had a 5 year long distance relationship before my now husband decided he was ready to move out here to NJ (from Florida) and be with me , marry me. I never once pushed him. I knew he was commited to me and that it would happen, but I never wanted to be the one who asked or told him to come out here. I let him decide when he was ready,and he let me know and then took steps to make it happen. And now that we are married and hes been here almost 3years with me, I look back and Im soooo happy that the decision to come here was 100% his.

As long as you know he is commited to you and the relationship, him going away to live out his own personal goals should make you proud and happy that he is doing something important for himself. Yes, you will miss him, but if you are meant to be together you will get through this and be much stronger in the long run for it.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 23, 2009 10:11 AM Go to message in response to: Rose217

If I were you, you know what I'd do?

I'd start saving money, stat, and try and join him for at least one week during the summer in Japan. If this were that important to my fiance, I'd be insanely curious as to what it is he does and would totally want to have a slice of the experience with him. If doing so is absolutely out of the question, so be it, but I'd totally try and go and see what all the fuss was about.

Otherwise, I totally agree with Artbride.


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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 23, 2009 10:55 AM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

It's fair, it sucks, but it's fair.

You can't just make the time you spend together when it is convenient for you too. I agree with Ms.D, try to save up some money and visit him. It would be a great experience and I am sure he would love to have you there. I am very humanitarian, I am very involved in fundraisers, especially for children in Africa, I am very involved in War Child (a great foundation), I am a part of Habitat for Humanity and stay mostly in my area...if an opportunity arose for me to go tree planting up north, or to build homes in Honduras or for Hurricane Katrina victims...I would not pass up that opportunity. If FH didn't want to tag along, I would expect him to understand that I was doing something that was important to me, we will have the rest of our lives to spend together...Now, when I am young, and I have less responsibilities such as children and a full-time career, I want to accomplish as much as I can. It seems like your FH is doing the same. You should be proud and supportive of him, not trying to hold him back.


myra Posts : 5,550 Registered: 3/28/06
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 24, 2009 12:50 AM Go to message in response to: Rose217

My boyfriend and I have been dating for two and half years and have been long distance for the majority,

So, he is your boyfrined, not your fiance, right? How much time have you actually spent together--you've been away at school for a couple of years, and he's been away for two summers--how much time does that leave?

If you're not satisfied with his decision to be away from you and he's unhappy about your choice to be away from him, have you thought about being able to see other people (not keeping this relationship exclusive)? If you're meant to be together in the end, you will be. But, while you're apart and not engaged, this might be an opportunity to test the strength of your feelings and decide if this relationship is "the one."


Nalamienea Posts : 2,924 Registered: 6/13/08
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 24, 2009 7:09 AM Go to message in response to: myra

I feel like I want to support the OP here for just a second. I really didn't get the impression she was trying to hold him back. She did say that even though she wasn't excited about him leaving, that she would be the one pushing him ON to the plane if he was going to start re-thinking his decision for her sake.

What I think she's worried about is the comparison between how "bad" her decision is to stay at school version his decision to leave for the summer. What I have to say about that is that once you start trying to keep score like this, your relationship is finished. Love isn't about trying to compare and compete... it's about openness and support and forgiving.


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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 24, 2009 7:34 AM Go to message in response to: Nalamienea

I think the OP just had a momentary freakout and needed to be reminded of why they are doing this. I don't see any signs of major relationship problems, here. As somebody who has 'been there, done that,' with the long-distance relationship issue, I can tell you all that this is fairly common. There are times when your superficial feelings (e.g.: 'I don't care if this is best for both of us, I MISS HIM, DAMMIT') get the best of you. The important thing is to recognize that these feelings aren't the most important thing at play. It sounds to me like she just needed an outside observor to help her see past her emotions.

To be fair, I don't think her boyfriend was trying to 'keep score' by comparing his going to Japan to her going away to school. It sounds like he was making a pretty logical comparison, though she may have misunderstood or overreacted to it at first. She was upset that he is choosing to go to Japan every summer instead of spending the summer with he pointed out that she goes away to school every semester rather than staying and spending more time with him. I don't think he said this to be mean or to compare or compete. It sounds like he's saying, 'Look, you choose what's best for you every semester rather than making sacrifices in order to spend more time with me...but you want me to sacrifice what's best for me in order to spend more time with you? That doesn't seem fair.' Perhaps he wasn't that eloquent, which led her to think it was an unfair comparison, but I think that's the gist of what he was trying to say. And based on her second message, I think she gets that, though she's still a little hurt (understandably, even if it's not fair) that he's not going to be around.

OP, you can't help your feelings, so don't feel guilty for them. Instead, try to look at this positively. Rather than choosing Japan over you, he is choosing to make an investment in his future, which will benefit you both if you eventually end up together. Look for the silver lining. What can YOU get out of this? Perhaps you can save some money now and make a trip to Japan (great idea, MsD!), which would gain you a better understanding of why this is important to him, a great experience, and a chance to observe another culture firsthand. Also, look at this separation as a chance to do something for YOU. You're probably pretty busy with school and other obligations most of the time...take this school-free and boyfriend-free summer as an opportunity to try a new hobby, take a great internship or summer job, or just relax for a little 'me-time.' Before you know it, he'll be around all the time and you'll miss that! :)

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kennysoldwife Posts : 3,859 Registered: 4/28/07
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 24, 2009 7:39 AM Go to message in response to: Rose217

Op I think you should take this time apart to work on your own projects. Get involved in some kind of semester abroad or work program yourself. Try to find an internship in the field you are studying in school. Work with innercity youth. Habitat or something like that. It will give you something to do this summer while he is away and it could also help you to make some good contacts for the future. Other than that I agree with the PP's




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Rose217 Posts : 474 Registered: 8/9/08
Re: Relationship question: Is this fair?
Posted: Feb 25, 2009 7:18 PM Go to message in response to: kennysoldwife

Thank you everyone for the honest advice, for offering perspective on the situation, and understanding me (and my emotions! ). I had tried asking my girlfriends for help, but they were just too damn loyal and biased, lol.

It's great to hear stories of other couples who were long distance and are now happily married--congrats to you guys.

I'll be seeing my boyfriend this weekend and I'm actually really looking forward to talking about the summer. I think he's going to be pleasantly surprised at my change in attitude. I'll let you ladies know if you want....

Oh and Myra--I was the poster who started the Non-monogamous Couples thread back in Nov, so while I think you were suggesting a more formal separation, my boyfriend and I have already discussed it. In fact, I think everybody on these boards did, haha.


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