Jewish Journal

Dating a Social Servant

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

February 18, 2010 | 5:44 pm

Long-distance loving can be torture.

Dear Yenta

I started dating my boyfriend in July. Any day now, he’s supposed to
run off to work for a disaster relief agency for 6 to 12 months in
some far-off, war torn, disease-riddled land. While I admire him
greatly for this choice (a choice he had made before we met), it’s
going to wreak havoc on our relationship. It’s been a long time since
I met someone with whom I have so much in common and that I really
enjoy. We are well matched. Although, he is emotionally reserved
in part because he knows he’s leaving. Yenta, is it worth continuing this
relationship or do I cut my losses now?

-Dating a Social Servant

Dear DASS,

If you started dating this man in July, and he knew when he met you that he was leaving, then you need to take a long hard look at yourself. You chose a man who you knew would leave you, and now you are wondering if you should hold on.

If you are as well matched as you say you are, then I am confused by the question. Long distance can be a bitch, but so can losing the most important person in your life. Is he emotionally reserved, or is he not that into you? Or, is he scared to lose you? If you are as well matched as you say you are, then I wouldn’t let this one go just because he is pursuing his far-away dreams.

Have you two talked about what happens next? Where does he stand? And have you had any time apart traveling since you met him? How did that work out? Long-distance relationships really depend on how much the individuals involved are willing to invest, both on their own and as a couple. If you think this do-gooder is someone you should keep around, then I would start fighting now.

And in the meantime, fight with a realistic understanding of what that kind of distance can do to a couple with a wobbly foundation, or how the distance can shrink with skype, effort, a plane ticket and a sincere investment in keeping up with the love. Are you two close enough to cultivate this? If not, and if he is the one, then a year apart on separate paths might just bring you closer when you find each other later and are really meant to be.

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With more than 10 years of talk therapy under her belt, Merissa has waded through life’s dilemmas with a constant reflective therapeutic bird on her shoulder. Add a few...

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