Does Absence Makes the Heart Grow?
Q: I am engaged to a woman that I absolutely adore. We have been together for 3 years and are supposed to be married in a few months. However, we have lived in different countries for our entire relationship. It has been the ultimate long-distance relationship. We see each other about 3 times a year. Now, though, the distance is starting to take its toll on her. She's falling out of love. I can tell she's tired of being apart and needs affection. There is also some resentment there because I cheated on her at the very beginning of our relationship. She can't seem to get past it. She is also growing very curious about being with other men as I was her first and only. We're so close to the end but should I just let her go, for her own good? -- Bob, 25
Dr. Susan: Close to the end? My dear fellow, marriage is only the beginning! If it were only that she was impatient to be done with the long-distance part of the relationship and get on with being together all the time, that would be one thing. But the trouble sounds deeper than that. It's possible that your early betrayal still rankles and she can't get over it and can't quite trust you enough to marry you, but it also might be a convenient excuse. If she's that curious now about being with other men, imagine what she'll be like in a few years, once marriage becomes rather day-to-day. You might find it makes the most sense to change your wedding plans and free her to explore and figure out whether the two of you have a future.
Let me say one thing about long-distance relationships: they have a thrill of their own that sometimes can't withstand too much reality. Seeing one another so seldom (nine times total?!) means you don't really know one another, not to mention that people change a lot over a three-year period. It truly sounds like the decision has been made by her: both of you have to move on.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.