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Long-distance - advice needed!

(9 Posts)
Chascona Tue 25-Feb-14 15:55:33

Ok, so I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice here. I'm currently in a long-distance relationship with a guy from South America (don't want to be too specific as to location). We got together when I was living in his country (I studied/worked there for two years, speak the language fluently and am reasonably clued up about the culture etc.) We were together for 4 months or so there, then I returned to the UK to do a Masters (I'd already planned to do that before we got together). I went to visit him at Christmas and the long-term plan is that I move over there when I finish my Masters and we see how things develop when we're actually in the same country and see each other much more frequently. I'd say that we generally have a very good relationship (this is the most serious/committed relationship either of us has had and we've been talking about eventually getting married but no firm plans to do so) and I also get on very well with his family (his mum treats me like a daughter), which is really good because family is so central to his culture.

Anyway, the problem: we'd been planning for DP to come and visit me this year, preferably in July as he has holidays at that time. But yesterday, he told me that he probably wouldn't be able to come, as he wants to go to his sister's graduation, which will probably be around the same time.

I just feel very hurt: I´m trying really hard to understand that he wants to see his sister graduate (I'm an only child, so I also feel like I'm never going to completely understand sibling relationships, but I know how much he loves his sister) but I just feel that I, his partner, should take priority here, especially as we haven't seen each other for so long. We were looking at other potential dates, but haven't got anything confirmed yet and the other potential dates are either several months later or would require him to take special leave from his job.

And the whole thing just brings up deeper issues for me: I love him very much and want to be with him, and I recognise that in his culture family is much more important than in the UK (at 25, he still lives with his family and that is completely normal over there), but I also feel like I should be the most important thing for him. He says that I'm part of his family (which, in a way, is very reassuring for me, as he would do anything for his family) but that his sister's graduation is a once in a lifetime event. I suppose really I'm just very unsure about whether I want to go and live over there, as I'm worried that his family would always be more important to him than me. But he is a really great guy at heart and says that he understands why I'm upset.

Does anyone have any advice here? I don't know whether I'm being selfish or not, or whether this relationship is worth continuing with.

Chascona Tue 25-Feb-14 17:03:22

Anyone? Just feel so upset here.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 25-Feb-14 17:05:42

Graduation ceremonies don't take that long, surely? Can't he attend and then come stay with you for a few weeks afterwards?

Ultimately, if you think he's feeling a bit cooler about you than you are about him then you don't have to carry on with the LTR. If you don't want to live in South America again, you've not really made any promises you can't back out of. There's no obligation here either way.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 25-Feb-14 17:06:49

BTW.. I think the graduation ceremony is probably the equivalent of 'I'm washing my hair'... sorry.

JoinTheDots Tue 25-Feb-14 17:09:04

Hmm, the graduation is a one off thing, and he might be feeling pressure from those around him to attend which he cannot ignore.

You said you are no longer sure you want to go out there when you complete your masters, as you worry you would be second best to his family, I think you should only go out there if it is for yourself and for your own desires and career, not for him, regardless of the current doubts. You just never know how things will turn out and it is a long way to go for a man if you do not want to be there anyway.

Back to the main issue though. Surely you will be able to fit both a visit to you and the graduation in? The graduation can only be one day, the visit to you would obviously be longer than that. Why does attending a one day event stop him coming over?

Chascona Tue 25-Feb-14 17:39:48

Thanks for your replies.

Ok, the issue about the graduation ceremony is that he has only a very limited holiday period in July because of his job, so depending on when the ceremony is, it could be logistically impossible for him to come and visit (due to distance, flights etc., you have to allow 2+ days each way for travelling).

Cogito, I can see how it would come across as an excuse, but I don't really think that it is - I think he really does want to go to that and sees it as a fixed commitment.

The issue for me here, really more than the specific details of the graduation ceremony, is just that, long-term, I don't want mine (and our) needs and desires to always be subordinated to his family (or his perceptions of what his family would want). I think really a lot of this has to do with cultural differences and adapting to a new culture.

I could go over there for a while fairly easily and see how things develop, without any negative effects on my career - I wanted to take a year out after my Masters anyway. But I'm just so uncertain about the long-term future: I like living in that country, but I'm not sure whether I'd want to do it long-term unless I was 100% sure of the relationship, as it would involve a lot of sacrifices on my part (distance from my family, reduced career options, lesser quality of life). I suppose really I need to stop worrying about the future and see how things develop.

Thanks again for your replies!

Teaandflapjacks Tue 25-Feb-14 20:37:22

I think its reasonable for him to want to go to her graduation - if they are a close family it is a big deal to him. Thats not a bad thing. For what its worth I met my husband - who is german - and he moved to the UK for a few years and now we live in Germany with our DD. We could go back to the UK if we wanted to at any point - its a joint decision- Our location never bothered us that much actually - we just wanted to be together. You should embrace his family if you want to be with him IMO - thats his sister and his mum etc - its nice they treat you as part of the family.

But it seems to me you are a bit worried underneath and insecure about how he really feels for you. Thats normal too - better to talk to him and tell him and have him reassure you - why not you go out this time, perhaps he can help share the cost of your trip then to get there etc. Really no-one knows at the start, middle or even end of a relationship how it will turn out - it just goes the way it goes - follow your gut and talk to him.

ArtVandelay Tue 25-Feb-14 20:59:01

I'm probably being a bit blunt here, but he is not your partner. He is a boyfriend at this stage. Why not just chill a bit and see how things turn out? DH and I started out as an international LDR and so I know it can be difficult but truly, just put the brakes on your mad planning - let it run its course. Also Id take the fact that he has a strong relationship with his family as a good thing with regard to him as a potential husband and dad.

hermionepotter Tue 25-Feb-14 22:36:58

Has he ever been to this country? I just wondered if part of the issue is you wanting him to see where you live, maybe meet your friends and family too?
You seem to me to have the mindset that all comprimises in your relationship will have to be made by you, whereas it could be more of a meeting in the middle, even if you do live in his country IYSWIM - you can retain a sense of who you are and your own cultures/values/ideas.

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