I am a graduate student in a highly competitive field. My boyfriend and I have been doing the long distance thing this year — previously we had been living together for a year and a half — and he is applying to graduate school in the same field for next year. I am not completely satisfied with my program and am applying for others as we speak, and there are a few that we're both applying to. We obviously both want to go to the best school that we can, and l know that my boyfriend will choose the best school for him, regardless of its proximity to me. He swears that he loves me and wants to be with me, but I can't help but feel that I make all the sacrifices in this relationship in terms of visiting and prioritizing.
I'm just not sure I can manage three more years of long distance feeling like I'm not his priority. I understand his desire to do what's best for his career by going to the best school he can, and I share that desire too, but I'm hoping that it's possible to be successful in both career and relationships! Should I end it now or try to put up with three more years of long distance?
— Disappointed and Distanced Dana
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Dear Disappointed and Distanced Dana,
It is certainly possible to be successful in both career and relationships, but that doesn't mean that it's easy, especially when you throw the long distance factor into the mix. Since you're so upset about a decision that your boyfriend hasn't even made yet, I would guess that your time spent long distance thus far has been extremely challenging for you. If that is the case, and I certainly don't blame you, then I don't think you'll be able to make it happily through three more years, especially with the added tension that he chose somewhere far away from you.
That said, your boyfriend may not realize that you feel second tier. If you want to try to make it work, you must talk to your boyfriend, let him know how you feel, and tell him you won't be able to sustain a long distance relationship much longer. Let him know that you intend on making the best decision for your career, and you expect him to as well, but that if those decisions lead you 3,000 miles apart from one another, you may need to reevaluate your relationship. See what he has to say; it may lead you to an understanding or it may show you that you're better off breaking up, but at least you'll know that you did what you could.
Either way, remember that long distance relationships are grueling, and don't force yourself to do something that just doesn't work for you. Good luck.