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You Asked: My Boyfriend Won't Make Me a Priority

You Asked: My Boyfriend Won't Make Me a Priority

Dear Sugar,

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

To see DearSugar's answer

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.


Join The Conversation
jenintx jenintx 9 years
ita with brandynicole. it doesn't sound like you are willing to compromise your career aspirations so i'm not sure why you expect him to do the same. i'm just not sure why you expect him to put you first if you aren't doing the same for him. sounds a little selfish to me. since it sounds like nothing is set in stone yet (as in, neither of you have been accepted into any programs; you're both just applying), i think i would wait to see where you are both accepted and which way he is leaning before stressing out over the POTENTIAL of being separated again. it may not even work out that way when everything is all said and done...
leafonthewind leafonthewind 9 years
I went through something like this about a year ago. We were together for almost 5 years and trying to have a long-distance relationship while in different doctoral programs. It got so stressful that we decided to just be friends. We're much happier now without the constant pressure of trying to make things work. I don't have any good advice on how to handle your situation, except to say that if it doesn't work out with him, don't look at it as a failure on your part. You're right to strive for balance between your personal and academic lives, but sometimes there's only so much you can do. Grad school is so stressful and time-consuming that your personal life can end up in a mess in the meantime. It's just a fact of academia. Good luck.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Um what is 3 years when it is for your career that you have been working on and going to make you finanically stable and happy later down the road? Wouldn't you be upset if he wanted you to compromise on something so big just to make sure that you stay within proximity to each other? If you wouldn't, then your devotion is a bit on the dependency side. You should want him to go to the best place for his career regardless of where you are and make arrangements AFTER he gets accepted. You shouldn't be a priority right now, schooling should be and it should be where both of your heads are, not trying to be tied together for the sake of the relationship. If it won't last past distance, it won't last when you are close together either.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I don't know if you've seen the first episode of Cashmere Mafia but your situation definitely reminds me of it. Lucy Lui's character gets a big promotion and her fiance dumps her because he was up for the same one. While it's not the same it seems like your bf is the type who would do the same thing. I'd talk to him and let him know how you feel and how it feels like his career is more important than you.
mlen mlen 9 years
why would your bf sacrifice anything when it sounds like he doesn't have to- you always do it for him. i say both go for what you want where you want and then once you both choose, then figure it out from there. will it suck if it ends up long distance? yea it will, but it'll suck worse if you ever broke up and you realized you followed a path just for him and not what you really wanted deep down. if you have two choices where all is equal and he is a deciding factor, then by all means chose the choice with him, but don't give up things if he isn't willing to give up things too.
graceunderfire graceunderfire 9 years
I would be very carefully in asking him to give something really big for you. It can create a lot of resentment down the line.
Meike Meike 9 years
Hi, I'm going through something similar. My fiancee is finishing out school in Germany while I'm here in the U.S. upping my career path. It'll be a year and a half more before we can be permanently together. I think your boyfriend loves you very much and only striving to do what's best for both you and him. Doing well in his grad program only means you'll both be in great standing financially when your career hits off. And, you know what people say about financial hardships, they cause many a problem or two in relationships. By no means is a long distance relationship easy. I also know what you're thinking...does out of sight equal out of mind? That depends on the character of your man. Do you trust him enough to know his love for you won't slip away? Trust, honesty, and emotional endurance are most important for a long distance relationship to survive. Talk to him. Maybe he feels the same exact way as you do. My honey and I are 25 years old. We work hard to make our relationship work. We work hard to make it so that the other does not feel neglected. At the same time, we don't forget the priorities that will set us up for a bright future. Sacrificing these 2 years of long distance is a minor obstacle in the grand scheme of things. After all, when these years of separation have past we have our whole lives ahead of us (50+ years hopefully) to spend happily with each other.
It doesn't sound like you're considering going to a school based on it's proximity to him, why should he?
Ginger19 Ginger19 9 years
Dear sugar is totally right on this one. If your bf gets to make his priority his career so do you .
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