Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Ex-boyfriend mythologizes the One Who Got Away
Va: My last girlfriend, who was absolutely perfect, had to move to Morocco for her Ph.D. program. We tried to make it work long-distance, but neither of us could manage frequent visits, so we decided mutually to end things. We agreed that if we're still single when she moves back (not for years), we would try to make it work again.
In the meantime, we have both begun seeing other people. Mine is easily the greatest girl I've ever met who isn't Perfect Girl. But knowing P.G. is out there makes it hard to be satisfied with that.
Carolyn: It sounds as if you need to break up with current girl, arguably to be fair to her but also, pragmatically speaking, to see if you miss her.
I realize there's a risk that you'll mythologize P.G., and you'll wind up so used to being the lonely guy that you'll define yourself that way — then panic one day, and settle.
But I don't think it's fair to make decisions based on avoiding that, not yet. Right now, your more immediate risk is of forcing yourself to stay with someone when your heart is somewhere else. Give yourself a little more time to grieve and rebuild.
Anonymous: If P.G. moved to Morocco for years and he didn't go with her, then she wasn't P.G. after all. Sacrifices are a necessary fact in life, and if you're not willing to make them, then you're not "meant to be."
Carolyn: I'll agree, with a qualifier:
Morocco + Ph.D. = the possibility of a field that required her to go to that one specific place. If she was serious about and invested in this field before meeting her boyfriend, then I can absolutely see her wanting him completely and still not being willing to sacrifice years of work in her field.
If he was the one unwilling to move closer to her, then that could liberate him from his idea that she was Perfect, i.e., something stopped him.
Va. again: What stopped me was that my next few years are basically planned out for me in the form of one more year of law school, then straight to an unbeatable job offer at a big firm (the likes of which are barely hiring anymore).
As I mentioned, we were planning on staying together when she moved. We didn't anticipate all the logistical impossibilities.
Just thinking about it again is getting me sort of upset.
Carolyn: So — do you want (A) the law career even if it costs you the girl, or (B) the girl even if it costs you the law career? Don't project: Base it on how you feel and what you'd do today.
If (A), then stop mythologizing and start living your life.
If (B), then call her and say so. Then, if she is receptive, you get creative, starting with your law school's career office.
Va.: The answer is I want the girl, but you seem to have forgotten she's with someone new.
Carolyn: So are you, and you still want her. If she prefers the new someone to you taking dramatic action, then she's not Perfect. Painful as that may be.