Dear Aunt Dora,
My name is Anne, 20 years old, and I am currently a junior studying in Boston, MA. Since I left home three years ago I have been in a serious relationship with my boyfriend. The problem is that he is still in Kenya and our relationship has been relegated to long-distance relationship status. I often miss him and feel alone since he is not able to visit me, nor I him during the holidays, we are both broke and have to settle for phone conversations or facetime.
Recently I have started feeling differently about this relationship. I feel that my boyfriend is comfortable with this arrangement as he appears not to be in a hurry to visit or make a big commitment. This frustrates me because I feel that I am holding myself back while he is enjoying having a girlfriend abroad. I have just recently started making friends, and I am starting to feel different about who I am, my interests, and future goals, which oddly do not include my boyfriend in it. I also want to date, a real flesh and blood human – the Americans here don’t seem bad at all!
Aunt Dora, how do I tell my boyfriend that I want out of this long-distance relationship?
-Anne, frustrated in Boston
I empathize with your emotional dilemma. I imagine the complexities of growing into adulthood in a new land while facing the typical young adult troubles i.e. making friends, relationships, emotional balancing, college etc. can make for a very tangled web that is often hard to see through in times of stress.
My dear, long-distance relationships are hard for everyone. Much more for the young/new in a relationship. The bonding usually reinforced through physical contact/presence is attenuated by distance. As adult life happens to you, it may be hard to relate this to one who is not physically there with you to witness or experience it.
All is not lost! You just have to be brave. At least you are getting to a point of curiosity about your environment and are willing to venture out into new territory. Frustration and resentments are things you must leave behind if you are to embrace your new life in the U.S. After all, all that glitters is not gold. The amazing Americans called McBride, Oliver, Stone,Thomas etc. will turn into your regular Kariuki, Otieno, Nyambane, Moha in a few years and you will not even miss them.
No matter how you feel about your boyfriend, you have to be brave enough to communicate with him. No problem has ever been solved with silence. Maybe you will find out that you are on the same side and maybe even recommit to your long distance relationship! I have certainly seen stories end both ways, in reunion whether in U.S./Kenya/other countries, or a complete dissolution and moving on from said relationship.
Whatever angle you choose to take is up to you. Part of being in a serious relationship is having up the courage to ask tough questions and make tough decisions.
Note: Aunt Dora has a Masters Degree in Psychology from Villanova University, USA