Dear Captain Awkward,
I am a recent High School graduate and I am going to start college in the fall somewhat far away from my home state (about an 11 hour drive) and i am so excited I’ve made a countdown and I’ve befriended all of my soon to be classmates on FB and found a blog run by a student who goes to my soon to be college etc etc. I feel like college will be a great time to start over and kind of reinvent myself (I’m shy, somewhat introverted, anxiety prone, and awkward).
I’m also in love with my high school crush and just recently he told me that he loves me and I know he’s serious and telling the truth and everything and it’s great because I love him back. The thing is in the fall I’ll be leaving him for a new life basically. New friends, new habits, new state, new love interest possibly. And he knows this. And he told me he’ll just have to accept my decision because it’s my life and not to put my it on hold for 4 years because of him.
The thing is I really would have put my life on hold for him . I really do love him but I know what he says is true. And I suppose it is pretty naive to think I won’t find someone I really like in college (which is what I was telling myself).
We’ve never been in a relationship with each other though we got really close the last 2 years of HS. And we actually kissed the last like 3 days before graduation!
I don’t really have much freedom to go out and he definitely does not so our chances of physically being together this summer are slim to none. (We have been texting, tweeting, and skyping however).
Here’s the thing. I have some hope that when I return home for the winter break I’ll have more freedom from my parents and that me and him can hang out and go on dates etc. I haven’t told him because if it ends up we don’t keep in touch or he finds someone else I don’t want that to be a broken promise and a hurtful reminder or what could have been. Idk. I just don’t want to make a promise and then not be able to keep it.
Also, I’m kind of hoping that during the time i’m in college until the winter break when I come back home that he’ll have matured (I guess is the right word) a little bit. I’m pretty sure my mom wouldn’t approve of him if we ever started dating and I brought him home to visit. He’s what my mom would call a ‘project’ (because he got ok grades in HS, is not going to college, doesn’t really know what he wants to do, etc) .
But I’m getting ahead of myself! I still have 2 months before I go to college and then from there 4 months until winter break.
Is it stupid to have some hope for the future? Should I get it into my head that we will never be together? Should I voice my thoughts and concerns to him? And how can I get the chance to hang out with him this summer?
Hopelessly in love college bound student
Dearest Hopelessly in Love College Bound Student,
CommanderLogic here. I’m gonna get this out of the way right now: you’re on birth control right? Yeah, I know, you barely see him, you only just kissed, he’s housebound for some reason, etc. But if you are not birth controlling right now, or you’re holding out for those sweet, sweet confidential campus health services (which would be very responsible of you, btw), buy some condoms, grab a back up pack of Plan B if you can afford it (better to have it on hand than to explain why you need to run to the drugstore RIGHT NOW to your mom), pack it all away (in an away-from-home safe spot if necessary), and just have that contingency covered and off your mind. Cool? And if you are on BC (woot!), a backup is a good idea anyway.
Because sex is a possibility here – though not a requirement – I think you and I can agree that a fetus-shaped wrench in the works is bad news. Condoms and Plan B do not mean you HAVE to have sex, they mean you are prepared if you decide to.
OKAY NOW. You love this guy. He loves you. He’s agreed to let you be free like a bird, and you think this is great, but also what if you stayed forever? Everything you’ve said here is full of amazing potential and possibilities, and you sound like you have a good head on your shoulders with your dude sounding equally wise. We here at Awkward Enterprises don’t have a crystal ball, alas, but I want to say that your impulse to go far away to college and embrace it with everything you’ve got gets the Awkward Army seal of approval. It’s brave, it’s gutsy, and I’m 99% sure it will be amazeballs for you (natural disasters, etc notwithstanding).
But it is not stupid to wonder if you and this guy could have a future, because it feels SO AMAZING to be loved back, whether it’s the first time or the fiftieth. Being loved back is not something we are guaranteed by life, so it is completely natural to cling to love when it waltzes in. I think you’re both being very mature in considering that your time together may have a time limit, but it also sucks to remember that.
You don’t have to get it in your head that you are Never Going to Be Together, because guess what? You’re together now. What you have now is like Disneyworld. No, seriously, go with me here. You got to go to Disneyworld. But, you don’t get to LIVE at Disneyworld. There is a set day where you will have to leave Disneyworld, and maybe you’ll go back someday, but the fact that you have to leave after a week shouldn’t diminish the fun you have while AT Disneyworld, or the wonderful memories you’ll have about it later. It’s cliche because it’s true: live in the now.
I think you should definitely talk with your dude about all this stuff, and see what he thinks. The basic stuff here is “I’m leaving, you’re staying here, but we’ve got two months to have an amazing time together, and maybe MAYBE there will be more in the future. I don’t want either of us to put our lives on hold while we’re apart, and I want you to be the happiest you can be. What would that look like to you?” And also “How do we make these two months completely amazing?”
Hanging out with him more shouldn’t be that hard, but then, I don’t know what your situations are in terms of location, driveability, public transit, friends/siblings with cars, summer jobs, parent-hardassing, whathaveyou. I’m going to give you some suggestions, but above all else, both of you need to be honest with your parents; you are still living with them, so you want to stay in their good graces:
- Do a lot more group activities with lots of friends. Movie nights, bbqs, twice-weekly IHOP gatherings, bonfires, RockBand parties, I don’t know. What do your friends do together for fun? Go do that, and hold hands with your dude.
- You are both 17 or 18, nearly or actually an adult, and you sound like good kids, so I don’t see what problem your parents would have with you going out as long as you told them what was up, where you were going, and when you’d be back.
- Heck, ask your dude over for dinner and board games with your parents. I know, it doesn’t sound like good times, but a) free meal b) face time with the parents where he won’t seem like a stranger c) if he takes a massive loss at Apples to Apples in good grace, it’ll stand him in good stead d) laying the groundwork that he is trustworthy when/if you guys go out alone.
- This works the other way too, go to dinner with his parents.
- Get summer jobs or volunteer at the same place. Let your parents know exactly what’s up, so that it doesn’t come up awkwardly later, but also it isn’t a permission thing, it’s a polite informing thing. Not “Is it okay if” but “Crush and I are volunteering at [place] isn’t that great?”
I know I’m making a lot of this about your parents, but you know your own mind while seeming uneasy about their opinion, and both of your movements feel restricted right now. I don’t know them, of course, but if they are anything like 90+% of the parents I’ve ever known, they’re just normal, good people who want their kids to be happy and safe. Sometimes, the balance between “happy” and “safe” is all out of whack, because pursuing happiness is often a risky business. Love hurts, the future is scary, and you’re only just on the cusp of independence. They’ve had 17 or 18 years of trying to both protect you and let you do your own thing, and this “stop it with the protection” stuff is all new to them, too, so keep in mind that they may play a little harder to the “safe” at the expense of the “happy.”
Your mom may be concerned about him more because she doen’t want you to put off your future to stay with him. If you alleviate her fears on that score (“No, I am 100% leaving for college and never coming back, but I want to bask in a relationship while I’ve got it, and I don’t want to do it behind your backs.”), she may be more amenable to letting you guys “officially” date or whatever. Make this guy “safe” for your parents, and they’ll probably be more ok with risking “happy.” I don’t know what your guy’s parents’ deal is, but that’s for him to focus on.
You focus on the now. He makes you happy now. You should tell your Mom he makes you happy now. He should tell HIS mom that you make him happy now. Plan how to see each other in person more, not necessarily alone, just more. Don’t plan your wedding, don’t plan how you’ll stay in touch, don’t think about how it will be better when you get back for winter break, because who knows? Maybe that Mayan Calendar hooey will come true. Maybe you WILL fall in love with someone new in college. Maybe you’ll come back at winter break and pick up exactly where you left off. Maybe you’ll fall in love with SCIENCE and stay behind for most of winter break to work in the lab (more likely after sophomore year, but still). Maybe he’ll join the Navy and you won’t see him at all for the next four years, but when he does show up it’s all cupids and unicorns. Maybe you’ll never see each other again. The future isn’t here now, and it’s always different than we planned it, but the good thing about the now is that you’ll have the memory of it forever, and your story can contain the words “Once, I was loved.” Not everyone has that.
On the day you leave for college, have a big, teary, kissing goodbye. You were so happy. You know what that feels like now. Go take that memory with you and make it happen again.
Best love and wishes,
24 thoughts on “#285: Is it bad if my relationship has an expiration date?”
There is a movie that I watched right before heading off to college that I loved & think might be applicable as a good model for this situation. Despite the slightly odd/body shaming title.
Real Women Have Curves
A first generation Mexican-American student spends her last summer at home working with her sisters, and forming a really sweet relationship with a high school crush. And then (spoiler alert) she goes off to college to possibly never see him again. But she really takes advantage of that time that she has him around.
I just want to heads up to the LW that the first winter break back from college will probably contain the most arguing with your parents that has ever taken place.
They will be all “My house my rules!”
And you will be all “I’m sorry I forgot to tell you I was going to be out until 4 but my roommate never cares when I’m out till 4 and I’m really out of practice at remembering to tell you this. Plus I totally resent that I just lived all on my own for 4 months and you are treating me like I’m still a child.”
And then they will be all “We’re paying for your college, you are still a child, things protective parents say when they realize they are being irrational but they are going to keep doing it anyway.”
My family is all very laid back and I have watched all of my siblings and cousins have this exact winter break their first time home.
I just want to prep you for the fact that you probably will not magically be granted freedom upon your return from the place where you were free. It will feel like they are trying to imprison you with rules because you have just been in a place with no rules and now parents are happening.
The way it eventually will shake out is that you have to tell your parents where you are when you are in town, and what time you expect to be home/give the car back/whatever. You will do this because it is polite to do when you are staying with people, even people who are not your parents. You wont have to ask for permission, but they will still want to know where you are because you are their child and they love you and they also have lives that you are a component of while you are home.
But there will be fighting before that happens. You will have to fight for your right to make decisions as an adult while sleeping at their house. You’ll have to fight for your freedom.
The summer before you go away for college is your last time to really be with your HS friends and experience things the way they are now. It is an exciting and super fun time. But it is also a little sad. People will not be the same at Thanksgiving. So I encourage you to try to get out and be a little free this summer if you can. (But obviously, don’t lie, or go behind anyone’s back, just try to use a little of your maturity and responsibility to earn a little freedom, if that is what needs to be done.)
And have an awesome time at college! And learn stuff too, of course.
Yeah, this all of it, unless the lw has explicitly heard from her parents that the rules will be different over winter break or that the restrictions are all down to some kind of vehicle purchase that’s happening at a future date.
This was a real conversation had by me and my mother upon my return to the parents’ house to wait out the summer between college and grad school rent free:
Mom: So if you could just be home before we go to bed on the weekends…
Mom: We don’t want to worry.
Me: Mom, did you worry about where I was at 3 am when I was at school? When I was studying abroad? On another continent? I once went to Spain and didn’t tell you until afterwards.
Mom: Well, but then we didn’t know that you were out gallivanting at bars, we could just assume that you were home in bed. If you stay out late here then we’ll know that you’re out. And we’ll know when you came home because the dog will bark and wake us up.
Me: Oh good lord, what time is bed?
My mother is kind of a classic over-worrier though, she once expressed the absolutely mind-boggling concern that two of my friends were moving in together before getting their careers in order because, and I quote, “What if one of them gets pregnant before they have real jobs?”
All issues about what she considers a real job and the existence of birth control aside, the friends in question are lesbians.
Hahahahahaha, we have the same mom. LW, decide what battles matter to you and what doesn’t as they arise.
Oh lord, yes, to all of this. Particularly:
“I just want to prep you for the fact that you probably will not magically be granted freedom upon your return from the place where you were free. It will feel like they are trying to imprison you with rules because you have just been in a place with no rules and now parents are happening. ”
Going home the first Christmas hols was so strange for me. I can’t remember details now but it was very much – can’t you see I’m an adult? I can get home by myself! I’ve been looking after myself for three months! Why are you mothering me?!!Eleventy!
Coming home the third Christmas break I remember a joking discussion about when I was going to clear all of my stuff out of my old room (now my brother’s) and the loft, but it hit a nerve, and I remember forcefully saying something along the lines of “don’t you think I would move out if I could?!!” It was not pretty. 😦
And yet, of course my mum was mothering me – she’s my mum, and she loves me, even if, between the two of us we don’t always get things right. Being the other side of it now, and facebook following her friends in similar positions – all their kids have flown the nest – it’s a huge change for them as well, and it takes them just as much getting used to as it does for you coming home during the holidays. It didn’t seem that way at the time but it makes more sense to me now.
So yes, make the most of the time you have now. Don’t buy in to the romcom ideal of HS sweethearts, college, marriage, mortgage, kids, and don’t waste any time trying to force that stuff. It’s just one way amongst many to live your life, and you’ll enjoy it much more if you can focus on the good stuff you have now. Go out there and be awesome, Hopelessly In Love.
Oh, my poor mom, the first time I referred to returning to school at the end of a break as “going home.”
For my mom, it was the first time she noticed that I referred to my childhood home as “your house”. By that point I’d spent several years working full time in a different city, and it was still a bittersweet moment for her to realize that her home was no longer my home.
How awesome it feels to be in the throes of squeedom at any age, but I have to say, to be 17-18 and in the throes of squeedom is a pretty uniquely awesome and terrifying feeling. Part of the scary part is, of course, that you’re not totally free to squee because you’re under your parents’ roof.
And it sounds like LW has some pretty protective parents–a 17/18 year old high school graduate who doesn’t have the freedom to “go out” (to work? to volunteer? to a summer program? to the mall? to the park?) worries me a little bit, so I wonder if LW can expand on whether this is like, “I have too many things to do with work/college prep/tennis/whatever and my parents want me to spend my free time with them at home” or “My parents don’t let me out of the house because I am a delicate, practically legally adult-aged flower.” The fact that LW seems to think they won’t get a chance to physically hang out AT ALL kind of gives me pause. I agree that if LW starts working on their parents now re: freedom to roam, that’ll make winter break a lot more tolerable. As shinobi42 said: if you’ve got protective parents, you are going to fight like the dickens (the Dickens? Did Charles come from an argumentative family?) about staying out late, visiting your friends instead of your parents, etc. and so on during that first break back. If LW can take the Commander’s excellent advice about spending the summer doing lots of group activities with friends, the parents are going to be way more receptive to a less structured arrangement when it’s winter break time.
Also, I am kind of a fan of low-drama relationships with deadlines, which it sounds like this one is. You’re going to go all Summer Lovin’ on each other, and you’ll get to have this intense and formative experience that ends in what sounds like a potentially very amicable way, and you’ll get to go off and pursue your different avenues, and you can always come back and check in with each other later/periodically. (Reminds me of studying abroad–I had a wonderful time with my Non-American Boyfriend, but when it came time to go back home, I knew we couldn’t stay together, because I had too much growing up to do, still, on my own. So we did the whole train-platform-goodbye-and-good-luck-long-kiss and it was kind of movie-perfect. Yes, I was sad when we were apart, but the beauty of college is that there’s so much available to distract and uplift you if you seek it out.)
Two stories about expiration-date relationships…
I also had a relationship-with-deadline while I was studying abroad. We met, we clicked, but decided we’d just have fun for the months I was still in Europe, I spent every other weekend with him (he wasn’t in the same country as I was studying, actually), we went on vacation together at the end of my time abroad, long lingering goodbye in the airport, etc…. And then we wound up missing each other so much that we talked all the time and visited when we could, and wound up getting married a few years later (I was older, it was my second try at college), six years ago. But while it was starting, it was still just enjoying our time together and not thinking about anything post my return to the US besides staying friends.
second story: I had some friends who dated all through high school, and then broke up for similar reasons, going to university across the US from each other, free to grow, etc. They met through mutual friends shortly before they graduated and wound up getting back together.
It’s too late at night for me to draw any conclusions, and I only have two examples, anyway. 🙂
I have two stories too!
One is a couple that broke up when he was studying abroad. He dated someone else while there (I’m not sure about her). But then they got back together after a semester or two and are together now and are very adorable and sweet.
Another is two kids who went to prom together before he moved 8 hours away for college. The only person he dated ever so briefly (I cannot emphasize how brief it was) was ME. Then we went our separate ways for the summer and they coupled up and she transferred to a college in the same city as him and they moved in together soon after. (I sometimes wonder if I will be invited to their inevitable wedding down the line because we’re in the same friend circle? Probably not. Oh well.)
Oh, I could buy not being allowed out, because I had parents like that. Maybe not quite as bad because I wasn’t forbidden from seeing the boy I was dating. However, I also didn’t drive, couldn’t have a job because I couldn’t drive, and lived on the far fringe of town away from all public transport. I didn’t see my high school crush as much as I wanted while I was still in town either and pretty much sat at home every summer. It sounds like LW’s parents don’t really like to let her out and the boyfriend’s parents sound even worse than hers on that score, which is sad. It took awhile–and moving out for college helped–to chill mine out.
But it does depend on how insane the parents are and if there’s really any option to get anywhere. I assume they don’t have cars/can’t drive/probably aren’t near public transport if they can’t really go see each other. At the very least, their friends with cars might have to be enlisted for support–“hey, can I go over to X Friend’s for a movie night” and they both meet there, something like that.
Can’t improve upon the advice, I am solidly on Team Enjoy the Now.
But as a practicality, Plan B is available on-line from drugstore dot com, as are cosmetics, household cleaners, and all manner of things that a person about to move away to school might reasonably order and have delivered to hir home. This might be a good option if you have funds to take advantage of it, and your situation is such that not getting BC @ your local drugstore is a good thing.
Good luck, LW! Enjoy what you’ve got right now. Maybe it will blow away like dandelion seeds in the late August wind. Maybe you’ll stay in touch and marry four years down the road. Maybe you won’t really “date”, but in the future decide that if you’re in town and he’s in town you’ll hook up. There is more in heaven and earth than simple relationship categories. That said–savour the experience, do your best by yourself and him, and have a great time at college!
LW, I think you have a fabulous head on your shoulder re: the boy, and whatever decision you make, you will be fine! So I wanted to comment on this statement you made:
“I feel like college will be a great time to start over and kind of reinvent myself (I’m shy, somewhat introverted, anxiety prone, and awkward).”
I’m 24 whole years old (which feels absurdly young, but comes with a little bit of extra life experience) and I am shy, EXTREMELY introverted, anxiety prone, and awkward. I was this way in High School, and I stayed this way all through college, and I’m totally happy about that. Being introverted and awkward can be a brilliant way to be, if you embrace it and make it work for you.
For example, I went out clubbing and to frat parties a bunch of times in college, and I discovered that I didn’t really enjoy the getting drunk and inappropriate with strangers thing, but that I’d much rather get drunk and inappropriate with people whom I knew well and could trust. I made other geeky/ nerdy friends, and we stayed in and watched Dr. Who and made Talmud jokes a lot (Jewish Studies major ftw). I went to museums and shows by myself. And I had a fabulous college experience with tons of amazing friends, some dating, and some hilarious stories to tell, even though it was not a stereotypical experience a la Animal House.
My advice is not to feel like you have to force yourself into situations that make you feel uncomfortable or extra awkward just for the sake of “reinventing yourself.” Rather, when you are in a space that makes you feel comfortable, with people who are as awesome as you are, your natural amazingness will shine through and you will feel popular, and not awkward, and outgoing. And that might mean joining lots of different clubs or dumping your freshman year friends for a whole new set of friends sophomore year or dating a string of really odd dudes (all of which I did freshman year of college). Don’t be afraid to experiment and seek out new experiences, and don’t feel like your college life has to go any particular way. You are fabulous, and once you find your niche, you will brighten the life of everyone around you. You are going to have an amazing time.
Seconding all of this! I am an introvert. I have always been an introvert; I will always be an introvert; it is not a bad thing, it just describes what I find to be a rejuvenating experience. An extrovert friend of mine relaxes and re-charges by going out and being among strangers; I find that sort of thing to be enjoyable, but not when I’m already stressed out– to relax, I need to be among people I already know and trust, or just enjoying my own company with nobody else around to deal with. Nothing bad about it!
So, yeah, I am less team “re-invent yourself” as I am team “find your people, and enjoy the heck out of them!” Happily, college is a really easy time to find your people– you may have the same major, or be in the same classes, or the same activities. (Adulthood does not, although it should, have a thing where you have to sign up for new group activities that you find interesting, and thus meet people that you have things in common with. College is better that way.) So go do things and be awesome!
And re: your guy: congrats! Enjoy what you have while you have it, and the future will be what the future will be. You will figure it out. It will be okay, whatever it is, as long as you have a group of Your People around to help.
Nothing to add advice-wise. But can I say that this was a very sweet letter, and brought back nice memories of being young to an old geezer?
Enjoy your summer, LW. I have one to look back on, and no, for us it didn’t last (and I didn’t really think it would), but I also wouldn’t trade it for anything ever.
Also, it’s good practice for staying in the now and enjoying the good in your life Right Now As It Is Happening without future-wandering to ruin it.
Maybe I’ve been watching too much Doctor Who, but between the big hair and the blonde and the beach in the first picture, did anyone else see Bad Wolf Bay at first glance? Just me? Cool.
LW, like everyone else has said, sometimes relationships with well-defined endpoints or other seemingly prohibitive boundaries are really fun. Enjoy this summer for what it is, and go kick ass at college. 🙂
I don’t have much to add, but the paragraph about birth control really bothered me. Commander Logic, I really disagree with the implication that being on the pill is a) important and b) enough.
I mean, sure, if being on the pill is something the LW wantw and works for her and all that jazz, great, do that. But if not, that’s also totally fine and there are many non-pill ways to not get pregnant. AND. The pill is not enough. SO not enough. It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. REGARDLESS of whether or not you’re using hormonal birth control, if you’re having sex, especially early in a relationship, condoms are super important. They shouldn’t be an afterthought.
“…you’re on birth control right? Yeah, I know, you barely see him, you only just kissed, he’s housebound for some reason, etc. But if you are not birth controlling right now, or you’re holding out for those sweet, sweet confidential campus health services (which would be very responsible of you, btw), buy some condoms, grab a back up pack of Plan B if you can afford it (better to have it on hand than to explain why you need to run to the drugstore RIGHT NOW to your mom), pack it all away (in an away-from-home safe spot if necessary), and just have that contingency covered and off your mind. Cool? And if you are on BC (woot!), a backup is a good idea anyway.
Because sex is a possibility here – though not a requirement – I think you and I can agree that a fetus-shaped wrench in the works is bad news. Condoms and Plan B do not mean you HAVE to have sex, they mean you are prepared if you decide to.
Jake, I’m looking for the part where Commander Logic did not advocate condoms and advocated being on specifically one form of birth control over another – she just said “on BC, specific method not specified” and specifically advocated purchasing condoms Plan B as a for-emergencies backup regardless of method.
Message being: “Don’t get knocked up on your way off to college” and “plan ahead for contingencies.”
Logic did not specifically mention STD risks and yeah, since so many states are run by religious fucktards we can’t assume what people do and do not know, but no need to get shirty with the Commander like she explained birth control wrong or had an obligation to be a comprehensive resource on the subject or not mention it at all.
Thanks for this perspective. We talk about the gendered aspects of this a lot on the blog, and recently covered it here (there’s been sort of a carnival of stalker posts lately), so it’s being more taken for granted that this kind of thing IS mostly gendered rather than the opposite, in my opinion.
I didn’t mean to imply that CL didn’t advocate condoms, I only said that she implied that hormonal BC was important and sufficient. After re-reading the paragraph you quoted, I still think she did. Referring to condoms as “a backup” for someone on hormonal birth control does treat them as an afterthought, because they aren’t a backup method of not getting an STI, they’re your only line of defense.
Also, I wasn’t trying to scold her for not talking about STIs, I was just trying to add that information, because I thought it was important and because there seems to be a lot of emphasis on hormonal bc over condoms, not just from CL but in Anglo North American society in general. I feel strongly that, since pregnancy may be curable (depending on where you live), while HIV is not, and since condoms protect against both, giving young people the impression that hormonal birth control is good enough for safer sex is a bad habit that we need to break our society of.
I apologize if this is too soapboxy (and in fact I put a soapbox closing tag at the end of my last post so people would know that I realized I was doing that, but the blog ate it). I work in an HIV research lab where, among other things, people study the social norms that cause people to engage in higher HIV-risk behaviour (like not using condoms), so it’s kind of a hot topic for me.
I also wanted to add that, IME, when people say “on birth control” they basically always mean hormonal birth control, and not condoms, but it’s possible that that phrase is used differently where you live.
I’m on birth control. It’s a piece of plastic with a magic piece of copper wrapped around it.
You’re adding important info to the thread and it’s fucking hot in Chicago, so sorry if we’re agreeing more than we are disagreeing but in a mutually irritating way. Good soapbox.
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