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Monday, February 2, 2015

Long Distance Relationships

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a 19 (almost 20!) year old woman about to graduate from college, and have been accepted to start a paid doctoral program this fall.

My education is something that I have worked very hard for, and is extremely important to me.

I started seeing this guy back in November.

I'll be honest, I didn't intend for it to happen.

I fully anticipated (there's not a large number of YSAs where I live) and even wanted to graduate without dating anyone seriously, because even back then I knew I would most likely be leaving the state come summer.

However, I started talking and "hanging out" with this guy, and before you know it, we've now been dating exclusively for a little over 3 months.

This guy and I have a lot in common: we're both very much intellectuals, we have the same sense of humor, we both enjoy gospel related discussions and overall, like many of the same activities (especially when we're doing them together).

I love spending time with him, and it's not uncommon for us to see each other 5 (or more...) nights out of a week.

Recently, he introduced me to his family (we went back to his parents house for a long weekend), and he has already met my sister and her family who live close by.

I'm starting to get a bit leery of becoming too attached to him. I'm leaving for a school that is 10 hours away at the end of June, and I will be living there for the next 4-5 years.

He still has a year left of law school in the state that we both currently live in.

Is a long distance relationship something that I should even think about pursuing?


- Long Distance Academic 

Dear Academic,

A Long Term Relationship is what you're supposed to be pursuing ... regardless of the distance.

Long Term as in Eternal.

The question you need to be asking yourselves is: is this someone I can spend Time and All Eternity with?

If you both answer yes, if you want to have a family together, if you feel that you are satisfied with things like the answers to Bro Jo's Things You Should Know Before Go Get Engaged, then you need to be moving in that direction, and that means being in the same town as a husband and wife.

If you're not ready, if you want to put worldly things ahead of eternal things, if your not willing to make the compromises that marriage requires, then I think it's best that you both realize all of the above and move on.

Allow the other person to move on so they can find someone who feels for them what you do not.

Unless a commitment is already made (think married people where one has to be deployed for military service), then I think Long Distance Relationships lack maturity; selfishly hanging on is not good for either person.

Even for people who have made eternal covenants, separations like we're talking about can be quite difficult.

Your education is important, and so is his, but it's also a mistake to postpone marriage and family for school or worldly things.

There are ways to put Eternal things first, though they may require a lot of sacrifice and additional hard work.

And we can't discount the sadness felt by many who have let blessings pass them by because they were on their own timetable instead of the Lord's, only to discover later that those opportunities may not come around again in this life.

So you've both got a lot to consider and to pray about.

The only other counsel I can give you is that the difference between a prompting being from the Spirit and from ourselves is that when it's from the Spirit it benefits others, not just ourselves.

God bless, and let me know how it all works out, please.

- Bro Jo


Susan said...

Bro Jo,

Would your advice be any different if the boy were writing in?

Bro Jo said...

I don't think so.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

This is awesome! Perfect example where we can easily see the choice between putting marriage first or not. This sister is kind of lucky that she's in this situation. I hope she's able to work things out for the best and be happy.

Danielle said...

This isn't going to be the popular view, but I think that you should pursue your education, as should your boyfriend. I don't think 12 months is that long, it might be tough, but totally do-able. Especially if you feel that he is 'the one'. (not that I think there is just one for all of us.)

Once he has finished his schooling, he can move to where you are studying, he can get an internship and you can both get married.

Yes Education is a worldly thing to chase, but we are also told to educate ourselves. If your education is important to you, and it sounds like it is. There are ways to make it work.

This sounds like something you both need to have some serious discussion about, as well as some serious fasting and praying.

You don't want to give up your education to get married and have family, if you are going to regret not getting an education and then resenting him for 'making' you give up what you have dreamed of.

LDSNeurobioligist said...

I know I'm in a minority of LDS thought when I say this, but education isn't necessarily a worldly pursuit. If you're studying economics or business, or if you're studying purely for a job, then yes. But those in the sciences and arts are not pursuing a worldly thing. President Hugh B Brown, the greatest apostle ever, actually said the same thing years ago. He specifically said education is a vital and integral part of salvation. I wonder if our lack of focus on advanced education as a part of our church culture is why so many struggle with scientific topics like evolution, or why pseudoscientific woo like essential oils are so popular in the church.

I especially wouldn't agree that passing up a paid Ph.D is a good idea. the ability to earn a PhD without more debt would be something I would never recommend another person passing up.