DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: After a few years of non-dating, I (F, mid-30s from Denmark) bumped into this awesome British guy (M, mid-30s) and we just hit it off. It was one of those meetings that lasted 6-7 hours. We shared laughter, life stories, bad jokes, what we do for living (without overdoing it), shared pictures of family members (without going into details) and friends… it seemed effortless as if it was a marathon of several dates in the same time. He was even very honest about a job interview that he was invited to, a job located in London. At the end of the date, he told me that he would get in touch with me after his job interview to set up a new date if I was interested. I thought,”why not?” Nothing was settled in terms of job. And so he did. A week later, he came over for dinner and second date was just as fun and enjoyable. He mentioned about how the interview went, but I found it difficult to have the conversation. Partly because I don’t know him well enough to have an opinion, but of course I want to be supportive. London is fab. I use to live and work in London, so I totally understand him. But a part of me also felt bummed out about the whole situation. How far should we take this when he was leaving.
After the second date, he texted me that he got the job in London. I was happy for him and stayed cool. It was a bittersweet announcement. After a while, I thought why not just be an adult and I told him how I felt about the situation – we had an honest conversation, even though it was on a early stage to have that kind of serious talk. I wouldn’t have initiated it if he was staying, but he was not. That kind of made the decision for him not to get too engaged in that short of time that was left. But if he was staying, it would have been different. He was very emotional about it. So I told him that there was no pressure. If he wanted to see me fantastic, if he wanted to texted me after settling in London, he should feel free to do so. And if not, then I wished him the best of luck and that life would treat him well. I got an unexpectedly positive response to it. I quote “Thank you for your support and honesty. It’s a good quality in someone. I find it so sweet and mature of you. That is why I think you’re good egg. And it is a breath of fresh air” (followed by 3 emojis with heart eyes)
I saw him today just for a short moment. I tried to be neutral and smiley but avoided eye contact. I could see it was difficult for him as well. It was painful to see the sadness in his eyes because it should be an exciting time for him. He asked if we could catch up before him leaving permanently so he could say goodbye properly.
I don’t know what to feel – it has been a rollercoaster of mixed feelings; hope, happiness, sadness, anxiety, stress and that is just me … and I keep telling myself that I should not feel like this way. I understand that he cannot deal with any emotionally attachments when he has lots of things going on (the fact that he is in between two jobs, arrange a safe transaction from one country to another during pandemic, etc.) I want to be priority too, and that will be difficult when he is busy and stressed about moving abroad, the flights are running irregularly, test and isolation, finding a place to stay, etc.
But the selfish part of me wants more at some point. Is it possible? Yes, if both people are dedicated and that they have known each other for a while. I visit London often, both for work and pleasure. And it is even quicker and easier for me to travel to London than crossing Denmark. But we don’t know each other that well…
I don’t want to seem needy, or annoy the guy who is emotional at the moment even though he asked me to come visit, twice (it’s difficult to tell if the British mean this or just being polite). He has spend most of his adult life in DK, now he is going back home to built a new life and identity. Being supportive by giving space and stay incommunicado.
Everything about him seems honest and decent. He keeps promises, and you can tell a lot about a person over texting (full sentences, long messages with emojis, being honest about his feelings, sharing great news like a new job) He said the same to me and wondered why we haven’t met earlier though we live quite close based on the good vibe and chemistry we had.
I don’t know if it’s just because I haven’t been dating in a long time, or I get attached to quickly, have I misunderstood something because it is too good to be true… but I would love someone from the outside to give a qualified opinion.
We both want to settle (yeah, before he was offered a job). He has been married before and he’d gotten divorced three years ago. Currently we live in Copenhagen, not too far away from each other. He has less than a month left in DK. He had been in a long distance relationship with someone in London. But it didn’t work out due to Covid. So he has had his share of bad relationships too. Honestly I don’t care about demography and geography if you share the same values and mindset.
International Love Affair
DEAR INTERNATIONAL LOVE AFFAIR: there’re a couple different implied questions here, ILA. Let’s start with the sudden intensity of this connection: is this a good thing, or something to be worried about?
The answer is… both, really. Helpful, I know, but stick with me here. The initial strength of your connection isn’t really an indication of much, good or bad; it just means that you and your snugglebunny have strong initial chemistry. On the one hand, that makes things really exciting and feels amazing. You’re both really drawn to one another, you find their presence intoxicating (literally — that New Relationship Energy is all about the sudden dump of oxytocin and dopamine to the brain) and you want to spend more time together. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s fun, you frequently end up having a lot of great sex and hopefully equally great conversations and time spent together. At the same time however, it’s really easy to mistake the initial rush for the strength of the connection or your long-term compatibility. While you two may have more heat than Texas in August, you don’t know anything about each other, certainly nothing substantive. Yeah, you had that great all-day date where you talked about everything and anything, but that’s still very much all surface. You and he are both on your best, most polished behavior, showing only your best selves to each other. Plus, again, you’re both quite literally getting high from each other, which means you’re both in the stage where everything is cute and adorable, from the way you chew your food to the way his nose whistles when he breathes.
But this period always fades, because humans are great at adapting to anything. No matter how amazing or hot the first six months to a year may be, the NRE always starts to ebb, our brains don’t make as much dopamine and oxytocin as they did at first, and we all discover that NRE can cover up a LOT of sins. The things we thought were adorable and endearing at the start can quickly become the thing that makes us grind our teeth into powder once we’re no longer f--kdrunk. But that’s also where the deeper, more meaningful connections become a big part of what keep a relationship together… and the lack thereof can drive things apart.
So my overall philosophy when it comes to intense attraction early on is: enjoy the hell out of it. Bang out on any flat surface that’ll support your weight, have lots of great conversations and amazing day-long dates. But at the same time, do your best to keep a level head and a sense of perspective so that you don’t end up overinvesting in a relationship before you know whether that’s a relationship worth investing in for the long-term. Maybe it will be, maybe it won’t be. However, resisting the temptation to go all-in before you really know each other means that you don’t end up with an ending that’s as passionate and dramatic as the beginning… and not in a fun way.
Which leads to the other question: where do the two of you go from here? Well, that part gets tricky. The fact that he’s about to move to a new country, which means that you can either accept that this is a relationship with a definitive end date, or you can give a long-distance relationship a shot. Both have their pros and cons. I think that we as a culture tend to overvalue long-term relationships, to the point that we tend to think that relationships that don’t last for years or decades are less valuable or desirable than others — often to the point that we tend to think that a relationship that doesn’t end with one or both partners dying in the saddle as a failure. I think that short term relationships, even relationships that only last a few months, can be rewarding, enriching and worth having; the fact that it didn’t last a lifetime doesn’t make worth less. But they can also be hard to accept and the ending can be rough, even when you know it’s coming.
Long distance relationships, on the other hand, are dating on hard mode under the best of circumstances. Long distance relationships where you’re in separate countries add another level of difficulty on top of that. LDRs are the most successful when its possible for the couples to see each other as often as possible, and when there’s an end date to the “distance” aspect. And to be fair: international long-distance relationships in Europe mean that you don’t face the same difficulties you might face if one of you lived in, say, the US or Canada.
But right now, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and your erstwhile beau is about to move to a country that seems determined to challenge the Trump administration for the title of Most F--ked Up Response to COVID. That alone makes it much harder to not just travel to see each other, but also to do much of anything, safely, if and when you do.
They’re also in the middle of dealing with the totally-foreseeable consequences of Brexit, causing any number of SNAFUs for European citizens in the UK, UK citizens living abroad and of course, the people who love them. That means that your LDR may well have unlocked Nightmare Mode; the challenges of international travel and the upheaval from Brexit make it that much harder to see each other in person.
Now does that mean that you should accept this as being a short-term relationship with a definitive end-date and/or a near-miss, confounded by fate instead of trying to do the LDR thing? Not necessarily. It ultimately comes down to how much bulls--t and inconvenience you’re both willing to put up with for this relationship. And it will likely be a LOT of bulls--t. But you and he are the only ones who can decide for yourselves whether that’s something you’re willing to try to endure for the sake of this (again, VERY NEW) connection that you have.
There is, of course, a third option: you split the difference. Enjoy yourselves while he’s still in country, then let him go when it’s time to move to London — accepting that you and he have no expectations of one another after he moves. Then, after he’s had time to get settled, go visit. See how it goes, both in terms of travel and entering the country but also the time you spend together. Give that a couple of tries over the course of a few months and see where you both are. If the connection is still strong — strong enough to make dealing with the inconveniences of an LDR during the time of COVID worth the hassle — then by all means, give the LDR a shot. If it’s not… well, at the very least, you and he can both take comfort in the knowledge that you gave it your all, rather than wondering about what might-have-been.
It’s just a question of weighing the benefits against the costs and deciding whether it’s worth it for the both of you to try.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org