My boyfriend of eight months recently quit his job and bought a one-way ticket to South America. He’s always been honest about wanting to take this trip before he settles down (he’s 27). We’ve decided not to stay monogamous while he’s traveling and he says he can’t promise me anything upon his return. He leaves in three months. Should I stay with him and just enjoy the next three months or cut ties now before I end up getting really hurt?
He Said: While your specific situation is unique, this issue is a common one: Should I continue in a relationship that isn’t likely to go anywhere? In your case, it sounds like you two are both in your 20s, you really want to be with him, and since it’s only going to last three more months, I say go for it. The biggest downside for you is getting hurt worse in three months than you would now, but so what? Donde hay amor hay dolor. There’s nothing quite like the experience of an epic heartbreak—waking up every morning feeling like someone has replaced your guts with a smoldering black crater. But this pain fades over time and eventually you feel strong enough to open your heart again and go on to fall in love with someone else. It’s a terrible and fantastic part of being alive and to avoid a lover who sounds honest and adventurous just because you are afraid of pain is a waste. Have a great romance for the next three months and when he leaves, wish him well, grieve, and move on.
She Said: If you were 35 with a loudly ticking biological clock, my answer would be different, but given your age, I agree with what He Said. Ride it out. What have you got to lose? I’m intoning from your letter that you’re already in love with the guy, and it’s going to hurt either way. Does the end of an 11-month relationship hurt more than the end of an eight-month one? Is the extra hurt worth the extra three months? I don’t think anyone can dependably perform that math, though lovers have been trying for ages. You’re attempting to make this decision with your head, but that’s like trying to drive a nail with a screwdriver. Use your heart instead. Stick around for now, and if it gets too painful anticipating his departure, you can always leave then. The situation will evolve naturally and you’ll simply “know” when it’s time to leave. Meanwhile, play your part in this scenario with gusto—it’s a chance to see what love feels like with no future guarantees. (Hint: The sex is about to get super-hot.)
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