Dear Dr. Ovlowska,
I am studying in Poland for a year starting in September, and have left my sweetheart back home in Canada. Since he’s so far away, I know that it’s unrealistic to think that our relationship won’t suffer over the time and distance. However, I do plan on being with him once I get back, and I do see us being married one day. My question is this: should I insist that we remain faithful to each other during this time, or can we agree to see other people as long as we’re honest with each other and know that in a year, we will be together again?
A Lost Student
Dear Lost Student,
1. Communication is the key to success in love.
2. Open relationships rarely work.
In other words, you have to have a Good Conversation with your boyfriend. Does he know you are worried your relationship will suffer? Does he know you see the two of you married one day? What are his views on fidelity?
He might surprise you, tell you the most wonderful things and put your mind at ease immediately. But how about you? How do you feel about “seeing other people”… honestly?
Don’t waste an entire year of your life not knowing the answers to these questions. Good conversation will deepen your relationship and both of you will grow. Indeed, the separation might just turn out to be a blessing rather than a trial. A lot will depend on how you think about it.
Of course, we are all made of flesh and blood and our sex drive is as healthy and necessary as our need for food and water. Yet modern communication tools do offer a lot of options and a one-year abstinence is not going to kill either of you. Be creative. Write about your wildest fantasies; explore each others’ likes and dislikes.
And what about low air-fare tickets for a visit or two? Use the famous “salami tactic” and slice your separation into shorter, manageable periods. It may be tough resisting seduction by the many dashing, romantic Polish chaps hanging around the Jagiellonian University, but if you and your boyfriend decide to look at this year of celibacy not as a sacrifice, but as a very special gift you want to give each other, it might just turn out to provide the most beautiful backdrop for a long, happy life together.
If you both want it to be like that, I am sure you can do it. I wish you luck, I wish you faith and I wish you trust in life.