Have you decided where you will live after the Peace Corps?

Just watched the movie with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long about long-distance dating….wanted to share some thoughts.

It seems to me their biggest problem was the uncertainty of when they would be together, which is not really an issue of a Peace Corps LDR.  That said, the element of where to live, was a hot issue in the film, which is also a point after Peace Corp is over and you can be in the same place more easily but still have to worry about a job (especially for a returning PCV) where it might be a bit of a challenge (especially in today’s economy).

There was a point while my boyfriend was in Kenya where I did need to know what was going on in his head about where he wanted to live after since we had never explicitly discussed what would happen.  I can’t remember exactly what it was that prompted me, but it was on my third visit to Kenya, and I noticed that there were certain times when referring to the future that instead of using the word “we” he would use the word “I” which honestly made me a tad nervous. I was still fairly confident that the future held a life that would include “us” not just him, but I decided to clarify one night. So I brought up “the after” time and what that meant for us….did he envision going to work in another country or another state if the opportunity was a good one career-wise or was he planning to be where I was living regardless. Again, even though I thought I knew the answer, I needed to absolutely be sure, because I didn’t want a surprise after the two years to hit me with him in yet another country and a continuation of a long-distance relationship, that I could not do, two years was my limit.  Same for the idea of him extending his service to three years, which I also brought up as a concern early on, and even though I don’t think he eliminated that idea from the get go, I think as our relationship progressed and time passed in his service, he knew the best thing for him and us was only  serving out the two years.

So back to where we would live after his service.  My career is very specific to geography, and I knew for me that the two places I could happily live and pursue my passion were Los Angeles and New York. So for him to find a job, I gave him those two areas as an option for looking for a job. Luckily he found something in the field he wanted close by, so we didn’t have to make any real tough decisions, but at one point when it was looking kind of difficult to really secure a position in one of those areas, we started the conversation of potentially living an hour away from each other by plane which neither of us was super thrilled about.  Our goal was to live in the same city, and until we had exhausted that potential, we really didn’t want t think or talk too much about different cities.

I would definitely recommend that the conversation of where you will live is discussed maybe 2/3 of the way through your PCV’s service–it will help both of your expectations and help them target jobs in the areas that they will be seeking.

A Peace Corps LDR That’s Not Working Out

I received this really heartfelt entry from someone, and since she asked for advice, I wanted to share it with all of you:

I have read your blog, and i have actually copied and pasted some of  your stuff to my boyfriend who is now been in the peace corps for 3  months! hes in Georgia! we have been dating for 8 years.. and I thought  if any couple could make it, it would be us.. but a month ago things  were not the same, and to put it all out there, he said we couldn’t be  together while he was in georgia! this was over skype. I had no idea  where all this was coming from!! months before he left, we talked about  how things would be ok, and the night before he left, he left two  beautiful letters, and I knew things would be fine.. I don’t know what  happend. I’m 22 and hes 25.. we have been in each others lives, since I  was 14. I’m still in shock and very hurt, I knew the distance would be  hard, but I was planning on visiting as much as possible. I have talked  to friends, and they said, maybe he wants to find himself, figure things  out on his own. I have stopped emailing him and giving it time.. I’m  just lost and hurt. I still believe things will be fine when he comes  home (july 2013). We have eight years together, and strong promises of  marriage was made. I believe in love, and the power it has, and I wont  give up on us! but am I a fool to wait around for two years? what if he  does not want us back… a good part of my life has been with him, and i’m  scared to go on without him.
We have been living together for a long time, most of his stuff is still  at my place.. we have a dog together, we used to be a family.
My friends and family say, its now time to focus on me and finishing  college, but its hard.. I miss my best friend. But he knows what he has  back home, someone who loves him! I know he knows that. I guess if hes  looking for that, he will come back to me.. I hope
Some advice would be great.
Thanks so much!!

-confused girl

Dear Confused Girl,

Thank you so much for writing.  I am going to have to wing some of the advice to you, because our situation was a bit different than yours.  We were older, and had been together for less time than you and your boyfriend.

I think a lot of people use the Peace Corps to “find themselves” and sometimes in order to do that people need to leave behind the ones they love. Since you have been together since such a young age, perhaps he really does need/want to figure out who he is without you. I know it is super tough to be without the one you love, especially after being together for such a long time, but I think you should also really take this opportunity to figure out who you are without him. 

Don’t wait for him or put your life on hold. The best thing you can do is live your life, as you want. If in two years he returns and you get back together, great, but don’t live the next two years with that as the goal, or else you will be waiting, not living which will not be particularly interesting for you or him.  He is having his own adventure, I would suggest you do the same. Take up an activity that maybe you always wanted to try, but never found the time to pursue-do new things, and keep yourself busy.

I’m sure you’ve heard this from friends/family, and I hesitate to say this because I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but as someone who did find love at a young age, and didn’t know if I would really truly find it again (and happily I have)–know that there are other people out there, that you can find love again, and you have plenty of time to have adventures and find someone who will be the match you ultimately need. Enjoy your life, and let him go, it will be tough and a true struggle some days, but please just live your life for you, not for him, and ultimately I promise you will find the partner you need.