Are you holding back your boyfriend or girlfriend from experiencing Peace Corps?

So here’s  a great question, from someone who is having doubts about whether they are holding back their partner from experiencing Peace Corps:

I just want you to know I’ve been referring to your entries since my boyfriend left for the Peace Corps in February of this year. We’ve made it this far, and I’m going to see him in less than two weeks! Our communication has been great, and we’ve really put one another first. That said, I finally cracked this week. It was the first time I felt that our relationship might be on rocky ground and the future seems more uncertain, though we plan on moving in together afterward. I think a lot of it is my guilt that I may be holding him back from really experiencing Peace Corps. Anyway, I guess I’m asking advice on how to prepare for the first trip to see him (it’s for 8 weeks!). I think the reason I cracked is mostly because of nerves… but nevertheless, he agreed.

Wow, so this is quite the distance! You have now made it 10 months without seeing him, and are now going to spend two full months with him, but think you are holding him back from experiencing Peace Corps….hmmm.

So here are the questions that immediately popped into my mind:

  • Are you holding him back from experiencing Peace Corps completely? No.
  • Are you holding each other back from dating other people? Yes.
  • If you think that dating people while in Peace Corps is integral to the Peace Corps experience, then, yes he is not getting that experience.
  • Is he experiencing something, different than others? Maybe.
    (But if he wasn’t dating you, wouldn’t he have a touchstone at home maybe he would rely on more instead?)
  • Are you actually the one feeling restless?
  • Are you the one feeling trapped by having to stay faithful to someone so far away?

All of these questions aside, 10 months is an incredibly long time to be away from each other, especially at the beginning, and of course you are experiencing doubts. Especially with such a huge trip in front of you, two months of seeing each other without being familiar with his location or where you stand really in your relationship would be totally overwhelming. The longest we went without seeing each other was seven months, and that was really rough for me emotionally at times. My longest trip out there was probably about three weeks.

Here are my recommendations, start by just breathing. You have gone a long time without seeing each other, so the best thing to expect about this trip is nothing. This is your time to reconnect in person. Your time to see if you are the people you remember, are attracted to each other, still make each other laugh and if you feel good around each other. My guess will be that yes, all the old feelings will come back and once you are there again, you will fit right back together.

My biggest concern for you honestly is that two months together might be somewhat overwhelming, especially in a new environment. I would make sure that you have researched some nice places for weekend getaways. This is really important, might sound kind of indulgent but trust me, necessary. Find a couple resort type places where you can just get away and relax, have access to clean water (or even water at all), good food, and a comfortable place to relax. I would say that on our end we spent about half the time at his location, and the other half either traveling or at resorts. We even ended up spending a couple nights in town just to have access to showers. Bucket baths might be more romantic than they actually sound, and if you are going anywhere with a lot of hot weather, trust me, you will want regular showers, and a clean place to sleep. If you are going to be there for that long, you might also consider renting a furnished place with more conveniences than your boyfriend currently has in his site. Again, it might seem like a splurge, but really it will help you transition between the two worlds and give you a nice place to reconnect.

Again, have no expectations about this trip, just let it unfold, and if you begin to feel anxious about anything before, during or at the end of the trip, that is totally normal–it is a completely new experience, in a new environment with a lot of pressure. Forgive yourself for high emotions and him, and try to stay calm and enjoy your experiences and time together.


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