Setting Something (or Someone) Free – Part II

I just received this comment in response to my last entry, and since it was so long and well written, I wanted to include it in the actual blog, so I could share it with all of you and also respond.  So here is the comment:

Love this blog – came across it recently and think it’s great! And, I have to agree with the heart of this response. I also think I can extend some additional pespective for anyone in a siutation like this since I am 6 weeks into my girlfriend being overseas in Guyana for her term. Some background is that we met only 2-3 months before her departure date. Neither of us were looking for love, at all, it found us and it was unmistakable. I don’t want to come across as arrogant but I do believe we are a part of the lucky few and are going to make it through this, whether or not she stays commited to her contract through the entire term or not. In fact, I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life because we have an amazing, balanced and, this is key – selfless relationship.

Here’s the thing, the more selfless and supportive you are towards someone you love the more suited you are to be together. Sure, every relationship is different and every one has different needs but I can tell you that my girlfriend finds ways to show me how much she loves me and it’s effortless and she gets the same from me. If, tomorrow, she decides to quit and come home will I rejoice and be the happiest guy on the earth? – Absoultely!..but at the same time I am already happy and get what I need because of the nature of our relationship and how confident I am that we are meant to be together. In many ways we were bred for this and are extremely lucky – but perhaps there are a few specific things I can share that will be of help in how we are managing this:

1. When she first got to Guyana she was pretty down but used that depression to look out for me and wrote me the most sincere note about how she wanted this to be the happiest 2 years of my life and how if she could take care of me every day she would but that I needed to take care of myself. She told me to be free, single but when I came to visit in July I would be far from a single man. She was not trying to release me so she could be free but so that I could be and it’s that sincerity that is at the heart of why i love her so much and still feel free even in my commitment to her. Within a week of writing this letter to me and me letting her know I would do what I could to be ‘free’ we both realized it was never going to happen in a sense that I would be single, hit on girls or what not. I just don’t have a need for that because she is all I need and she feels the same way about me. Did I offer her the same freedom – yep – and did she take it – definitely not and every time I hear from her she finds new ways to make me feel secure of her commitment to me.

2. Luckily, I have spent a good bit of time traveling and a year overseas as well, so I realize the commitment and also how beneficial an experience like that can be to a person. If you haven’t had a similar experience on your own to relate to just try and keep your focus that they do in fact need this, that you supporting them in whatever fashion makes sense for your relationship will reap rewards. don’t be needy, evolve as time goes by to fit your relationship and give them their space if they need it. if you are unsure if you are doing a good job, ask them. Nothing wrong with that.

3. She writes me every night – this has become her journal in a way. Sure, we email, skype and chat on occasion but the letters are much more intimate and important to me. It’s further reinforcement that she needs this experience but that I am the most important thing in her life and she wants to share it with me.

4. Plan trips and break it up with milestones. I’m going to see her for 2 weeks in July and then we will meet up again the first week of December and she has already commited to come here for a full month next year. I did not push her taking off a month of her vacay to come back to the states – this was her idea and i think that’s an important point to make.

5. if you don’t have the money to visit throughout these 2 years then I have pity for you and your relationship. I honestly don’t think it’s a good idea to try and stay together if you can’t visit – that will just be too much on any one person. Yes, I suppose it can be done but it will be incredibly hard.

6. No matter what, know that it’s going to be tough. Make sure you take care of yourself and don’t get away from what makes you you.

In closing, I realize it may sound like good advice but also premature for someone only 6 weeks into this, but I hope my confidence and advice is stll helpful. She has made it clear that even if things are going well that if I saw ‘when’ and need her to come back she won’t blink. It is for this reason and the others that I laid out that I want to keep going.

Good luck everyone!


Here is my response:

Dear Drew,

Love your enthusiasm and positive outlook.  Similarly to you and your girlfriend, my boyfriend and I had only been dating for a short amount of time before he left (about eight months).  Somehow, I think that increased the romantics in us, as the relationship itself was still on the newer/honeymoon phase.

For us, we didn’t even think about being an open relationship at all. We both felt like you are either committed or not, and we wanted to be committed to each other. So I think that is the right choice for you both also.  That said, I am aware of a couple that broke up before Peace Corps and upon her return they reunited.

Definitely agreed about finding ways to connect with each other, so incredibly important and will help you both know you are in it together.  I did the journal thing as well and even scanned/PDF’d some of my entries and emailed them to my boyfriend.  Was one of the things that helped keep me sane.

Visiting–totally agreed that you should visit as often as possible.  I went to Kenya four times through the course of our relationship. I had wanted it to be five, but I couldn’t squeeze it in with life and work.

In terms of a PCV returning for a month, I honestly think that period of time is incredibly optimistic.  Depending on what she does (business or teaching), it may be incredibly difficult to get the time off.   The funny thing with Peace Corps is even though you receive an incredible amount of vacation every year, it’s really tough to take it all, or even take it all at one time.  My boyfriend worked at a school, and even though they would at times have a winter or summer vacation (for a month), the longest actual time he would have off was maybe two weeks.  The other “free/vacation” time was filled with mandatory sporadic trainings and meetings.  I think the business group has more flexibility, but I still think it might be a stretch to be able to leave their site for a month.  Also, in our experience, the trainings were not always planned super in advance, so sometimes were hard to plan for–however, even when my trips overlapped with his work or training, it would only be for a few days and our nights were free.

I think planning trips in advance is a great idea, and it helped me to plan the next one as soon as I would return.  Gave us days to count down for, which was fun and helpful.  It may also help to read my entry summarizing my first three trips, so you can get an idea of what to expect.

Best of luck to you and your lady!