Ask Amy: Twentysomething struggles with work-life balance
Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I are in our early 20s. We have been in a long-distance relationship for 18 months.
He is my first major love and relationship. Now our current (yet tentative) plan is to move in together after my Ph.D. is done and his business settles. He is very supportive and I'm happy being with him. However, I'm not sure if I'm ready.
I've lost myself as I put so much energy, time and effort to our relationship, instead of investing in myself. I became emotional and I'm not as productive or disciplined as I was. I don't know how to balance myself, as this is my first relationship. I'm not sure if a relationship is good for me or I'm ready to be in one. I want to focus and invest in myself without his influence because I'm scared of losing myself even more.
My boyfriend wants to be supportive, but we are both so clueless. Should we break up, or find a balance?
Is there a way to be in a relationship and still be your most productive/career-driven self in your 20s?
Dear Unsure: Regardless of the plans you two have made, you should dial in to that feeling in your gut. Your early-20s is a time of emotional development and exploration, and in that sense, your concern about this demonstrates that you are right on track.
The ideal -- for you, for your guy, and for everyone -- is to find a healthy balance, in your life and relationships. It is not unusual to feel like you've "lost" yourself when you first fall in love. It's called "falling" for a reason. That sensation of tumbling through space is thrilling, but it is frightening, too. And yes, obsessively feeding one relationship will curtail your own personal and career progress. Remember, the primary relationship in your life will always be the one you have with yourself.
You should choose to live wherever your Ph.D. takes you, in order to build a career in your field, and no -- given how you are feeling, you should not cohabit until you are absolutely certain.
If you move to his city, renting a room in a group house (instead of cohabiting) might be a good idea for you.