I’ve been a relationship with my girlfriend for 2.5 years. We met 3 years ago during while I was living in Germany (though a train ride away, which was basically long distance for months at a time due to restrictions), but then I moved back to my home country to finish my studies. After 2 years we decided long distance was too much and I have moved back to Germany to do more study so we can be together.
She’s wonderful and has been really attentive to helping me settle in. However, now the dust has settled I feel like she barely has time to see me and is often too tired from all her commitments to do anything other than chill when we do see each other.
We don’t live together and our schedules are quite mismashed. I have a lot of independent study time and she has lots of meetings and classes plus a job. I’ve always loved that she is an ambitious person but now I am (maybe hypocritically) feeling that she does not really want to prioritise our relationship or adjust anything that she was doing when we lived in different countries to make time.
I know part of the issue is that I am adjusting to a new country and language and that I will feel better once I’ve made friends. However this all takes time and is difficult in a culture that is more reserved than I’m used to and where I’m not a native speaker.
What should I do? I don’t want to stop her living her life or make my loneliness her problem, but I hate having to schedule two hour time slots to see her in the weekday and having to rush when we have evenings together. She’s been really emotionally supportive and has taken on a lot of admin and stress about me moving here and being happy (much more than I realised before I arrived) and I know she cares about our relationship, but she’s also just never free!
I think this is absolutely a conversation you can have with your girlfriend. You’ve been together 2.5 years, and I think it’s reasonable that you want to spend more time together. If you mutually decided long distance was too hard (which is what it sounds like), then I think you can also mutually work toward an arrangement that suits both of your needs.
This doesn’t have to look like you asking her to stop living her life. But I do think that when a long distance partner moves to be closer to another partner — especially given that that’s what both people wanted — then sometimes the partner who did not have to move does have to be open a bit to change and to figuring out how to make space for that person. You shouldn’t be the only person adapting right now. You’ve made a major life change by moving, and while I’m not saying your girlfriend needs to completely change her life or give up parts of herself on your behalf, there does need to be a sense of compromise and an acknowledgement that this is a major transition for both of you. It’s great that she’s providing a lot of emotional support and is generally helping you with your adjustment period. But if you have additional needs like wanting to spend more time together, I think it’s fair to ask for that. In many ways, it makes it easier that it’s such a specific ask.
I don’t think needing to schedule specific time together is in and of itself a problem, but it sounds like it might not be working the way y’all are doing it right now. Does she cancel or cut short those scheduled times? If so, it’s worth emphasizing that you only want to commit to scheduled time if you know it’s going to be honored in full (barring any genuinely unpredictable situations, of course, there should always be a bit of leeway because life is chaotic, especially for someone who’s balancing classes and a job). Is the time you spend together intentional and intimate? If you need to ask for things like her not being on her phone or other stipulations that might make her feel more fully present, those are also worth bringing up.
In a lot of ways, I can relate to your girlfriend. I’m often exhausted by my various commitments in life, and it can make it hard to have fun with my fiancee. Instituting regular date nights helps, especially when we can share the responsibility of planning said date nights or take turns. Something that is true for me that I’m sure is true of your girlfriend — especially, again, if she also wanted you to move closer — is that I genuinely want to spend as much time as possible with my partner. Being busy isn’t being avoidant for me. I just sometimes go down the rabbit hole of my own work. It’s a balance I struggle with sometimes, and I think one thing I’ve really realized helps is maintaining an openness to shifting and adapting as needed. There are times when it’s easier to set weekly date nights, and there are times when it’s harder, so during those times when I can’t make weekly date nights happen, what else can we do to spend meaningful time together? Breakfasts together? Walks? Something else?
It’s great that you’re supportive, but I don’t think you have to see your own needs and your desire for more time with her as working against her ambitions. There are always ways to compromise, always ways to try new things. You’ve had to make a lot of adjustments to your life (a new country and a new language are HUGE), so I think it’s okay to ask her to make some, too, especially if it’s all in service of overall relationship health. It might take a while to figure out exactly how to make it all work, but so long as you’re both working toward the goal of more quality time together, you’ll get there.
It is not hypocritical to ask her to prioritize the relationship and also do things differently than when you were long distance. Even though you’re not living together, moving to be closer to her represents a new phase of the relationship, and both parties should be feeling that. Long distance is hard, but there are also some benefits to long distance in the sense that it’s “easier” to be super present and attentive when you’re together because those moments are so rare. I’m not saying she’s taking you for granted, but I do think it could be beneficial for you both if you initiate a conversation about what you want from this relationship and why you moved closer. The person who moved shouldn’t be the only person experiencing change. I hope you both can be open to talking about this and figuring out solutions that feel good for both of you.
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.