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Carolyn Hax: Increased time with coworkers puts strain on long-distance love

DEAR CAROLYN: I have been in a relationship for six years. From the outset it was a long-distance situation, as she was often off on extended work-related projects, but we had a very strong connection when together.

In the past four months, she has become much more socially integrated, primarily through a current work situation. For the past six years she wasn’t very socially engaged and spent her spare time between projects with me.

Now she is going out sometimes multiple times a week with work-related comrades. She is much more social than I am and is clearly thriving on these interactions.

She feels she missed a lot when she was intensely focused on her work, and is making up for this, but also says this is just the way she is, and I will have to get used to it.

I love her deeply, but I am having a tremendously hard time coping with these many evenings she spends away from me. I don’t know if I can take this forever.

Lonely and Worried

DEAR LONELY: I feel for you. Apparently you fell for a woman who was living outside her natural habitat. What you took as normal for her was not only an aberration, but also a hardship for her. It appears neither of you is at fault; it’s just an accident of circumstances.

But what you do now is all about choice. You can choose to recognize her as a social creature, or you can choose to resist that side of her, wishing her back into social-abnegation mode.

And you can choose to talk openly about whether either of you can “take this forever.” By “this” I mean your expectations of each other. Can you both reset them to reflect reality? Can she love and accept you knowing you wish she’d just stay home? Please tamp down your panic and ask.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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