There are no hard and fast rules in dating. There really aren't. Unfortunately, this maxim—that there exists a One Way to Do Things, possibly scribed by that shithead "expert" Justin Long played in He's Just Not That Into You—totally pervades popular culture. Films tell guys that you have to find a girl, then lose her, then win her back in some sort of unexpected way. They tell girls that they're an enormous failure if they don't have a husband and kid by age 32. This all sets up an environment in which both parties are essentially supposed to act out a love story while still young and good-looking; otherwise, they wind up becoming the weirdo uncles and aunts who make drunken asses of themselves during future wedding receptions. (Actually, let it be known here: The drunk wedding aunt and uncle is never an unwelcome weirdo. Keep 'em coming. I want several heckling me one day.)
Right now, across the country, literally thousands of recent grads are grappling with the decision to keep dating an SO who they've left behind in school. I've noticed this is kind of the unspoken, yet remarkably common, thing that happens right after you get home and go through the customary Get Drunk with Your High School Friends on a Tuesday Night ritual. It's easy to see how it happens: Most people are tired of the hookup game by senior year, they look to shack up, and they find that much of their class is off-limits for various reasons. (You're friends with (A) group of girls, you won't ever actually introduce yourself to (B) girl who you exchanged awkward eye contact with over four straight pre-med lectures, (C) sorority has issued a fatwa on you. Etc.) So, you go young and start dating a junior. And it leads to this spot.
The movies, here, would say that it's important for a challenge to rise up and threaten the relationship. It can't all be easy, they say, but in the end, you'll be the better for it. Plus, you really like this girl. You can't just leave someone when you see the possibility of it working out over the long haul.
The reality is that dating is a fluid situation. That you can't play it like the movies. That you've got to play it like a young Reynaldo Ordóñez, ready to field the problematic grounder up the middle or the one that needs the backhand.
In other words, you need to end it.
It's an uncomfortable truth that circumstances dictate relationships just as much, if not more, than actual mutual feelings. In college, you easily may have found The Girl who you conceivably could one day marry. But, for the love of God, you shouldn't feel obligated to stay with her.
The first year after college is one of the most formative of your life. You move to a new city. You make new friends. You start a job. You experience things that are vastly different—both good, a career! and bad, bills!—from what's happening in college, and you won't be able to even feign interest anymore in how the social chair backstabbed the other committees last week during rush. Trying to relate will be impossible. And if you take a job to stay in town while she wraps up—woah, boy. Good luck. You might end up hating her when you're working at a job you hate, OR, you can be the friend of mine who stayed behind to be with a girlfriend, then watched her take a spot in New York and leave him behind.
Most importantly, you're dumb. I'm dumb. (It's okay—we can admit this.) We're males with too much testosterone and not enough life experiences, and, in the years after school, we're still going to act stupidly and gamble money and get aggressively drunk with our friends while, generally, making poor decisions. (We just haven't accumulated enough facts and information to make good calls all the time. No, really, there's actually a scientific and neurological basis for this.) Is this fertile ground to have a mature, long-distance relationship? No.
If you're just out of college, be totally present in your first year out of college. Living one foot in and one foot out is no way to go.
And screw the movies. Sometimes a threat to the relationship is a reason to end it.