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From what you have said I do believe he is doing this "ghosting" with your best interest at heart. The dates planning and check up is his way of showing you he is still there in the background thinking of you for reassurance.
I agree with your point " I'm not too sure how he thinks this relationship will survive as we get older if he's afraid that he'll distract me now?", through your life together you will have to overcome various stressful circumstances as a partnership. I think the difference here is that a degree is individual, this degree is yours and only you can determine the outcome and I would guess he is aware of that and doesn't want to risk ruining it. I am sure when you both experience joint challenges such as buying a house, family problems you will fight it as a union not individuals.
However, if him "ghosting" is distracting you more than if he was being normal, have that conversation with him as that is just as valid as what he thinks is right.
Goodluck, on your final year!!