I Have to Choose: My Boyfriend or My Career

I Have to Choose: My Boyfriend or My CareerEvan,

First, thanks for the advice you provide on this blog. I read it religiously, and it always gives me a lot to consider in my own relationship. My boyfriend and I have been together for five months, and are both in our late 20s. We’re a good match. I’m happier than I can ever remember being. We’ve met all of the usual checkpoints for a new relationship – we established exclusivity within the first month, have met each other’s parents (in fact, he’s meeting my family this weekend), and freely and sincerely express our love to one another. We talk about a future together. I believe this relationship could have a real future. My boyfriend is kind, loving, and devoted to me, and I see myself loving him more each day.

However, an issue has emerged. Over a year before my boyfriend and I began dating, I initiated a job search with the intent to relocate to my favorite city (Austin, TX), where I lived for a few years for graduate school. That search was unsuccessful, but the recruiter I was working with recently contacted me with an opportunity to move to Austin. Professionally, this is a great move for me, but personally, this is a disaster.

Last night, I told my boyfriend about the opportunity (since I have a final interview in Austin next week), and he told me that he loves me and he wants me to have a fulfilling career, but that if I move to Austin, it will be the end of our relationship. He refuses to take part in a long-distance relationship (I knew this about him from the time we first began dating), and he doesn’t want to move to Texas. He did say that he might be willing to relocate sometime in the future, but that any move would be “for the person he will spend the rest of his life with,” and that it’s still too early to know whether I’m that person. I understand his position, and I love him, but I also love myself and my career. I am willing to do long-distance, but he isn’t. Both of us could feasibly pursue our chosen careers in either location.

My question, Evan, is what would you do, and what should I do? I do have a great job in our current city, but Austin has always been in my plans. When in a relationship is it appropriate to choose a partner over a career move, and is that appropriate here? – Victoria

Dear Victoria,

Men want to choose. We don’t want to be sold.

Glad you enjoy the blog.

Glad the advice has helped you.

Glad you have an amazing boyfriend.

But you’ve already answered your own question, so I’m not quite sure I’m supposed to say.

“Austin has always been in my plans.”

There you go.

You’ve given him an ultimatum – “I’m moving to Austin. Are you coming?”

He’s given you an answer – “You’re great, but it’s too soon to make the commitment to move to a strange city I don’t want to be in for a new girlfriend.”

You just don’t seem to want to accept his answer.

You have more leverage with a man in a long relationship than in a short one.

Your suggested compromise is a long-distance relationship. It’s a perfectly reasonable solution, apart from the fact that it doesn’t make your boyfriend happy at all.

Long-distance, to you, means that he’s going to have to fly to see you for a few years and ultimately decide that he wants to move to be with you. But notice that he’s the one who has to make the sacrifice if he wants the relationship to survive, not you.

This goes to illustrate a few common dating principles:

1)   If you tell a man what to do and he listens, he’s not really a man.

2)   Men want to choose. We don’t want to be sold.

3)   You have more leverage with a man in a long relationship than in a short one.

Essentially, you’re TELLING him that your future is in Austin, no matter what, and that if he knows what’s good for him, he’s eventually gonna end up there.

If I were your boyfriend, I’d personally like to have more of a say in my future than that.

Thus, you’re not “wrong” for wanting him to move to be with you or submit to a long-distance relationship against his will. You’re only “wrong” in assuming this arrangement is equally good for him as it is for you.

It’s not. And he’s let you know that, in no uncertain terms.

So now you have two choices, Victoria:

1. Don’t move to Austin yet. Build your relationship with this man for a few years. Get married. Negotiate a potential move to Austin with the love of your life down the road. He may be open to it, as you said. And I promise: Austin is not going anywhere.

2. Move to Austin. Find another man who loves you. Marry him instead.

Both are perfectly defensible choices.

In fact, if Austin is that important to you, #2 seems like a much better bet, because I have no doubt there will be tons of quality guys there and you are GUARANTEED of being in Austin.

But, to be very clear as you sort through your turmoil: it’s not your boyfriend who is choosing his current city over you; you’re choosing Austin over him.

7
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Comments:

  1. 121
    Karl R

    Goldie, (#128)
    Are you awake today? You’re missing the completely obvious response.

    It’s highly probable (based on the spelling of the name) that Joe is the opposite of a woman.

  2. 122
    Helen

    Karl R: Ha ha ha!  Great response. :D

    More to the point, Evan’s blog welcomes those who are opposites: smart and not-so-smart, strong and weak, successful and unsuccessful, women and men.

    Congratulations on your marriage, by the way.

    And Victoria 125: congratulations on your relationship progress, and for making things work beautifully from where you are.

  3. 123
    starthrower68

    I think Victoria made a courageous decision.  While it certainly is correct that she could not expect her BF to move with her, and nothing is 100% certain, to me, taking the job in Austin would have seemed more certain than staying in hopes the relationship would become committed.  I hope it continues to go well for her.

  4. 124
    Joe

    @ Goldie?  Random?

  5. 125
    T

    I’m in the same predicament right now. Head says move to Seattle for a GREAT potential career opportunity, yet my heart says stay for my boyfriend. I know what I have to do =(

  6. 126
    Victoria

    T,
     
    Sorry to hear that you have such a tough decision to make.  I am the OP, so I can appreciate your situation.  The only advice I can give is this:  First, ask yourself if the move to Seattle is the best move for your career, or if you could make a similar or better career move more locally.  Second, really carefully examine what you know to be true about your present relationship, and if you can, gather information from your boyfriend.  Don’t ask absolute questions, but find out his feelings about distance, relocation now or in the future, and try to feel out whether the two of you have the inclination to plan a life together one day, even if it’s too early to do that now.  Third, think about your whole picture – your social life, your friends, your family in your current location.  Do you think it will be better to start anew in a different city, or embrace and build on what you’ve already established?
     
    For me, I realized that there were a lot of paths to having the career I want, and only one of those many paths led to Austin.  There were actually many more good career opportunities in my present town than I had originally thought, and I’m glad I explored them.  I want to be clear:  I didn’t stay here solely for my boyfriend.  I stayed because, on the whole, staying was the best thing for me, and my boyfriend was a part of that calculus.  If I had stayed for him alone, I suspect that would have put way too much pressure on our relationship, and I’m glad I can honestly say that even if he and I had not lasted, I made the right decision.
     
    Best of luck!  I hope things turn out as well for you as they have for me.

  7. 127
    T

    Thank you, Victoria. Moving to Seattle is, hands-down and without a doubt, the better decision. I know it, my friends know it, and my boyfriend knows it. Staying or going is a win-win situation for me. There’s no guarantee in mine and my boyfriend’s future, and staying behind and NOT moving to Seattle is high potential for deep regret in the near or far future.

    My boyfriend is 13 years older than I am, me being 28 years old. He’s traveled everywhere and accomplished a lot career-wise. He’s not angry, but more understanding that I have to do this for myself and for my career. He’s never been married nor does he wants kids, and asserts he’s certain that he’s settled in his ways. We’ve only been together for 6 months but we’re in love. I envision a future with him even though it’s too early to even make that judgement, yet he wavers back n’ forth about marriage. He has a lot of deep-rooted issues with himself, and I’m that silver lining for him and want to be there for him, so leaving him feels like I’m abandoning him. I can honestly say that the only reason I’d stay is for him, but I’m not going to if I get the job.
    Bottom line, we had intentions of being together in the long run, but not now. Is it wrong for me to want to move to Seattle, pursue a career, and return when I’m 30 to be with him? (Yes, that’s what I’ve planned n my head. Inclinations by a silly girl in love). We both have a lot of personal development to do, and I sincerely believe in my heart of hearts, that we will be together one day. I might sound young and naive, but I want to make a life with him, only after I accomplish more, build a career and make some money so I could be contribute to our future life, a house, a family, and really explore what it’s like to be independent–away from my family, friends, and boyfriend.
    T

  8. 128
    Lovegreaty

    Hi, I’ve followed this blog on and off for the past few years and this is my first time posting.

    The reason I wanted to share my thoughts is because I am currently going through a similar experience with my boyfriend. We met in Pittsburgh during college. We have been going out for just over 2 1/2 years now and have been happily living together for about 1 1/2 years. We’re both committed to each other and want to be together in the long run.

    But I’m about to finish grad school and start looking for work whereas he is two years older than me (I’m 23 and he’s 25) and has already been working at a steady, well paying job. Neither of us are originally from Pittsburgh (I’m from NYC and he’s from Philly) and I told him early on I didn’t plan to stay here after I finished school because: 1. ) Most of my friends have left after graduating and my family and friends are mainly back in NYC, and 2.) There are more job opportunities for me to get into web and graphic design in NYC than Pittsburgh. He didn’t have any problem with that because he said didn’t care what city he lived in as long as he had a decent job and I was there with him.

    Herein lies the problem. I’ve asked him if he wanted to come with me to NYC and he said he was open to it but he kept putting off from committing. With my graduation this May, I asked him again and this time he said he would like to but it isn’t feasible for him in the near future. He wants to first advance and make a name for himself in his career in Pittsburgh and this most likely means not joining me in NYC for another couple of years. Which means if I want to move I will have to be in a LDR for those years and I absolutely refuse to do this if it lasts more than a year. My first relationship started and lasted entirely as a LDR and I know I personally can’t handle the physical and emotional distance for more than a several months.

    I know it’s a lot for me to ask him to give up his current job, leave his group of local friends and start over in a new city. I also know he loves me and sees us getting through a LDR because he sees us together in the long term. And I respect his wish to build his career. But he has never been in a LDR and doesn’t understand how hard it can be.

    So reading what Evan and Victoria wrote gave me a new perspective. It’s true my boyfriend isn’t the one who is going anywhere; I’m the one wanting to relocate and him to come along. And truth is, NYC isn’t going anywhere and it’s not like I’m already tied down with a job offer there. So maybe I should consider staying in Pittsburgh for a few years, who knows, possibly get engaged, and eventually move to NYC.

  9. 129
    jack

    Hi Victoria, we are almost in the same situation right now. My boyfriend wants me to give up my career and go back to our country so we can have a family , because he doesn’t want to move in my current location. I love him so much and  I am willing to be with him but I cant give up my career because I do believe that if he loves me, he will support me but if he cant then we are not meant to be. Its not easy to move on coz it hurts specially if you really love that person, and both got right opinion. So respect each other ,move on ,who know ‘s you’ll meet  someone there and that  no need to choose between love and career.

  10. 130
    Samantha

    Reading Victoria’s story, I felt like I was reading my own. I live in the Cleveland area and have an amazing boyfriend. Through a strange twist of networking fate 2 great opportunities on the West coast popped in my lap. 
    My bf is in his dream job. He fought his entire life to achieve his dream. I’m super unhappy where I’m at and looking at a HUGE opportunity if I’d move.
    He’s not willing to relocate. When we talked about it, he said something very similar to Victoria’s bf. “I’ll support what’a best for you. I don’t want to hold you back. I like having you as a girlfriend but I can’t move and I can’t do a long distance thing.”
    I love him. I’m 33 and this is truly the first time I’ve ever been in love. But he also told me something important. He likes me as a girlfriend. If he told me that he wanted to make a life with me my decision would have been to stay – in a heartbeat. 
    He didn’t say my heart wanted him to say and that makes the decision to leave hard. I’m still in the multi-step interview process but I know that I’m going to get an offer.
    It’s a tough place to be in. I’m hoping with everything that I have that our relationship is strong enough for this. I don’t want to lose him but I also can’t make a life-limiting decision based on a man telling me that he likes me as a gf. 
    Victoria, good luck! I wish you the best in whatever decision you make. If your life is pulling you to Austin and if he truly wants to be with you, he’ll either step up and give you a reason to stay or he’ll love you enough to make it work. 

  11. 131
    shayna

    hey. i too am facing this same situation. except the fact that my boyfriend and i have been dating since 3 years. and now i have to leave for going into med school for 4 years. that means we will have to be in a long distance rshp. and he doesn’t seem to accept that at all. i love him. i really do. We’re just 18 years old and this situation is crippling me. I want to find an interim but that doesn’t seem like an option.

  12. 132
    Victoria

    Shayna,

    I feed for your predicament, really, I do.  I am the person who asked Evan this question.  You are so young!  In my opinion, 18 years old is way too young to be making decisions based on where your boyfriend will be.  Go to med school!  Date other boys!  Fall in love again.  The odds are good that you will have many boyfriends before you settle down, and I hope you enjoy every minute.   I know it seems hard now, but five years from now, I think you’ll be able to look back and see that leaving for school was the right thing to do.  Best of luck!

  13. 133
    Keeley

    Hi Victoria,
    I am in a similar situation in that my future career in marketing can lead to a lot of travelling and my current partner is scared of that. What I have to say to you is that if this is your dream then you should go for it because if you wait a bit longer and he still doesn’t want to move, you will end up resenting him.
     

  14. 134
    Blue

    Victoria it’s up to you to make happiness. If you think you can simply dream it up you are sadly mistaken. You and your guy should have a plan. Trust me babe, one year is long enough to talk about how you plan to work it out. If the two of you keep running away from every obstacle you face then you will never reach the long haul. What are you afraid of? A long distance relationship, the expensive trips over time? What is he afraid of? Committing to a relationship when he won’t be able to see you as often as he wants and some other chic can give it to him on the side back home? Well you are right because these are all very real problems. However, they can be worked on. If the two of you give up now, then I will officially say love is lost in our generation. People should be ashamed today the way they treat the people they claim to love. Do you know how hard it was to keep waiting for your man when he had to go to war in 1945? Really people, come back to love!

  15. 135
    bacesp

    So much planning and so much assumations about the future. You two have only known each other for only 6 month’s. This blog sounds like high school. Go to Austin because as soon as you start getting attention from other guys , Romeo in home town will be a faded memory. Trust me, if he is a strong man, he already has blown you off even so slightly in the back of his mind. If he is weak and soft, you already are disliking his weak ass response. Answer.. you look for others for answers so if he is truely strong and telling you good luck without him..he maybe the man you need to ground your butt in reality.  

  16. 136
    Love love Doc

     My two cents:

    1. Some women told you to move to Austin. I caution you that do not take  advice from ladies/girls who may not have a meaningful relationships in their lives. In other words, do not take advice from screwed up and unhappy ladies. These are not home makers but sound like home wreckers

    2. You have all qualifications to get the job in Austin and you will get it again. But not necessary you can say with degree of certainty that next guy will be similar or better. Stick around with the guy and it will strengthen your relationship. You can always move to Austin anytime in your life (with or without him)

    You are one who is making the move so you are changing status que so you are one who initiated this. He is just responding to it. So don’t blame him. Last, girls who are interested in guys or love them dearly do not put a distance between them and boy friend. You need to find out how much you love him.

  17. 137
    Ami

    Move to Austin.

    If he would not even think about moving for you I would not stay for him. I think he already knows that he doesn’t see this relationship as a permanent one or he would at least consider dating long distance.  I would have always said I would not consider a long distance relationship and I am now in one. Now I know I would not consider living my life without him in it. If he wouldn’t consider moving for you, you should not stay for him. 

  18. 138
    Mitch

    Why Is Austen so important that you would end a good relationship over.What’s there that isn’t in any other major city? People are too ambitious for their own good sometimes….This guy may be the one for you, and you’re just gonna end it because YOU want to move….stop calling all the shots….In any case, you will be extremely lucky to ever find another good man if you blow this relationship, and I’ll tell you, all the money you can make in your new job will not buy back the happiness that you would otherwise have had if you blow that relationship….If you have a conscience, if you moved without him, you would not be able to enjoy your life knowing that you ruined your love life.

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