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.

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