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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  1. 151

    Great advice as always Evan!

    Victoria, my advice is go to Austin!  If this relationship is meant to be,  he will choose to come be with you at some point.  But since the relationship is only 5 months old,  take special care of your life first.   He is not the last man on Earth!

    I had an amazing opportunity to move to Spain for work.  I was with my boyfriend 6 months at the time the opportunity was presented to me.  I chose to forgo it,  and stay “for the chance at love.”  Oh how romantic!  (sarcasm) Well two years later, the relationship ended,  and we never even got engaged.  Forgoing Spain was one of the biggest regrets of my life.

    Don’t change your life plans for a man who is not your husband!!


  2. 152

    My take? Go to Austin.

    Why do I say that?

    Just look at the choice you are CHOOSING to give yourself. This is the choice to move to a new city and take on a new job opportunity alone. You do not NEED to do this. You WANT too.

    The other choice is to not go and choose to stay in a very young relationship. However know that there is no guarantee that there will be a relationship.  Though he has expressed his love for you, he hasn’t said, “stay and marry me. You are the one.”  If he is not ready to ask you to stay….,which is understandable at only 5 months, then he is uncertain about the future. (at this time). All he knows is, he likes you, he sees potential, but if you leave, he will not be able to know if he wants a deeper level of commitment.  He is not all in yet. That is admirable and shows integrity.

    So he may become all in. (or he may not)  But definitely not if you leave.

    So then, this is all you.

    Which is why I say, go to Austin.

    Please knoew that I believe in choosing love relationships. I believe that relationships ultimately make a woman open greater than anything else in the world.

    But simultaneously, I also know, that if you are seeking something deeper, then he is likely not it.

    Ask yourself. Which choice do I feel deepens me more? Which opens me more? Close your eyes and imagine how you feel when you imagine Austin.  Close your eyes and imagine a life with him.

    Which feeling feels closest to your true self at this point in time?

    At this point in time is key, because choosing Austin could be brilliant, or, it may be only so-so. And staying with him could bring you endless joy or it could feel flat and ordinary. You do not know.

    So do not choose based on future expectation.  Choose based on the deepest love of the moment.

    Which choice fills you more right now? His love or your dream? Because, my dear, its not “your career” you are choosing. You said you have that now.

    So then, exactly what IS wrapped up inside this gift of choice you’ve created?

    Seems to me you want to find out.

    There is nothing wrong with staying for him though….just as there is nothing wrong with leaving for your dream.

    Either choice, I promise you will grow and learn. Either choice offers the potential for Love. You are the Path, so remember to embrace the journey!

  3. 153

    Yep, “If a man does what he’s told, he’s not a man,”

    Totally gender neutral and not sexist at all Evan. I extremely doubt you would have said:

    “If a woman does what she’s told, she’s not a woman.”

    1. 153.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      A. I was quoting someone else: Dr. Pat Allen

      B. I didn’t say this wasn’t equally applicable to women. It just wasn’t germane to the question.

      B. Tell your boyfriend what to do. Lemme know how it goes.

  4. 154


    I am kinda in the same situation in the time lapse I have been dating my boyfriend, 5 months. But the game play is different. My boyfriend lost his job 4 months ago, and it has been impossible for him to find a  job with his career on our location in San Diego. I am okay with my career, but i was contacted with a great opportunity at another state, Fort Myers, FL. We both talked about relocating to a new place if we both agreed where ever there was opportunities for our careers. He is very proud of me and happy to see me succeeding but i know deep down inside he feels jealous knowing that I have a career opportunity to better myself, and he is stuck with temp jobs because no one is hiring full time here in SD. And his depression has taken a serious toll. I have been there for him during all this time, and he is very grateful I have. He claims “another woman would have left me”, but I didn’t start dating him because of his career, it was him whom i fell in love with, and I would never be that person, to quit on someone because he got laid off.


    If i get hired with this new job in FL, i would love to ask him to move in with me, but i don’t know how, I don’t want him to feel emasculated, or feel ashamed, but we’re super happy together, and we both agree we’re serious in our relationship. We have been speaking of moving in together, but he wanted to wait till he got a full time job, and I am okay with that. I was never set in stone into where we wanted to move, we both would like to go where our careers and opportunity is. But it seems like i came first. Hes a very proud person, and very old fashion, and the last thing I want to do, is make him feel worse that a 42 year old man cant find a job after 4 months of searching while a 30 year woman old got a job opportunity with a blink of an eye and not even trying to look for a career change just yet.


    Thank you for reading. 🙂

  5. 155

    I’m having a similar issue. I have to move away because of debt reasons and studies, I have been with my boyfriend for 8 months, I’m 19 now. He’s a unique man, very open minded and has the kindest heart. And I am in a debate wether to move away or stay. I have no particular interest in moving, only the thought of progressing economically. But I love him enough to stay and build a future with him.

    We spoke of it briefly, but I can tell he dosent like the idea. He’s willing to let me go because of my career. But I can’t tell him that I want to stay and make a life with him because is too soon.  If I move away, I don’t want us to end. That is my biggest fear.

  6. 156

    Ask him to marry you and you will not move to Austin. His seriousness in the relationship will be visible. Also, it is worth loosing a dream for a love. Austin may comfort you for a few months, bur eventually walls and roads and buildings will not fill the emotional gap of having a person by your side for life.

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