The Vine: November 14, 2012
The good news first: I found out two days ago I will be offered my dream job. I have a boyfriend whom I've been dating for almost a decade and have lived together with for years, and we both love each other.
So what's my problem? My dream job is in Europe. Although we are both European, my boyfriend was recently sent to work in the U.S. and I took a leave of absence and came with him. Now he has still 1.5 years left in his contract, which is a good one and I obviously can't ask him to break, and meanwhile I have the job of my dreams, which is financially even better than his, and which he (being the more-into-financials-person) can't even allow me to pass on and has been supportive in me pursuing it.
While I was applying for the job, I figured "love will conquer" and thought we'd have a long-distance relationship for a while and then get back together somewhere, but now that I got it, my boyfriend dropped the bomb: He doesn't "see a way we could have a future together." His reasoning is that he wants to stay in the U.S. longer than his contract, because he has better career opportunities here, whereas my dream career has very little opportunities here and he reckons I'll be stuck in Europe (and not our home country, but a part of Europe he doesn't want to live in) for "at least ten or twenty years." Because he can't see a clear way we could be together in the near future, he feels like having a long-distance relationship is too much of a risk of just being in a crappy relationship for years.
The thing is, we are currently really happy together. He admits it openly, and I certainly feel that way. We've been in a long-distance not-in-the-same-country relationship for one semester in university and it went possibly better than either of us could have expected. We've had disagreements about our level of commitment to the relationship before — mainly, him not being committed enough and me being unhappy because of it — which lead to almost breaking up three years ago, but we actually went to couples counseling and got through it.
I don't know where I will be in two years, he doesn't know for sure either, and I believe that if we make some compromises in our lives out of love, we'll probably end up living back in the same country sooner or later, I'm hoping sooner. Even though I have a good career, I know it's not the most important thing in my life, and I'd probably be ready to make those compromises right now if he showed enough of a commitment to me — mainly, if he asked me to marry him, since I'd feel foolish to turn down my dream job offer to commit to a man who's not willing to commit fully to me. I've mentioned this to him, and he says I don't make sense.
Can you recommend something I could do that could allow him to have more faith in our relationship? Or should I realize that if he feels this way, he won't work for our relationship or make those compromises, and accept that life has taken us to different directions?
The Work-Life Balance
Let me just rip one Band-Aid off right up top: there's nothing you can "do," at least in terms of changing how he feels or arguing him around to your point of view or whatever.
What you can do has to do with you, and how you feel about the situation. You have a lot of thinking to do, about what's more important to you, the dream job or the man you love; about why you want to compromise (and have compromised, already — not that you didn't want to move to the States, but I don't get the feeling his not going was ever on the table, if you see what I mean), and he'd rather just give up; about what his actions, or in-actions, tell you.
Because actions speak louder than words. I believe that he's happy with you, and loves you; I don't think he's lying about that or anything. But after a decade in the relationship and "years" of living together, he's made no move to put a ring on it. (Neither have you, I guess, and it's 2012 blah blah blah, but my impression is that you'd ask if you thought he'd say yes.) And before you even offered him a choice, he chose breaking up. Didn't try to convince you to stay here, didn't come up with a plan where you alternate awesome jobs for a few years. Assumed you would go, threw up his hands all "that's that," is now pretending not to understand why you would ask for a greater commitment in the face of putting an ocean between you.
He does love you, I'm sure. He would no doubt prefer that you stay, and stay with him. He has said as much to you. Alas, his actions say, "It is more important for me to move ahead in my career while suffering no short-term discomfort in my romantic life." And…his words say the same thing, basically. It's depressing. It hurts. It's ten years he's willing to set aside; that's hard to comprehend, much less accept. But I do think you have to accept it, or start trying to, and figure out how to move forward, because even if you decide he's your destiny and pass on the job, or the two of you figure out a way to stay together long-distance, you'll always know that his first instinct was, "I can't."
It's awful, it's not your fault, and I wish I didn't have to make things sound so hopeless, and it's possible that they aren't. Maybe I don't know everything. Maybe you could go back to couples counseling for a session or two and try to find a better way to talk to each other about it; he could gradually warm to the idea of a long-distance relationship, or at least realize that he loves you too much to let you go. It could even happen that you tell him, "I hate that it's like this, but I'm taking the job, goodbye," and he's like, "Farewell OH SHIT wait wait wait hold the door I'll get my stuff." But…I don't think that's going to happen. I think he's already told you what you need to know. You might as well hear it now.
Take the job. Tell him how baffled and wounded you feel that he won't even try to make things work, and see what he says — but understand that if he's not willing to do anything, if he can't try, going in his direction with him will be lonelier than going your own direction by yourself.
Tags: boys (and girls) workplace