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The Vine: November 14, 2012

Submitted by on November 14, 2012 – 12:46 PM39 Comments

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

Dear 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.

Good luck.

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39 Comments »

  • Kristin says:

    Jehosophat this sucks for you. I have to agree with everything Sars is saying – the fact that your boyfriend seems so willing to give up your lives together over a separation that hasn't even happened yet doesn't bode well. That's particularly true in light of the fact that you have already questioned his commitment, gone to therapy and "got through it." The thing is, it seems that you're the one doing the work and making the sacrifices. And while you may be OK with that now (even thinking you would give up your DREAM JOB if he asked you to marry him), eventually you won't be OK with it, because you'll realize that you're worth more than someone who isn't willing to be an equal partner in your relationship on every level. You ARE worth more. Don't forget it. Maybe the two of you can seek further counseling, but if he's not willing to make the full commitment, there's nothing to do about that but move on to someone who will. I'm sorry, though, because it's going to hurt. But maybe better to hurt now than be in a relationship where your value is less than deserved. Best of luck.

  • CJ says:

    This one made me sad today and I just wanted to say that I wish the Nation was an actual place we could take Vine posters out for a drink & a hug (or kick in the head as needed per Anarchist Tomato Stealer).
    Good luck Work-Life!

  • Clover says:

    More than ten years ago, Sars told me to rip off the Band-Aid, too, although my situation was a little different from yours (http://tomatonation.com/vine/the-vine-january-25-2001/, if you're curious.) I should've listened right away, but wound up wasting two more years adding to the sunk cost of the time I spent in a relationship I knew didn't have a long-term future. She told me, " … he doesn't return your feelings, and as I remember all too well, that's lonelier than going it alone," essentially what she's just told you.

    You should listen to Sars. You have a lot of history with your boyfriend, and you're going to miss him, but eventually it will get better. You'll spend some time on your own in a new place and a new job, and it will be fun and lonely and an adventure all at the same time. You'll meet new people, including possibly a few you could love. Your life may take directions that you never saw coming. No matter what happens, though, it'll remain true that it's lonely and a bit demeaning to be with someone who won't do for you the things you'd do for him, and thinks about the future in terms of "yours" and "mine" rather than "ours."

  • Roo says:

    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."

    This, this, this. I'm sorry, it sucks, but you spent ten years with this guy and his first thought was pretty much "Don't let the door hit you on the way out"? Other things might change, but you can't un-know that. Can you live with that knowledge? (Maybe you can, I can't tell you that, but it's not that promising.)

  • ferretrick says:

    Sars covered it beautifully, but I'm of an even more cynical disposition, and I can't sugarcoat it-I don't think the guy LOVES you loves you. He's shown he's not willing to make one iota of personal sacrifice or effort when things get tough. I think he loves you-in a you're here, you're fun, you're nice to spend time with, you make me reasonably happy, and as long as I'm not expected to make any sacrifices or real commitments this will do kind of way.

    I don't think he loves you in the OMG, I can't live without you, I'll do anything, Romeo & Juliet kind of way that you deserve. And I think deep down you know this, or you would have forced the marry me issue quite a while ago. I don't think he's evil or a bad person or anything (though I would have put paid to that pretending "you don't make sense" BS instantly), but he's settled for you, and you want and deserve more than that. I'd say wish him well, take your dream job, go to Europe, and find the kind of love you are really looking for.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Damn that work/life balance and its underhanded ways.

    I have no advice that will fix this or erase it because such advice doesn't exist, but there is one thing I will say, or rather, two:

    First, you are never too old/set in your ways/whatever to be loved again. Never. I don't mean you don't love your boyfreind. You clearly do, enough to go through a lot of life experiences with him. But our society has wired a nasty little timer in each of our heads, and instead of counting down numbers it flashes "CLOSER TO TOO LATE" over and over again. If you lose this you will never have another, it will be TOO LATE.

    It's true that if this relationship ends you will never have this particular love again, and that's really heartbreaking. But you absolutely, positively WILL have other loves in your life. Different from this one? Of course? Just as precious? Without a doubt.

    Second, just because a relationship ends it doesn't mean it was invalid.

    Plenty of people cling to lovers/marriages/long term setups way, way past their expiration date simply because they feel that ending it is to "admit defeat" or render all the time they spent together "wasted". Well, that's a pretty damn depressing notion–good thing it's not true.

    You don't waste time in a relationship unless you feel you can't be yourself while you're in it. Your first blinding crush? Not wasted. Your first real "love affair" that ended in gin and weeping? Not wasted. I doubt you really think you'd be better off with that first crush instead of living the life you've led without him at your side.

    Now, a ten year investment with someone you truly love is bigger then those examples, of course, but it may still have to end. None of it will be false or thrown away except any time you invest with a divided or resentful heart. If you can give up your dream job with real contentment to be with him, okay. But everything you've said in your letter says you feel that your partner is just that much less "all in" then you are, and it's been a thorn for quite a while. Don't let this fester–it will poison your past bond and current choices faster then any "one that got away" sadness will.

  • Kate says:

    "I can't" was the first instinct of my now-ex-husband back when he was just my college boyfriend and I begged him to transfer to a new college with me. That was only two hours away in the same state. It was another eight years of that kind of low-key apathy before I finally decided to walk away. He wasn't a bad person, not in the least, but it was still the best decision for my own health and well-being I could have made.

    That doesn't mean it isn't very hard, but the line in your letter that stood out to me was "accept that life has taken us to different directions" because yes, sometimes it does that. Good luck, Work-Life. Whatever you decide, we'll be wishing you all the best.

  • kapuku says:

    I think we sometimes fall into a trap of thinking that if a relationship has lasted __ long or we've spent __ years together, then it should and could continue. But the truth is some relationships have expiration dates, and that becomes obvious when you're no longer moving forward, but just staying in the same spot. You wonder why you're not progressing, and it's because you can't – not together. It's entirely possible you two have taken and given all you can in this one, learned as much as there is to know, and it's time to move on to your next chapter.

    I think if you passed up the job to keep the boy, you'd likely have some future regret…but I doubt you would have the same regret if you chose the opposite. I think deep down you already see the truth here and understandably don't want to really look at it. I keep thinking of that Maya Angelou quote, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” He's telling you some important stuff about himself, and about his priorities with respect to you and this relationship. Hear what he's saying.

    My best advice is: is this a relationship you'd want for your daughter? Would you want her to settle for a man who was willing to walk away from her after 10 years, without so much as a conversation? If this was ever as good as it got for her, would you be completely happy for her, and feel as though she had the partner she deserved?

    Probably not. You'd think she deserves better. And you should know that you do, too.

  • Megan says:

    I spent seven years with a guy who kept needing one-more-thing to happen to commit. He didn't want to marry until his salary alone could support us (why? My paycheck isn't counterfeit.) and until he graduated and until he had the experience of working overseas. Then I ultimatumed him and he just didn't want to marry me. I was single for a few more years, which turned out to be what I needed, in terms of having space and time to do some therapy.

    Then I met someone who has never once jerked me around. He wants to be my family, and every action he makes shows me that. When it is easy, it is so smooth and nourishing that I would never accept being postponed again. Being single was better. I had good friends, friendly lovers, fun trips, solitude and books.

    You have better options than what you're in now. I wouldn't have trusted them, or taken them voluntarily back when I was with the seven-year boyfriend. But in retrospect, I got lucky he refused to marry me when he didn't really want to.

  • RC says:

    Word to everything everyone has said. Man, every Vine letter just raises my opinion of Sars's judgment to near Nate Silver levels. My first reaction to him giving up so easily was that he's using the job as an out from the relationship. You say he "can't allow [you] to pass on" the new job and has "been supportive" of your applying… to me that is him saying "I don't want to be in this relationship anymore… if she get set up with this 'dream job' then we can end it and she will be okay and I won't have to dump her directly." He probably sees it as less painful than saying "I don't want to be in a relationship with you anymore" because you have history and furniture and everything… but also he doesn't want to marry you, even though he knows it's what you want. Take the job, and have a great time in Europe, and know that you shouldn't have any regrets, because if you pass on it for him, you're only postponing the inevitable, and then you're out a dream job. Dream job! Good luck. It'll suck for awhile, and then it will get better.

    Anyway. Sorry to ramble, this was written from still in the shadows of my own now-ended 7 year relationship… which would have been a now-ended 6 year relationship if I'd only listened to my inner Sars… damn these human emotions and their irrational tendencies!

  • RC says:

    P.S. Congrats on the dream job thing! That really is great!

  • TexasAnnie says:

    My husband and I have been together for 10 years now. I can tell you that even 3 or 4 months into the relationship, if we'd been faced with a similar job situation, there would have been a lot of tough choices to make, but breaking up would not have been an option to consider any more than one of us would have considered cutting off a limb. We each knew that the other was The One and that was that. (Co-dependent? I don't know, but we're crazy, gross in love a decade in.)

    I know this sucks for Work-Life, but this seems like a good, clean jumping-off point for a relationship that isn't what it should be.

  • Jacq says:

    This really sucks, and I'm sorry that you're going through it.

    I think your boyfriend does love you, but clearly not enough to consider how best to balance both your and his needs. The fact that he isn't willing to attempt a long term relationship is pretty telling.

    It's awful that it has to be this way, but you should take the job and accept that this relationship has run its course. If you turn down the job and stay, and the relationship still never progresses to marriage or a formal commitment, how will you feel in a few years? Your boyfriend is prioritising what is best for him, and hard though it is, you need to do the same.

  • attica says:

    I agree with everybody above. He's told you a truth. You have to take him at his word. That you may well be right that he's needlessly throwing a good thing away is wholly irrelevant to the choices you have to make.

    Let him go; go on with your life. Easier said than done to be sure, but it isn't going to be easy if you stay with him in a hundred ways you can't see now.

    And yeah, maybe he'll see how important you are when you're leaving or gone. But you can't get there with a good talking-to or counseling. You gotta go. If and when that doesn't work, you'll still have all of your life left to make of it a chocolate banquet on your new Unicorn Farm. (ht Sars, from a few Vines ago.)

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Sars doesn't listen to her inner Sars half the time. Do as I say, not as I do. Hee.

  • sam says:

    chiming in to concur with RC. the very fact that he appears to have encouraged to to both look for and take this job, knowing throughout that he would essentially end the relationship if you did so (without, of course, telling you), seems to be an actual attempt to end the relationship with you while giving you a (relatively soft landing).

    But at the end of the day it actually turns into a manipulative, dickish move on his part, making you be the bad guy for having to "choose" between him and your dream. You could very well end up choosing him, and having him end things anyway.

  • Maria says:

    You have this sad situation of a man who has told you he can't follow you to Europe, his life is here. I think you should go to Europe. I also think you should let yourself consider what it would feel like to be wanted by a man who is hopelessly in love with you and would go anywhere for you. He might be waiting in your new neighborhood, or somewhere else in town; maybe one of your new coworkers to be knows him.

    The point is, there is something better out there for you. I know this because what you have here is not good enough; it is not the best for you. You were made for somebody who, like you, would go the distance for the one they love. Pack your things and go meet him. Someday drop us a line here and tell us how it's going.

    ((((hugs)))) to you!

  • meltina says:

    I third RC's point. While reading your letter, Work/Life, I got to the "it's not gonna work, because I want to stay in the U.S." and my brain went "ding, ding, ding". He doesn't want to stay in a relationship with you. He wants to stay in the US, and if you stay, fine. If you go, that's fine too.

    I'll add to the chorus of "you deserve better".

  • Work-Life Balance says:

    Thank you Sars for the advice and everybody else for equally insightful comments. It's not the reply I'd have possibly hoped to hear, but it sounds like the reply I need to hear. I don't know what the outcome of this all will be yet, we haven't yet talked it over thoroughly, but at least now I know it won't be turning down the job.

  • Bria says:

    WLB – I'm so sorry you're in this tough spot. There's a lot of good advice upthread that I won't repeat. Let me just add this: you call this job your dream job. Congratulations on landing something many people can't even describe for themselves, much less go out and get. This comparison is ever so slightly moot now that you've told us you're taking the job, but hear me out. As you sit there with the job in one hand and your boyfriend in the other, ask yourself: Is a guy who doesn't want to marry you after 10 years your dream guy, given that you *do* want to get married? I think not, and I'm sorry.

    +1 more saying you deserve better

  • Amy says:

    My marriage had problems but the straw that broke the camel's back was when Husband wanted to move to Delaware. We lived in Maryland at the time and I had a good job in my chosen career field (law). I was also going back to school to finish my Bachelor's so I could go onto law school someday. Husband wanted to move because he hated living in the metro area. He wanted a quieter life and only chose DE because he had a gauranteed job there at his brother's restaurant. We'd been together 8 years, seven of which I'd spent working in my chosen field and going back to school. He had known almost from *go* that I was pursuing my career. It was never an issue until one day he decided he just HAD to move to DE. There is only ONE law school in DE and it's at the other end of the state. Not to mention, the legal industry in the remote town he wanted to move to was practically non-existent compared to the industry in a metro area, AND it wasn't the field of law I was interested in anyway. I finally decided that in addition to the problems we'd already been having, being married to someone who would so easily force me to give up my passion was not a good thing. We got divorced. He moved to DE and I stayed in a metro area, working in my industry, and attending school. Point being, only you can decide how important your career is to you and what you would be willing to give up (as Sars said), BUT I would pay special attention to the fact that Boyfriend would so easily expect you to give up your dreams or would let you go so easily. I, unfortunately, married a man who later turned out not to give a damn about my needs or desires. Not everyone considers their work their passion, but for me it is. Don't ever let anyone take your passion from you, regardless of what that passion is.

  • Sandra says:

    Dear WLB, please know that the situation as seen from the outside is crystal clear. When you find the right one, he'll want to be with you. Period. That's what you deserve. Best of luck!

  • Dana says:

    I think there's a lot of valid points here, but I would like to weigh in from Boyfriend's possible perspective for a sec. Cause here is how I see it: if you know he's got a year and a half to go, well… If I was BF I'd be kind of weird and unhappy about you leaving too. He is here, for better or worse, and as he sees it, you have committed to be here too. And now you are reneging on that commitment, from his perspective. And that has to make him feel weird, at a minimum. I.e. "why is she applying for this job when she knows I can't leave? Is her career more important to her than I am? Etc."

    Years ago my BF (now husband) applied for a job when we were living together that would have taken us across the country. I agreed that we would go together. Ultimately he turned it down, but I can only imagine how he would have felt if we had moved and then a few months later I'd said, you know, I'm going to apply for this job back home. He would be hurt, and confused, and probably a little pissed that I was reneging on our "deal." And, I can totally see him reacting in the same way as your BF. Especially if he thought I was doing it trying to pressure him for a ring. (NOT saying you are doing that deliberately. But again, from his perspecitive, that could be what he thinks is going on.)

    Bottom line, I can totally see where his feelings could be hurt… And people say and do weird things when their feelings are hurt, and there's a big upheaval in the works.

    I would say it's worth talking it through with a counselor again. You've got ten years with this guy, you are happy, and this is a big life decision. Whether or not you take the job, don't let hurt feelings on one side or another decide the outcome of this relationship.

  • RC says:

    @Dana: I'm going to have to disagree with you there. WLB doesn't say how long they've been in the US, but the combination of her taking a leave of absence, plus him encouraging her to apply, plus his knee-jerk "well then it's over" reaction to her getting the job… this all doesn't say hurt feelings reaction to me. But I suppose I could be wrong. And I don't think a counselor would hurt, but I also don't think her taking the job should be up for discussion, especially given his attitude. And, well, if he's already decided to end it, which he basically has, I'm not sure that there's much that (couples) counseling would accomplish, besides prolonging the inevitable.

    @sam: Ha, I almost called it a dick move in my first comment… but decided that might be too harsh. I'm sure he does care about her and is trying to not hurt her, but… yeah, it is a dick move. I'm just not sure "After 10 years and a transatlantic move I've decided I don't want to be in a relationship with you anymore" is less of a dick move. (again, context: my own recent breakup, so maybe a little biased)

    @Sandra: and not only that, but he'll want to be with her for her, not just for fear of being alone… right? (/recentbreakup)

    I one day hope to live in a world where none of us need an inner Sars, and there are unicorn chocolate farms for all… and no one has a need to break up, and also all our cats and dogs will never get sick or die, and it will be glorious for everyone!

  • Dana says:

    Let me clarify my comment – I am not saying you should feel guilty about wanting this job, or applying for it, or taking it! Cause, well, a dream job is a dream job. And there is nothing wrong with going after it. Just saying, it's also worth considering his perspective too.

    GOOD LUCK.

  • Barb says:

    wow. not in a good way.
    I see 2 dreams here; the offer of a Dream Job and the dream that this 10 year relationship is the love of your life, that he will do anything to keep the relationship going.

    The offer of the dream job is real, concrete. It seems to me that the reality of the dream job offer reveals that the second dream is illusion. I'm sorry about this, because it will hurt like hell to give up a ten year relationship, but i really believe the dream job will take you to a better place in your head, and in other relationships.

  • Jen H says:

    Congrats on the dream job, WLB! You gotta love your life before sharing it, and this looks like a big helping of love:) The guy…what Sars said, times 1,000,000. Yay, Team You!

  • Sandman says:

    I concur in the general opinion of the Nation, and I wanted to echo what Jen H says: congratulations on your dream job, WLB, and just think how much more joy and sense of adventure you'll be able to share with the friends and loves in your life now that you're pursuing that dream. I hope you can let us know how you're getting along. It won't be easy, especially at first, but it will be worth it.

  • Jennifer says:

    The one thing I have to add to this that everyone else hasn't said already is that there is a really good line about this sort of thing in the book Wild Ride, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer:

    "He loves you all he can, but he cannot love you very much."

    This dude doesn't love you enough. He loves you if you're there and it's easy, but he doesn't love you enough to marry you or follow you anywhere.

    You'll find someone else in Europe.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    You'll find someone else in Europe.

    Or you won't, or you won't for a while, which is fine. Not everyone is like this/me, but for me, being alone is not the same as being lonely, and there's no loneliness like the one within a relationship where you're…losing hope, I guess.

  • squandra says:

    "Then I met someone who has never once jerked me around. He wants to be my family."

    @Amy! So much this.

    I'm no romantic, and would still be living happily in sin if it weren't for the gift tax and a few other non-replicable rights, but my now-husband has always wanted to be my family, and the feeling is mutual. IMHO, that's what everyone deserves.

    WLB, please know that you can find it, and congratulations on the dream job!

  • squandra says:

    Oh, dear. I mean:

    @Megan! So much this.

    :)

  • Cat_slave says:

    These quotes:

    "… going in his direction with him will be lonelier than going your own direction by yourself."
    and
    "…for me, being alone is not the same as being lonely, and there's no loneliness like the one within a relationship where you're… losing hope, I guess."

    Just about sums up how awesome Sars is. And the Nation. Seriously, when you know how many idiots there are on the Internet, the Nation always give me a boost and faith in humanity.

    We live in a culture (also here in Europe) where romantic love is supposed to conquer everything and we get extremely sad and lonely when it doesn't. It's far better to be lonely by your own. But it sucks, I know, and it certainly isn't easy to let go. Lots of hugs and chocolate to you!

  • Work-Life Balance says:

    Reading your encouraging, lovely and thoughtful comments again. Thank you Dana for trying to see his point of view (because that's valid too), but one clarification: I have been applying for this job for 2 years (yes, the process is really long), while he started applying for the expat-thing a year ago, and we've been here for 6 months. The thing is, both of these scenarios were so very unlikely, we were almost certain from the beginning that we wouldn't be in a situation where both of them would become true. Well, even unlikely things happen occasionally…

    I've thought this over for a couple days now and figured that although breaking up with my boyfriend is and will be painful as hell, maybe it's also a chance to figure out what I really want in my non-work life, since I haven't been single for more than a month at any point in my adult life and might be in need of some single time. Trying to see the silver lining here.

  • Work-Life Balance says:

    @Cat_slave: I think I've eaten more chocolate this week than in the past 6 months.

  • Maria says:

    "The thing is, both of these scenarios were so very unlikely, we were almost certain from the beginning that we wouldn't be in a situation where both of them would become true."

    But…neither of you would have ever started the process if you thought it was impossible.

    I know that the breakup sounds daunting, and maybe even less than possible. You were wrong about the dream job being unlikely, though. While the situation will be hard at first, it may end up working out great in the long run.

    Mostly I think that you have gotten very accustomed in the past 10 years to stasis. It feels normal and natural to just float with no defined milestones to hit. No engagement. No wedding. No house. No babies. I think you wanted out of stasis and that's why you went through this lengthy job application process. You wanted to have something change. It would have been really nice if your BF wanted to come along and maybe move his life forward with you on some of these things. But, he is happy to stay put, and would gladly keep drifting softly through life with you if you would stay. I just think you want so much more, and when you start getting it, you are going to feel good that you put a stop to the madness of just floating without direction. If I knew you in real life I would give you a beautiful star compass. It's the perfect thing for someone who is setting out on an adventure, because that is you.

  • Clover says:

    Good luck, WLB.

    I hope you don't mind me giving a bit of well-intended advice based on my own experiences extricating myself from a relationship I knew needed to end.

    If you have a good friend or two, let them know what's going on and ask them if they would be willing to help you out with some of the things you might not want to do all on your own, like boxing up and shipping your things, or researching places to live in your new location, or deciphering paperwork for moving to another country (work visas and that sort of thing). If possible, don't look to your boyfriend for help with these kinds of things, even if he's very willing and seems like the logical person to go to. If the mundane details of your life remain intertwined with your boyfriend's, it'll be much harder to move on and begin the healing process.

    As you're splitting up your things and preparing to go separate directions, try to minimize the objects you take with you, including those with sentimental associations. Travel light. It'll be cheaper and easier, and it'll allow you the literal and figurative space to fill your surroundings with the things that appeal to you.

    There will undoubtedly be some embarrassing source of comfort you find in the coming days–reality TV binges, long walks with no destination, re-reading "Jane Eyre," going to the same Chinese restaurant for the hot-and-sour soup every day for months (not, *cough*, that I've done any of these things). Know that everyone's experienced some version of this, and that whatever quirk you're indulging, it's not permanent. What's that line? "The only way out is through." Yep, that.

    After my rough break-up after three years with my first real boyfriend, I spent the NEXT three years wearing a locket with a fortune from a fortune cookie in it that read "Time heals all wounds. Keep your chin up." And that's my message to you.

  • Jennifer says:

    Work-life, I am very sorry about all this, but, agree with the rest of the Nation – it doesn't sound promising for the relationship.

    But, it sounds totally promising for your life! You have landed your dream job! You're going to relocate! Who knows what awaits you in Europe??

    Something that jumped out at me in your downthread reply: "I haven't been single for more than a month at any point in my adult life and might be in need of some single time."

    I'm basing this on a sample size of about 15 people I have known at various points in my life – they were all people who went from one relationship to another, and none of them were really happy with themselves. There is something about solitude that forces you to learn to take good care of yourself and to figure out what you really want. I think you're on a great track because you already know what your dream job is and have gone out and gotten it; it would be great if you could take that running start and really get to know yourself and figure out how to be truly happy with yourself.

    Because (and I'm sorry, I don't have a polite way to say this), someone who is really happy with herself isn't going to ask how to get this guy to value the relationship. For whatever reason he doesn't and it bums me out on your account that that didn't make you want to dump a drink on his head and walk away.

    Yay for the dream job!

  • Judi says:

    Totally agree with Sars, unfortunately. She helped me rip off my Band-Aid eight years ago when my now-ex was being flaketastic, and while it hurt like hell, I'm so glad that he's no longer navigating our life together. After we divorced, my best friend told me that she saw me make so many sacrifices and compromises for him, but pretty much never saw him doing the same. To paraphrase Felicity, at some point, it's the guy's turn to follow the girl, especially if she's done it a lot for him. Not saying your bf should move with you, but…well, all the things Sars said. If he's worth sticking around for, he'll figure out that he doesn't want to lose you sooner rather than later. And in the meantime, you get to have an amazing experience getting paid to do something you love! Good luck.

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