Is this really a "compromise?"
December 5, 2010 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Compromise in relationships, specifically in regard to living arrangements when you have two people, each at a different point in his/her life: Is this even a compromise?

Background: I’m a mid-20s female in law school. BF is 10 years older, so mid-30s. We’ve known each other for 1.5 years and have been in a committed relationship for the past 14 months. Everything is great—similar values, compatible personalities, etc. His family loves me and is supportive of me, which is also great because I don’t have a family of my own. We plan to get married when the time is right—likely when I’m finished with law school.

For the past 6 months we have discussed living together. We’ve had and continue to have many of the important conversations re: money, cleaning, who’s in charge of what, etc.

So what is the problem then?

BF has a job that he can’t leave. It’s stable, he does very well for himself, he’s high up in the company. He currently lives 10 minutes from his workplace. This is the longest he has ever had to drive to get to work. Ever. So understandably, he doesn’t understand what it’s like to commute, and that most people aren’t so lucky to live so close to their workplace. BF also sets his own hours more-or-less, so he’s not on the road during rush-hour.

My law school is in Miami—50-60 miles south of his workplace. We agreed to find a place somewhere equal distance between the two cities. Our mutual friend lives in a great building in a great location, so until now it’s been assumed we would just move there come June.

Then I did some google-mapping… It’s not equal distance at all.

The condo is actually 40 miles north of my school. Because my law school is in the southern part of Miami, driving 40 miles south early in the morning everyday would be 1.5 hours one way. The traffic southbound is horrendous no matter what route you take, plus I’d be bypassing the financial district, etc. etc. It is very important for me to get to school early every morning because parking at the law school is horrendous. I’d be looking at getting up at 4:30 - 5 a.m. The traffic wouldn’t be as bad going home, but only because I don’t leave until late into the evening. The 40 mile distance remains the same, however. That’s at least 80 miles per day. And my car is leased. (It’s a given I would greatly exceed the miles I’m allotted.) Everyone I’ve talked to who either attends my law school or has graduated from the school agrees living in this condo would be a terrible decision on my part.

The condo is a 20 minute / 16 mile drive for him. This is per google maps and our mutual friend / BF’s former coworker who used to drive from the very same building to BF’s workplace daily. So there’s no contesting the length of the commute. And BF doesn’t usually get to work until 10 a.m., so he won’t be dealing with rush-hour traffic.

After I discovered all of this, I told my BF that this condo is way too far for me and we need to look elsewhere. There are many other areas between the two cities: some good, some awful, but we haven't done much research. BF said, “If we want to live together, we both have to make sacrifices. We have to compromise.” I agree, but this doesn’t feel like a “compromise” to me. I’m used to commuting. I’ve done so for the past 7-8 years. He has never commuted. As a law student, when I’m already studying until late at night, have more than a full plate, etc. I don’t feel it’s fair that I have to drive 40+ miles to/from campus and get up at 4:30-5 a.m. I imagine a 20 minute (max) drive for him feels like “compromising” to him because he’s never driven more than 10 minutes to work. He sees that 20 minute drive as an “inconvenience.”

I’m stuck. How do I get through to him that I’m certainly open to compromising and making sacrifices, but that I don’t consider our initial game plan much of a compromise?

I’ve tried to talk to him 2x now but he always eventually tells me that he “doesn’t want to have this conversation right now.” It seems that to him, the choices are we live together at said condo or we don’t. And he really, really wants to live together. I could easily live 10 minutes from campus which, yeah, would be great. But I want to live with BF and I don’t mind commuting within reason to do that. But I’m also a realist. If he doesn’t budge, then we can’t cohabitate, because I sure as hell can’t drive 1.5+ hours just to get to school.

FWIW, my BF is very much aware of the demands of law school. His older brother graduated from my law school about 10 years ago and is now partner at a major firm down here. He personally recruits students from my school for his firm. BF’s father is also a successful attorney. Actually, many of BF’s relatives outside of his family are lawyers. So my BF definitely knows – especially right now given the state of the legal profession—how important grades are. I love my BF with all my heart, but my education is my priority right now. He agrees, as does his father (whom I speak to at least once a week about school in general, the job market, and my relationship with his son—he is really pushing marriage, which I think plays a role in him wanting me to be “successful” and make good choices).

There is another area (very nice, safe, more suburban, expensive but not any more than what we’d be paying in the other city) that is more of an equal distance between my school and his workplace. It would be a 30-40 minute drive for BOTH of us. BF’s father actually mentioned it to BF last week, so when I brought up this new city on Friday BF wasn’t all that surprised. He claims he is open to the idea, but so far he cuts short any conversation I initiate regarding this new city. He also said he wasn’t crazy about the city when is brother lived there 5-7 years ago because it was “too suburban.” I told him when you are comparing it to Miami Beach or downtown Fort Lauderdale, a lot of nice places seem suburban. I also reminded him nightlife isn’t very high on my list of priorities, which he says he agrees with.

I guess I’m coming to you guys to hear outsiders’ opinions. I worry I’m being too stubborn. Thoughts? My opinion is that I refuse to live in 40 mile away condo, but I will commute 40 minutes (an hour with traffic, probably) if that means I get to live with him. But beyond that, I think it’s unreasonable. If he can’t work within that frame, then I will live alone. (FWIW, BF will not move from his current place to the condo or anywhere more south alone because it’s either he moves to be living with me or he doesn’t move at all.)

Am I being fair here? How else can I explain things to him? So far I’ve been choosing my words carefully because I don’t want to offend him with my frankness—that he is spoiled as far as never having had to commute goes, and that he is kidding himself if he thinks everyone has it like him. Part of me also feels like, I’m the one in school. I’m the student. I’m the one putting in this huge financial investment. I need to play my cards right. He already has a great career and to some degree, he is his own boss. I don’t know if I’m wrong for thinking this, but I feel like if one of use has to make “more” of a sacrifice, it should be him. After all, once we’re married, my career will certainly have an impact on his life. Thoughts? Is it selfish of me to think that?
posted by overyourhead to Human Relations (46 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You're being more than fair. He's not. I know the territory you're talking about and don't blame you for not signing up for such a bitch of a commute, especially while doing law school. I can't see how you could do it. He needs to be much much more flexible and empathetic. It's not a good sign than he declines to even discuss it.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 2:07 PM on December 5, 2010 [9 favorites]

Your boyfriend is being unreasonable.

I hesitate to say DTMFA, because this seems like a relatively small problem and you guys seem like you're pretty serious.

But yeah, if anyone is in the wrong here, it's him.

The good thing is that his family seems to align with you about the sensibility of this area which he is refusing to consider - which means that he could probably be worn down about it. And you're not likely to burn any bridges if you put your foot down.

Frankly, I think you ought to let the gloves come off. Stop being careful of his feelings about it. Tell him that the situation he proposes would be impossible for you. Use language like "spoiled", if you need to. Tell him you won't move in with him if the agreement is that you give up everything and he gives up nothing. Hopefully he won't call your bluff, though I have to say that if this is how he's going to be about major life stuff, maybe that would be for the best.
posted by Sara C. at 2:07 PM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

I don't think you're being too stubborn.

You also have to make the compromises you're willing to make. If an hour and a half commute for you (each way) is too much, then it's too much.

Honestly, it doesn't sound to me like he's willing to compromise at all.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:08 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A 90-minute commute during law school is entirely ridiculous. I should know, I used to have what was effectively a 90-minute commute during law school. I was a moron for keeping up with it for as long as I did.

A 40-minute commute is perfectly reasonable, and he's being unreasonable for not agreeing to this compromise. A 20-minute drive, even, is very, very short in the real world. Nothing personal against your boyfriend, but anyone who suggests that a 20-minute drive is anything other than a short commute is being a bit of a baby.

Just be firm and point out that you can't deal with a 90-minute commute during law school. Compromise actually does have to work both ways. You're not being unduly selfish for having pretty basic needs, like not having a 90-minute drive to school.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:08 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

How much longer do you have to go in law school? What's the plan for after law school? Maybe the move won't work when the location of the school campus has to be taken into account. What's going to happen after that? Do you plan to move where he is then? It doesn't sound like he plans on moving at all.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:09 PM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

I think not living together but spending weekends together sounds like a real compromise here that gives you some flexibility you may yet need. Even a full 60 mile commute is fine if you're only doing it Friday and Sunday evenings. And you'll have time to figure out if this is just the first instance of his being selfish and uncompromising.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:11 PM on December 5, 2010 [12 favorites]

Maybe you should just rent a small place right near the law school and sleep there during the week.
posted by mareli at 2:13 PM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, I would lay out exactly what you said here. "Boyfriend, I would like to live with you, and I know you'd like to live with me. However, I can't live more than X distance/time from school without utterly ruining my life. I've found Y place that fits that criterion and is also X time from your work. If you'd prefer to live somewhere else, I'm happy to look at it with you, so long as it's no further than X distance/time from my school. If you don't want to live in a place that works with my life, I love you, but we can't live together." Then, see what he says and really talk about it. But don't sacrifice your studies for him, especially if he can't be bothered to get up 20 minutes earlier in the mornings for you.
posted by decathecting at 2:13 PM on December 5, 2010 [22 favorites]

It sounds like you are trying to compromise and he isn't. This really shouldn't be complicated at all. 16 miles does not equal 40 miles. If he really can't logically understand that, I am surprised he is a lawyer (wait, no.. actually it makes perfect sense!.. but I jest). . don't bother with the "he should sacrifice more" bit, as it sounds like you're already fighting an uphill battle just for equal sacrifice.
posted by mbatch at 2:13 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: he's not voicing something and you need to figure out what it is. as you've laid it out here, of course it seems like he's being unreasonable and that you're the one that needs more leeway towards your situation - so, assuming your boyfriend is caring and loving and reasonable, there is something else that's acting like a road block. what does the move represent to him? what fears are being ticked by talking about the new city? we can tell you all sorts of things about your arrangement, but what we can't tell you is why he's shutting down. you'll have to figure out how to get past his walls so he can tell you. part of that is not going into the conversation sure about who is wrong and who is right.
posted by nadawi at 2:14 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Tell him everything you've told us. And don't couch it either, make him hear you. He's trying very hard not to have this conversation because he knows you're right and if he hears it, he will have to address it. It's more than a little selfish. Seems to me he knows exactly what a commute will be like - this is what he's trying to avoid for himself by having the condo as close to him as possible. He doesn't really care if it puts you at a disadvantage. With this in mind, I'd be wondering if this was a guy I wanted to move in with at all. So, don't let him evade the topic and be very clear. It has to work for both of you or it won't work at all. Good preparation for marriage, to have to go through compromising with each other. How you both handle it will give you an idea of whether or not you'll work together.
posted by Jubey at 2:15 PM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

A 1.5 hour commute is extremely burdensome. Fifteen hours a week in your car just driving to and from campus? That's crazy. But you know it's crazy.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:17 PM on December 5, 2010

Best answer: Sorry--didn't finish my thought. Too overwhelmed by the idea of a 1.5 hour commute. My point is: you have to know that this is crazy. Either there's something else going on with your boyfriend or he's an unreasonable jerk or he's stupid. If he's worth being in a relationship with, I'm guessing it's the first one. So, have a conversation but don't focus on the "This isn't fair!" part, focus on the "Why is this the hill you want to die on?" part.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:20 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't think you are being unreasonable at all. You have very good reasons for not wanting to live in this condo.

The fact that he is being so dismissive of you and your concerns--"doesn't want to have this conversation right now"--and that you are worried that you might "offend him with [your] frankness" are huge red flags to me. Why is he so disrespectful of you, and why are you so scared to be honest?
posted by apricot at 2:23 PM on December 5, 2010 [9 favorites]

We agreed to find a place somewhere equal distance between the two cities.

This. If he can not stick by what he agreed to, you should simply tell that you're living by yourself, close to campus. You've done your part, tried to reason, tried to find an equal solution. He has not. So it's time for you to move on an get your own apartment. No more waiting for him.

This doesn't mean you should leave him, but I think you need to set some boundaries here. You're running around trying to be accommodating and it is not working. So do what you need to do for yourself in order to survive law school.

If he wants to talk about moving closer to your school and living together for next year, great! But in the meantime, quit trying to negotiate with him if he's not willing to do the same.
posted by nomadicink at 2:25 PM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds to me like you aren't ready to live together--or rather, that he's not ready to make the compromises necessary for living with you.

Asking you to live 80 minutes away from your law school is unreasonable. Asking him to give up a 10-minute commute for a 40-minute one is not. That said, if he doesn't want to, he doesn't want to, and there's nothing you can do to change his mind.

Honestly, I would let it go for now. You've done everything you can, and he won't get on board. So accept that he's not ready yet, and get your own place in Miami. You don't have to break up with him--and don't give him an ultimatum. Just tell him that you're not going to commute 1.5 hours, and that you would really love to live with him, but his apartment is too far away and you'll just have to keep separate places for now. The reality will speak for itself: After a year of schlepping to see you, either (a) he will realize what a pain it is and that maybe living in the dorky suburbs for a couple of years isn't the end of the world if it means he gets to spend more time with his girl, or (b) he just isn't capable of making the commitment and maybe you guys need to go your separate ways.

Relationships survive greater distances than this all the time, but if it does turn out to be a dealrbeaker, well, at least you found out sooner rather than later.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:27 PM on December 5, 2010 [12 favorites]

I hate commuting. I think this conversation starts from the premise that everyone should just get used to wasting mass quantities of time and money every week and that he's a bad person if he doesn't want to commute 40 minutes every day. There should also be an option on the table wherein you both live 10 minutes from work and then live together on the weekend.

That said, his communication / conflict-resolution skills here are leaving something to be desired. I'd make that the issue.
posted by salvia at 2:30 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: One way to frame this is: "why is your time more valuable than mine?".
posted by kch at 2:35 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all the prompt responses. I feel relieved already that I'm not missing something here and I truly am doing as much as I reasonably can to make this work for the both of us.

I agree-- there is DEFINITELY something going on internally for him that he doesn't want to verbally address. We're both capable of having discussions or working through disagreements without raising our voices, tuning each other out, maintaining respect, etc. The first time he said "I don't want to talk about this anymore," I figured okay, this is the first time I've addressed the topic with him. Maybe he needs some time to think. But this past weekend? Same thing.

Our relationship is strong enough to endure this. When I initiated the conversation for the second time this past Friday, as soon as I said, "I have something to tell you about the living together thing," he said with some degree of sadness "What? We're not living together?" To be clear, he knows I'm not going anywhere. If we live apart, we're not that fat apart that I couldn't see him on the weekends. At his age, he wants to settle down in the near future and he sees himself with me. I'm right there with him. His family would not let him "lose" me, if that makes sense. He was single for a long time and they're happy for us. My guess is, if his father knew BF isn't too keen on this new area I've proposed (an area the father also suggested to BF), he'd do whatever he could to give a wake-up call to my BF.

Another issue that I hesitate to mention is the fact that my BF is "spoiled." He's led a very comfortable life. He's intelligent, well-educated, a very diligent worker, etc. but everything has always fallen into his lap. Down the road, I expect to be working in downtown Miami or Fort Lauderale. BF will never leave the job he has and I agree with that decision. I'm more willing to commute a little further once I have my career established, I don't have the academic pressure I have now, etc. but BF will have no choice but to commute. I told his father this yesterday and I will tell my BF this next time we talk about moving: I realize it will be hard for him at first, but he will get used to it. No one wants to commute, but that's the small price we will have to pay if we want to stay together.

BF certainly understands all of this intellectually. I really think it comes down to not wanting to do it because of the inconvenience factor, having his comfortable set-up disrupted, etc. I also believe that if we end up moving to the city where we're both facing a 40 minute drive, after a while it will come to be part of his routine and down the line it will be a non-issue.
posted by overyourhead at 2:38 PM on December 5, 2010

You're not being unreasonable. Stick to your guns.

If I was in your position I would do the legwork and find a couple of places in the equidistant town that fit your (both of you) requirements for a place. Once you've got two or three really good candidates go to BF and let him know that you've found good places and now he can choose which one he wants.

It's kind of like you're taking the 'which city should we live in" discussion and changing it to the 'which apartment/condo/house should we live in' discussion. It might not work, but that's how I'd do it. He obviously doesn't want to have the 'city' discussion, so change the subject. You are the reasonable one, so just go with the assumption that he's come to the same reasonable conclusion.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:44 PM on December 5, 2010

My guess is, if his father knew BF isn't too keen on this new area I've proposed (an area the father also suggested to BF), he'd do whatever he could to give a wake-up call to my BF.

This worries me a little. Your relationship is you and him, not you and him and his father. Tread carefully into giving your boyfriend's father license to run your life, because that could just as easily turn against you some day.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:54 PM on December 5, 2010 [11 favorites]

How much longer will you be in school? I understand the desire to live together, but if it were me, I'd stick to having two apartments for a while longer. If you are spending long days at school anyway you'd hardly spend time together during the week anyway, and there's always weekends. It's really, really awesome to have a short commute, and it seems like the best case scenario if you BOTH get to have short daily commutes. I'd stretch this period of time out as long as you can.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 3:03 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is a no brainer as far as compromises go because it can be objectively measured: the two of you commute equal times, totally fair and reasonable. If your bf can't understand that, then how is he going to deal with more complicated compromises to come where you can't literally split the difference? (Eg, approaches to finances, child rearing...)

So I think there are four possibilities here: 1) BF is really, really dense; 2) BF is astonishingly selfish; 3) there is something else going on in your bf's head about moving in together that he's not telling you; 4) you have not clearly expressed yourself to your BF and/or you have major assertiveness problems.

And I am also confused about the role of your bf's father here. This is between you and bf. Don't be afraid to insist on what you need.
posted by yarly at 3:10 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I initiated the conversation for the second time this past Friday, as soon as I said, "I have something to tell you about the living together thing," he said with some degree of sadness "What? We're not living together?"

Maybe I'm in a cynical mood, but this sounds like crocodile tears to me. He's not sad enough to actually have a serious conversation about moving, which is the first step to building a life together. It sounds like he knows you'll eventually give in as long as he keeps avoiding the subject.

I really think it comes down to not wanting to do it because of the inconvenience factor, having his comfortable set-up disrupted, etc.
This, for me, would be a big issue. You're going to have bigger disruptions in the future. How is he going to handle it then? From my experience, a partner's inflexibility is something that seems manageable in the first few years, but can turn into a huge obstacle once the newness of the relationship has worn off.
posted by lucysparrow at 3:20 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

I don't think you're being even slightly unreasonable. I also second salvia's point about his communication skills needing some work.

That said, one possible thing to consider is that the compromise doesn't have only consist of the commute. For about a year, my husband and I worked in two different cities. We did briefly consider living halfway, but there was very little in between and neither of us wanted to live in any of the potential places. What (just about) worked for us was my husband commuting while I in exchange did ALL the housework - all cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and laundry. I also made him packed lunches and tried to generally get the dinner on the table within 15 minutes of him getting in the door. To be honest it probably still worked out in my favour (and he said at the time and since that he couldn't have lived like that indefinitely), but it evened things up somewhat. Fortunately after just under a year, I got a job in the same city as him, so our commutes are similar and we divide the household stuff more-or-less evenly.
posted by *becca* at 3:35 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In a long-term relationship, sometimes compromise is achieved by alternating solutions over time. So you guys live somewhere more convenient for you now, then in a few years, you move some place convenient for him. You pick the color of the living room, he picks out the couch. You decide when to have a kid, he picks the name. Do whatever works to define compromise for the two of you. Maybe living exactly halfway isn't a good solution for either of you this round. So your compromise is some other solution, like putting off living together.

Good luck. And I speak from experience when I say that I agree about being very cautious about letting BF's father in on this conversation.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:46 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

To put the viewpoint of someone who might in other circumstances be on the other side of this: I have never commuted more than 20 minutes in my entire life post college. For the vast majority of that time, I've commuted by bike.

I would personally find it very hard to give this up: so much so, that it has probably affected my career. Regardless, the benefit to me of having that time as my own, the flexibility to go in and out of the office whenever I want & having that exercise built into my daily routine is something I've always valued very highly. If I were in your boyfriend's position, I would be dreading the moment when I had to give those things up, no matter how much I valued the other things I was getting.

I'm not saying that he's in the right, but you may perhaps be underestimating the emotional wrench that this represents for him. Ignore all the people up thread who say "this is no big deal". It may well be a big deal for him; it certainly would be for me.

Obviously a 1.5 hour commute to and from your course just isn't going to work: ultimately you're just going to have to lay it out for him that either you find somewhere that's reduces that commute for you, or you live apart for the duration.
posted by pharm at 3:46 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You are not being the least bit unreasonable in this situation.

However, as telling him about this issue has thus far failed to work, why don't you show him instead?

Ask him to take a personal day off of work and drive you to and from school. Just one day. If it's not a big deal for you to do it every single day, why should he complain about doing it for ONE DAY? If he agrees to do this (which, tbh, I don't really think he'll do) he will at least have some kind of perspective about what you're basing your argument on.
posted by elizardbits at 3:59 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: People believe their own data. It's one thing to hear someone say that the commute is long; it's another thing to experience it first-hand.

Could you spend a week at his place (a long commute is a long commute, regardless of the starting point) and ask him to drop you off and pick you up from school that week?
posted by Houstonian at 4:00 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

People do not change when they marry.

Just sayin'.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:00 PM on December 5, 2010 [11 favorites]

It's not that we don't understand that this is a sacrifice for the boyfriend. It's his expectation that he have a 20 minute commute while his girlfriend puts up with an hour and a half. If someone expects you to put up with a terrible burden that they themselves will not assume, how committed to you can they be?
posted by Sara C. at 4:01 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Honestly, you shouldn't move in together right now. He's never commuted more than 10 minutes. He has a nice cushy life. He is only moving to be with you. He is going to suddenly be womped on the head with a what, one hour commute?, and he will resent the hell out of you. There is a very sizeable chance this will contaminate your relationship and you'll both end up moving back out.

I'd just wait. It doesn't sound like he's ready to make actual sacrifices - the commute - for what he wants - living with you. I think you need to be the bigger person with the borader perspective for the sake of his mental health, your time and the relationship and declare No Cohabitation for now.

posted by DarlingBri at 4:11 PM on December 5, 2010 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Take the theoretical out of it. Drive from proposed place to Law School. The point is not to have identical commutes. The point is that a busy law student doesn't have 3 hours/day for commuting. Find a neighborhood you like. Make a counter-proposal. You want to live with him, but not at the cost of your degree. If you don't live with him, you want to live not too far from him. I wouldn't make this a dealbreaker.
posted by theora55 at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Is it possible he doesn't understand exactly what the 40-mile commute would mean for you? Have you told him flat out that that commute would require you to wake up at 4:30-5am and spend 1.5 hours in the car each way? Maybe he hasn't done the math.

I agree with those who said that you need to stop tip-toeing around him and worrying about offending him. Say it like it is: moving to the condo will result in WAY more of a commuting burden for you than for him, and it's more of a burden than you are willing to deal with. Tell him the choice is to (a) move somewhere equidistant or (b) maintain separate apartments. If he continues to evade the conversation, he is choosing option (b) by default (and I'd be concerned that he evades conversations like this, period).
posted by whitelily at 4:59 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

"His family would not let him "lose" me, if that makes sense. He was single for a long time and they're happy for us. My guess is, if his father knew BF isn't too keen on this new area I've proposed (an area the father also suggested to BF), he'd do whatever he could to give a wake-up call to my BF."

maybe he feels like even though he's ready for settling down, moving forward, moving in with each other - part of him is pulling back because from his viewpoint it sort of feels like his girlfriend and his father are running his life, making his choices, and pushing him from longterm bachelor to pre-married. maybe he feels a lack of control because he is on the unresponsible side of this equation and he knows that logically you are both right, but, that he feels sort of railroaded by it all.

again, i think you're on the reasonable side, but his dad sounds a little too involved in all this. you might be seeing some adolescent challenging of authority. don't let his dad fight these battles for you. make this about just the two of you.

another thought : before my current relationship i was terrible at knowing when to bring up big conversations. i'm the sort of person that says what i'm thinking, when i'm thinking it. if i am mulling over a huge issue and something triggers me to vocalize it, i used to not give any thought to the when, the why, the how. i finally learned in the last couple years to choose when i talk about something so everyone is as emotionally ready for the conversation. i used to see my former partners' inability to talk about big things whenever as a fault in them. i learned to realize it's just a difference in communication styles. once i started trying to communicate in ways that my husband can more easily receive, everything got a lot easier.
posted by nadawi at 5:04 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm more willing to commute a little further once I have my career established, I don't have the academic pressure I have now, etc...

I really think you need to find a way to discuss all of this now because it will likely remain an issue if you get a job in Miami. As a lawyer for 15 years, my experience was that working in a law firm was significantly more time-intensive and pressure-filled than law school ever was--especially before I made partner. I think most of my colleagues would agree that this was their experience too regardless of the law school attended. When I was working, I commuted 15 minutes or less and was grateful for that since my time was extremely limited due to the billable hour requirements and demands of the job. That said, I once had a 45 minute commute each way for about 4 months and it really, really sucked. I had absolutely no time for myself.

I am sympathetic to your BF because I truly cherished my short commute. But I did not have anyone else to accommodate--he does. Because your job will likely be as or more demanding than school is now, this will remain an issue if you get a job in Miami. Therefore, it is the time to have the difficult talk now. I also hate the "Difficult Talk" (isn't it strange how we lawyer types do in our personal life?), but the ability to do so is critical to a successful future together. There will be many more difficult accommodations and compromises that will need to be fairly borne by both of you in the future. I agree with Nadawi's advice on picking the right time and place to have the conversation and with the others who said to keep BF's Dad out of it. Like you, I would be hugely tempted to solicit BF Dad's help, but please don't do that for the sake of your relationship. Good luck!
posted by murrey at 5:54 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've gotten great advice above, so this is just another way of putting the same point. Think about this in a broader way for a minute. Your boyfriend works 60 miles (~1.5 hours) from the nearest big city and is very reluctant to live more than 20 minutes away from his job or change jobs. If he wants to have a live-in life partner of any kind, he is essentially requiring her to either 1) find a job in his area, which probably has many fewer opportunities than Miami, and thus may mean a substantial hit to her career, or 2) accept a painfully long commute. Is that how he wants to live for the rest of his life?
posted by synchronia at 6:00 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

How much longer do you have left to do of law school? A year or two?

Table the "let's shack up and commit and settle down" discussion until you're out. You'll probably have to deal with this moving issue all over again once you're in a different life situation, and the circumstances may change.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:31 PM on December 5, 2010

Best answer: BTW, re: I’ve tried to talk to him 2x now but he always eventually tells me that he “doesn’t want to have this conversation right now.”

In our relationship, the proper response to this is "ok, then it's your turn to bring the topic up at a time when you do want to talk about it. You have until Sunday." Everyone wins.

This works for us because we've agreed that it's ok to not feel like having a particular conversation, but not ok to ignore relationship issues indefinitely.
posted by nadise at 10:44 PM on December 5, 2010 [13 favorites]

I agree with DarlingBri and although I sympathize with you I can definitely see your boyfriend's point. For some people (and I'm one of them), it's not just about the commute. I like to live in the thick of things, with shops, restaurants, etc all withing walking distance. I think the suburbs are boring and maybe I'll move to them someday if I decide to buy a house and have kids. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it's not about minutes or miles, so don't get stuck on the details if for him it's a lifestyle issue= awesome place near his work, his friends, and all the things he likes to do vs. boring place far away from everything. If he's not ready to make that move quite yet it doesn't mean your relationship is doomed or that he's a bad guy. And since you're in law school a long commute is highly impractical. I think that for now, you should get your own place right near law school and then spend weekends together.
posted by emd3737 at 4:56 AM on December 6, 2010

Law school is 2 years, right? How much time do you have left?

Why not postpone moving until you get a job? Live in Miami while in law school, then try to get a job in Lauderdale. If you can't get a job in Fort Lauderdale, then try to find some compromise location. You might find a great job in Fort Lauderdale and if you guys had moved south of the city, it would be a suboptimal commute for you both.
posted by reddot at 7:56 AM on December 6, 2010

Find a place near your law school, and make him commute there to visit you.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 8:21 AM on December 6, 2010

Honestly the best solution in my eyes would be for him to keep his place close to his current work, and for you to get an apartment close to campus until you are close to finishing with school, and visit each other a couple times a week. Both of you will have more time in your lives if you drive 3-5 miles for your commutes 5 days a week, and then one of you drives 60 2 times a week than if you both drive 30+ 5 times a week. You can switch off who visits. If you are so busy with law school then you'll probably be studying most of the time you're living with him anyways, and it can be nice to have a weekend with your honey to look forward too. Especially if you both understand this would be a temporary thing.

You can try and make him move but I suspect he will resent you for it, at least secretly. If someone works 8 hours a day, there are only about 7 hours of personal time you have available to you - the difference between 20 minutes of commute time and an hour and a half of commute time is like cutting out 15% of their life!
posted by spatula at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks again, guys. Really. I'm sad but I feel undeniably better about everything.

The next time the conversation comes up I will say something along these lines, as nadise suggested:

"In our relationship, the proper response to this is "ok, then it's your turn to bring the topic up at a time when you do want to talk about it. You have until Sunday." Everyone wins. This works for us because we've agreed that it's ok to not feel like having a particular conversation, but not ok to ignore relationship issues indefinitely."

I have no problem living apart from him. Even if it wasn't for his apparent stubbornness, I'd be hesitant because of the combined stress of living together for the first time + school. I can't have that.

I've marked many posts here as the best answer because they all contain points I'd like to stress to my BF if he insists on discussing it further. Clearly, the best decision for both of us is to keep our separate places and see each other on the weekends, which is more than doable. I don't expect this conversation to escalate into anything or break down our relationship, but I am curious to see how or if this changes the dynamics of our relationship. Sigh... I have a lot to think about.

Thank you all again for the wonderful advice.
posted by overyourhead at 6:46 PM on December 6, 2010

Best answer: As someone who has sacrificed more than her fair share with guys, I say you put yourself first. No matter what. He is being unreasonable. More importantly, his disregard to want to continue the conversation or to even explore other options tell me...and I am sorry to mention this...that he is either a) not mature enough to handle such a step and/or b) is evading the step and just can't blatantly say so. Actions speak louder than words and such a scenario is far more common in men, especially those who are committed, but not committed enough. Living with a guy and going to school full time are worlds colliding that you should not deal with at this current time. Put yourself first. And I say this not in the sense that "he will not put you first," etc., but in the sense that you should not have to depend on anyone to put you first. He may be there in the future, he may not. You cannot guarantee that. You can, however, guarantee that your education and career will be.

As far as dynamics together changes everything. Granted, all men are different, but I've heard some pretty ridiculous statements from guys I've moved in. I would hate for you to have to deal with that stress while focusing on school.
posted by penguingrl at 12:28 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you've already got your answer, but here's my two cents: No, this is not a compromise, and his ridiculous demands should be a strong hint that he does not view your relationship as an equal partnership worthy of mutual give and take.

No matter how much you like the guy, this situation should be a red flag for you. A giant red flag with horns blazing and a flashing neon sign reading "Narcissist."

You can fiddle with Google Maps and debate the merits of various towns and talk until you're breathless about distance/fairness/sacrifice, etc., but this is really about power and control in the relationship, rather than driving or compromise or whether you're being too demanding.

He's sending you a message, even if he is not consciously aware of it, that his needs are more important than yours and you should do what he wants. When you try to reason with him, he gets passive-aggressive and refuses to discuss it. This is not healthy, and acquiescing will not make things better for you.

This is not self-help fluff, it's reality: You must do what's best for you. You will be under enough pressure in law school without adding an unreasonable commute to the picture. You know this.

He might be a swell guy who doesn't realize he's being selfish and just needs a bit of a wakeup call. Or he may be a controlling jackass who is used to getting his way and has no intention of changing. Or maybe he's something in between.

In any event, if you give in (and it most certainly would be giving in, which is different than compromising), you will set a precedent in the relationship and reinforce his expectation of always having his needs met.

You already know what you should do, so do it. His response to your decision will speak volumes about what kind of person he is and what you can expect from him in the future.

Good luck.
posted by kim in chicago at 2:04 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

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