Moving, or moving on?
October 2, 2012 8:28 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend of one year just learned that he'll be laid off in the next few months. He's now applying for jobs in our hometown, as well as dream jobs that are halfway across the country. We need to discuss what we'll do if he moves out of state -- Do I go or stay? LDR or break up? -- but I'm trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings about what I want first. What questions should I be asking myself?

I see lots of similar questions on MetaFilter and the Googlenets, but most folks want advice on what to do in their specific circumstances. I'm being intentionally vague about specifics here because I'd instead like advice on how to think about this decision and what factors I need to consider.
posted by commander biscuit to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am speaking as a married person, and from that perspective, my family comes first: I will not take a position that requires moving to a,place that my wife doesn't want to go, and leaving her behind is not an option because she is first and the job is second.

I understand that you're *not* married, and so the same rules don't necessarily apply, but I think what you do need to do is define your relationship to your boyfriend, is it a casual or temporary arrangement, something that you enjoy but would not risk your career fair, or is it your top priority?

Figure out what's more important to either of you: work or the relationship. If it's work, let him go if he finds the right job. If it's the relationship, figure out if you'd rather go with him or have him give up the long-distance job search.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:58 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

The big question with this is where your relationship is at. If you guys are a year in and obviously in it for the long haul, it's not stupid to think of relocating, too, if it interests you. If you guys are a year in and still very casual, I guess I'd cross that bridge when he comes to it. But probably with the assumption that you won't default to moving to be with him. Unless you want to move, of course.
posted by Sara C. at 9:03 PM on October 2, 2012

When you look at your future, do you see him in it? For how long? In what capacity?

Have you ever been in a LDR before? How do you think you would react to much decreased quality time? Are you good at talking on the phone? Writing letters? Would you entertain the idea of being in an open relationship? How long would you be apart for--is there a time limit?

As far as moving goes: Are you happy where you are? With your job/family/friends situation? Do you think you can have an equal or better life moving somewhere with him?
posted by dysh at 9:04 PM on October 2, 2012

Best answer: First, sit down and think about what your fantasies of some "perfect" future for *you* look like. Then decide how well he fits in that scenario. And, if so, where.

I have said at times that I got almost everything I wanted from my marriage except a sense of being loved. For example, I wanted to leave my hometown and travel. He wanted to join the military. Those two goals were compatible. We each got what we wanted out of it.

Moving to follow someone is a big commitment. If you do it (especially without marriage), make sure you are okay with the move even if the relationship ends. I have been in situations where I concluded something like "I am not willing to follow you to X place without being married to you. Marriage isn't happening. Maybe it is time to develop my exit strategy."

First hand experience and observation of other couples tells me it is generally a bad idea to behave in a more committed/sacrificing manner than your partner. (For example: he moves for job and you move for him even though not married.) If it isn't somehow equitable, it tends to cause big problems.
posted by Michele in California at 9:11 PM on October 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

- Will you be happy with the move even if you break up? Is moving something you'd consider doing even if you weren't with him?
- How well do you know your boyfriend? How long have you known him, what circumstances have you seen him under, what kind of situations have you been through together or seen him go through?
- Are you living together now? If you're not, is it something you'd be considering in the future anyway? How do you see things progressing if your BF suddenly gets his dream job right where you guys are right now?
- Other than the obvious issue of sex and physical contact, what would an LDR change about your relationship? Do you share a social circle or mostly have your own friends? How often are you together, and is it with other people or just each other? Do you spend a lot of time talking, or when you're together do you cuddle/socialize with other people/do competitive ballroom dance together?
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 10:21 PM on October 2, 2012

I'd been dating my husband for 1.5 years when he got laid off and moved across the country. I went with him because (a) I realized he was the best thing in my life by far (b) he cried at the thought of leaving me (c) I realized he was the person in my life that made everything okay and things wouldn't be okay without him. It was the best decision I ever made.
posted by bananafish at 10:43 PM on October 2, 2012

Ask yourself in the reverse situation what he would do.

Taking into account your respective fields and income levels, that insight should give you something to work with as far as your options. If he's a waiter and you work for shouldn't be moving for him.

That's the rational approach anyway. Sometimes you have to make irrational decisions in order to be happy. And there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 12:44 AM on October 3, 2012

If your boyfriend has to move for his career, it seems a good chance the move would also benefit your career. If you've never lived anywhere else, moving is a good idea for your own growth. If you're serious with your guy, all the better.

So, is the grass greener on the other side? It can be lovely doing this with someone you love. (on our 5th location in 15 years).
posted by Goofyy at 4:16 AM on October 3, 2012

"What questions should I be asking myself?"

Ask yourself if you really want to live your whole life in your hometown. What's your idea of a dream job? What do you want out of life in general? Have you explored the idea of moving independently for a closer LDR (e.g. he moves to DC, you move to Manhattan)?

Put yourself first: define your needs and expectations independently of whatever he happens to be doing. Once you get a grip on your own priorities, you'll be in a much healthier place to make decisions involving someone else.
posted by doreur at 4:17 AM on October 3, 2012

Best answer: To the extent that this line of thinking helps you better understand your relationship, it can be helpful. The things you learn about yourself and about your relationship will help you make decisions about your future together, regardless of whether he takes a job elsewhere.

To the extent that you're trying to cross a bridge before you come to it, so to speak, I think you could drive yourself crazy with this planning ahead. I say that as somebody who constantly is coming up with plans to deal with bad things that will probably never happen. It feels better to be prepared, right? But maybe it's better not to waste time worrying until that thing comes to pass. Or at least until you have a solid sign that it might come to pass, like he gets an interview in far-far-away-land.

I guess my points are two-fold:
1) You could still likely benefit from figuring out your long-term plans about this guy, and how or whether he fits into your future. Maybe it's less scary to contemplate "What will I do if he moves for a job?" but be aware that the answers you come up with will still affect your relationship even if he doesn't move.
2) Don't stress yourself out too much about planning for what might be.
posted by vytae at 4:23 AM on October 3, 2012

My response is personal and likely not applicable to most people.

First, figure out what is absolutely unacceptable. For me, that's being in an LDR, living outside a big city, and not having a job in my field.

Then, figure out best and worst case scenarios and probably the in between ones too. If my boyfriend (of under a year, but committed, and we are living together) becomes unemployed, the best case scenario is he finds a job where we live. The worst is he never works again (though that would be really strange for who he is). But finding a job elsewhere and moving to another big city, freelancing, and going back to school are also options. This is especially true since I make enough to support the both of us.

Figure out the same things for your partner. So mine would hate to never work. He would probably not want to go back to school full time.

We would list all the options in order and wait until the job search sends back results, acceptance or rejection, and pick the top choice that is compatible with the job offers (or lack thereof).
posted by ethidda at 6:59 AM on October 3, 2012

Oh, in my response, breaking up is also not an option. But depending on your relationship, it may be.
posted by ethidda at 7:00 AM on October 3, 2012

I have been on both sides of this (the partner who moved and the partner to someone who had to move). I spent a lot of time obsessing and planning over what 'might' happen (like vytae's comment above) and in the end it came down to two things, mostly - money and what my partner wanted/needed/could realistically accomodate. 'Money' isn't meant to be a cold statement, but it's realistic - moving a household to another city is VERY expensive, and unless there is a job waiting for both of you and/or a relocation package, that kind of stress can destroy a previously-happy relationship with a quickness you wouldn't have believed before.

fwiw, both of my relationships that went through this were 6x longer than yours is currently and both relationships ended to accomodate the moves. In both cases it was due to my partner's needs and ability - one was going to grad school and couldn't afford to support me while I looked for a job on top of a cross-country move, and the other was going to grad school and couldn't leave it to move to another country. In the first case I tried to 'push' it because I thought he was 'the one' and we are no longer on speaking terms. In the second I was honest even though it hurt, and he was too, and we are still buddies. ymmv of course.
posted by par court at 7:20 AM on October 3, 2012

It's all about money, ain't a damn thing funny. If you aren't married to the guy you shouldn't move for him unless you find a job there where you could support yourself if things go south.

Tangentially related - would you need to take a huge step down in your career to get a job in new location? Might not be worth it to move then. If you decide to stay where you are for a good job, factor in the new cost of visiting / hosting SO as often as possible to keep the relationship going.

Sorry to be a debbie downer, but sometimes in situations like this there's just going to have to be one partner that gives something up (but I really don't think you should be that partner unless you're married)
posted by WeekendJen at 7:42 AM on October 3, 2012

Question number 1: Are we on the same page as far as our relationship is concerned.

The fact that he's considering a move, and not really asking for your opinion on it, is telling.

Question number 2: Under what circumstances would I quit my job and move to be with my boyfriend?

Would you have to be engaged? Would you do it for the hell of it, whether or not you were in a relationship? Would you have to be guaranteed a job and your own place in new city? Do you not want to quit your job or move? What's the skinny?

Question number 3: What would I be doing if Boyfriend wasn't in the equation?

You didn't come up with this idea on your own, but does it have you thinking? Are you enticed by the idea of a new job in a new city? Does this sound like the coolest adventure ever?

If you are both so in love that you can't stand the idea of not being together, if you love the idea of getting a fresh start in a new part of the country, then hey, why not?

If your relationship is at a crossroads, if your boyfriend is ready to move on, if you're rooted where you are and like it fine, then it's probably going to be the end of your relationship if he gets a job and moves.

LDR. If you're not convinced today, either about your relationship or about your future prospects at your job, then you might want to try a LDR. I've done it, it worked for me. But I knew what I wanted and we were working towards that. Within 8 months of dating, Husbunny had proposed and moved to Florida to be with me.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:01 AM on October 3, 2012

Keep in mind if you aren't sure about marrying this guy now an LDR, even one where you see each other every 2 or 3 weeks, isn't going to make you more sure. If you do consider an LDR, be honest with yourself as to whether you're just putting off a breakup.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 9:30 AM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised by the answers I'm reading here. To me, it's really obvious that there's only one thing you need to think about, and your course of action is clear. Maybe I'm older than most of these responders? I'm female and 58.

So he's getting laid off and needs to find a new job. Did he talk with you about his plans before he started applying for these faraway jobs? Has he shown any interest at all in your feelings or preferences? From what you've written, it sounds like he decided to apply for these jobs without considering you at all.

I think this tells you all you need to know about your relationship and how he feels about you. I am so sorry, but this is really all you need to think about. He has made plans for the future without you. There's no need to discuss this further. In fact, discussion will just be hurtful and confusing.

I know this hurts you a lot, and you don't want to think about it, but the hard truth is that you are not that important to him. It's time for you to make plans for your future without him. You definitely don't want to move or have an LDR with someone who cares so little about your own needs, concerns, hopes, and dreams.

Please don't prolong this.
posted by islandeady at 6:51 AM on October 5, 2012

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