The love and career dilema...again
November 30, 2017 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Some weeks ago I went through the same situation and even posted a question here. I have a very stable 2 years relationship but my company is offering me to move overseas.

I am a 32 years old gay man. Last time they offered me 10 month temporal position in France with no extra salary. At the end I said no thanks, as I did not want to put in risk what I have with my partner, considering that once I had finished my assignment they could relocate me anywhere else.
Now they have come up with a new position, this time in Amsterdam at the global headquarters and a permanent one as it is a promotion with a new salary and other benefits such as rent payment. This time I agreed to participate in the interviewing process, because there is still a chance they would not pick me after all and considering that 2 NOs in a row would almost guarantee my way out of my job. They take that very seriously like I "don't have any desire to grow within the company"
The thing is that my partner could not move with me and basically might never be able to, as he is running his business here in Argentina. A permanent overseas job would definetely mean the end of our relationship. And finding a good partner has always been very difficult to me.
I am very stressed and feeling confused, because we love each other so much and our relationship has been great, we are truly soul mates. But at the other hand I am not sure if life is trying to tell me something. And that makes me feel guilty as well.

Have you ever been through something like that?
posted by Nikolai2017 to Human Relations (10 answers total)
Life doesn't try to tell us things. We make meaning from experience, but there is no evidence that there is some kind of force outside of us that gives us messages. That said, it's entirely possible that you are trying to tell yourself something by applying for these jobs.

In these situations I like to take out a sheet of paper and draw one line horizontally across the center and another vertically across the center, giving me four equal quadrants. In one quadrant I write the pros of staying in my current position, in another I write the cons of staying in my current position, in the third I write the pros of leaving, and in the fourth I write the cons of leaving. Then I make four separate lists. In the pros of leaving, I would probably put things like better job opportunity, better salary, moving upward in my position, a new adventure in Amsterdam. In the cons of leaving, I might write about losing my partnership. The pros of staying mean that you get to maintain your partnership, but also there may be things that you really enjoy about your job that you are otherwise going to lose. And so on for the cons of staying.

This method helps me really evaluate each option independently, by looking at the good and bad parts of my options separately.

Personally, I have always picked my career over partnerships. I think that has worked out fairly well for me, although I am lonely. But this is an individual decision and I actually don't think that we can give you solid advice about a life choice this large. This is something that you're going to have to really spend some time to figure out yourself, and honestly you may always feel a bit uncertain about the road that you did not take. That is what happens with big choices.

Best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 5:37 PM on November 30, 2017 [9 favorites]

Could you take the job and try it out for a year? Each of you could plan to visit the other twice so you could see each other every few months. You could always quit after the year if you miss your partner and Argentina too much. Likewise, at the end of the year he could look into selling his business and moving to Amsterdam to be with you. I know you would never ask your partner to give up his work but perhaps it'd be different if he decided to do so himself.

I think you absolutely made the right decision on the first offer but this one is a bit different because there are more long-term options. It sounds like you would really like to move and try this out! It's OK to do this, and there are ways to try that aren't so black and white. I believe that, if a relationship is meant to last, it can stand a year apart; it's not ideal but do-able and worth it in the long-term so both partners can follow their dreams.

FWIW, Amsterdam is a great city and very gay friendly.
posted by smorgasbord at 6:29 PM on November 30, 2017 [7 favorites]

What is your partner's perspective on this? At two years in a stable relationship, this should be something the two of you can discuss together. You mention that he likely wouldn't be able to come and keep his career as it is now, but what does he say when you ask him what you should do? Does he encourage you to go for it? Are you assuming that he wouldn't be able to go with you, or is that something he's said? Have the two of you put your heads together to think about solutions that might allow both of you to maintain your careers, while also maintaining your relationship with each other? (I'm not saying it's necessarily possible to find a solution like that--it may be impossible--my question is, have you talked over possibilities and tried to come up with something?)

If you feel you can't talk about this with your partner, or if his response is an immediate "no, stay" without talking through possibilities that could allow you to follow this opportunity while staying together, those would be points against staying for love, in my opinion. Five years from now, when you look back on this decision, you want to feel that you and your partner made this decision as a team (or that you made it for yourself with his participation as a support), and that your partner would have supported you either way to do the thing that was best for both of you, long-term. You do not want to look back and feel that you had to sacrifice your career for this relationship, or else--that way lies resentment.

Personally, I have made career sacrifices for love, and have also made relationship sacrifices (going long-term long distance, not breaking up) for my career--all in the context of the same relationship. When I made choices that were bad for me career-wise and good for my relationship, my then-girlfriend was happy that we could stay together but always made it clear that she'd support me either way, and that we could try options that would be harder for our relationship but better for my career, too. And so a few years later, when I decided to go the other way and do things for my career that would make our relationship harder, I felt I could count on her to be supportive, and she was. It is possible for this thing to work out both ways, but in order for that to happen I believe that you have to be able to communicate about it really well, and you have to know that your partner supports your individual life/career success... whether or not you decide to chase it right this minute.
posted by snorkmaiden at 6:35 PM on November 30, 2017 [5 favorites]

This advice varies by employer and any number of other contingencies, but here's the rubric I pose for people in this position:

If you were straight, would you be comfortable telling your employer that you're having trouble making this decision because of your partner? Straight people bring up these issues all the time with their employers, and (increasingly) us gay folks do, too.

Some employers, like my own, are very comfortable hearing that their LGBT staff have qualms about taking positions because of their relationship status. I recognize that this is a modern luxury, and you may not be in a position to even bring it up. And yet, if you're facing the end of your career evolution as a result of denying opportunities like this one then you may be at the point of necessity in terms of sorting this out. Do you have someone in your company's HR department who you trust enough to have this kind of conversation? It may benefit you to do so if it's feasible.

It's easy for people to blithely say "take the job" or "take your relationship," but there are too may personal factors in play for that kind of advice to matter. Start with what you know: talk to your company, if you can, and see if they have any input that might be relevant. Some companies do.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 6:43 PM on November 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

If the primary reason he can't come is that he would never consider selling or moving his business and/or loves Argentina (it's home, family, etc) then it's something the two of you need to talk about. Maybe you stay. Maybe take the job for a year and see how it goes, one or both of you may change your minds, etc. But if this is the issue, it doesn't matter if your company opts to sponsor him too. They could offer to sponsor him and he could still be saying no or making excuses.

If it's logistics and your company isn't able to or won't sponsor a partner visa so he can go with you, and that's the primary problem, then it's worth exploring other options and finding a way.

My father-in-law has lived in and ran businesses in Germany, Chile, South Africa, and Australia. It can be done.

I think snorkmaiden has some really good advice.

Relationship aside, do you want the job? And, do you want to be an expat and live in the Netherlands for the foreseeable future, and only see your family on holidays, and learn the language, and their different cultural habits, and eat their food (and weird versions of Argentinian food) and everything that goes with it? Or do you want to live in Argentina and continue your career with a different company? How do you feel about Argentina?

If you have access to a therapist... this is totally worth seeing someone for a few times.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:42 PM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Unless your partner can sell his business and follow you to Amsterdam as the trailing spouse, you should tell your employer that you are not mobile, then start looking for another job in Argentina while they figure out how to let you go.
posted by Kwadeng at 8:35 PM on November 30, 2017

Is there any way that your partner's business could survive a move?
posted by rhizome at 9:32 PM on November 30, 2017

You don't say anywhere that you were actually offered this job. Maybe you can express some doubts about whether you are the right person to relocate to Amsterdam and they will pick someone else instead?

In any event, this is tough because if you give up a promotion you want for this guy, you might resent him and it could not work out. But if you take the job and don't meet someone else, you'll wonder what could've been. I think you need to weigh how much you want this job you have and what kind of future you see with this partner. No one can answer this for you. I know I am a more career oriented person and, though I have never been in this situation, I'd be hesitant to give up a job that could improve my quality of life and career. But the older I get, the less my career matters because I have other options and plenty of savings to be comfortable. This may depend where you are in your career and how much it matters to you right now.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:12 AM on December 1, 2017

"don't have any desire to grow within the company"

Made me laugh out loud.

Believe me, your company doesn't give two hoots about you. They'll say all kinds of things to pressure you, but if someone who is more qualified and cheaper comes along, they'll fire you the same day. I know this because I am an employer.

Do yourself a favour and stay in Argentina. If they fire you you can get another job. Who cares.
posted by BeaverTerror at 3:30 AM on December 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

.A permanent overseas job would definetely mean the end of our relationship. And finding a good partner has always been very difficult to me.

I think you buried the lede here. It is worth honestly considering how much of your hesitation is about the specialness of this particular relationship, and how much it is about fears that replicating it won't be guaranteed.
posted by headnsouth at 3:36 AM on December 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

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