Stuck in the middle
January 14, 2022 6:14 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I are planning on moving, but we want to move to different places. Not sure how to solve this!

My partner moved to CO for grad school and I followed him out here. Didn’t like it, and neither did he. We’re still here after he finished because he found a job and I had a good job in Denver, but now I have a fully remote job based on the east coast.

We moved here from Baltimore but are both from the south, with a good amount of family and both have old friends in Atlanta. We both loved Baltimore. I made my closest friends there and my best friend lives in DC. I would love to move back there in a heartbeat. We likely would not move anywhere for another year for partners 401k vesting unless something big comes up.

Last night we talked about missing community. Like actual in person community (this was prompted by a tiktok about how having friends scattered and being in touch with them via phone and online just isn’t enough, community care is as important as self care, and our communities are far away.) we have friends here in Colorado, but our closest (and for me, all my fellow queer POC friends are on the east coast, which is so vital to my own mental health) are not here. While I’ve made effort to make some POC community, it’s not diverse here. My partner is white, but he does not want to live in this not-diverse of a place either. Even if we thought of moving to Aurora or another neighborhood, point is, our closest folks are not here and we want to be back closer to them after branching out for jobs, and we know the east is way more diverse.

We’re 30 and 29, so not really young anymore, and know making community again is not easy (this is the 10th place I’ve moved to) and we’ve done it somewhat but we just miss our besties.

We thought Atlanta would be the no brainer place to move. Diverse, he has some friends there, I have some friends there (but not anyone I keep in regular touch with) and my family has pressured me to move there for years. In fact, me moving there hinges on my parents moving there. My sister has been asking them to move there so she can take care of them as they get older (72 and 62 yo) but they said they won’t move there unless the whole family is there, meaning me. Although I love my family, we have issues. I won’t say they’re abusive but I won’t say that they’re not NOT abusive. I have been in therapy for years to figure out how to draw boundaries with them. My family is very mad when I tell them I’m considering moving back to Baltimore and told me that I’m selfish and they’ll die soon. I feel pressure to move to Atlanta and I think my family being there is giving me mixed feelings. I want to be there as I don’t know how long my parents will be around, and to help take some burden from my sister, but I also don’t like being around my sister. Years ago she hit me and I still can’t get over a slight fear and resentment of her. No one accepts my queerness. They are the only family I have (more complicated culture things there won’t go into it) and I do love them, despite it all.

Through therapy, I realized my strongest desire is to move to Baltimore/DC as my closest friends are there, we liked the area, and job prospects are pretty good. However, my partner doesn’t have any close friends there and while he is friendly with mine, he isn’t queer and is white, so he likely wouldn’t be best friends with mine (I say this from my friends perspectives—they’re just not interested in making community but will gladly welcome him since he’s my partner.) I get worried because it takes him longer to make friends and often will make friends with mine, but not often make his own. In Atlanta he has closer friends and his family would be a 4 hour drive away from there. I want him to have as much community and access to close friends as I want to.

Here’s where we’re at a sort of impasse (but not completely, because we both want each other to be happy.) while partner would be willing to move to Baltimore, he knows he would be closer to built in community in Atlanta. He would be willing to compromise but mentioned he might be regretful. I could move to Atlanta but I think I would be regretful. Baltimore/DC would be a short plane ride, but to know I am a plane ride away from my closest friends still sucks a lot for me. We both want the other to be happy and be happy ourselves. In some ideal world where we had a bunch of money, we would split our time between both or live separately but that’s never going to happen lol.

How exactly do we solve this? Some kind of weighted pros and cons list? We are already in couples therapy to explore marriage and other things (it’s not a last resort or separate thing, we just wanted to try therapy together) so maybe this is something we can bring up, but definitely doesn’t feel like a quick coin toss and go for it. Any personal experiences and stories are helpful too, especially from queer POC perspectives.
posted by buttonedup to Human Relations (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I see a lot about besties and family. I didn't see anything about cost of living, transportation, political climate, actual climate/climate change impacts, access to food, water, clean air, job prospects for when one/both of you need new jobs, natural resources and recreation, whether or not you'd want to move again in 5-10 years, whether or not either of you have any interest in children (and yes or no are both fine but it changes the calculus either way).

These are all things I discussed with my partner (now spouse) as we moved around the country together. We are now in a place with no local family but a a few good friends, and it is just right in most other aspects that are important to us. The downsides still bug us, but I've mostly come to peace with it.

It's very tough and there's going to be large downsides to anywhere you go.

Remember, what you're doing is rather unprecedented in the context of human history, and as the disadvantages make you squirm, remember all the privilege and advantage you have that has put you in this difficult position; good luck!
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:51 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I see a lot about besties and family. I didn't see anything about cost of living, transportation, political climate, actual climate/climate change impacts, job prospects for when one/both of you need new jobs, whether or not you'd want to move again in 5-10 years, whether or not either of you have any interest in children (and yes or no are both fine but it changes the calculus either way.

Thanks for this! Just to clarify, that isn't mentioned in this question as we have/are discussing this and aren't as much conflicted on those topics between Atlanta and DC/Baltimore. Friends and family came up as the topic we are stuck on in the part of this decision.
posted by buttonedup at 6:54 AM on January 14

If you were my partner or friend I would be heartily encouraging you not to move to Atlanta. Your family there does not accept you and has in the past been physically abusive to you, and you deserve a safe distance from being pulled further into that orbit. Especially knowing you already have trouble drawing boundaries with family. While I understand and sympathize with his desire to be close to his own people, your family situation seems to be to make that a non-starter, in my eyes, though I understand this may be partly a matter of cultural background that makes it a lot murkier for you.

If Baltimore doesn't tick all the right boxes then you should perhaps spend some time together looking at whether there's anywhere else you might consider that would get you in close enough range to his family without putting you dangerously close to yours, but I think you should take Atlanta off the table for now. Start with a pro/con list of Baltimore vs. "looking for a third option" and go from there.

(For context for you: I'm queer. I'm not a POC. My also-queer partner has an abusive, unaccepting family - as well as some good family in the same place - and nothing in the world would induce me to live in the same city as them. Not if all my other family and friends moved there, not if my dream job were there, not if it were the second-to-last place on earth. All of those benefits for me would be completely outweighed by the damage it would do to my partner's well-being. If he desperately wanted to, I'd try to talk him out of it, although maybe I'd eventually give in with a clear escape plan.)
posted by Stacey at 7:39 AM on January 14 [6 favorites]

...from my friends perspectives—they’re just not interested in making community but will gladly welcome him since he’s my partner.

This would be a huge item in the "cons" column for Baltimore if I were your partner. Couples should of course have some separate friends and activities and all that, but if your core community wouldn't be his community too, then your most meaningful experiences and relationships would be separate. Imagine having your people over and him feeling like a guest at his own dinner party. It seems like a small gap but it's bound to get bigger over time as those other relationships deepen.

If Atlanta wouldn't work for you and DC/Balt wouldn't work for him, then someplace in between could be an option. Charlotte is an airline hub; Asheville is pretty white but definitely progressive; Roanoke has a vibrant LGBTQ+ community and is driveable, has Amtrak's Northeast Regional (the train is fantastic these days), and has a small, easy-in-easy-out airport. I'm in Roanoke with DC roots - in my experience, being within roadtrip distance of my people makes all the difference.

Not sure why you're reluctant to talk about it in couples therapy, it's a perfect subject. Choosing where to live is just as important as any other life decision you make together.
posted by headnsouth at 8:05 AM on January 14 [10 favorites]

The thing that stands out to me is that you don't really want to move to Atlanta, and the main reason it's on your list seems to be arm-twisting from family to help take care of some olds who... don't even live there yet. If they have this power over you from 8 states away, what's it gonna be like to live 8 blocks away?

So I would nope that one right off.

If your dude has no strong opinions, maybe he'd move to Baltimore because that's where you want to be? And maybe you could thank him by agreeing to let him have more say over house/neighborhood or he can have the car he wants or whatever. It's a little transactional, yes, but he gets to feel like he gets something "his" in the move. Just some thoughts.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 8:59 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

If your partner lived in Baltimore before and loved it, what was his community like there at that point?

I moved to a city that I thought I wouldn't like because my partner wanted to move there, and I ended up loving it; if it was just your partner making the case for Atlanta, I might say that it could turn out fine, but what you say about your family is worrisome. To me, it seems most likely to work out if you move to Baltimore.
posted by pinochiette at 9:01 AM on January 14 [6 favorites]

My family is very mad when I tell them I’m considering moving back to Baltimore and told me that I’m selfish and they’ll die soon.

I have to say this would be enough to make sure that I didn't move to Atlanta.

I think this is the kind of thing you can't compromise on if you're only talking about one vector. Like, if you are ONLY choosing a community of friends that are in two different spots then it's very win/lose, like you win he loses, he wins you lose.

I would definitely look at all the other choices around moving to see what he could gain if you moved to Baltimore. For example, when my spouse and I were making a very similar choice (he wanted to stay in Government City and I wanted to move to Bigger City Where My Career Was), I agreed to buy a house in a waaaaaay more suburban spot than I personally wanted because it was the house he wanted. So I got the city, he got the house. So I guess my question is what else would be on the table if you did go for Baltimore?
posted by warriorqueen at 9:21 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

I would cross Atlanta off the list, because getting enmeshed with a family that treats you terribly and wants you there to perform labor is going to cause a lot of damage.

A tick in favor of Baltimore is that cost of living here continues to be quite reasonable (I'm in the area myself).
posted by champers at 11:14 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]

I would not move to Georgia because they'll suffer more from Climate Crisis than cities further north. Maybe talk to your folks and look for a location no more than an 8 hour drive from them. 72 and 62 yo? I'm in between those and don't plan on checking out too soon. Being guilted that way would not encourage me to move too close to them; 8 hours is a 1 day drive, manageable for emergencies and occasional visits.
posted by theora55 at 12:08 PM on January 14

Response by poster: Thank you all, this is really helpful to think about, and also validating that maybeeee being in close proximity to my family is not my best choice.

Not going to threadsit, last thing I’ll say, but I’m regards to my partner not being part of my community being a con, as I said, he is welcome into it and is part of it by extension of me. But he’s a straight cis white man, my close community of queer folks of color may or will not be his same type of close community as that’s their choice to protect from harm, but we have some shared community where things overlap. I’m not sure why that felt important to me to point out, but I do want to thank everyone. We will bring this up in therapy!
posted by buttonedup at 12:59 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]

From a queer Canadian POC perspective: community is SO important when you're queer POC. I think there's more at stake for you to be in Atlanta than for him to be in Baltimore. If you move to Atlanta, then you have to deal with all the complicated family stuff, and it's assumed that your partner would help you through that. Is he prepared for that? (Are you also prepared to deal with family stuff and be clear about what support you need from him?) If you move to Baltimore, you have excellent community support, but him less so. So what would be your role with him (if any) in trying to make new friends? How could you help him with that? Those are my $0.02 CAD.
posted by foxjacket at 10:04 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]

One thing to think about wrt Atlanta:

People say "Oh, I'm moving to Atlanta" like Atlanta is one place.

This is not at all true! Atlanta is a city that is beset by crippling traffic that keeps neighborhoods fairly isolated and distinctive.

So if your family lives in, say, Marietta, they probably will say "Oh, we live in Atlanta." But Marietta is a completely different place from, say, East Atlanta Village: traffic will completely separate you, and while you can drive there when you need to, you will effectively live in different places. Close enough to feel vulnerable to pressure to show up for Mother's Day, yes; close enough to be guilt tripped for being over for dinner on a weekday, no.

And some of those suburbanites literally believe that intown Atlanta (which is a wonderful place!) will murder them in their sleep. If you live in Decatur and they live in Kennesaw, they aren't even going to be comfortable having lunch where you live. So keep that in mind!
posted by billjings at 1:13 PM on January 18

« Older Marijuana for pain and noobs   |   What do you call this latch? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments