Not moving to DC with fiance a huge mistake?
June 14, 2007 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Am I making a huge mistake by not following my fiance to Washington DC?

We have dated for about 5 years and been engaged for the past 1 year. This girl is my best friend and more.

For the past year, she and I have lived together while she worked fulltime at a law office, preparing to go to law school. During that time, I took on a job that has me travelling often, but usually not for more than a week at a time (if it tells you anything, I reached Delta Gold Medallion status within a few months).

Now, after all of the acceptance (and rejection) letters have come in, she has decided to go to George Washington University. While she decided this, I decided to put down a deposit on a rental house in SoCal that I was intending to live in with some friends of mine. We told everyone (and ourselves) that we were making the difficult but mature decision to let each other do what they wanted to do and I would just use my ever amassing skymiles to fly out and see her once a month or so.

Several weeks ago she left for Thailand to do a teaching abroad program that she had been interested in. It is in this time that I have come to realize just how much I had underestimated what a big deal this next year could be.

Now I am having serious doubts. On the one hand, I don't want to screw over my friends by pulling out (though I am sure I could find someone who wouldn't mind taking the master bedroom in a two story house in a college area), but I also don't want to jeopordize my relationship by not being around. I love my friends and all, but my whole reasoning for living with them was that we were going to be putting together a small startup company and it looks like I may be the only one strongly motivated to do so.

[SPOILER ALERT] I think this second-guessing came about after having watched Knocked Up and seeing that sometimes great friends and a good idea go nowhere. [/SPOILER ALERT]

I would love to hear some of your opinions and anecdotes about whether or not you think I am making a mistake. Yes, I know that you don't know us specifically and things could go either way. What I want to hear are some real life stories, experiences, and what you would have done differently had you been given the chance.
posted by ThFullEffect to Human Relations (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also: moving would not hurt my job status at all, in fact they asked me a while ago if I was interested in moving to the Northeast, as they didn't really want to hire someone new.

For the business crowd: Would there be any point in asking my employer for a raise or to cover moving costs if I did end up moving, since it is in their best interest for me to do so?
posted by ThFullEffect at 2:01 PM on June 14, 2007

Two questions:

Do you love her?

Do you trust her?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 2:04 PM on June 14, 2007

You don't get to have it all. Nobody does. If you want to marry this person, make her a priority. She should be doing the same for you. So live with her now, while she doesn't have other options, and then when she graduates figure out something new that you both can live with.
posted by overhauser at 2:12 PM on June 14, 2007

After reading your post, my gut says follow her. I can't explain why, but I just think you should.

What does your gut say?
posted by hollisimo at 2:13 PM on June 14, 2007

In my first year of law school my wife was in Japan and I didn't see her once. To make things worse I was in a new city where I didn't know anyone. Life sucked hard (more for me I think because she was still with all her friends and family, although it still sucked for her), I barely got to know the city (so I didn't like it) and I was pretty anti-social.

In my second year, my wife moved here and life was much better. I was more social with classmates and also hung out with my wife's friends. We've also gotten to know the city pretty well and like it here.

If I could have a do over I probably would defer my admission by a year so that my wife could be here for first year as well.

There were two other people (that I know of) in similar situations (ie in new cities and separate from their spouses), one of them applied to transfer to be closer to his fiancee with the intention of either transferring, or if that didn't happen then just dropping out of law school. I'm not sure if the transfer happened but he wasn't here for second year. The other one has taken second year off. I don't know if she'll be coming back.

I guess what I'm saying is that, the first year of law school can be rough. Especially if it's in a new city. If you can swing it, I would strongly recommend following her to DC - it will make her life much easier, and will probably be better for you as well.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:16 PM on June 14, 2007

I am a veteran of long-distance relationships. They are Not Fun, and in the end, Not Practical. If you want to be with this woman, you should follow her.
posted by EatTheWeek at 2:21 PM on June 14, 2007

You are planning to live in a house with friends in California so you can force them to build the company only you want to build? Have you all even started the hard work yet? If they're not motivated now, they never will be.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

My fiancée is living and working about a five hour drive from where I am. She couldn't find anything in her field here (she was working retail with a Masters in science) and I haven't had any luck finding a job there.

I was going to move down with her and find whatever I could, but then I got a great job offer here.

Unless things go totally awry, we will be living in different places for one year. Some of that will be after our wedding. :(

We have been together for seven and a half years and have been engaged for about one and a half.

It's tough, but not insurmountable. Have you two been long-distance at all prior to this? It should give you an indication of how you'll feel about your time apart.

One thing that's really helpful is to have a set schedule for telephone calls/chatting. Once a day, twice a week, whatever you're both comfortable with. Let the other person know ahead of time when not able to make the phone call or be there to receive it. Do not try to multitask during these phone calls (I have been guilty of this).

When you talk, spend some time on the future. It helps to hear/say that what you're going through now isn't by any means permanent and will be over. Discuss your life together.

On reading your comment. Moving wouldn't hurt your job status? So you'd just be staying to live with some friends? I don't see much of a reason for you not to go with her. Would it not be possible to work on your startup company over the Internet?
posted by ODiV at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2007

The first year of any postgraduate school can be rough. I missed my boyfriend's first year of grad school (because I was still an undergrad) and we went through all kinds of turmoil because the switch to long distance plus the new environment/new challenges threw him for a loop. If you can be there to help her through it, I think you should be. It'll work out better for you too, since many people take out school frustration on SOs and defusing tension is easier from across a room than from across a country.
posted by crinklebat at 2:23 PM on June 14, 2007

If you love her enough to get engaged, you should follow her.

There are lots of things you do in a marriage for the sole reason that they're important to the other person. Consider this practice. Someday she'll do the same for you.
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:25 PM on June 14, 2007

After observing the recent demise of a very good friend's marriage (he and his wife are both academics; they lived apart off-and-on for about half of their 12-year relationship because they each were ultimately more interested in developing their careers than their relationship), I agree wholeheartedly with overhauser: if you want to have a healthy marriage (i.e., not just "get married," but to be happy and grow as a couple long after the wedding's over), you must make your relationship and each other your shared mutual priority.

If that means making certain sacrifices in other arenas, such as your social and professional lives, then you need to make those sacrifices (within reason, of course -- you don't want to sacrifice your professional life to the ultimate detriment of your financial well-being). If either or both of you on a gut level don't want to make those sacrifices, that's fair enough -- but then that should give you serious pause to consider if you are really cut out to marry each other.
posted by scody at 2:26 PM on June 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

Just go with her. A vapor startup and a deposit on a rental are not sufficient cause to not physically be with your fiancé. Help your friends find someone to take the slot in the house. Ask yourself this interesting question: what's easier to telecommute? A strategy meeting for your maybe startup, or having sex with your wife? Hmmm. Reality check: USUALLY great friends and a good idea go nowhere. Distance is a huge strain on a relationship. Don't subject yourself to it unless the cause is truly compelling and there is a reasonable, fixed time limit on it.
posted by nanojath at 2:33 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dude, we have the internet here in DC. You can live here and still work on your startup. Use iChat or Skype or whatever for work, and use your miles to go to SoCal once a month for a week.
posted by procrastination at 2:33 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

As a veteran of a long-distance engagement (long since broken), I'm giving you my advice:

Follow her.
posted by limeonaire at 2:44 PM on June 14, 2007

nthing What does your gut say?

If it was me, my life and my circumstances, being apart would have been the best thing for me. (I knew my ex-wife for 4 months before we were engaged; 1 year total before marriage. We were in looove, and collapsed into each other - I essentially looked to her for my entire identity, and "gave up" a lot of the things I was passionate about. I lost a lot of my identity in the process. The marriage lasted 5 years.)

You have a potential to grow as a person and as an individual in this time. Whether or not the relationship makes it for a year apart is essentially irrelevant, IMO: you will know yourself more, and will be better for it, with or without her.

How much do you want to do this startup? How much do you enjoy what you will be doing with your friends? Do you have the ability to change your mind a month or two from now if you miss her too badly?

Nosce te ipsum, Carpe diem and all that.
posted by puddleglum at 2:44 PM on June 14, 2007

What's more important? Your relationship or yourself? Make sure you know the answer to this question and this answer can change as time goes on. And "I'd miss having her around" is not related to the answer to that question.

Would there be any point in asking my employer for a raise or to cover moving costs if I did end up moving, since it is in their best interest for me to do so?

Companies can provide compensation for moving. Ask if that's available to you - they'll cover the costs of moving or a portion of it.
posted by Stynxno at 3:07 PM on June 14, 2007

Let me get this straight... your only reasons for not following her are, despite already having a job lined up in DC, are (a) not wanting to force your friends to find a new roommate and (b) wanting to start a startup with these friends, who may or may not be really committed to the project. (Do you think *they'd* risk their relationships for this venture?). Also, you'd be taking on this huge project while on the road all the time?

Dude... be with her, if she means anything to you. If you're really keen on the startup, then do that while in DC. Find new investors/friends if you need to. (Easier said then done, but easier than finding a new fiance.)

Simply put, which are you more willing to risk: Your relationship, or the chance your startup idea will be successful with your current potentially-slacker friends? Seems like a no-brainer to me.
posted by cgg at 3:09 PM on June 14, 2007

It is not uncommon for law students to break up with the people who they were dating before entering law school. The law students are moving up in the world, while their previous SO's are staying in the same social class. Being three thousand miles away just makes a breakup that much more likely. Follow her if you love her. If you don't, don't.
posted by alms at 3:09 PM on June 14, 2007

When I read your post, the thing that has alarm bells going off for me is that it reads like you guys independently made these decisions about what you would do and where. Her going to school, you doing the Socal thing, her going to Thailand... you just don't present them as things either of you talked about with each other that much. You guys just don't sound like a team.

I'm basing this on three paragraphs you threw together on the interweb... so take it with a grain of salt.

To make you feel a little better, surviving while she is in DC and you see her once a month is going to be a lot easier than the Thailand separation of right now. Once a month is still tough on a relationship though.

You are really young, 21 or something right?...otherwise my advice would be more emphatic...

If you think I'm wrong, if you feel that you are a team, then you should go to DC. You should go because it isn't hard for you to go, you aren't having to sacrifice that much. However, you should take steps to set up an independent life. You should rent your own place, work your own job [it sounds like you have a head start on that] and you should use your miles to visit SoCal once a month or so to maintain your ties there. I've just seen it happen where people follow someone somewhere and invest all their being in the followee's life and they lose themselves... the followee doesn't like being the follower's whole life, and that tension ends the relationship... leaving the followee adrift in a strange place with little support.

For the work thing, if they would rather you be in the Northeast, they should pay for the move. And I don't think requesting a raise/ cost-of-living adjustment would be out of line either. It sucks to leave your friends, but a wise person on the internet once told me that you always make more friends, so now I'm telling you that.

You guys are at a point where you are either going to grow together or grow apart. Wouldn't you choose to grow together? Love doesn't conquer all. And Love doesn't just stay because you want it to... you have to act on love, it exists only in the things you do, and you have to do those things, the little things, every day. You can do them from a distance, but it doesn't sound like you have to.
posted by Mozzie at 3:22 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Your reason for not following her isn't really that compelling to me.

Find someone to take your place in SoCal.
posted by that girl at 3:27 PM on June 14, 2007

Your reasons for staying sound more like excuses. If you really want to be with your fiance, why not go? Maybe you should think about whether you are aware of your real reasons for hesitating.
posted by callmejay at 3:49 PM on June 14, 2007

Follow. (Besides, DC is fun.)
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:51 PM on June 14, 2007

Listen to Mozzie. Figure out a way to hold the tension between doing what's best for you and doing what's best for her/you-plus-her.
posted by puddleglum at 4:34 PM on June 14, 2007

Dude, move with her.
posted by underdetermined at 5:15 PM on June 14, 2007

nthing Go!
posted by selfmedicating at 5:58 PM on June 14, 2007

follow her.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:35 PM on June 14, 2007

I think a lot of ppl in my generation think we should be practical all the time about matters of the heart. We think that following a prospective spouse to a city is probably going to turn out badly because that's what all the movie plots are based on (guy is going to marry Girl X but falls for Girl Y and has to get out of engagement with Girl X to be with Girl Y) and what the stories our broken-hearted friends tell us about the mistakes they made.

Just go. It sounds like you wanted to, but you stuck with your friends instead because it sounded really grown up to move to a new city with a real live fiancee and start living the engaged/ to-be-married couple life.

After all, you did decide to get engaged to be married so you could plan on sharing a life, not so you guys could just do whatever you felt like doing separately and hope you could figure it all out later. Because long distance marriages don't work out for a lot of people, obviously.

BTW, just a little detail I wanted to throw in for your consideration: there are a lot of handsome, successful dudes in Washington, DC. I live here. I see them everyday. They come in every size, shape and ideological model. So I think you ought to move here before you lose her. Because there are more men in DC than women and the dudes are pretty friendly in these parts.
posted by onepapertiger at 7:07 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

In my experience living far away (in my case it was literally opposite sides of the planet) is Not Fun and Not Good for a relationship. From what I see, I'd say go.
posted by olya at 11:02 PM on June 14, 2007

Move to DC.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 11:30 PM on June 14, 2007

What do you have going on in SoCal that even comes close to time with your girl?

What do you have that you can't have in DC?
(besides living in the united states of america)

taxation without representation indeed!
posted by emptyinside at 11:48 PM on June 14, 2007

Thiland is lovely this time of year.
posted by ewkpates at 3:14 AM on June 15, 2007

Let me put it to you straight here. Sometimes, one person in a couple needs to defer to the other person's career in order to keep the couple together. Usually, you defer to the person who has the higher-powered career, or you defer to the person who has a critical opportunity in their career that won't come around again. In this case, your girlfriend deserves your deference in both categories: she's at a critical stage in a career that will most likely be more high-powered than yours. If you're serious about being married to her, then you need to go where she's going for the next three years.
posted by footnote at 6:27 AM on June 15, 2007

And dude, do you know how many think tanks are in DC??? The place is crawling with them. Now's your chance. This whole situation is a no-brainer.
posted by footnote at 6:32 AM on June 15, 2007

Best answer: Not to be maudlin, but . . . My husband and I made some compromises so that we could go to the same law school together, shortly after we were married. Not only did we have a wonderful three years together, but, since he was killed shortly after graduation by a drunk driver, those were the only three years we had together. The point being: life is short. And we don't know in advance how short it's going to be. So if you have no pressing reason to be elsewhere -- and it doesn't really sound like you do --I would suggest that you be together while you can.
posted by Dolukhanova at 12:23 PM on June 15, 2007

Response by poster: All,

Thank you for your replies. I'm sorry it took so long for me to reply, but I posted this just before I got on a plane and jetlag really does a number on you when you spend half of every week in a different timezone. Those of you who asked what my gut feeling was, I think the fact that I even posted the question tells you volumes about what I was feeling in my gut. The many people here who spoke up and said 'Go with her, you idiot' served to solidify that gut feeling.

There were a lot of great replies here. I marked two replies as the best answers for their insight. After reading those replies, I sat back in my chair and said 'huh!'.

Procrastination: You make a good point. Business are more easily handled over the web than relationships and I can always fly to SoCal once a month, rather than doing the reverse.

Mozzie & footnote: You get extra points for looking at my other posts and tying them in.

Though I am sorry to hear about your husband, you and your experience makes an exceptionally poignant point. Life can throw some curve calls at you, so why not spend every second I can with her, my best friend, for as long as I can. You never know what could happen tomorrow (as it is, I just got an email from her saying she was in a car crash in Thailand and is pretty bruised, but alright).

It looks Like I have two months left living in SoCal, then I am off to our Nations Capitol.

Thank you everyone! And if when I end up in DC, maybe some of the other DC MeFites wouldn't mind giving me some tips on where to eat, shop, go, etc... :)
posted by ThFullEffect at 1:53 PM on June 15, 2007

The historical record, for any cockeyed optimist who finds this in the future, must be completed by reading the next thread posted by the OP:


Ah true love. We never learn.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:55 AM on July 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

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