Should I let my girlfriend move across the country to be with me?
October 22, 2007 9:30 PM   Subscribe

Met girl abroad, corresponded for several months, met again, got together, started living together as soon as I got back to the states. Now I've moved across the country, and she's set to follow soon. I'm not sure I want her to. What do I do?

We're great together - have very similar interests, always have a lot of fun, definitely physically compatible. No drama, she's very down-to-earth and things just work between us. But I don't have the "oh my god I need you" feeling, and I never have. We don't have hour-long conversations where I don't even realize how long we've been talking. I love her (or at least I care about her, think about her often, want the best in life for her, and enjoy being with her), but I feel like there's something missing.

We were corresponding for 6 months before we started dating, and then we were living together for 6 months before I moved (job-related). So we've known each other for about 13 months at this point. In the month since I left her on the other coast, I've met up with a couple friends I used to hook up with years back. In both cases I still felt a twinge of that old feeling, the need that I don't feel with my current girlfriend.

Now she's headed here in a few months, and I am having huge doubts. I don't want her to come across the country to live with me if things are going to fall apart. I'm totally stressed out about this.

I really don't want to hurt her, and I really don't want to subject either one of us to the pain of her moving here and then us breaking up. On the other hand, it's quite possible I'm creating an excuse to explain away my fear of commitment (which has ended several previous relationships).

Even if I did decide that I didn't want her to come, I have no idea how I would break the news to her.

Any advice from the hivemind would be most appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do it. You only live once.
posted by PowerCat at 9:36 PM on October 22, 2007

Does she have to move right now or never? Just let yourself settle into your new life and let her settle into her life without you there all the time and see how it goes for a few months. See how it goes. You just uprooted your life; I don't think you have to make every decision right now.
posted by Airhen at 9:36 PM on October 22, 2007

Call it "explaining away [your] fear of commitment" or call it "fear of failure" - it all means the same thing. You're not ready for this, and she needs to know.

I don't know much about her, but if I were in her shoes, I'd just want it told to me straight. No big dramatic setup. Beginning a conversation with, "How do you feel about us?" always puts me on edge because I know what's coming, and then I feel patronized. So, just find a moment when there's really time to talk and tell her that you still love her, but you're not sure you're ready to live together in the States.

You may be surprised to hear she's got the same feelings or that she's been waiting for you to say this for some time. Even if neither is the case, the two of you might be able to calmly discuss a plan that works for both of you. This doesn't have to mean to end of your relationship if you're not sure you want it to be, and if she knows that too, this might not be so tough.
posted by katillathehun at 9:42 PM on October 22, 2007

Er, I meant "live together on the same coast." Or something.
posted by katillathehun at 9:43 PM on October 22, 2007

If you don't tell her what you're feeling, including these doubts, you'd be a selfish, grade-A shithead. And I'm sure you're not that, right?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:54 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

In both cases I still felt a twinge of that old feeling, the need that I don't feel with my current girlfriend.

Familiarity is not exciting. Old flames are. This is not necessarily relevant to your feelings for your girlfriend.

As far as the fear of commitment goes - in this wonderful modern world, even marriage is no longer a permanent state. A fear that somewhere, sometime you're going to be trapped in a relationship you don't like is no reason to prematurely shoot it in the head.

Just enjoy what you have, and just see what tomorrow (or next week, or next year) brings, because it's probably going to be way different than you think.
posted by chundo at 9:54 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Talk to her about this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:03 PM on October 22, 2007

Suck it up and tell her about your doubts!

If you don't, she's going to schlep all the way across the country to be with you, you're going to be all resentful at her for not reading your mind, and at yourself for being too much of a wuss to tell her. Mind you, you don't have to tell her not to come, but give her a realistic sense of what she's letting herself in for if she *does* come. Then she can make up her own mind.

Do the right thing! It'll hurt, but you'll be proud of yourself.
posted by jasper411 at 10:10 PM on October 22, 2007

Relationships can get boring after a while. They go through stages when they're predictable and sometimes you run out of things to have those deep conversations with. Your mind or eye might wander during those times (mine doesn't, but I have had the oh my gosh we have nothing to talk about" feeling at times).

Something I read, and that really resonated with me went something like this: relationships, the deep ones, especially after the first flush of new and exciting fades, aren't about constantly connecting, they're about always being able to reconnect over and over.

You should definitely have a conversation with her about how you feel, but if you're not entirely sure what is the right thing to do, perhaps you can come up with a solution together. In either case, she deserves to know before she commits to this big upheaval.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:21 PM on October 22, 2007 [6 favorites]

Imagine the following tearful conversation six months from now:

"You had doubts before I moved out here? Why didn't you tell me?!!"

What are you going to say then? You guys need to talk. Good luck.
posted by LarryC at 10:22 PM on October 22, 2007

sometimes its best to just forget about the doubts

telling her the doubts would almost certainly cause things to end....

sounds like fear of committment, especially if you have a track record of this

go through with it, then at least you'll know
posted by Salvatorparadise at 10:31 PM on October 22, 2007

If the "something missing" is not wanting to spend the rest of your life with her...break up NOW. I think living together implies some sort of commitment.
posted by brujita at 10:47 PM on October 22, 2007

sometimes its best to just forget about the doubts

Yeah, when it's your life you're potentially fucking up, not someone else's.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:48 PM on October 22, 2007 [3 favorites]

Don't do that to her.
posted by xanthippe at 10:54 PM on October 22, 2007

it's quite possible I'm creating an excuse to explain away my fear of commitment (which has ended several previous relationships).

This would be that "old need" the need to feel excitement from another's attention which is at the core of fear of committment. You can continue to let relationships end this way, or learn to not need that feeling of excitement to make you feel good. Act accordingly.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:56 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

- Your doubts are completely natural.

- You should talk to her about your doubts.

- She probably has doubts too.

- It's not smart to let timing, finances, or housing situations dictate her move or your mutual living arrangement.

- There is no danger in waiting a little while longer.
posted by wfrgms at 11:54 PM on October 22, 2007

If you are completely comfortable from the fallout that will occur after telling her you don't want her to move to be with you yet, do it. It is not as cut and dry as "being open with your feelings" as everyone here is making it out to be. If you say "no" or even "wait," it will give her doubts about the relationship as well, something that might not be very constructive should you two decide you'd like to be together. Or you could be back playing the single game meeting plenty of girls who bug the shit out of you to every one that you have interest in if she decides not to come at all.

How bad is it that you don't have this "crazy about her" feeling? It sounds to me like the relationship has a different feel to it than you previous ones. The "crazy about her" feeling is good and all, but maybe the reason you aren't still with girls with whom you had this feeling before is that that level of intensity is impossible to keep up over the long term.

I only offer this perspective as someone who completely sympathizes with your fear of commitment. In fact, I have a fear of a lot of ordinarily good things, and I find myself sabotaging myself just to keep from changing or venturing any further into unfamiliar territory. Not to say that you are sabotaging something that would undoubtedly be a positive thing for you, but just think about the implications of telling her not to come or to wait, and make sure you're totally comfortable with it. If so, just suck it up and let her know because waiting will only be bad for both of you.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 12:15 AM on October 23, 2007

I'd say rip off the band-aid.

Go with your gut. I moved across the country because I thought I was just sabotaging myself because I have a fear of commitment. Regardless of my reasons, once I got across the country, I realized I'd made a mistake and broke up with my long term boyfriend, and now I'm here.

It was a good move for me, but I still miss where I was last. Moving cross country and then breaking up is wayyy harder than just plain ol' breaking up.

It doesn't really matter why you're feeling what you're feeling, you're feeling it, and being indecisive about it is probably only going to make it worse.

I would say, though, that I don't have any regrets, and my boyfriend knew that I had doubts when I moved across the country. We talked about it, and I was honest about it.

She's the one that would be moving, right? So you probably should give her all of the information to make a decision before she uproots her life. You don't have to break up with her because you're not sure. But you really should start talking about it.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:51 AM on October 23, 2007

I really don't want to hurt her
Yes but you don't get to choose. Your responsibility is to be honest and proactive; don't micromanage her emotions. That way lies major assholery.

Tell her how you feel, the move can wait if it must.
posted by waxbanks at 12:54 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

In my experience of long term love, the "oh my god I need you" feeling should exist, the feeling that the SO is just about the most interesting person in the world to talk to should exist (I still feel this way after 17 years), and the spark doesn't fade after only 13 months.

The initial utter euphoria does eventually morph into something different, but I don't get the sense that this is what you are describing. Obviously, people don't all experience things in the same way, so this advice could be off-base, but it doesn't sound like she is the one you are going to want to spend the rest of your life with. If I were her, I'd really, really want to know about your doubts before deciding to move across country to be with you.
posted by taz at 1:01 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

for god's sake please say something, you wouldn't want to move over the country to find out your partner didn't really want you there.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:12 AM on October 23, 2007

Tell her, for pete's sake.
posted by schroedinger at 5:33 AM on October 23, 2007

Yes, you must tell her. It wouldn't be fair if you didn't. Give yourself 6 months in your new state and ask her stay where she is. Don't break it off if you don't want to. But get settled in and then see how you feel. It will be an easier break up if that is what you both choose or you may realize that your life without her just isn't the same. But you need to get settled first to be able to make an objective decision.
posted by MayNicholas at 5:40 AM on October 23, 2007

This happened to me and I ended up all alone in an expensive city where I knew no one. It really sucked.

I would have rather known before I moved.
posted by sondrialiac at 6:10 AM on October 23, 2007

But I don't have the "oh my god I need you" feeling, and I never have.

So, I will disagree gently with some of the other answerers who seem to think it's safer to break up.

After 12 years of marriage and 2 kids and living together and having been apart while we were dating, I have never had a "oh my god I need you" feeling about my wife. I really, really love her. You may be expecting to feel something that isn't going to happen.

If the relationship works and generally makes you happy and makes her happy, it's simpler to give up your preconception that you need to feel a certain way and enjoy what you have. IMO.
posted by GuyZero at 7:21 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

Seconding sondrialiac--I moved interstate for love when I was younger, and it was clear in some ways that my lover was getting cold feet but she didn't say so, and it was pretty much horrible in every way. Far, far better if she had bitten the bullet and been upfront about it. I might still have moved there but my expectations and feelings would have been different; at least I'd have been doing it with complete information.
posted by not that girl at 7:26 AM on October 23, 2007

I'm with GuyZero. Love takes many forms. Just because I am not infatuated with my wife every time I'm around her does not make us any less perfect for each other.

From my observations, experiences like taz's are fairly rare, and to be honest it sounds pretty emotionally draining to me. But that probably depends on your personality type.
posted by chundo at 7:48 AM on October 23, 2007

If you guys were, say, two years into your relationship, and you loved her but you didn't have the "Oh my God I need you" feeling but had found the relationship to be successful anyway, then I would be backing those who say you should give the move a try. But you have only been dating for half a year! Six months is a very short time to decide it's time to pack up, move to another city, and live together in any relationship.

I think there is more leeway for this if you are older (I'm thinking mid to late-30s or older) and mature and have had plenty of relationship experience so you have an idea of what you want and the general path your relationships follow. But if you are young and all your relationships have been in high school, college, or immediately post-college, then you definitely need to let her know what's going on in your head and give her the chance to back out of the possibility of getting totally screwed (and not in the good way).
posted by schroedinger at 8:03 AM on October 23, 2007

telling her the doubts would almost certainly cause things to end....

Nah. Not necessarily. Being honest about your feelings is terribly scary, but you can't really predict her reaction (or yours) even if you feel you can. People who love each other find ways to have tough conversations, even miserable ones, without the world exploding. It may not be the dramatic scene you fear. wfrgms said it well - good advice there. No need to act in haste.

Living in the future adds a lot of difficulty to decisions such as this. It doesn't help when you feel like you may be pulling out the bottom block in a block tower and that everything will come miserably crashing down. It's not that drastic. Someone said your only responsibility is to share how you are feeling. It's not a decision, an ultimatum, or a mandate: it's just how you're feeling. A conversation will ensue. It's not likely that she'd say "I don't care how you feel; I'm coming out right now anyway, knowing you have doubts!" It's more likely that you'll make a new agreement, work out a different timetable, maybe discuss whether life is taking you in the same or different directions. But, as you say, you love her, and you'll be able to talk about this with her, even if the final decision is not to move in together.
posted by Miko at 8:06 AM on October 23, 2007

"I really don't want to hurt her"
I felt that way about my first girlfriend and it turns out she felt that way about me. That made the relationship last a fair bit longer than it should have. This is life. Sometimes you have to break a few hearts, sometimes you get your heart broken. Broken hearts will heal and everyone will be better off eventually.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:59 AM on October 23, 2007

I too moved based on someone's feelings and it turned out they were more or less just being polite. It sucked quite a lot.

Don't encourage her to move if you don't really want her to come. Letting her move to your town when you're having second thoughts you haven't told her about may not the worst thing you could do to her, but it's definitely in the top fifteen.
posted by winna at 9:04 AM on October 23, 2007

This happened to me and I ended up all alone in an expensive city where I knew no one. It really sucked.

I would have rather known before I moved.

Same. Please talk to her about this, it's awful when you move somewhere thinking you're going to be in a stable relationship but then end up all alone. In my case, I was also unemployed, and had to move back home a few months later.
posted by echo0720 at 9:50 AM on October 23, 2007

tell her before he comes.

take it from me, the guy who broke up with his ex two days after moved to Canada from Germany to be with me. I wish I would have listened to my gut and expressed my doubts sooner.

There's a lot more to the story but know I am not a cruel psychopath.
posted by ninefour at 10:34 AM on October 23, 2007

er, she.
posted by ninefour at 10:34 AM on October 23, 2007

Two anecdotes: My girlfriend moved to Boston soon after we'd started dating. I didn't necessarily have the "OMG I need you!" feeling, but she was pretty great, so I was willing to see where things went. She came back and moved in with me, and she had fairly significant doubts that were moderately expressed. Everything worked out fine and we lived together for another four years before she moved out to California.

Six months later, even while I was having significant doubts, I followed her, and everything's been fantastic since.

Be honest, but phrasing it as not having that "OMG I need you" spark like you did in your question? That's a pretty good way to assure a breakup rather than a good move.
posted by klangklangston at 12:45 PM on October 23, 2007

It is hard to imagine (for me) the experience of the "oh my god I need you" feeling without honesty and facing together situations in which I and my partner were not exactly in synch. Perhaps what is missing has to do with moving deeper into things beyond the superficial? Which can only come about by sharing your truest self, the one who doubts, and being, conversely, receptive to the other's self. All this to say that you should be honest and right away; isn't that what loving or at least caring about the other is?
posted by midwesttransplant at 12:54 PM on October 23, 2007

You have an absolute moral obligation to be honest about your feelings before she uproots her life for you. It may be hard (then again, it may be easier than you think it will be), but either way you have to level with her.

You don't have to tell her that you don't want her to come; but you do have to talk about your worries, ask if she has the same worries - in other words, have a conversation about it. And as the conversation progresses, be sure not to chicken out of telling her the full truth.

She may be hurt, but not as hurt as if you break up in a few months. Good luck.
posted by Dasein at 1:50 PM on October 23, 2007

Do it before she moves, definitely. I had an internet boyfriend who dumped me right after I got home from visiting him, spending hundreds on plane tickets. Talk about your world-class assholes.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:54 PM on October 23, 2007

Wait - you say you've felt 'omg i need you' for your exes (who are, well, ex) and not for your current?

Interesting. One could conclude that the 'omg need you' feeling is perhaps a bad indication of how a relationships will work out.

Anyway. Talk to the girl. Tell her you're unsure, and if you love her, tell her that, too.
posted by ysabet at 10:22 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

The reason I know that I love the girl I'm with now is the whole 4 hour stretch on conversations. If you're not having these -- especially if you're long distance -- then something *might* be wrong. But maybe you guys just connect on another level?

One of my old exes moved down to live in the same town as me and resented it the whole time. The relationship stretched on for another year or so but it had no legs, really.

Make sure if this person *is* moving to be with you that she will have a life and things going on for her outside of your relationship. This has two positive benefits: first, she will be able to set up her own social network so that if something bad happens, she has people to fall back on (this is crucial) and, second, people are a lot more attractive when they have other things going on in their lives.

You have already lived together though, and you don't sound like you were that torn up when you had to part ways. Now is not the time for her to make a huge sacrifice for love. It may be that you need a year of *no* relationships (yes, really) to cement in your mind what you want out of a romantic/sexual relationship.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:18 PM on October 24, 2007

Even if I did decide that I didn't want her to come, I have no idea how I would break the news to her.

Read How to Dump a Guy: A Coward's Manual.

Of course, first you have to make a decision.

John Allen Paulos suggests something like this: suppose you have to choose one item from a total of N items, trying to maximize a particular quality which varies from one item to the next. You can only evaluate one item at a time, and once you reject an item, you can't go back to it. In this situation, a reasonable probabilistic decision-making process would be to reject the first N/3 items, then choose the first item after that which is better than all previous items.

There's a lot of things you like about your current relationship. Is it better than most of your previous relationships?
posted by russilwvong at 11:31 AM on October 25, 2007

so you had the "omg" feeling in past relationships that didnt work out? Maybe thats a clue. Is there even such a thing as the perfect relationship?
posted by browolf at 3:27 PM on October 26, 2007

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