Should I stay or should I go now?
August 17, 2008 8:00 PM   Subscribe

RelationshipFilter: Do I move out to a new city with my new boyfriend where the old boyfriend lives? Long back story inside.

So, for two and a half years in college and a year after, I dated a guy. However, after a year of living together post-college, he got a long term job offer in Portland and I got a short term nursing gig in the middle of nowhere (the pay was good even if the area wasn't), and ex-bf decided he couldn't do long distance, so he broke things off. It wasn't exactly a clean cut, as I hooked up with him a couple of times afterwards in a barely veiled attempt to keep the relationship alive, but the distance effectively kept it from going back to any semblance of a relationship. In the meantime though, I managed to glorify the relationship and how great it had been (obviously there were more problems if he wasn't willing to wait 9 months for my nursing gig to be up).

Fast forward a year: even though I'm in the middle of nowhere, I'm socializing and have made a fair number of friends when I meet a great guy here! He's a good fit for me in a lot of ways, but I find myself hesitant to let myself fall for him, as I am still hurt from before. We get along really well and he has a lot of characteristics I've been looking for (kind, funny, chivalrous, etc). We've been dating for about half a year now and yesterday he let me know that his job just offered him a significant promotion under the condition that he move to... you guessed it... Portland!

My current boyfriend says he will stay around here if I want, but I know he hates his job here and would really like to take the new job (plus, it's closer to his family and friends). So, no questions about it, I want him happy and will let him know he should take the job if he wants. The problem is, that although I really like my boyfriend and enjoy his company, I'm not head-over-heels in love yet and I'm also worried that although Portland is a big city, I'll eventually end up reconnecting with my ex... and, well, 'reconnecting.' (I wouldn't cheat, but I can see myself getting close to him and ending my current relationship to once again try to re-live the glorified relationship)

I just re-signed my nursing contract until April, so I'm here until at least then. At which point, I could a. move out to Portland. b. re-sign my contract to stick around here and keep racking up some savings. or c. move back to my home state (in the southwest... I'd only be able to visit Portland via plane) and sort my life out.

So, I guess I have a few questions:
1. Do I risk it and move out with the boyfriend in April? Or do I take one of my other options? I know April is a ways a way, but I have to decide relatively soon so I can get all of the logistics figured out.
2. Is it normal to not be completely in head-over-heels in love after 5 months? Any real life stories or anecdotes are appreciated. Besides a couple casual boyfriends in high school, I've only had the one serious relationship and I was head-over-heels for him in a couple months (I was a young and naive 20 year old... I'm 24 now), so I have nothing else to compare this to. Am I cruel for continuing to date someone even if I'm not sure I want to end up with them forever? And how can I make sure I'm over my ex?

Or am I just overthinking all this way too much?

Thanks in advance to everyone for your advice... no throwaway email account here, but if I need to add more info I'll contact jessamyn (my apologies in advance as well).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's what would be wrong - it would be really shitty and evil to discourage your boyfriend from moving to Portland and his dream job close to family and friends. Because you know you don't want to be with him long term - and that's fine - but you need to either go with him, or let him go. DO NOT let him stay for you - that'd be horribly unfair.
As for whether to move to Portland - do you want to live there? If yes - go ahead! If not - then don't. This boyfriend could represent an opportunity and an impetus to move - but I'm not sure why you seem to think you have to live in the same town as he because you've been in a just-ok dating relationship for a few months.
posted by moxiedoll at 8:14 PM on August 17, 2008

It's not that unusual to glorify your first serious relationship. . . but it's also not too difficult to have the self control and not hook up with a man that already broke up with you once.

You seem to be self-aware enough that this might be a problem, and also that there were problems in the earlier relationship. You're probably good enough to figure out that hooking back up with him is a bad idea.

And hey-you never know, your ex might have moved on too
posted by dinty_moore at 8:17 PM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

If my best friend came to me and said that she was considering moving to a new city with her sort of lukewarm current boyfriend, and I knew full well she wasn't over the ex who lived there, I'd tell her she was nuts for considering it. Moving to a new city is one thing, and you don't have to have a fantastic reason. If you want to move to Portland (or somewhere else), do it. But don't live with him. Moving in together is a big deal. You've already visualized yourself falling for your ex again and breaking up with this guy. It would be really rotten to give him the impression he's in a serious relationship with you if he's not.
posted by juliplease at 8:27 PM on August 17, 2008

It's not until April. Go with the flow.

If you don't want to reconnect with your ex, don't. You're in control of that, don't pretend to yourself that if you live in the same city you'll HAVE to contact him.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:32 PM on August 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think you need to try to figure out why Portland (Oregon?) appeals to you. Have you been there? Are you familiar enough with the city that you find it enticing on its own merits? It's a great city, one I could see myself living in again some day, so I'm not discounting the possibility that Portland appeals to you because it's a fun, vibrant city.

But is part of the allure of Portland your ex-boyfriend? If your current boyfriend were moving to say, Boise, would you be tempted to follow him there? It doesn't sound like you would, so if you move, it probably won't be for your current relationship. If you are doing it because it sounds like a fun opportunity to try out a new city, then I would go for it. But I also know, from personal experience, that it's possible to convince yourself that you are moving somewhere for the place, when really you're moving there because you associate that place with a person that you're drawn to.

Try to be honest with yourself and figure out why Portland sounds like a great place to be. If you found out the ex had already left Portland, would you still be contemplating the move?
posted by diamondsky at 9:16 PM on August 17, 2008

You are free to stay where you are, move to Portland, or go elsewhere, regardless of your romantic entanglements. Presumably you can get out of your current job contract if you give notice. It may be as little as writing to HR and saying you're gone in 2 weeks, or it may be a major hassle and cost you some money or benefits or whatever. My point is, you aren't actually stuck where you are, and shouldn't rely on an assumption that you are stuck, to make the decision for you.

So, if you wanted to move to Portland, it's probably best all around if you get a job there lined up first. How feasible is that? Without prejudicing your decision either way, you can do some investigation: speak to nursing locum/temp placement agencies in Portland, polish and run off copies of your resume, email hospitals etc, put in another AskMe about the job market for nurses in Portland.

Remember, you're not forced to be a nurse, either, merely qualified to be one. Anything else you can demonstrate qualification for, and might enjoy--at least not hate--is a feasible type of employment for you. So even if the nursing job market is tight, you may be able to office-temp or wait tables or something until a nursing position comes through.

Bearing this in mind: would you, independently of these men, be interested in being in Portland? Do you have friends or relatives or contacts of any kind there? Assume for the moment that you do move to Portland, and Previous Guy has moved on and is now in a committed relationship of his own; and Current Guy for whatever reason decides to break up with you. What would you do? If your first thought is, "get out of Portland", that's a pretty big indicator that living in Portland would be something you'd only want to do for a romantic partner's sake.

Which in turn implies that your hesitation is well-founded, and your question--which only you can answer--amounts to: "1. Do I care for Current Guy enough to move with him to Portland?" and/or "2. Do I care for Previous Guy enough to move to Portland to take the chance of a relationship with him?"

If your answer to #1 is "yes", but #2 is "no", then that implies more commitment than you've outright stated, to Current Guy, and you probably should go to Portland, and you probably are making more of the fantasy of Previous Guy than really exists. In that case I think the most ethical course would be to defuse the fantasy of Previous Guy. Assuming neither you nor Current Guy have a wide circle of friends in Portland, both of you should meet up with him.

If your answer to #1 is "no", regardless of your answer to #2, this implies that things really aren't all that good with Current Guy, and maybe you should, independent of any feelings for Previous Guy, break up with Current Guy. Maybe you're with Current Guy because you want to have a boyfriend. Maybe the same applied to Previous Guy. Remember, Previous Guy specifically wasn't willing to move for you.

But if #1 is "no", and #2 is "yes" ... you're in for drama, I'm sorry. If you broke up with Current Guy and moved to Portland to be with Previous Guy, Current Guy would likely take it badly, whether or not he's right to do so. That it really has nothing to do with him is no comfort whatsoever. If you moved with Current Guy in order to scope things out with Previous Guy ... Current Guy would take that badly and rightly so. About the only sensible plan in this case is, take your torch back home and get over Previous Guy. There's no such thing as the One True Love; if he's one in a million, that means there's 3.8 of him just in Los Angeles.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:55 PM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

both of you should meet up with him.

(To clarify: make sure Current Guy knows Previous Guy is an ex you still harbor some feelings for; and make sure your own intent here is to put Previous Guy firmly in the friend zone, or--if he turns out to be a jerk--to let yourself realize that, and let him go. If you really can't do that, just never seek him out at all.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:58 PM on August 17, 2008

That previous guy thing may take a loooong time to fade. And whenever you're single, or in a 'meh' moment of a current relationship your thoughts will turn to him and the 'glory' that was. You just learn to ignore it. Best thing is to deal with what you have now, ie. boyfriend on the move and the end of your contract.

Could you try something else entirely? To me, the most emphatic part of your post was:

c. move back to my home state (in the southwest... I'd only be able to visit Portland via plane) and sort my life out

Sounds like a plan. Not that things seem all that messy, but maybe you need a change of scenery. Not necessarily moving home but at least going somewhere independantly of either romantic entanglement. How about you go travelling for a month. Could be across the states, could be Europe, could be anywhere. Just get some general headspace and perspective? If not you could always stay where you are and after current boyfriend moves, see whether or not you miss him enough to head P-wards.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:06 AM on August 18, 2008

Addressing only this question:

Is it normal to not be completely in head-over-heels in love after 5 months?

If you're not completely over the previous person? Yes it is. You can't let yourself go into something if you're still hanging on to something else.

This new guy may not be someone you'd fall head-over-heels in love with anyway, but the fact that you're still not over your ex is definitely affecting that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:47 AM on August 18, 2008

Wait until you need to make the decision to make it. You're overthinking this right now.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:05 AM on August 18, 2008

The best way to look at this is probably to just look at if you want to live in Portland or not. If you do, great! Move when the chance comes up. If you don't, don't move there---you would feel way too much pressure to make it work with at least one of these guys so that you could justify to yourself having relocated.
posted by lacedback at 12:21 PM on August 18, 2008

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