One of the most frequently-asked questions I receive as an advice columnist is some variation of: Should I move for love? And as someone who DID move for love after being in a long-distance relationship for a year and a half, I have some ideas on the subject. Obviously, if you’re in an LDR, one of you has to move or your relationship will never progress to the next step. Deciding who in the couple should make the move can be a challenge. Should it be you? Here are a few signs that it could.
1. You’ve been in a relationship with your significant other for at least a year and, if you’ve never lived in the same place, you’ve at least visited each other several times and have met one another’s important people.
2. You actually love — really, really love — this person — enough to sacrifice the life you have now.
You have to love your partner MORE than the life you have without him or her. If you don’t, it simply won’t work out.
3. You’ve got a job in your significant other’s town (or reason to believe you will easily find one). If you are in school, you’ve been accepted to an affordable program where your significant other lives.
Not only is having steady employment necessary for financial survival, it’s pretty important for your emotional well-being too. Anyone who has ever been unemployed for very long can attest to how depressing it is to be out of work. Add to that the isolation you will likely feel being in a new town where maybe you don’t know many people other than your significant other, and it can be super lonely.
4. If you don’t have a job lined up, you have enough savings to pay for movers (if you plan to use them) and live on for at least six months.
5. You won’t be missed.
Of course you’ll be missed, but what I mean is you won’t be missed by someone who is very dependent on you (like an elderly or disabled parent, or your child).
6. You like your partner’s town.
You may love your partner, but do you love his or her city? If the answer’s no or you aren’t sure, spend more time there and imagine how you’d feel if you never came home. Does the idea of staying there make you feel “stuck”? Does it fill you with dread? Do you spend a lot of time wishing your significant other could just move to your town or that you could find a neutral city where you could both start over? If so, then maybe moving to your partner’s town isn’t the right choice.
7. You have a place to live.
Will you be living with your significant other right off the bat? Getting your own place? Staying with him/her before you get your own place? If so, how long will you stay? Will you be paying rent? If so, how much? What if your partner has a bachelor pad that you want to re-decorate? Would he be open to that? These are all questions you need to discuss together and be in agreement on before you move. It’s a lot to talk about, but these discussions are much better to have before you make the move rather than after!
8. You’ve discussed a long-term future with your significant other.
If it seems too soon or too awkward or too inappropriate to discuss marriage or a long-term, serious commitment to each other, then it’s too soon, too awkward and too inappropriate for you to uproot your life and move to a new city for love. If you can’t imagine a life together at least five years down the road, then stop packing your bags and stay put until you can.
9. You won’t resent your partner if you move and the relationship doesn’t work out.
Moving for love is a leap of faith for anyone, but if you feel in your heart that you’ll be bitter and resentful if the sacrifice doesn’t lead to the happy ending you’re hoping for, you should reconsider whether you’re really ready to make the jump.
10. You have a back-up plan.
Shit happens. Relationships combust. Jobs are lost. Feelings change. People get sick. While you can’t possibly anticipate every issue that might arise after you move, you should have some idea what your back-up plan would be if your new life in your new city isn’t working out. When I moved to New York, I brought my cats, laptop, and two suitcases, but I left most of my belongings in storage in Chicago. That way, if things didn’t work out between Drew and me, I could move back to Chicago without paying to ship my things twice. I waited until I was 100% sure I wanted to stay in NYC before I sent for my belongings. It took five months for me to be certain.