≡ Menu

“Should I Leave My Boyfriend and Move Back Home?”

I’m a 34-year-old female who has been dating a wonderful man for two years. I have waited a long time to meet someone like him and we have recently talked about getting married. Before I met him, I joined the military, and, when I got out, I thought about moving closer to family (they are on the east coast, 1000 miles away from where I am now). I met my boyfriend while trying to make this decision. Soon, I decided that this was someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. My boyfriend has a young son whom he wants to be around and cannot move anywhere for 10 years, which is understandable. He says he wouldn’t mind moving but needs to be close to his son until he graduates HS, so I am thinking if we get married, I will be here for a while.

For the most part, I don’t think of home a lot, but I’m usually sad when I go to visit my family and have to leave them. At my age, I feel like I shouldn’t get homesick; I am not dependent on my family, but we are very close. My question is, should I stay here with him or move back? If I was married, there would be no question where I should be, but for right now we are just dating. I want to be with him, but I think about my parents. I know I need to live my life, but I think about how my parents are in their 60s and 70s, respectively, and would love to have me around. They don’t have much money and visit when they can, which is, on average, once every 3-4 years. I visit twice a year, so, as long as I’m saving money, I can get back to see them. But seeing them for a week or two twice a year just doesn’t seem like enough to cure my homesickness. And if we get married, I could be seeing them even less than that. One day I’m happy to be here with my boyfriend, and the next day I miss my family (by the way, I don’t live with my boyfriend).

Some people I have gotten advice from tell me getting married means leaving my mother and father, and then some say to me, “How could you just leave your aging parents?” I feel torn. I don’t know if I am struggling with this because I will be a stepmother and a wife all at the same time and it’s a big change, or that I know that, once I get married, I can never go back home. It’s just a lot of change. Maybe I just need to grow up, but I’m struggling with it all. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! — Homesick and Lovesick

It sounds to me like you’ve got a lot of anxiety about taking the next step in your relationship, which is totally normal, and you’re projecting it onto other issues in your life, like living far away from your parents. Committing your life to someone is a huge deal, especially if you’re already in your mid-30s and have lived alone most or all of your adulthood and are used to doing things your own way. Add a stepkid to the mix and you’re really talking big potential changes. Suddenly, you have not just one other adult to always consider, but a child too, not to mention the child’s mother. It’s a lot, and it makes sense that you long for the comfort and stability of your youth when such responsibilities were nonexistent.

But you have to decide whether you’re longing for home for that reason alone, or whether you feel guilty for being away from your aging parents, or whether being close to your parents, geographically-speaking, is necessary for you to have a happy, full life. If it’s the former — if you’re letting the anxiety you feel about potentially committing your life to someone affect your perspective, know that that will pass. And if it doesn’t, then you need to examine the root of the anxiety. Maybe this man isn’t really the one for you. Maybe being a stepmother is a deal-breaker and you’d rather wait for a man who isn’t already a father. Maybe you just aren’t ready to be tied down (in which case I would ask: what’s the rush?).

But you said yourself that you’ve waited a long time to find a man like your boyfriend and you decided pretty quickly that you wanted to spend your life with him. If you still feel that way, and you know that spending your life with him means spending at least the next ten years where you live now — or close enough that your boyfriend could see his son regularly — you have to figure out whether that life is worth the sacrifice of missing your parents. And you have to be realistic about what “missing your parents” actually means. I’m confused about why you think you’d suddenly see them less once you got married or why getting married would mean you’re “leaving” them. You “left them” a long time ago, didn’t you? And why do you feel like once you’re married you could “never go home”?

My guess is that you feel like by becoming a part of a new family — you, your boyfriend, and his son — you are turning your back on your family-of-origin. Like, you’d be severing your loyalty to the people who raised you. And, it’s true, getting married, does change family dynamics a bit. Your “immediate family” is no longer the family you were raised in; it’s you, your spouse, and whatever offspring you may have (individually or together). It’s a shift and one that can feel bittersweet. But there’s nothing to feel guilty about. Surely, your parents understand that you’re an adult and you have to live your own life. And it’s not like they’re in their 90s and need constant care. They’re in their 60s and 70s! They’ll be fine.

I’m sure your parents miss you, as you miss them. And maybe two one-week visits a year really aren’t enough for you or for them to maintain the closeness you wish to have. But with modern technology, there are ways you can feel close without actually being in the same town. Do you guys Skype/Facetime/Google video chat? Is it possible to add another visit each year? Could you each drive 7-9 hours and meet somewhere halfway between your homes for a 4-day weekend?

My advice to you is to sit and talk with your boyfriend about all of these concerns you’re having. See if you’re on the same page as far as getting married and when you both see that happening. Discuss what your life would look like once you’re married. Would he expect you to stop visiting your parents? Would he come with you sometimes? Would he understand if you spend a week with your parents without him? When you start feeling anxious, make a list of all the unanswered questions that are contributing to your anxiety and then start hunting down the answers. Some you may be able to answer yourself, but it sounds like quite a few will need to be discussed with your boyfriend and even your parents. What are their expectations from you as you all get older? Are they counting on you to take care of them in their “Golden Years,” and, if so, what does that mean?

Right now, it seems like you’re letting the unknown make you a little crazy. Some things will remain unknown until you take the plunge — wherever that plunge takes you. You’ll have to just trust that you’re making the right choices. But some of the unknowns that are driving you bonkers don’t have to be such a mystery. You can get guidance and reassurance from the people who love you. You just have to communicate and ask for it.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

{ 48 comments… add one }

avatar bethany March 11, 2013, 10:20 am

WWS.

It really seems like you’re projecting your anxiety about the future onto this situation with your parents. Wendy is right- You already left them a long time ago, so why is this issue coming up now?

avatar bethany March 11, 2013, 1:06 pm

After re-reading the letter, I’m going to ammend my comment a little. The LW was in the middle of deciding what she was going to do in terms of moving home vs staying when she met the guy, and I think that makes a big difference. it wasn’t like she was all set in her life, then started getting homesick. She’d already been thinking about moving home when he came along… I don’t know what I would do if I were you… I really don’t.

avatar ktfran March 11, 2013, 10:24 am

Well said Wendy!

It troubled me that this LW thinks her life with her immediate family will end after she’s married. I honestly don’t understand that sentiment. It ill only end if you let it end. And if your boyfriend wants it to end after you marry, then I would dump his ass because you two have different outlooks on family.

And remember, once you’re married, you’re allowed to be seperated once in a while. As in, you don’t have to spend every non-working minute together. You can fly and see your family with or without him. My dad goes on fishing trips. My mom visits her sisters, or me, without my dad. Wendy has traveled without her husband.

I think you should talk to your boyfriend to ease some of your worry. And as Wendy said, really dig deep to find out the root of this anxiety. Then proceed accordingly.

avatar Brigitte March 12, 2013, 4:09 am

I’m also a 34 year-old woman and I live over-seas from my parents. I see them about once a year for 2-3 weeks at a time (I try to make it a visit every 9 months or so but that doesn’t always work), and my parents try to come over once a year as well for a week or two. My siblings have a harder time coming over, but all three of them have made 2-3 visits in the 8 years I’ve lived here. It’s a huge expense, let’s not lie, but it’s one that is imperative to my happiness here, and it’s one my husband fully support. We have a line in our family budget which is called “savings for trips home” and we save a few hundred euros a month, every month, and only use it for trips home (and for emergency trips like funeral of grandparents, birth of nieces and nephews, etc.) We did this way back when I had no job, we did it when we had minimum wage jobs- it just meant we staid in a smaller apartment a bit longer, it meant maybe saving a bit longer for a new couch. My point is that it’s doable.

You’ve found a man you can spend the next 60 years with- that’s not nothing. You’re also 34 and if you want kids, they’ll have to come in the next few years probably- consideing how long you looked for this one great man, are you willing to start the search again is you move back East? In your 20s, I might recommend it, but at 34… I’m there. I know how hard many of my friends struggle with fertility and if you’ve found a man you can see yourself with long-term and who is already a great father, well, congrats!

Your parents will not be around forever, so giving up a long-term future with a man you love to spend more time with your parents seems… counter-productive to me. And I know that argument works the other way around, because why not just move home to spend the time you do have with them, right? Well, because you may not find a job in their town, because you may only end up seeing them once a month, anyway. Giving up a man you love, that you can grow old with, is too much of a sacrifice when you can skype, go visit twice a year, meet half-way. Because you can still spend time with your parents now. You can still have the relationship with the boyfriend. It just means adjusting a bit to make it all work

avatar LuckySeven March 11, 2013, 10:30 am

Definitely what WWS. I would say there’s three issues here: 1. Being homesick and missing your parents. 2. Your actual relationship with your boyfriend and 3. Your anxiety. I definitely have my moments of anxiety, and it can suck.

I could totally see how you might have, while you were in the military, comforted yourself with, “I can always move out to them when I am done,” and now are feeling some stress because that may not be an option right now. Like Wendy said, though, there are so many ways to feel closer to your parents, besides moving to their town. Also, in ten years, if you find that you do want to be closer to them in older age, you could move to them.

I get anxious too and can definitely understand how you can feel like you have to make a decision right now, but the beauty is that you don’t. Your parents are healthy and may have decades left to live. You have been away from your parents for a while and have survived. And like Wendy said, when deciding if your boyfriend will be your life partner, what’s the rush?

Try to look at anixety as its own feeling, rather than fact, and give yourself time to get settled into your new location. Good luck!

Jess Jess March 11, 2013, 10:37 am

So hard! It really is.

I lived overseas for 5 years in my late 20s and early 30s. I found that it go harder with time. I don’t think homesickness is juvenile. If anything, I find that we all gravitate more and more back to our families, upbringing, hometowns as we age. It especially makes sense as you start to really consider what having your own family should look like. No doubt, your picture includes the places you grew up on the East Coast. Snowy winters, apple picking, summers on the beach. I don’t mean to make you more nostalgic (could you tell I am also from the east coast?!) but I think it’s very normal to be drawn back to those images and concepts from your own childhood.

My advice would be not to make it black and white. Think about what you value here and how best you can achieve all of those things. Maybe you tighten the budget to make 3 trips a year instead of 2. Maybe you strike a deal with your boyfriend that Christmases are always spent with your family. Find ways to emphasize your family where you can. Maybe you agree on a timeline for moving back to that area in 5, 10 years –whenever reasonable. Add more Skype and face time into the equation. I have a friend who speaks to her mother in China on the phone EVERY morning. They haven’t seen each other in 3 years but they are closely connected.

avatar Daisy March 11, 2013, 10:44 am

Just wanted to agree that homesickness can get worse/harder over time. I’m in my 9th year of living abroad, and I think I’ve cried more times this month about missing my mom than I have in years! Anyway, glad I’m not alone on this one.

avatar Daisy March 11, 2013, 10:41 am

WWS! I’m afraid I don’t really have any advice to add, but I agree with Wendy that your question is complicated and you have a lot to think about.

I am actually in an extremely similar situation, and I can sympathize with how you feel. My boyfriend doesn’t have a young son, but I live in his home country — 8 time zones away from my parents and family! Before meeting my boyfriend 2.5 years ago, I’d actually given myself 6 more months to decide whether I was going to move back to America. Then I met A, and the thought of leaving nearly disappeared. But the funny thing is that the more serious we got, the more I missed my family. As we’ve started talking about marriage, I think it’s hit me that I may live abroad forever — and that thought is scary! My parents are fortunately in very good health, and we’re generally able to see each other 2-3 times a year, which I think is pretty good considering the distance. But as they get older, what if that’s not enough? And even if A and I move to America at some point, then he’ll be missing his parents from across the ocean. In short, one of us will always be a world away from “home.”

I think the bottom line, and what’s helped to comfort me, is Wendy’s point that when you get married or have a serious long-term relationship, you build a new family. It certainly doesn’t mean your original family disappears, and it doesn’t even mean you miss them any less. But it’s a natural progression, and at least in my case, I know it’s what my parents want for me. Of course they’d be over the moon if we decided to move to the US tomorrow, but at the end of the day they are happy and hopefully even a little proud that I’ve made my own life overseas and found someone to share that life with.

Growing up isn’t easy and it’s not 100% fun either. But starting a new family doesn’t have to mean leaving your old family behind. And seriously, download Skype right now!!

Jess Jess March 11, 2013, 10:52 am

Yes, Daisy, your story does sound similar! I remember feeling that way and was very much the same circumstances. I had been living overseas for 3 years and was considering a move back when I met my BF. The closer we got, the more the question of geography was in my mind. We strongly considered moving to the US together. In the end, our relationship ended anyway and I moved back very shortly after we broke up. Sometimes I would wonder about the path not taken but, everything happens for a reason. I met my soon-to-be husband after I moved back.

avatar Addie Pray March 11, 2013, 11:41 am

Hearing your experience will probably really help!

avatar Sheryl March 11, 2013, 10:41 am

What is your extended family like? If you have siblings, they should also be helping out your parents, too, so that should lessen the guilt on you.

Another option would be to have your parents come visit for a long time (like a month or two??) if they are retired.

Or if you don’t have siblings, why don’t you talk to your parents about moving closer? Might be something they would consider, especially if you want kids of your own someday or take a huge role in your stepchilds life.

avatar FossilChick March 11, 2013, 10:43 am

I can empathize with the LW’s concern about living a great distance from older parents without the resources to see them often. I’m in my mid-twenties and my parents are in their 70s. Neither is particular healthy. I’m a full-time student also working full time. I live a 5-hour plane ride or 18-hour drive away and funds on both sides are extremely limited. I eventually had to have pretty frank conversations with my parents and my partner about their needs and expectations. I’m an only child and my parents do expect that they will rely on me when they are older (this is also culturally our tradition). I felt better about shouldering that burden after talking to my boyfriend. He is very supportive of my traveling home when my parents need me even though it is economically difficult for us, and he knows that, at least financially, I will eventually need to contribute to my parents’ care in the next few years. Honestly, if he had reacted poorly, it would have told me a lot.

Right now there are a lot of balls up in the air. It is easy to let your mind go to the worst possible place. The more realistic, grounded conversations you can have, the more you’ll be able to think about the situation rationally. It is hard, but not insurmountable.

Fabelle Fabelle March 11, 2013, 10:47 am

I agree with with Wendy that a lot of your concern may be stemming from an overall source of uncertainty about the actual relationship. The way you’re framing everything—I mean, the worries you list don’t seem to be logical (unless there’s something you left out). I’m ~not~ saying you’re some anxiety-ridden, illogical person…just the fact that these worries are all kind of floating, baselessly, tells me there’s something else causing them?

So think on that, maybe. Because you’re an adult—you’ve technically “left” your parents quite some time ago (you were in the military!). 60s & 70s isn’t THAT old (I’m only 25, & my parents have each just entered their early sixties; your letter actually made me pause for a second like, “Wait…should *I* be worried??). You don’t mention any health issues. I’m sure that yeah, they would love having you around, BUT. They’re your parents…they understand you’re grown now & have your own life.

I’d tackle the underlying reasons as to why you’re dwelling a bit on this. You mention money—do you think marriage would dwindle your funds (making it so you’d have less freedom to visit as often as you’d like)? Why do you think committing to this man would mean “never” seeing your parents?

“One day I’m happy to be here with my boyfriend, and the next day I miss my family.” Hmm. Not to go into super close-reading analysis mode, but this sentence (plus the “I don’t live with him, btw” add-on) makes me think you may be lonely? You’ve framed it as kind of either/or—that is, when you’re NOT with your boyfriend, physically, you start going into homesick-land? If you do decide to stay where you are, I’d look into getting involved with the community somehow so you feel more rooted.

avatar oldie March 11, 2013, 10:52 am

A really good answer by Wendy. Perfect, really.

Wendy is right. You made the big decision to leave your parents when you left home and joined the military. Surely your parents viewed you as out of the nest and launched on your life at that moment in time. In time of war, they probably felt that your safety was less than guaranteed and that they might never see you again. They learned to cope with those feelings. They are used to living on their own and seeing you two weeks a year. (Btw, if you don’t have time to visit more frequently than that and they can’t afford a trip more often than every few years, perhaps you can buy them tickets to come visit you.)

Wendy is right. Unless your parents are in abnormally poor health for their ages, they will do just fine seeing you only two weeks a year. They have become used to that. They have each other, their friends, their hobbies and habitual activities in your home town. They have made an empty-nester life for themselves.

You seem very sold on your bf, but with some fears moving forward. ONe of those fears seems to be that you are somehow betraying your parents by moving on and starting your own family. I’m quite sure that they expect and want you to establish your own life.

Why not move in with your bf and see how things go. Give a good relationship a true chance to succeed, before running home to your parents. He’s stuck in place for ten years. If you run home, either your relationship is over, or you get unhappy and lonely for him back home and rush back. There is a lot more dignity in staying where you are until you make a final decision about whether this bf really is your future spouse.

Just an amusing side-note but it appears that the software Wendy uses to release her columns doesn’t recognize the existence of Daylight Savings Time.

Dear Wendy Wendy March 11, 2013, 11:20 am

No, I was just late writing this one today. I usually have a column lined up days in advance, but that wasn’t the case today, plus I had a case of The Mondays and was slow getting started once I got Jackson out the door with for the morning.

avatar lets_be_honest March 11, 2013, 11:29 am

Wendy, I ordered the philosophy cream today. Hoping for a miracle…but now I see you added more Wendy’s Picks. Those glasses earrings are so cute.

avatar lets_be_honest March 11, 2013, 11:29 am

ps to all, my sister recommended Dior Lip Glow to me. Its awesome, highly suggest it.

avatar ReginaRey March 11, 2013, 10:52 am

Totally agree with Wendy. This homesickness and lack of clarity about where you want to be may not be about your parents and your proximity to them. It’s likely about your values and what you authentically want. When we don’t know what we want, or maybe are a bit unwilling to explore what we authentically desire, we tend to project our insecurities on to external circumstances (such as your living situation). When in all honesty, it’s about your INTERNAL situation.

It’s normal to define yourself in relation to someone else; without your parents, you wouldn’t even “know” yourself. But I also know that when people are unsure of who they are deep down, what their core desired feelings and values are, and what their life purpose is, all of the OTHER things become that much more critical to your definition of self. So, your parents and your romantic partner become much more important in relation to you, because they help you define your identity. I’m thinking that the real issue here might be that you need to do some internal work to figure out who you are at your core, and from that, confidence and security about where you are, who you are, and what you want to do will become clear.

The easiest way to start that internal work is to ask yourself some probing questions, like “What excites me and motivates me naturally?” or “What do I want my life to look like and feel like in 3, 4 or 5 years?” and “What would need to change or evolve now to get me there?” Take the time and have the courage to ask yourself some questions; the answers to which may or may not align with what you’ve always THOUGHT you wanted.

avatar Lindsay March 11, 2013, 11:16 am

When you said you and this guy were “just dating,” I had to go back and look at the beginning of the letter because I started to think that I’d misread how long you’d been together. I know you were trying to differentiate between being married or not, but it’s not really the way that I’d refer to a two-year relationship. You also don’t really mention how you’d feel if you left your boyfriend and moved closer to your parents. I’m just curious because you talk about being homesick and sad to be without your parents, but it’s sort of implied that your life without him would just be without him physically there — wouldn’t you be sad about that, too? I guess it’s just weird to me because your desire to be with your parents is all about your feelings and you didn’t really express any actual emotions toward your boyfriend (just thoughts, like that you decided you wanted to be with him, etc.).

Regardless, I think it’s worth noting that A LOT of people are in your shoes. I live about 1,000 miles from my parents and have since college. Many of my friends do also. You seem to think it’s unnatural, but it’s fairly common. Obviously, that has no bearing on your life, but you need to at least shed the guilt that you’re “supposed” to go home. And while your parents would enjoy you there, I don’t think they’d necessarily want you to give up the guy you’d marry for that. They lived their life and made their own decisions — they don’t need to live your life also. One final thing, I’m not sure why you assume that after marriage you couldn’t visit your parents as much, but I think you’re just coming up with that to give you another reason not get married. If you wanted to visit them as often while married, then do it.

avatar Rachel March 11, 2013, 11:25 am

It’s a sign of the times when Wendy and most others here say she’s “projecting” instead of hey, maybe she really misses her parents, and the hometown she grew up in, and her, you know, Family. Maybe, shocker, being near her family is just more important than any man right now.

Maybe she knows that while she loves her boyfriend now, the 10 year thing is just too long to be away from her family, especially as they are aging. Hey maybe she actually likes her parents, that does happen occasionally.

It sounds like a very hard decision for sure, but if she were so sure about this guy, she’d be engaged and planning that wedding. I think it’s time for the writer to get home and move on with someone better suited to where she wants to be.

I think her comment regarding not seeing them as much after marriage has to do with money. Once you get married, you have less money for yourself, and travel will be more expensive if the husband and kid is tagging along. That might definitely prevent her from seeing her parents twice a year.

I’m sure he’s a nice guy but I wouldn’t stick around. If you’re this unsure after two years, you’re never going to be sure. Go home and enjoy your family, love will find you again.

avatar Lindsay March 11, 2013, 11:30 am

Yeah, I sort of agree. I am doubting that the LW actually wants to marry this guy.

Also, I realize that her comment about not seeing them had to do with money, but if it’s important enough to her, she can make it work. She doesn’t have to drag the whole family every time. I think she’s just convincing herself that she can’t see them anymore to add some stuff to the list of cons of getting married.

avatar Addie Pray March 11, 2013, 1:03 pm

I don’t think it’s such a stretch to guess that the LW is projecting. Besides, it’s just a possibility. I think it’s good for letter writers to consider A NUMBER OF POSSIBILITIES. If Wendy had just said “hey, you miss your parents,” I don’t think she’d give this LW anything deeper to consider. At the end of the day, maybe she just does miss her parents, but now LW has some deeper things to think about.

avatar Addie Pray March 11, 2013, 1:11 pm

I mean seriously, would your response to this LW have been “Hey, LW, I think you miss your parents”?. … She’d think, oh, ok, glad you helped me figure that out! There is *clearly* something else going on here, I don’t even think LW’s projecting is just a possibility. If she were completely happy with her boyfriend, she would not be this torn. If she were, then she’d just need to ask herself which thought is worse: breaking up with her boyfriend *or* continuing to live far from home for the next 10 years.

avatar Addie Pray March 11, 2013, 11:32 am

Based on this comment alone — “If I was married, there would be no question where I should be, but for right now we are just dating” — I am wonding if this is less about LW having anxiety over whether *she* wants to take that next step and more over whether her boyfriend does. LW, do you feel like your boyfriend is not as serious about your relationship? Is this a “why should I give up living near my parents when my boyfriend, for whom I’d be giving everything up, ‘just wants to date’” situation? IMany above are wondering if you are as into this relationship, but I’m wondering if you are but you fear your boyfriend isn’t. I think you need to have a long talk with your boyfriend.

Fabelle Fabelle March 11, 2013, 11:43 am

Good catch; I can definitely see this being the case, actually.

avatar 6napkinburger March 11, 2013, 11:40 am

Yay for a smart, sincere, coherent LW and great thoughtful advice from both Wendy and DW-ers. Go everyone!!

Now, I’m going to take a slightly different tact on here and give more creedence to the idea that it might actually be about the distance and isn’t as much of a projection as some others are suggeting. I am in my late twenties and just moved back to my home city (though not my home town… I grew up in a suburb of a big city and just moved to that city.) My parents live in our original house, my brother lives in a metro suburb in between the city and hometown and my sister lives on my block in the city. I spent 4 years 1000 miles away at college, then 6 years 4 hours away at grad school and working and I hit a point where I felt “it was time to come home” so I did. Whenever I dated in those other cities, I made sure that my partners knew that I was fairly certain I wanted to live in my city eventually. I contemplated other cities (yes, I’m talking about you Chicago), but ultimately decided against it. I wasn’t interested in dating ppl who had NO interest in moving to my city — and I had more than one change their mind from yes to maybe not, which caused me to have the same angst as this LW (though the relationships ended for other reasons, taking care of the issue). If I was in a relationship that was great but there was a legitimate reason why we couldn’t move to my city or anywhere near it, I would have been very conflicted, as this LW is, and not just for the other reasons.

I understand that some people don’t need to be near their family, but i think some people do. We all have different emotional personalities and some are less “independent” than others and need support from more than one source, and need it at a certain level that only actual proximity can delivery. I do. Maybe it will be different once I have my own nuclear family, but then I think I’d need my family close for other reasons. I’ve heard lots of people say on her that 4 hour drives and such are not that far, that some people are countries away and they make it work. But I respectfully disagree that just because some people find that doable means that it is enough for everyone.

I guess, I don’t think that this LW should give up on the man she loves and wants to spend the rest of her life with because she wants to be closer to her family. And Skype and such will make it better and she should go by herself and such. And I think/hope she can make it work and maybe the compromise is to move closer to her family when the son is out of high school, when her parents will need her more. But I don’t think she is necessarily transferring her feelings regarding her relationship onto her need to be near her family.

avatar GatorGirl March 11, 2013, 11:50 am

I like your response. Sometimes it really is just about missing a place- no projections, hidden meanings, etc etc.

avatar csp March 11, 2013, 4:54 pm

This is great. And so true. I will give a different story. I had a great high school friend who was born and raised in New Jersey. She studied abroad in Italy and pretty much decided that she needed to move and live there. She moved there and loved it for 6 years. She started to realize that she didn’t want to be a parent in a totally different country and have to bring a baby across oceans to visit. So she left the man of her dreams and moved to New Jersey. The funny thing was that she no longer fit in NJ. She missed the man she loved and the life and lifestyle of Italy. So after being home in New Jersey for 3 months, she ended up going back to Italy. She realized that having parents that were local, was not enough to sustain a life for her.

LW, you are a smart, reasonable woman. weigh the idea of 6Napkinburger and this story I provided. Think about what you might gain at home and what you might you might lose. Luckily, there is no timeline for this discussion. You might see that the right answer will make itself clear in the next few months.

avatar Zepp March 11, 2013, 11:59 am

I’ve been living abroad for 3 years, for a boyfriend, and the idea of having kids away from my parents and spending the rest of my life away from them so stressful. I was actually relieved when my boyfriend and I broke up, because then I knew I could go home. So right now I am planning on moving back to the US in a year (I will be 30). I actually don’t even want to date anyone here because I am so sure that I want to move back and I don’t want any temptations to stay. So I can really understand that this is actually about your parents. When we first move away we never think about the consequences of being gone for years and years.

Anyway, I would actually vote parents. At least for me, being near my parents has really become a priority now when it wasn’t in my early and mid 20s. Having my own family when they couldn’t be apart of the day-to-day would make me feel kind of sick. I’m sure that’s different for everyone but if you feel the same way you should go home. Parents don’t live forever, these are precious years!

avatar Zepp March 11, 2013, 12:02 pm

Also I want to add it was the idea of having kids and starting a family that made me want to move home. So I can see how starting this serious relationship could spark this desire in the LW.

avatar lets_be_honest March 11, 2013, 12:05 pm

Doesn’t it suck that you can find love abroad and its only when you find that love, you realize you want kids and want to be “home” with those kids? Humph.
Glad you’re finally getting to go home!

avatar Addie Pray March 11, 2013, 12:13 pm

“When we first move away we never think about the consequences of being gone for years and years.” <— So true.

avatar bethany March 11, 2013, 12:27 pm

I feel you… One thing I struggle with, personally is the issue of being close to my parents. My husband and I don’t really have the desire to move (we’re each about an hour from our parents), but I’ve been very vocal about the fact that I am very unwilling to move away from them from the begining. I just can’t. I only see them about once a month, but knowing that I’m here if they need me is just something that I really value. Luckily my husband values that too, or else we’d have some problems!

avatar Anna March 11, 2013, 5:31 pm

Zepp! Where have you been? I feel like we haven’t heard from you in forever! Sorry to hear about your breakup. Are you excited to move back to the States? If you are going back to NC we should meet up. I’m moving down there very soon.

avatar Zepp March 12, 2013, 1:12 pm

Hi! I know! I’m back, I don’t read as often but I did today and this column really spoke to me! The breakup was for the best, I only wish I had done it sooner. (Like, 2 years sooner….) That’s great you are moving to NC, I am sure you will love the Triangle. I am really excited to go back, it won’t be for at least another year though. I still have some job/travel commitments I need to see through and I hope in a year I will be totally sick of the city/euro/expat-life and ready to be home. When exactly are you moving?

avatar Trixy Minx March 12, 2013, 1:41 pm

I remember zepp :D

avatar Sasa March 11, 2013, 12:19 pm

Even if you are in a relationship with someone who you could really see a longterm future with, it can definitely weigh heavily if that person absolutely cannot move. It’s totally understandable and the right thing to do that your boyfriend won’t move away from his child, but it would also be completely understandable if that’s a deal-breaker for you. (Aside from him already being a father, which could also easily be a deal-breaker in itself). Personally, I could accept living far away from my parents, but I would NOT marry someone who is absolutely bound to one particular place for 10+ years. That’s a big constraint.

As an aside, don’t ever do something just because you think you have to “grow up”. (Except things like paying your bills.) Usually the people who do something with that explanation are basically weeping inside for their lost opportunities.

CatsMeow CatsMeow March 11, 2013, 12:33 pm

I did the same. I’m from the Midwest but I moved out to Vegas and stayed there for 4 years. I was about to buy a house (as in, had a closing date set), and then I started to freak out at the permanence of it. I started thinking about how IF I found a serious boyfriend/husband in Las Vegas, what would we do for holidays? Pretty much no one that lives in Vegas is FROM Vegas, so my future-hypothetical boyfriend would probably have family from somewhere else, and how would we negotiate splitting the time to visit our families? I had been flying back to my hometown 2 – 4 times per year, but it probably wouldn’t be feasible (financially and PTO-wise) to keep doing that if I was splitting my time with my hypothetical boyfriend’s family as well. And then… WHAT IF I decided to have kids? I’m pretty sure I don’t want them but I haven’t shut myself off completely to the possibility. I know my mom, and it would kill her to have a grandbaby that she couldn’t see all the time. And then there’s my grandma, whose health and sanity is slowly failing. i just felt like I was too far away.

So, I moved back to the Midwest, a comfortable driving distance from my family. There are certain aspects of the move that I regret, but overall I’m pleased with my decision.

lemongrass lemongrass March 11, 2013, 1:17 pm

Marriage is combining families, not tearing them apart.

avatar Bossy Italian Wife March 11, 2013, 1:28 pm

I generally agree with Wendy, but today I find I feel differently. There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to be closer to your family and wanting to live near them. In a world that fosters so much disconnection, having a family that is close and connected is a good thing.

If you know you want to live near your family then do it! I would have an incredibly difficult time if I knew I had to live far away from my family. My husband and I live very close to both our families and we feel it’s important to have access to our parents and siblings–they are the people we are closest to. That is not to say that we don’t have our own lives; we certainly do.

The best thing you can do is to follow your intuition on this one. My guess is that if your life was satisfying with this boyfriend, then you might not be wondering whether you might want to move away and start all over. My advice would be to have a serious talk with your boyfriend about how important it is to you to be close to your family–or to have access to them more frequently. See where he stands…and how you both might be able to creatively navigate the situation.

His answer may be all the information you need to make this very big decicion.

avatar BreezyAM March 11, 2013, 1:39 pm

I am from the middle of the US and moved to Canada (Deepest Quebec actually) 17 years ago. I would never ever want to move home and never ever have wanted to.

Except now and again I think about it. I remember big lawns and warm sidewalks in spring and real heat in the summer and wide open spaces and countryside and get a hankering for home.

And then I go spend a week or two in Omaha, as in the “big city” with my family and contemplate an IV of vodka. I have a couple girlfriends from high school who “get it” and we ALL fantasize about moving back, then go there and shudder. Yes we love being with our families. But when we talk to people? As in regular folks on the street? See the strip mall every few blocks? Not be able to go freakin’ anywhere without a car? The way people loooooooooooooooook at a woman who is nursing or GOD FORBID pregnant and having a glass of wine with dinner? The ABORTION STOPS A BEATING HEART billboards all over? Yeah then I put on Lubbock or Leave it on my way out of town. Not in a mean sneering way either like too many “midwest/small town” folks take that song but as in a “smh with a smile” way. I LOVE where I am from but lord have mercy no I have no desire whatsoever to live there again. Maybe you don’t actually either, maybe, like me and my friends, it’s just nostalgia (combined with “just dating” after 2 years? wtf is that about? Either he isn’t the guy… or you’re not the girl. In which case, maybe you should move back after all).

avatar BreezyAM March 11, 2013, 1:43 pm

And for the record, I am extremely close to my parents in Omaha. We have phones and see one another every other year or so. OTOH my father has made clear, VERY clear on numerous occasions he does NOT want to be “cared for” as in me having to check in on him every day. Or more. he wants to go into an independent retirement place, then assisted living. he watched his parents work to the bone caring for his grandparents into their demise and would probably shoot himself dead before letting his kids do that, he feels so strongly about it. Also, we’re introverts, and very techno minded, so to us we find texting to be as fine as hanging out together.

avatar Sophronisba March 11, 2013, 1:56 pm

I can’t imagine loving, well-adjusted parents wanting their daughter to give up a long-term relationship with a “wonderful man” in order for her to come and live in their pockets.. .When you visit, everyone is on their best behavior, the good china comes out, special treats are cooked, etc. – it’s not day to day life. It isn’t helpful to romanticize how great it would be to move back based on those wonderful visits and compare that to the nitty-gritty details of your current life.

avatar csp March 11, 2013, 4:45 pm

LW – wendy is dead on. Here are some other ways to help with Home sickness. Can you skype with your parents? what about playing words with friends. I know it is silly, but I play with my mom all day and we use the text feature. It makes me feel close to her. Does your mom have a cell phone. My mom sends me pictures of the dog or silly stuff like that and I send her funny pictures. Even silly things like when I had my toe nails a sparkle color or pictures of my new haircut. if she doesn’t have a cell then you can do this through a site like facebook. by sharing these day to day things, it does make you feel closer. It might help with the loneliness. Also if you start sharing these little daily things, then she will do the same.

avatar Anna March 11, 2013, 5:50 pm

It’s an odd thing, trying to keep the balance between your childhood family and the adult family you may or may not want to start. You don’t have to choose one or the other; it really is possible to keep both in your life. You won’t be able to devote 100% of your time to one family or the other and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that. It’s normal to want to get married and start your own family, and it would be ridiculous to suggest that you won’t still be able to visit your parents whenever possible. That was what my ex didn’t understand; he seemed to think that if he declined his parents’ invitation to move away and stayed with me he would be a traitor of sorts. He didn’t say that but when you spend 9 years with someone you learn to read them pretty well. He chose them over me without even considering the option of both, and that really hurt. It was like our relationship didn’t even matter because we weren’t related by blood.

It sounds like you do love your boyfriend, so I would just advise that you tread carefully while making this decision. My ex has repeatedly referred to his decision to leave me and follow his parents as “the worst mistake of his life.” It’s not that he doesn’t love them anymore or doesn’t want to be close to them; it’s just the fact that childhood family life isn’t as fulfilling once you’ve been in an adult relationship and lived that kind of life. It’s a part of growing and changing. And the fact that he realizes his mistake now doesn’t erase the pain he caused me. It may have ruined his chance to ever have a relationship with me again, in fact. That’s yet to be decided.

avatar Ammie March 11, 2013, 8:05 pm

Disclaimer: this advice is for a person in a family like mine, where I want to have children and my parents really want grandchildren. If children aren’t a big deal to you or your parents, this advice is irrelevant.

The disclaimed advice: The production of grandchildren and the knowledge that their own baby bird is married and stable in her life may ease the sting of your absence. :) Heck, if you’re an only child, your parents may decide to move to be closer to *you* and the potential grandchild/ren.

I think it’s a great idea to find more ways that you can communicate with them face to face yet not in person, as well as finding more ways to visit (I don’t think you should necessarily experience a decline in opportunities to do that after you’re married). But I also think that your parents are probably going to be thrilled to hear that you’ve found someone and are making plans to settle down, even if it’s not close to them.

avatar Homesick and Lovesick March 13, 2013, 2:56 am

Hi everyone, I’m the one who wrote the letter. Wendy, I really appreciate your advice! And I appreciate everyone’s advice no matter how hardline or soft–it was all helpful. I didn’t give a lot of details because I tried to keep my question short. So I will try to clear up some questions all of you had (sorry this is long): I do love my boyfriend and he loves me, we have talked about marriage many times and I have told him I needed more time–mainly because of this issue. There is no big rush but I feel like he is the one for me so initially I didn’t feel any need to wait but this issue has slowed me down. Plus, I’m considering children and I have a smaller window for that at my age. Also, I know what it’s like to be single; I can live on my own and would not keep anyone in my life because of loneliness.

My parents miss me but say are happy for me if I’m happy. My mother wants me to live my life but my father seems to be missing me a lot more because he retired. He has wanted me to move back. He has some issues about his family (they are dysfunctional) so he feels lonely (yes even with my mother there, which still works). We have always been a close family and as much as my dad wanted to be around me, he had to work long hours in a place 2 hours away and didn’t see me so much growing up. I think he feels like he missed out on spending time with me. Yes, I left home but like one person said I had no idea I would be gone this long or how I would feel about it down the road. I have one brother but he works all the time, they don’t see him much. Yes, my parents are not very old; they have a few health issues but are able to do things for themselves. I thought about how they are still active and may not be later. Also they are not expecting me to take care of them, they do not need anything from me. They just miss me.

I know there was some talk about me saying I wouldn’t see my parents much. The only reason I said that was because we would want to go on vacation and stay here for some holidays. I wouldn’t have enough vacation time to either go back as much or stay as long. Another reason is money. It’s sometimes hard for me to save the little bit of money I do have. The drive to see them is about 21 hours so flying makes more sense to me. It might be possible for my parents to come out for a few months in the year. I’m not sure where they would live or how that would go but it’s a possibility. They wouldn’t move any time soon because of my grandmother and brother.

And Skype is a great idea. The only problem is my parents just learned how to turn a computer on! Well, they know how to look at websites but don’t email or Skype. They have basic cell phones and they can’t email pictures and they don’t text. I am going to help them to do that so we can talk more.

I have some things to think about. I think I thought about it so much, I have gotten anxiety over it. Some days I make a decision and then that decision changes about what I should do. Some times I decide to stay here and then I have a dream about being with my family. Obviously I have thought about this way too much and just needed some insight on what I should do. For right now, I’m going to see how the relationship goes. And I will take everyone’s advice; I’m going to think about what I really want in life. And I’m going to ask myself if I would be happy moving back. I don’t want to live with them but just be closer. I love my family but may have romanticized home; for me it’s always comfortable to be home, see familiar faces and places. I have talked to my boyfriend early about this issue and he said if I wasn’t happy here, maybe I should just go home. But after thinking about it, I just couldn’t leave him. I felt physically sick just thinking about breaking up with him. Yes, you read that right–I had an opportunity to leave and I didn’t. At that point in time, all I wanted to do was stay with him.

Right now, the only thing I know is I have a man who loves me and has treated me the way I have always wanted to be treated by a man. I would hate to give that up. I will always have my parents no matter what decision I make but I will not have him if I leave.

I hope I have covered everything. When I have more time, I will check back and see if there is anything I missed. It’s good to know I’m not the only one with issues like this. I just needed to hear some opinions besides the ones in my head! Hopefully everything I said was clear, I’m pretty sleepy!

avatar Addie Pray March 13, 2013, 8:57 am

That’s a really tough one, Homesick! And I feel for you, because I’m close to my family too. And I wish we were all in the same town, and I do not think it’s silly of you to want to be near your parents, especially as they get older and they will become more dependent. It sounds more like you’re leaning toward staying with your boyfriend long term. I say that just because you’ve mentioned how hard it will be continuing to be away from them long term but not how hard it will be to break up with your boyfriend…. And if that’s true, I’d definitely think of ways to make the distance more tolerable. In addition to Skype, think about getting a place with a nice guest room and bath so when they do come, they can stay WITH you for long periods of time. That’s the only thing I got for now.

Leave a Comment


4 + eight =