Not long after we went ring shopping he became distant, and he finally told me he can’t leave his hometown. He wants to settle there, continue with some of his dreams in music, have kids there and build his family there. The problem is, I really hate his city – I always have and he knows that. I could move to many places permanently for him and never look back to the city where I live now (and which I love), but where he lives I would essentially be letting go of a lot of dreams and personal goals in my career as well as a lifestyle and surroundings I enjoy. I’ve offered to compromise and stay in his city longer than I would like, but after two months of trying to convince him to compromise, he won’t budge even though he says he still wants to marry me.
I am so torn because I love him so much and want us to work so badly, but he and I are both afraid I will move and become resentful. Add kids to that mix and it gets even worse. Ever since we started discussing this issue, our relationship has deteriorated significantly and now we are on the brink of walking away for good, but I can’t seem to let go because I think we are great for each other and I have never met anyone else like him. I’m so confused because he has wanted to be with me all this time and, now that I am ready, he has changed his mind.
I’m not young (35) and afraid if I walk away because of location, I may regret it big time. My priorities are shifting and career/goals are becoming less important, but general happiness as an individual is really important to me, married or single, and I’m trying to be realistic about all of this.
I read that you moved for love, so any suggestions would be immensely appreciated. — Reality Bites
I did move for love, but there was a big difference between my scenario and yours: I liked the city I moved to, and I did not have to compromise career goals, passions, dreams, or too much general happiness. Other than saying good-bye to my friends and the beach, which was a ten-minute walk from my place, moving from Chicago to New York City was a move up for me. There were better career opportunities and lots and lots and lots of things to keep me entertained and occupied for many years to come. Had Drew lived in a place where I would have had to sacrifice not only career goals and dreams but also general happiness, I wouldn’t have moved. Period. And I don’t think you should either.
You say your boyfriend has suddenly changed his mind about seeing a future with you, but that really isn’t the case. The truth is, he was never fully committed to a future with you — not in the way you are when you’re making real, solid plans. You didn’t make plans. Not true plans. You shared some ideas. Or, really, he shared an idea — you move to where he lives for “a few years” while he “continued his work in music for a while.” What does that even mean? How much more vague can you get? What was the plan for those “few years”? Where did he imagine being with his music at the end of those few years that would allow him the luxury of moving wherever he wanted and how did he plan to get there? What was the plan for you? And why were you “totally excited” about spending several years in a town you hate where you wouldn’t be able to pursue many of your career or personal goals?
It doesn’t seem to me like either of you has necessarily had a change of mind; you’re just suddenly being realistic instead of thinking about the future in vague, far-off terms. Your boyfriend doesn’t want to leave his hometown and you’re having trouble imagining yourself ever being happy there, even married to a guy you really love. He’s right to fear your resentment. And you’re right to worry about making a mistake. But finding someone you love is only half the battle to finding a good life-long partner. You have to be compatible, too. And that doesn’t just mean enjoying the same movies and playing golf on Saturday afternoon. Your lifestyles and life goals have to match up. You have to be able to be happy, or at least satisfied, in the spot you choose to live.
What’s the point in marrying someone whose lifestyle doesn’t align with yours or who wants to live some place you can’t imagine being happy? Love — and even children — will only fill you up so much. If you have other passions and needs and goals that are not being met, you won’t be happy. And being scared that you’re running out of time because you’re 35 isn’t enough reason to settle for not being happy.
You do still have time, but you probably shouldn’t spend too much more of it on a relationship that doesn’t have a future. So it’s time to shit or get off this pot. If you can, take an extended trip to your boyfriend’s hometown. Imagine yourself living there. What would your days look like? What would the years look like? What kind of work would you do? What kind of people would you meet and interact with? How do you fit into your boyfriend’s established life there?
Do some serious soul-searching and decide if you’re willing to spend the rest of your life there — not just 3-5 years like you originally “planned,” but forever, because that’s what your boyfriend is saying. He isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to get married, have a family, and stay there forever. If it’s not you, it will be another woman he marries. But it doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere. So it has to be your decision. Are YOU the woman he makes a future with in his hometown. Or are you going to follow other dreams and find a different partner whose future goals maybe better align with yours?
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.