Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “Should I Marry Him or Leave Him?”

I’ve answered variations of this letter quite a few times already, so now I’ll let you guys tackle it:

I grew up on the East Coast and moved to the West Coast for a two-year master’s program. It was there that I fell in love, and after almost a year of being with the greatest guy I moved with him to another part of the country where he was matched to be for his internal medicine residency program. We will be here for three years, and I have been here for six months so far.

The problem is that nearly all my friends and family are on the East Coast, and I miss them dearly. In addition, I’m extremely close to my 93-year-old grandmother and I want to make the most of the time she has left. My boyfriend is willing to move back East with me when he completes his residency, but at that point he will be matching for fellowships and there’s no guarantee where he’ll be sent.

Unfortunately, I’ve been having a hard time adapting to our new town. I’ve made new friends but they pale in comparison to my old buddies whom I miss. The weather here is rather intense – a typical winter can go down to -40 (very freaking cold). I have found a job but it isn’t a huge source of satisfaction as I am working below my qualifications until something better comes up.

I find myself feeling very melancholy and depressed, despite my boyfriend’s best efforts. He really is the most wonderful guy, but I find myself wanting to settle down with him in a few years without having to suffer through so much heartache now. I plan on sticking it out, but my boyfriend is the only reason for me to stay here and it puts a lot of pressure on him to be my all and everything. I go out with new friends, I joined a sports team, and I try to stay busy and engaged with he community but I am so, so sad.

Should I try long distance? Should I find a way to suck it up? Should we get married so that I don’t worry that living here will be a mistake in my life and I’m wasting time with a guy that’s not set-in-legal-stone “for sure”? I agonize over this daily, and just want to feel happy – I’m young, and the world is my oyster. I have no kids and few student loans. I want to BE HAPPY! — So, so Sad

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

61 comments… add one
  • LadyinPurpleNotRed

    LadyinPurpleNotRed October 29, 2012, 11:05 am

    Well for one, marrying to have a legal reason to stay with your boyfriend won’t make you happy. It very easily could make it more expensive and harder to leave him though.

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    artsygirl October 29, 2012, 11:17 am

    LW – I would not marry your BF at this point since there is no real incentive. That leaves a couple of choices. 1) You can move back to the East Coast and carry on your relationship long distance for the next 2 years 2) You can stay where you are currently and try to find more friends and fulfilling work or 3) you can do a mix of 1 and 2. I would lean more towards three personally. You can set an end date (i.e. 6 months or a year) and if you have not found a career rather than a job and you are still miserably lonely you can relocate back to your family with the thought that you BF will be able to move closer when he is done with his program. Staying someplace that makes you miserable will probably just cause you to resent your BF and moving out quickly before you have given the place a chance will likely make you question if you could have made living with him work.

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      artsygirl October 29, 2012, 11:18 am

      P.S. Key to all of this is open communication with your BF. Explain your thinking and all contingencies.

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      Rachel October 29, 2012, 12:58 pm

      I think your number 3 is a good idea. After 6 months, she will have been there a whole year, which is a good amount of time to decide whether she really hates it. I just talked to a friend who has lived in a new city for about a year, and he told me he *hated* it at first, but now loves it. I think a year is a good test to see whether she will be able to adjust.

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      • genevathene

        genevathene October 29, 2012, 2:09 pm

        Yeah, as someone who’s just gone through a move (which also extended the distance in my LDR), I definitely agree with Rachel’s advice — try to stick around for 6 more months. Moving somewhere new involves a process that’s really similar to the stages of grief, especially once you get over the shiny newness of everything and start “grieving” the end of your life in your previous home. It takes about a year before you’ve gone through all the stages and reach an emotional equilibrium.

        Waves of homesickness suck, but they’re perfectly normal! My most recent one lasted three months, and it was really tough, especially once I started doubting myself for moving so far away from my boyfriend. In my head, I started hating on everything about my new place and totally disengaging, even as I pushed myself to make new friends despite those feelings.

        How often can you go back home to visit? Especially since you’ve been away from the East Coast for your masters program, you may have romanticized your memories of home, which could be driving your desire to move back. Wanting to be near your grandmother is perfectly understandable, though. At the same time, if you moved back, would you spend as much quality time with her? What if you made more visits where all you do is spend time with your family?

        You’re doing a great job trying to reach out, make friends, and integrate with your new community. Keep at it a little while, and talk to your boyfriend about your need to spend more time with family. I think if you give it a few more months, you might be surprised by how much more settled you feel in your new place. Good luck!

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    Amber October 29, 2012, 11:27 am

    If your relationship with your boyfriend isn’t satisfying enough to make up for not living in your ideal location and being able to see your old friends, to the point that it makes you depressed, then maybe this is not right relationship.

    Personally, if my partner and I had to move away, anywhere, I would still be happy since we were together, even if the living circumstances were less than ideal.

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    • theattack

      theattack October 29, 2012, 11:39 am

      I don’t think that’s really fair. Living with the person you love can’t make up for every other thing missing in your life. Her grandmother isn’t going to be around forever, and she can’t ever get a new one. Her boyfriend cannot fill that spot in her life. I think the fact that she’s debating this shows that she does care about him. She sounds very conflicted.

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      • avatar

        lemongrass October 29, 2012, 11:59 am

        I disagree Amber- I moved to be with my husband and it took me an adjustment period of about 1 year to get settled and comfortable in my new town. Moving can be a tough adjustment, especially when you aren’t moving because you want to. That doesn’t mean that my relationship wasn’t great- it means that everything else wasn’t and I feel things beyond my relationship.

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        MissDre October 29, 2012, 12:13 pm

        Agree with you lemograss. A relationship cannot be your everything. That’s a huge burden of pressure to place on your SO and it’s not healthy. A person also needs to find happiness and fulfilment beyond the relationship. Hopefully like you, this LW will begin to adjust.

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      • avatar

        Amber October 29, 2012, 12:15 pm

        Adjustment, yes. I did not mean to imply that it would all be kittens and rainbows. I would probably miss my family, friends, etc. That would definitely be sad.

        But none of those things would actually make me think about moving away or breaking up with him.

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      • theattack

        theattack October 29, 2012, 12:30 pm

        Different strokes for different folks. I think it’s totally reasonable to move away. People do it for jobs and education all the time, and I don’t think there’s anything different about moving away to be with your family.

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    • avatar

      llclarityll October 29, 2012, 12:04 pm

      I can see where Amber is coming from though. He may be right for her, but the circumstances of the relationship might not be (i.e. 3-year commitment to the west coast).

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      GatorGirl October 29, 2012, 12:44 pm

      Amber I have to say I completely disagree with you. I moved across the country to be with my fiance. I love him dearly and am so so happy I made the move to be with him but it’s very hard to adjust to a new town, adjust to a new part of the country, make new friends, keep up my connection with my friends and family at home, etc, etc, etc. I love living here with my fiance but I definitely have times where I’m depressed and missing home. I’m guess the winters aren’t helping this LW either!

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        Taylor October 29, 2012, 1:41 pm

        I totally agree.

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      Lindsay October 29, 2012, 12:52 pm

      I get what you’re saying, Amber. A partner can’t be the center of your universe, but if being with them is a top priority for you, then it can be worth living in a crappy place or making new friends.

      I would personally be inclined to choose the person over the location, too, but I’ve also moved a lot and am pretty adaptable, so I know it wouldn’t necessarily be right for everyone.

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      • avatar

        Amber October 29, 2012, 2:47 pm

        that’s exactly what I meant.

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      Sue Jones October 29, 2012, 2:41 pm

      Um….no. That is not a satisfactory answer in this day and age when women have so many opportunities. Enough stress can be hard even the best relationship and the fact that she doesn’t have the same quality of friends outside the relationship, is doing mindless boring work for a job and lives in a place where the weather sucks while her BF is putting in long, long hours at a hospital can leave her feeling isolated and put a lot of stress on the relationship. I would say for her to take frequent trips to the east coast, or move back east and take frequent long trips to Iceland (that’s what I am going to call his residency town). But I would encourage her to stick it out. When I was starting out in medical practice my first job was in a tiny cold town and I was so lonely and depressed. And the men a single 30 year old professional could date in a tiny small town were either already married with 3 kids so not on the market…or alcoholics and losers so that there was a REASON they were not married young already. People there married young. Period. I did eventually make some friends but I was so glad to move away finally to a place where there was more going on and where I had more social support. And one’s basic happiness level definitely makes or breaks any relationship. My best friends- the ones who really understand me and where I came from are on the east coast. I live in the West. I love the mountains and nature here and have a family now and would not trade that, but I make sure I go east to see friends and family 2-4 times per year. And thankfully, we now have Facebook!

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    • avatar

      Nadine October 30, 2012, 11:16 am

      I disagree completely. I love my BF, but my life has not been sunshine and roses ever since we got together. Can you honestly say that everything in your life is ok because you love your BF?

      ‘Its ok that I have no house! Love will keep me warm!’
      ‘Who cares that I have no friends and no one likes me! I am in LOVE!’
      – said no one ever in the world.

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  • avatar

    tbrucemom October 29, 2012, 11:32 am

    I think maybe trying long distance might be in the LW’s best interest. She may find that even though she’ll be around her family and friends and good weather she’ll miss her BF more than any of that. Or she might realize that she really can’t make the sacrifice for her relationship. I do think there is a big difference between making those concessions for a BF instead of a husband so I get the question about getting married, but I don’t think her motives at this point are ideal.

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    Taylor October 29, 2012, 11:34 am

    Yeah, I got married this summer, and it’s awesome, but so not a fix-it for issues that existed. Everything that made me sad before still makes me sad. I too moved (but eastwards) to live in a place that gets COLD, and I miss my Mom (who is a 5 hour flight away), my sister (who is a 24 hour trip that costs at LEAST $1000 away), and my best friends (who are having babies, and writing books and doing all this wonderful stuff I wish I could witness in person). I just ache with it sometimes.
    I’ve moved long distances before, just never with (or for) someone, and certainly not for the long haul. Here’s what I have learned: it takes TIME to settle into a new community. You are doing the right things – staying active, meeting people. But will they replace the people who you grew up with? Your oldest friends? Not anytime soon. It takes me months to years to make a new home. I am making friends, but do they compare to my “good twin ” who is my polar opposite but we’re going on 20 years of being there for each other? Nope. My grad school roommate who I jokingly call my first spouse? Nope. We had a dog together, and if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse she’s the person I want to be in it with. These are choices I made, for a lot of reasons, and I LOVE my husband. I am also in my early thirties, and was ready to settle down and settle in and make some babies with someone whose philosophies match mine. But the ache, the missing of people, that decreases, but I don’t think it will ever go away.

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    pho_sho October 29, 2012, 11:38 am

    I think what you’re feeling had more to do with moving to a new place where you feel unsettled and unconnected to your new location. I say that because I feel very similarly to you, having moved to a new place for residency in June, except I don’t even have a relationship. It’s a lot harder to make a new start somewhere when you don’t have the enormous, built-in social network that an educational atmosphere can provide. I feel that very much right now, even though being in residency provides a little bit of that. From what I’ve read on the internet, it sounds like it takes people about a year to really feel like they’ve settled into their new location. I understand your frustration, but maybe it would help to channel it into finding ways to root yourself into the new community you’re in. Meanwhile, plan as many trips to see/stay with your family as you need to keep your spirits up.

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    llclarityll October 29, 2012, 11:38 am

    Please listen to your heart, although it’s saying two different things right now. You’ve been there for 6 months. I would give it more time — some people say it could take a year or more to truly feel “at home” in a new place/town.

    Maybe give it 6 more months. Really get out and about more. Stick with your routine, and add in some new things, too. Keep communication open with your boyfriend — tell him what you’re feeling, but dont’ rely on him to be the source of all happiness. Don’t compare your old friends to your new ones.

    Re-evaluate in 6 months and see if anything has changed. Moving away from family is hard. But you shouldn’t sacrifice your overall happiness to be with “the greatest guy ever.”

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    redessa October 29, 2012, 11:42 am

    I think getting married would just make you feel even more trapped.

    And what does the boyfriend think of marriage right now? From my understanding, medical residency programs are intense and exceedingly time comsuming. Throw wedding planning and getting time off for a honeymoon on top of that and you might push the poor boy over the edge as far as how much he can handle at any one time.

    Honestly, I think you should plan a visit back home. Stay as long as you can. Reconnect with those old friends and see if they really are so much better than your new ones or if you’re romanticizing the past a bit. Plus, don’t forget that it takes time to build a really connection. Your new friends are just that – new. 6 months is not very long and it may be that you’ve found wonderful new people to hang out with but simply don’t have the advantage of much shared history yet.

    I do like the idea suggested above to give yourself a timeline in which to make the decision to stay or go back home. It’s possible that just having an “escape plan” will take some of the pressure off and help you feel better. If you do go back, the decision as to whether to be in a LDR or break it off will be between you and your bf, but you don’t have to cross that bridge just yet. Take one thing at a time and don’t do anything permanent (like getting married) until you are satisfied with your circumstances and fulfilled all on your own. Marriage should be about two whole people joining together because they want to share their lives with each other in every way. Not because they are looking to the other person to fill a void they can’t even define.

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    • katie

      katie October 29, 2012, 1:25 pm

      “Marriage should be about two whole people joining together because they want to share their lives with each other in every way. Not because they are looking to the other person to fill a void they can’t even define.”

      WRS.

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  • avatar

    *HmC* October 29, 2012, 11:42 am

    I’m not really sure how getting married became one of your options. You should get married because you feel ready to and you really want to and you feel like the timing is right for both of you and it will lead to even more happiness and fulfillment in your relationship… not because you are sad. Getting married won’t mean that you will never look back on this experience as a mistake… that could still happen. In fact, if you get married for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time, then you’ll likely look back at that as a huge mistake as well.

    I’m not a huge proponent of long distance long term relationships for very young people (they work for some of course, but I think they can cause a lot of misery for a lot of people). So I don’t know if that’s your answer either. But you certainly can’t go on being unhappy where you are so you’ve got to change *something* up.

    Are you quite certain you have really put your heart into making a well-rounded life for yourself where you are? Maybe you just went through the motions of meeting people because you felt like you should? Having your boyfriend be your all and everything is, as you seem to understand, incredibly unhealthy and bad for both of you as individuals as well as bad for your relationship. It sounds like you’ve sort of got your head in the East Coast with your family and are more waiting to move than enjoying the now.

    If you feel truly devoid of happiness, perhaps you are depressed in general? And it wouldn’t matter where you lived… maybe you’ve focused your attention on home because you need something to blame for your unhappiness?

    If I were you, I would try harder to make friends where you are. And with skype nowadays, maybe you could try to better connect with far away friends and family too. Save up money to visit your grandma when you can. Decide what you want to do, where you want to live, and tell yourself that you made that decision because it’s where you want to be and you’re going to actively work on your happiness there. Because your happiness is your responsibility. It’s something that a lot of people have to work very hard for.

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      Lindsay October 29, 2012, 11:58 am

      Good points. I have a friend who moved to my town and was super unhappy. She left after only a few months and was convinced the new place would solve all her problems. It didn’t. Turns out she was just depressed, and now she’s stuck in a place that is actually worse.

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    applescruffs October 29, 2012, 11:43 am

    I’ve moved every 3-5 years my entire life. I agree with what others are saying – it takes TIME to settle. One of the most difficult years of my life was when I moved to a small town in Utah. I was the only Jewish person anyone knew, I was plane rides away from my friends and family in Oregon and Colorado, and spent most nights hanging out with my dog – who I adopted while living there because I needed SOMEONE to hang out with! By the end of that year, things were looking up and I had made a few friends. Still, I was thrilled to leave when my internship was over. My point is, I think it takes at least a year in a new place to start feeling settled. It takes time for your new friends to feel like your old friends. For now, try to enjoy the aspects of your town that you can. It sounds like you’re doing everything right. Make sure you keep exercising, it’ll help your mood. If, once you’ve been there a year, things still seem this terrible, it might be time to re-evaluate. Until then, keep doing what you’re doing and know that you won’t be there forever.

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    Temperance October 29, 2012, 11:46 am

    LW, I think you’re doing all the right things to try and be “at home” in your new town except one – letting yourself feel mentally at home in your new town. You’ve only been there for 6 months, and the Fargo cold weather thing does sound pretty shitty (this coming from someone who lives in the northeast and can’t leave her apartment for 2 days!), but I don’t know if you’re really letting yourself feel free to like your new place.

    You have new friends, but they aren’t your old ones, and they can’t replace your grandmother. Your grandmother loves you (you’re close!). Your grandmother wants you to be happy and build a life with the man who will very likely become your husband. You can’t really do that at home in PA/NJ/DE while your BF is in ND (or whatever terrible place gets to -40 in winter!).

    I think you should stick it out a little longer, and finances permitting, try and visit your family and friends (finances permitting, and of course, ask that they visit you!). I also am gently suggesting that maybe you talk to a therapist about this before making a decision that you really, really regret and throw away a relationship that you truly treasure because you miss some people that will ALWAYS be there for you!

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    Lindsay October 29, 2012, 11:53 am

    I wouldn’t get married yet, especially since you seem so unsure about the future. If you have to ask whether you should get married, then you’re not ready. I used to live in a place that got down to 40-below, so I understand how bad it can get in the winter — how dark, cold and gloomy it is. That can really bring you down, even if you’re making an effort, which it sounds like you are. (Side note: Maybe look into if seasonal affective disorder might be a problem for you? Obviously, it wouldn’t have been an issue over the summer, but you don’t want it to make you feel worse this winter…)

    However, you’ve only been there for six months. If you’re really giving it a chance, then it’s way too soon to make a decision. Of course friends you’ve met in the past few months are not as good as ones you’ve known for you years, that’s pretty much a given. It takes a while to build a life somewhere and to feel at home. Don’t give up on the place so quickly — you may never love it, but it could grow on you if you let it.

    You just have to decide if you want to be with your boyfriend long term or not. Even though he’s matching for a fellowship, he still will be able to rank his top programs, and if he’s serious about moving to the East Coast, then I’m sure he can focus his search on that part of the country. (And internal medicine seems like it would have a lot more options than some specialties). Though it depends on whether just getting closer to home is enough, or if you want to be in your home town (which would be harder to manage).

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    lemongrass October 29, 2012, 11:55 am

    Go home for a week or two by yourself. See if being there is worse than losing him. It would be unfair to ask him to wait for a few years of his life while you can be somewhere else- there is no guarantee that you’ll go back to him after that time. So go home and see which you really want more.

    Honestly, I don’t think it is about where you are- I think that you simply aren’t ready to settle down with someone but this guy is so great for future you. There are other guys that are great for future you, lots of them. When you are ready for settling down it will be easier because you want it. If you try to settle down with someone when you aren’t ready you’ll start to resent them and it will sour the relationship. So if that is the real reason you want to move back home then leave him. For god’s sake, don’t marry him! That is wrong reason #376 to get married.

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  • avatar

    stilgar666 October 29, 2012, 12:15 pm

    First world problems.

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      redessa October 29, 2012, 12:26 pm

      So if you’re not starving to death or worried about where you’ll sleep tonight or if you’re safe then you have no right to feel conflicted over the things that ARE going on in your life?

      Could things be worse for the lw? Of course. But that doesn’t diminish the issues she’s actually dealing with.

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      Taylor October 29, 2012, 2:45 pm

      Maslow.

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    cowsaysmeow October 29, 2012, 12:16 pm

    Don’t marry him right now. That would be a mistake. However, if the two of you haven’t had The Talk About the Future (which I hope you did since you moved to another part of the country for him in the first place), by all means do so.

    The reality is that he’s stuck in Siberia for at least the next 3 years, and from what I’m reading in your letter, there won’t be many options to choose from in terms of location once the residency ends and the fellowship begins (I don’t know anything about fellowships or how long they last). Staying with this guy and living with him means accepting the fact that decisions about where to live are out of your hands for the next several years.

    Continue hanging out with your new friends, playing sports, keep in touch with your old friends and family, snag deals home (or wherever) on Kayak or your discount travel site of choice and find a therapist who can help you cut through the fog and listen. Ultimately only you are responsible for your happiness, and as easy as it is to lean on your BF, it’s not fair to him and may cause problems down the road (which you seem to realize).

    TL;DR – try sucking it up some more with a little help from a therapist before making any major decisions such as moving, and don’t marry him now.

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      AliceInDairyland October 29, 2012, 1:01 pm

      I just love your screenname!!!

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        cowsaysmeow October 30, 2012, 10:28 am

        Thanks! A certain feline who looks similar to the one on the right in your avatar is to blame. 😉

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    SuzyQ October 29, 2012, 12:34 pm

    You have correctly identified two choices: 1) go home and date long-distance to see if you still feel the same way in a year or two, or 2) stay in your new city and make a go of it. If you do choose option #2, I think you have to really commit yourself wholeheartedly. No second-guessing. Go all out – join more groups, ask people over for dinner parties, join a church or other community club to really get involved. You are obviously good at meeting people. But you can’t keep waffling between the two, never really choosing one or the other. It’ll make you miserable.

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    Sasa October 29, 2012, 12:34 pm

    It sounds to me like you are aching to move back east. If that’s what you want deep inside, then do it. It’s possible to really love someone and still have other, more important desires at a given point in time. I would guess that once you make a change – such as moving back east, even if just temporarily – you’ll get a much clearer idea of where you stand. Sometimes you first have to get out of a situation to get a different perspective. Since you say you’re so, so sad I feel like there’s no point in sticking it out any longer. You don’t have to, you don’t have to be sad. Do what makes you happy.

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    MiMi October 29, 2012, 12:46 pm

    It would suck to be trying to complete a challenging residency while my SO was sighing about her bestest best buds back home and bitching about having a job that is beneath her, the weather, her boring new friends and everything else…
    Did you not know your grandmother was 90+ when you agreed to move away? Did you not know you were dating a doctor who couldn’t guarantee where he was going to be for the next few years? If you don’t love him enough to genuinely and sincerely make a home for yourself wherever he is and not make him pay emotionally for your great “sacrifice,” then mosey on back to wherever you came from, Hometown Girl, and leave the good doctor to someone else.

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    • SixtyFour

      SixtyFour October 29, 2012, 1:16 pm

      You’re judging the letter writer because she doesn’t “love him enough” to make a home for herself there and stop thinking about her life back east. But you could also just as easily say the same thing about the LW’s boyfriend – that he doesn’t “love her enough” to find a residency program closer to her family or in a better city so she’d be happy and instead of picking this one.

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        MiMi October 29, 2012, 3:15 pm

        You’re under the impression he had a wide choice of locations? I’m not. But the fact is that it’s Monday, and immature letter writers get the rough edge of my tongue on Mondays 😛

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    GatorGirl October 29, 2012, 12:52 pm

    Have you sought any counseling? Seriously, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing. (I’m not a doctor or anything just a suggestion.)

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      Taylor October 29, 2012, 2:47 pm

      Good call – make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D. The “winter blues” can bring you right down.

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    jlyfsh October 29, 2012, 12:56 pm

    I wonder how much of what you’re dealing with is because of the move and how much of it is because you’re worried that, ‘living here will be a mistake in my life and I’m wasting time with a guy that’s not set-in-legal-stone “for sure”?’ Have you guys talked about marriage? Or where in general this relationship is going? If you haven’t I would start there. And know that nothing is ever ‘for sure’ and you’re not wasting your life even if this relationship doesn’t work out.

    Secondly, which some people have touched on I don’t think you’re letting go and really allowing yourself to be happy where you are. Moving sucks, when you’re an adult and no longer have the built in social structure that school brings it’s even harder. Being away from family, especially when they are sick, can take a lot out of you. But, being far away doesn’t have to change how close you are. There are many ways to let family know you are thinking of them. And if you’re financially able to, plan a few trips back throughout the year. Create countdowns so you have something to look forward to. And talk to your bf about this too. There’s a chance he’s not as in love with the town as you are. But, together maybe you can try and make it home for now. And while your future in particular might be especially in flux due to having to go where he’s accepted for his fellowship, no one’s future is absolutely set in stone or for sure.

    I hope you figure out which path is the best for you and that your new home starts to really feel like home soon. For what it’s worth I moved about a year and a half ago. I’m finally starting to feel like this place is really my home.

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    • katie

      katie October 29, 2012, 1:30 pm

      creating countdowns are so epic.

      when i lived in texas i created a calander (just some paper with a grid on it and dates- nothing special) of the months i was going to be there.. i got to mark off days as they passed, and i would put big milestones like “2 months left!!” “1week left”, ect, and i would plan out what days to pack on, AND as the months went by i got to actually physically take those papers off the wall and throw them out… i ended up hating texas (just because i was there all alone, texas is actually very cool) and the calander i had made helped me so much. i think they can be great tools.

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  • avatar

    fallonthecity October 29, 2012, 12:59 pm

    My best friend moved last year to be with her husband while he gets his PhD. She absolutely hated it all at first, hated the idea of living in a big city (we are country people for sure), and hated leaving the South. Over time though, she has gotten a lot more comfortable. I think one thing that helped her was to lay down a rule that no matter what, it was going to be in their budget for her to go home often. She has been home about 5 times in the past year, and she has let all her family and friends know that they have an open door policy – her family visits often, I’ve been up a couple times, other friends go up frequently. I think it makes her feel less isolated to host people from home, and it helps her feel connected to her new community by being our “tour guide” you know? Have you visited your family and had your east coast folks visit you? Depending on how far it is, it may be cost prohibitive, but it may do wonders for your sanity.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl October 29, 2012, 1:07 pm

      You points about traveling and having people come visit you are great. We go to visit my family (or my fiance’s family) as often as possible, probably 8 times a year between both families.

      LW I would also recomend keeping up with traditions you did with your family. Even though it’s in the 80’s here we are still carving pumpkins and doing other fall traditions because it makes me feel more connected to home.

      Also FaceTime is amazing. We FaceTime with our families probably twice a month and it really helps us stay connected. Depending on your grandmother’s health you might be able to stay connected to her with video chatting.

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  • SixtyFour

    SixtyFour October 29, 2012, 1:08 pm

    It doesn’t sound like either of you are in love with this town. Your boyfriend is only there for his job and you are miserable despite your best efforts. So I would say try long distance. If you guys are meant to be, your relationship will survive the distance.
    Plan in a few months to move back home. Then in two years when your boyfriend has to move for his fellowship, he should pick a place that has a decent enough city where you can see yourself being happy too. If you intend to marry and live together for ever, there has to be some compromise here and I hope that your boyfriend realizes that your happiness has to come into play too when he picks his fellowship since you will be moving to join him wherever he chooses.

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  • katie

    katie October 29, 2012, 1:13 pm

    Well first of all, marriage is not a bandaid for your problems. You are unhappy wherever you are living with your boyfriend, if you get married, you will be unhappy with where your living with your husband. That’s all that will happen. Marriage does not fix problems, and I have heard from married people that sometimes they just make then worse. So marriage is not a viable option for you.

    Only you can decide if this guy is worth it. I think this is a classic case that Wendy talks about with catching lightning in a bottle- he might he a great guy who is perfect for you, but some other factor will derail the relationship. Just remember, love isn’t enough. If it was, Wendy wouldn’t have almost every letter she has. Love is not enough- everything else has to fall into place, just like catching lightning in a bottle.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar October 29, 2012, 1:22 pm

    Life is about choices my dear, and all choices have opportunity costs. The cost of NOT choosing something else. Had steak for dinner? You lost the benefit of having fish. Bought a new purse? Maybe you have to wear last year’s boots then. You moved with your boyfriend – that means you can’t be with your family and friends. Is that trivial? No. It is a cost – something you PAY. Just like moving back to them will result in the cost of not being with your boyfriend or even of your relationship not surviving. Which cost can you deal with better? Because that is kind of what life is…a series of choices and living with the repercussions and costs of those choices. You don’t have to LIKE the consequences of your decisions – but you do have to deal with them. Part of that is that YOU have to look at your life differently. You made a choice. You wouldn’t have chosen differently so you cannot continue to endlessly mourn what might have been when YOU are the one that chose things to be how they are now. It really isn’t about your boyfriend at all. Stop thinking of it like I wouldn’t be here if not for him and start thinking about it like I made this decision for my future and now I have to embrace the ramifications of that. No one is promised perfection – not even close. It’s part of being grown up – accepting the consequences of our decisions and making the best of them. So are you making the best of them? The getting out in your community and being active is great. Visit home more often. Skype. Email. Have juicy phone calls catching up with your friends – who by the way are moving on with THEIR lives. Call grandma and tell her you are making her world famous chocolate chip cookies and you need to know if the secret really is melting caramel in the batter. You don’t have to be right beside someone to be engaged in their lives – not with all the technology at our finger-tips. Can you get a coffee with your best friend? No – but what is stopping you from making a skype coffee date with her and hearing all the gossip from home? I have girlfriends scattered all over the globe…and I am as close to them as I ever was. My entire family lived in a different country from me while I was at school and I saw them 1-2 times a year. Distance changed nothing in our relationship since proximity is only one factor in any relationship… and not the most important. What you have is physical distance between you and loved ones – there is no reason that has to be an emotional distance as well. So if you are dwelling needlessly on the distance you are feeling and can’t shake yourself out of it – then go and talk to someone professionally who can help you with some tools you can put into place to help you accept the decisions you make for yourself.

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  • avatar

    oldie October 29, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I think this is a case of LW not yet having enough activities in her life. As a resident, her bf is certainly busy and can’t be her everything. This is not simply a matter of moving away from her friends and family on the East Coast. She did that for 2 years of grad school and it doesn’t sound as though that was unbearably unhappy for her or even a problem. The big difference between then and now is that at that time she was involved in school and presumably happy doing what she wanted to do. Now she isn’t doing what she wants to do and hasn’t made any really close new friends. If she were as involved in activities that make her happy and fulfilled and feeling that she is moving forward with her own life plans as she was when she was in grad school, then the separation from the EC needn’t be any more of a problem than it was when she was in school.

    For now, if she really wants this guy, she should stay where she is, make more friends and try to get closer to them, find more that she enjoys doing in her new location, look for a more fulfilling job, and possibly take some more courses at a nearby college. Also, fly home and spend some extended time with your family and friends. That may well scratch that itch or it may lead to the realization that you don’t miss your guy as much as you thought you would. Also, there is Skype for staying in touch with friends and family. Your grandmother may not be set up, but the rest of your family can get her started on it.

    There is also the opportunity to gauge your bf’s commitment to this relationship as you plan the future. You said after residency, he will be matched for fellowships and could go anywhere. Is this necessary? Is it necessary immediately? Doctors are scarce in a lot of areas and after your guy completes his residency, he should be able to practice anywhere. TIme for you as a couple to put your career and location needs in the forefront after he got his three years?

    Btw, you don’t sound sure enough of your relationship to get married now.

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  • avatar

    ktfran October 29, 2012, 1:38 pm

    For gosh sake, don’t marry this guy. Being depressed won’t make things better. And if you do think you feel better from that commitment, having a piece if paper does not mean anything. Words and actions speak a lot louder.

    A lot of people have covered a lot of what I would say to you. But remember, you miss your friends and family, but when you visit home, you don’t experience the same things as if you would live there. For instance, with friends, they’re excited to see you so they’ll drop everything to have time for you. But they have their own lives and responsibilities and it won’t be the same when you live there.

    Also, both places I’ve moved took me a year and a half to adjust.

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  • avatar

    Kris_ October 29, 2012, 2:03 pm

    I think you should take the next 6 months or so to seriously evaluate what you want. Throw yourself in your life a bit more. If your job is not fulfilling, can you take some classes in your field to keep you connected to where you really want to be? Are there other jobs that you can apply to? Even trying for a better job can help.

    Definately take as much time as possible to go back and visit your friends and family. Do it for as much time as you can because that will give you more of an idea of what it would be like back east. If it’s a short visit, you tend to get caught up in things with your friends and family and it’s more like a vacation where as if you stay for longer, you’ll see them in their current lives and you can see if that’s what you really want. Visit with your grandmother as long as you can during that time. Stay connected through the internet, phone, etc. with your friends and family back east. I miss being able to hang out with some of my friends that are far away a lot but it’s so much easier with the internet.

    I’m sure there’s some way you can keep in contact with your grandmother. If you do a mutual activity, you can send photos or projects back and forth. You can ship care packages to let her know you’re thinking about her. Call her up as much as you can.

    Throw yourself a bit more into the activities that you are currently doing. Show a bit more of yourself to your new friends. Who knows, they may become great friends in the next 6 months.

    Buy yourself some awesome cold winter gear. I hate the cold too but if I have some clothing that at least keeps me somewhat warm, it’s definately a little easier. Can you take up any winter sports? Or challenge your new friends to a snowball fight or something. Anything that makes winter a little bit more bearable.

    If you do all that and still feel like your unhappy at the end of the 6 months, then see if long-distance would work for you or if you really still want to be with your boyfriend. Definately don’t get married now. Talk to him and let him know how you’re feeling and what you’re doing to make it better throughout those months so he’s not blindsided either way and he understands that you’ve really tried your best.

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  • avatar

    painted_lady October 29, 2012, 4:04 pm

    I’m pretty sure if one option is breaking up and another option is marrying, marrying should not actually be an option. I think that should be a life rule.

    LW, all kidding aside, you sound miserable. Have you seen a doctor about possible clinical depression? Because, though I believe you’re unhappy about this situation, I wonder if it might not be more than that, at least in addition to all that other stuff. Have you talked to your boyfriend specifically about how miserable you are? I mean, unload all of it. Maybe he can offer some solutions. Maybe not, but he should still know, no question about it.

    Thing is, though, life does not always let you choose where to live. If you’re single, it’s easier. If you’re really, really lucky, there will always be jobs for both you and your partner, or one of you will stay home and you can do that financially. But if I learned anything growing up, it was that sometimes jobs go away. Sometimes your only choice is to move to one shitty town or to another shitty town. Sometimes you have to go where the jobs are as opposed to finding the place you want to live and then finding the job to go with it. Sometimes you have to move so that the person who makes more money can work, while you leave a job you love to follow. I watched my parents do this all my life, actually.

    So even if you leave him and move home, there’s no guarantee you’ll stay there, even if you stay single the rest of your life. And wherever you move will not have your family and your friends, and sometimes you have to make the best of it. No matter where you go, there will always be good people. No matter where you go, there will always be stuff to do. But you can’t be so mired in misery that you can’t see it.

    And you know what? If you don’t love this guy enough, leave. Absolutely. Maybe that’s part of it. I have no idea, honestly, but you should know. Maybe you need this as an excuse to jump ship. Fine! Just be aware that moving home is no guarantee you’ll stay there, especially if you are part of a couple.

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    • katie

      katie October 29, 2012, 4:56 pm

      i fully support that life rule.

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  • avatar

    Lucy October 29, 2012, 4:53 pm

    Planning a wedding would keep you occupied for a while, but is also quite stressful and expensive. And there is usually a letdown period after the wedding that could make you feel even worse. In general it’s not such a great idea to get married to try and “fix” something. Please don’t have a baby for that reason either. 🙂

    Three years in a place that makes you miserable feels like it will last forever, but I don’t think you can fairly judge a place after 6 months. It takes 12-18 months to really settle in and feel at home after a big move like this. Also, it’s not clear whether there’s some reason you couldn’t travel back to the East Coast regularly. Visiting your family and friends might make you feel less like you’re stuck in the frozen gulag forever.

    Lastly, if you really are feeling as sad as your letter implies, please get screened for depression.

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  • avatar

    Liquid Luck October 29, 2012, 5:10 pm

    Make sure you aren’t romanticizing your life back home. I moved 800 miles to end my LDR seven months ago, and there are times when I seriously consider moving back to my family and my closest friends, who I miss terribly. But I imagine “home” as a magical place where my friends are available to hang out whenever I want, I find a job that I absolutely love in my field right away, and my family is always spending time together.

    The reality is that when I did live there, I was lucky to see my closest friends once a month because our work schedules didn’t sync up and in our free time, we all wanted to spend time with our own boyfriends, families, and other friends. I had to live with my parents until I could find a job, and even then it wasn’t something I loved. My brothers went off to school and sports practices and to the movies with friends their own ages, and I barely saw them even when we lived in the same house.

    Think about what moving home would realistically mean for you. Are you guaranteed a better job for you than the one you have now? How often do you really think you’ll spend time with the people you’re moving back to see? If you decide to try having an LDR, how often would you want to visit each other? How much would you have to save to do so? Would you have to sacrifice some of your social life to save money in that case?

    If you really picture a future with your boyfriend (and have discussed a long-term plan with him to make sure you’re on the same page about the issues that are important to you), then try to stick it out at least another six months. Schedule bi-weekly phone or Skype dates with your friends and family. My grandmother and I used to write each other letters and mail each other pictures, maybe you could try something like that. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but having something special with her might help you feel more connected. Plus, getting mail that isn’t bills or ads always makes your day better!

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  • avatar

    Mr. Cellophane October 29, 2012, 6:31 pm

    I feel for you LW, I really do, because my wife and I chose the option to get married, and have been struggling with issues ever since. We are still together, but it has been really rough at times.

    I also feel for you because I work as an attending in a residency program and see on a daily basis what these years do to their relationships and lives. People just don’t seem to understand that you don’t really choose where to go, you list some preferences and then you are “matched” with a program. Not much choice. Then it happens again with fellowship: not much choice, “matched” assignment. Then you have to find a place to practice, which, depending on your specialty, may be very limiting. Medecine as a profession tends to be not very portable, because changing states and licensure can be very limiting, or at least VERY expensive. Some places have simply met their quota of physicians, and so severely limit the number of new licenses they issue.
    It may also not be possible for him to “take a couple years to focus on your career” without ruining his chances for future employment. Add on top of this the general uncertainty in healthcare in general…in a few years the government may literally assign him to a new city.
    I truly feel for you. I moved away from “home” 5 years ago so she could finally pursue her dream. I still feel not quite settled in. And even though it was a pain getting licensed here, I love my practice. I am dreading the day when we have to leave here for her to take the dream job!

    I am finding out that some facet of the weather sucks and another is beautiful wherever you go. Chin up and go buy a bigger snow blower!

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    • avatar

      Mr. Cellophane October 29, 2012, 9:13 pm

      Man, I can kill a thread faster than anyone I know!

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 30, 2012, 10:41 am

    I want to emphasize what Firestar said about every choice we make taking away other choices. We can’t have everything because some things are mutually exclusive. You have to know yourself enough to know your own preferences. You have to know your own priorities, know what is more important to you. Think about what you value most highly, is it this relationship or the place where you grew up?

    When you think about home I hope that you realize it isn’t a static place. It isn’t exactly the same as when you were younger. Your friends will have different lives than when you lived there. Many of them will end up getting married and having children and having less time for you. Some of your friends may be there now but will move away in the future. Some will change careers and move for their new jobs. Even your family can change. I know people whose parents have moved after retirement, going to places like Arizona, North Carolina and Florida. You could go back only to feel betrayed by the people who live there when they don’t have the time for you that you expect or when they happily move away.
    If you are American know that we live in a country where people constantly move. When my daughter finished fifth grade last year, it was her last year at her elementary school, and we looked through all of her yearbooks and realized that half the kids had changed over the six years she was there. Only half the kids were there from Kindergarten through fifth grade. We live in a fluid society. Even if friends only move a few hours away you can’t have the same relationship as if you live in the same town and you can’t expect them to all stay where they are. That isn’t real life.

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  • avatar

    Nadine October 30, 2012, 11:12 am

    I just wanted to say that I can sort of understand, except my choices are not so clear cut (as in, my boyfriend is not tied down to an area, except by preference). I havent lived in my home country for nearly four years, and I miss it still. I have always known I will need to end up settling in my own country, although the city may not be the one I grew up in.
    But I am having to come to the slightly painful realisation that when I do go home in a years time, my home will feel different. The ‘me’ I am now has never lived there, although I feel I belong there. Everyone talks about how much you change in your early twenties, and I have to understand that the way I think of home is not the way I may actually live my live there.
    Think about how much time you spend being homesick. What will you do with that time/energy/emotion when you get ‘back’? People feel shitty all over the world on some days, and completely wonderful on others. The good has to outweigh the bad, but it will never remove it entirely.
    I know its hard to live somewhere and belong somewhere else, but we have to be honest with ourselves and accept when to MOA from our home countries. If you think about your future and you feel you will always be struggling to not blame your BF for dragging you around the country, then leave him. Its only fair to both of you. But I would encourage what others above me have said, and stick it out for another six months. Then go for a visit home. Is home really what you remember? Can everyone really relate to you as much as you remember them doing? Do you have the same work opportunities there that you could not get anywhere else?
    Be very honest with yourself, and with your BF. Its the only way to find out where you really belong, and it may not be where you think!
    (Can you figure out that I have no idea whether going back to NZ is the right decision or not??)

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