We’ve been dating for about a year and a half. We’re in love, we talk about the future (marriage, kids) all of the time. Things are amazing. Except for one big thing. I have been honest about wanting out of this town. I told him on our first date I wasn’t a fan of this place. He is not from here, but he has lived here for a long time and is content here. He told me he understood and that, when the time for his job was right, we would move. Well, the time came recently. He started hating new changes at work. He applied to three jobs — one in NYC, one in New Orleans and one in San Diego. I was happy with all three cities. I was excited.
Well, he didn’t get any of them. He freaked out, felt inadequate and applied to business school, against my advice. We discussed it and I told him I would support whatever decision he made. I didn’t want to hold him back. He talked it over with mentors and colleagues and ultimately decided that, if he wanted to be marketable and competitive in bigger cities, he needed an MBA. Plus, his job is willing to pay for it, provided he stay with them while in school. This means two more years here.
We recently had a huge fight about this and now I am honestly questioning everything. I hate it here. I am miserable. But I love him and I know that I want to be with him for the rest of my life. He is sick of the fighting about this issue, sick of me complaining, and tired of me pressuring him to get out.
Most of this doesn’t even matter now because it’s a done deal with business school. He started last month. In his defense and to be fair, he says he is doing this for us. He says that he needs the MBA to TO MOVE and that, if he were to stay here, he wouldn’t get the degree because he doesn’t need it here.
I feel trapped. I don’t know if I am being petty and need to just stick it out for the next two years or if this is something I can’t get around and should follow my desire to live in an amazing city. Shitty city with guy I love or start over and be lonely in amazing city? Both sound awful, the second sounds terrifying. I need some perspective! — Livin’ in a Shitty City
The two choices you’ve given yourself — stay in a shitty city with a guy you love or be lonely in an amazing city — sound so limiting and they don’t have to be. First of all, there are ways you can be happy despite living in a location you don’t love. You say you tried meeting people but nothing worked, and yet you managed to meet your boyfriend. Is he really the only person in the whole town you like? Or did you simply decide once you found him to quit looking for other people and activities to fulfill you?
Second, if you did move on your own somewhere else, why do you just assume you’re going to be lonely? Isn’t one of the major attractions of moving some place like, say, New York, which you say is a city you’d be happy moving to, that there are SO MANY people to meet and SO MANY things to do? If you live in an awesome city and you’re lonely, that’s on YOU. And I can’t help but think that, if you live in less-than-stellar city but you’re with the person you say you want to spend your life with and you’re still miserable, then that’s on you, too.
Honestly, the biggest problem I can find in your situation isn’t that your boyfriend is committed to two more years in a town you hate; it’s that’s your attitude sucks. You need to fix it, or you’re going to not only lose your boyfriend but you’re also going to discover that it doesn’t matter where you live because you’re still going to be unhappy.
The fastest way to start changing your attitude and fixing your problem is to adjust the language you use to describe your situation and your choices. You are not “stuck,” so stop saying that. And you have a lot more than the two limiting and depressing choices you outlined. For example, you can choose to commit to two more years where you live while your boyfriend gets his MBA and you give yourself the challenge of making five good friends in those two years.
You can also challenge yourself to pick up a new hobby and learn a new skill. And you can plan getaways — with your boyfriend or on your own — to cities where you think you might like to live so that you have trips to look forward to and a better idea what different cities have to offer.
Or you can choose to move but, instead of seeing it as an indefinite period of loneliness, you can choose to make the most out of a long- distance relationship. You can practice better communication with your boyfriend while you’re apart and think about how the skills of keeping in touch will serve you in the long-term. You can challenge yourself to make new friends in your new city and to learn a new hobby or skill (do you see a pattern here?).
There is so much more to life than whom you’re dating and what your zipcode is. Quit limiting yourself. Quit thinking inside a narrow box. Look for happiness and fulfillment outside your relationship and outside the immediacy of the streets and buildings around you. It takes extra effort to actually search for what isn’t immediately obvious, whether it’s potential friends or rewarding work or new interests, but the rewards can be so huge.
Take control of your life. Don’t hand over the wheel to someone else. YOU are in the driver’s seat here. You have lots of choices. And if you make one that doesn’t bring you happiness, take responsibility for it and invest some effort into making changes. This isn’t anyone else’s life but yours, so, if you don’t like something in it, it’s up to YOU to do something about it.