Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

In Other Words: “Should I Choose Love or Career?”

This letter appeared in a Dear Prudence column last week and I thought you’d find it an interesting topic for discussion:

I’m very unhappy with my current employer, and I’ve just been offered my dream job—except it is in a rural backwater town where I know nobody, far away from my friends and my city. Career-wise it would be a great choice, and I could probably come back to the city in a couple years, but I am hesitant. Part of my hesitation is that I am a lifelong urban-dweller scared of leaving my city to move to a small town where I might not meet any like-minded people. The other part is that a couple months ago I started seeing a man I really like and respect. We have long-term potential, which is really exciting to me after a string of dead-end relationships in my 20s. I feel like I won’t meet anyone like him in a small Podunk town, but, on the other hand, I have only known him for, like, two months. I have until the day after Memorial Day to give my answer, and I feel pretty lost. I’d be grateful for any and all tips.

Prudie suggested flipping a coin, which, um, ok. My advice is below:

Go! Take the job! Dream jobs don’t come around all that often, and, while potential dream boyfriends don’t either, you can conduct a long-distance relationship probably a lot more easily than you can telecommute to this new gig in a BFN (bum fuck nowhere). Or maybe you CAN telecommute? If that is at all a possibility, you could ask, but only ask with the understanding that doing so may show you aren’t as interested in the position as someone who would be willing to move for it.

If you take the job and you move, here are some tips for surviving a long-distance relationship. If you can have an end date in mind and an exit plan — say, you want to stay at the job two years with the idea that the experience you gain will help you get a great job back in the city — and are able to see each other regularly, a LDR doesn’t have to be terrible. It can be quite do-able. And if you think that, after just two months together, you and your new boyfriend aren’t ready to commit to an exclusive LDR, keep it non-exclusive. That might be even better. You can have a chance to go out with other people and see if there’s a connection with someone closer that’s just a strong. Or, you may find that distance makes the heart grow fonder and the miles between will you actually help foster intimacy and commitment a little faster than if you were both in the same city.

Readers, have any of you ever been faced with this decision? What did you do? How did it work out?


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

40 comments… add one
  • Ms. Simba June 3, 2014, 1:07 pm

    Though it depends on the type of person you are, I’d say job over boy every time. That boy might not work out and then you’ll be doubly miserable with a career you aren’t happy with.

    Another consideration, more than the guy, is whether you’ll be happy in that small town. For some people, a 9-5 gig isn’t enough to supplement being somewhere they hate.

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  • LlamaPajamas June 3, 2014, 1:16 pm

    Wow, so that’s what Prudie has come to – slut-shaming and flipping coins. Anyways, I’m with Ms. Simba – I’d go with the dream job since it’s too soon to make big decisions around a new relationship and she doesn’t actually know that she won’t be able to find like-minded people in a small town.

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  • katie June 3, 2014, 1:23 pm

    well i get the point she was making about the coin flip- she wasnt saying literally flip a coin, she said flip a coin and *then*, do you feel happy or do you feel like you want to flip again? because then there is your answer. that is kind of a cool way to figure stuff out.
    i would say go for the job.

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    • jlyfsh June 3, 2014, 1:36 pm

      yeah i didn’t get her answer until i read it (and i’m still not 100% comfortable with her response, she goes on in another letter to say that there may not always be men, not a great reason to choose this guy now!) but, i do like that idea. sometimes when you’re that torn you have to feel like a decision has been made before you can start thinking a little more clearly about it. even if it just sparks your ability to think about your pros/cons more.

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    • Tax Geek June 3, 2014, 1:45 pm

      I way to test your possible buyer’s remorse, so to speak.

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    • Sara June 3, 2014, 1:48 pm

      I frequently use (and advocate) the coin flip to help me listen to my gut better. Am I disappointed? Am I happy? I may not go with my gut in the end, but at least I have a better handle on what my gut reaction *is*.

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    • Morgan June 3, 2014, 6:43 pm

      That’s always my bf’s advice. If I’m torn between two things, he’ll say “Pick a number one or two.” And then after I pick, he’ll ask me which option I just hoped it was. It’s pretty effective.

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  • GatorGirl June 3, 2014, 1:23 pm

    Hello long distance! It gives her a great reason to get back to the city on weekends!

    I sort of moved to a Podunk town for love. It’s considered “the big city” by the surrounding towns, but it’s tiny. It is what it is.

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  • Lyra June 3, 2014, 1:29 pm

    Flip a coin? WHAT.

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  • lets_be_honest June 3, 2014, 1:32 pm

    Well, Wendy, at least you got an idea for advice to give on a day you are tired…

    Anyway, I can’t believe anyone would give up their dream job because of a guy they’ve known two months. I know she also doesn’t like the location of the dream job, but its crazy to me that he’s even a part of why she’s considering staying. 2 months?

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    • katie June 3, 2014, 1:37 pm

      well, i hope its not him literally, just the potential of him…

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      • iwannatalktosampson June 3, 2014, 1:40 pm

        You can’t marry potential.

      • katie June 3, 2014, 1:42 pm

        and there is your answer!

      • lets_be_honest June 3, 2014, 1:42 pm

        The idea that him or his potential (even worse, imo) comes into play here is pretty crazy to me.

  • iwannatalktosampson June 3, 2014, 1:38 pm

    I am annoyed that this LW assumes that she’ll move to a small town and everyone will suck and be uneducated. Talk about pretentious.

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    • katie June 3, 2014, 1:43 pm

      well to be fair she didnt say uneducated. she said likeminded. BUT i agree- and if she has been a city dweller her whole life, how does she even know she wont like a small town?

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    • DesiDad June 3, 2014, 3:15 pm

      But will she be able to find the organic fair-trade sushi there? And if not, how is she supposed to live? 🙂

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    • applescruffs June 3, 2014, 5:37 pm

      It was pretty lonely living in a small town in Utah for a year being Jewish, single, and the only person in my clinic in their 20s. I was nervous when I moved there but tried to be open minded. And it was a rough year. If my dream job came open in that same small town, it wouldn’t be worth it to me to go back.

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  • jlyfsh June 3, 2014, 1:40 pm

    I really want to know what they decided. I think in this case moving is the way to go. A timeline already sort of exists for coming back. And you never know if the timeline could be moved up if you absolutely hated the town once you got there. But, I’d be interested in knowing if the LW ever visited the town where the job is, looked online for social activities, etc. Sometimes even the smallest towns have great resources for young professionals.

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  • Kate B. June 3, 2014, 1:46 pm

    Take the job. If you and this guy are meant to be together, you will be, no matter how far apart you are. Dream jobs don’t come along every day. And who knows, the job may not be all you think it will be, and you may end up coming back to your city. At the very least, your horizons will be broadened, and this is never a bad thing.

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  • bethany June 3, 2014, 1:46 pm

    My vote is to move. Here’s the thing about moving “away”… You can always more back! Try it for a year, if you hate it, come home. One regret I have is that I’ve never lived further than 2 hours away from where I grew up. I’m happy I’m here now, but it would have been a good experience for me to move away for a bit when I was younger and see how life can be different in different places.

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  • Cassie June 3, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Don’t knock flipping a coin… I definitely have done that before when I have two decisions and am not quite sure which way to go, or how I really feel about each decision. I flip the coin and then, depending on whether I feel relief/happiness or not, it clues me in to how I’m really feeling about that decision. Then I go and do what I realized I wanted to do in the first place, coin be darned.

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  • Lily in NYC June 3, 2014, 3:06 pm

    I think Prudie is the worst advice columnist out there. She’s a good writer, but her crappy advice is mainly based on how many puns she can work into her response.

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    • DesiDad June 3, 2014, 3:18 pm

      Most of those are in live-chat mode, apparently. Let’s try to be fair.

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      • Lindsay June 3, 2014, 8:23 pm

        But if you can’t give good advice on a live chat, then maybe don’t do a live chat.

      • Lily in NYC June 4, 2014, 9:38 am

        I think it is completely fair to say she gives shitty advice, regardless of if she’s doing her chat or on Salon.

    • shanshantastic June 4, 2014, 8:53 am

      I agree. The original Prudie (Ann Landers’ daughter) was much better – must be in the blood. I’m not a fan of Emily Yoffe.

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  • Sara June 3, 2014, 3:24 pm

    Spouse and I moved to BFN to have decent-ish jobs in the same place (after a 2 years of an “LDR” marriage). I thought I would like BFN since I grew up in a similarly rural area. But, BFN is terrible. And we’re trying really hard – hosting parties and seeking out community events. I wouldn’t stay somewhere for a guy – but I wouldn’t necessarily move just for a job (anymore), either. Plus, it takes 1-2 years just to make friends in a new place. I’d ask the LW: are you OK with starting over not just in the dating game (assuming an LDR isn’t an option) *and* in the friendship game?

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  • Addie Pray June 3, 2014, 3:24 pm

    No people read Prudie?! Blasphemy. I don’t know who that is though JK is always talking about Prudie letters.

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  • Schwinny June 3, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Bumfucknowhere: How do you know you would hate it if you never tried anything like it before?

    I made my own bumfucknowhere move after agonising over it for months, loved it, and stayed 5.5yrs when the original plan was 2yrs. Realising bumfucknowhere has a different culture is important. If you go into a move expecting the experience to be the same as your situation now, the move may not go so well. If you go in open to new experiences and new people, you may love it.

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  • Lucy June 3, 2014, 4:57 pm

    I’m on board with the coin flipping because she doesn’t mean it literally; she means for the LWuse it as a tool to find out what she really wants.

    Personally, in that situation, I would probably move, but decide in advance it’s only for two years. Assuming they’re not, say, burning witches at the stake, any relatively normal place is tolerable for two years.

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  • Lindsay June 3, 2014, 4:59 pm

    I agree with the overall advice of job over guy. Choosing a dude you have dated for a couple months over a dream job seems a little silly. If your relationship is THAT special, then an LDR shouldn’t be that huge a deal. But I am not entirely convinced that an LDR is something she should bank on. A lot of people would not do that after two months.

    I also am not convinced that a job is always enough to sacrifice everything else you want in life, though. But for a couple years, they can be good steppingstones to good jobs in better places.

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  • howdywiley June 3, 2014, 7:59 pm

    This was from her live chat and someone referred to it again later in the chat. They mentioned that a newish potential boyfriend shouldn’t even compare to a dream job. Prudie answered that by saying that once you reach a certain age, finding men that are good boyfriend material is limited, so it really does compare to a dream job.
    I couldn’t believe the terrible advice!

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  • Elisse June 3, 2014, 11:38 pm

    I grew up in Bumfucknowhere (small-town PA) and I moved out and to a city as soon as I could. It was totally nil for dating prospects, friends, culture, and all the rest.

    That said, dream jobs are hard to come by. I’d say judge how much you take advantage of what a city or more populated area has to offer, and that’ll be a good judge of how much you’ll miss it. It will broaden your horizons to live somewhere so different, for sure. I also think WWS – a time limit is a good thing to have.

    Good luck!

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  • JP June 4, 2014, 2:07 am

    Yes, the “dream” job is great (and will eventually turn into a regular job, albeit one that might be fulfilling) but she’s also apprehensive about moving to a rural “backwater” town in which she will have no immediate, nearby connections. That can make or break her experience and should be considered.

    For me, the new boy wouldn’t even be a factor.

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  • NavyWife June 4, 2014, 2:16 pm

    This may be unpopular–and I’m not saying this particular LW should hang around for the guy–but I don’t think Prudie’s advice is so terrible re: finding a good guy. If you are someone who wants to be married (and especially if you want children) you don’t necessarily ‘have all day’. I’m not advocating that a girl should settle down with the first guy she meets, but I think as you get older (late 30s and up) the pickings get more slim…that’s reality. So you might have to make some choices or compromises. I just think we do women a disservice by saying, ‘oh, you have all the time in the world!’ Same thing goes for having kids. The truth is, you don’t. Again, I’m not saying you should marry a loser for the sake of getting married, but if you find someone that you could and want to settle down with, and having that traditional relationship is important to you, then maybe you opt to put a job-relocation or whatever on the back burner. Just my .02.

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    • lets_be_honest June 4, 2014, 2:21 pm

      Just curious – would you give that advice to your daughter, or best friend?
      Its pretty messed up in my opinion. Who wants to be married just for the sake of being married anyway?

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      • NavyWife June 4, 2014, 6:05 pm

        Yes, i would give that advice. I might not be explaining myself well. I’m not saying “marry the first person that comes along b/c there won’t be another one and the clock is ticking!” or “You’re 35, guess you have to settle for the creep that no one else wants.” What I am saying is that sometimes, you can’t have it all, so you have to prioritize what is really important to you.

        I definitely sacrificed my career to be with my husband in certain respects. I worked in an industry where staying in one city and building up a name & professional reputation is very important. I met my now-husband, who is a Navy pilot and moves every 2-3 years. I knew he was the one and wanted to build a life with him, but that I was probably limiting my career potential (at least until he is retired and we are settled in our “forever” home). Had I told him, “Sorry, this life isn’t for me,” I very well may have met someone else down the road. But I was ready to settle down, I loved my husband dearly (and still do), I wanted a life and family with him, so I made the choice to put my career on the back-burner. However, I know women who would have done the opposite. I know women who HAVE done the opposite. That’s ok, too.

      • SasLinna June 5, 2014, 8:12 am

        I agree with what you’re saying. These situations can sometimes require tough judgment calls. And I think it’s particularly hard for women who want to start a family at some point because you’re basically told that you should not give relationships any thought and prioritize your career until you’re 29, and then when you’re 31 it’s suddenly “you really should think about settling down”. (Reminds me of that 29-31 song). It can feel like a catch-22 situation.

    • SasLinna June 4, 2014, 2:26 pm

      I guess in this case it seems pretty clear that she should take the job, but I do agree that it can be hard to know how to balance a career with finding a longterm partner. For instance, I’ve been with my bf for 1.5 years now and I would be ready to decline a job offer if he weren’t able to move with me. I don’t think that would be crazy because at this point our relationship is one of my highest priorities. But if I had written a similar letter a year ago, we’d only have been together half a year and people would probably have advised me to move and potentially end our relationship. So a year could make all the difference with regard to how people react to a conundrum like that.

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