“Should I Move For Love With My 5-Year-Old Daughter?”

Long distance relationship

I met my boyfriend eight months ago at a career training (we work for the same company). I live in Chicago . . . and he lives in New York. He came to Chicago to visit me two months after we met, with intentions of just hanging out, but it turned into more. We have since seen each other every four weeks or so, trading off for the most part who goes where. Recently, he told me the distance was too much — that he loves me, that he feels an overwhelming connection, and that he can see himself with me in the longterm, but that, until we are closer, he doesn’t think being boyfriend and girlfriend is the way to go.

As you’ve said in your LDR advice, a year into a relationship is a good time to discuss moving for love, and it’s only been about six months for us. However, I feel this man is the one and I don’t want to miss this opportunity. While I love Chicago (born and raised) and my family here, I’d love to live in NY and I could probably transfer through my current company since our corporate headquarters is in NJ and a move is something that could actually benefit me professionally. The catch is: I have a 5-year-old daughter and I’m having a hard time explaining to people, like my parents, how I could move across the country for someone I haven’t even spent more than nine consecutive days with.

The truth is, I know my boyfriend better than anyone else, and, as someone who’s been in a LDR as well, you know that those late night phone calls can really open a person up. Besides that, living on my own with my daughter doesn’t scare me — I lived five hours from my family before when she was a baby and managed. When you moved from Chicago to New York for love, how did you justify what you were doing? — Might Move for Love with 5-Year-Old Daughter

I did move from Chicago to New York for love, but I never felt like I had to justify that move to anyone. For one thing, we’d been dating a year and a half (not just six months) and had visited each other every 2-3 weeks during that time. I’d recently finished grad school and was at a point in my life and career that I could pretty easily relocate (more easily than my now-husband, who had a great job it would be hard to replace elsewhere, and family, including an elderly father, close by he didn’t want to leave; I had no family near me at the time). There was no reason to justify my move to anyone, including myself, because it simply made sense. And because I was ready to move for love. And because I had exit strategies planned (for example, I left most of my belongings in storage in Chicago and didn’t send for them until I was sure I wanted to stay in NYC, which took about five months).

If you’re feeling like you need to justify your potential move to people — and, more importantly, if you’re having a hard time justifying your move, then there’s probably a reason for that. And I’d say having a 5-year-old daughter in the mix is definitely a big reason to be hesitant. Other reasons include only dating this guy six months and only seeing him about, what, six times total in those six months? Yeah, sorry, I think uprooting a young child across the country, away from family and her friends and school, for a guy you’ve had maybe six long weekends with, is kind of nuts.

But, I get it. This guy could be the one. And you don’t want to miss the opportunity. But here’s the thing: if HE’s the one for you, then YOU should be the one for him, and, just as you don’t want to miss an opportunity, he should not want to miss the opportunity either. To say after six measly months you shouldn’t be boyfriend and girlfriend anymore doesn’t sound like someone who’s all that deeply committed. A better course of action would be to discuss with you an end date and formulate a plan. But he just rushed into what essentially sounds like a breakup discussion. I mean, how can you even be sure he WASN’T trying to break up with you? Maybe the distance between you was a convenient way to let you down easy without feeling like a bad guy. I don’t know. I just think it’s weird and a bit telling that he’d be willing to throw away what you consider an amazing relationship because six months of long distance has worn him down. But maybe he’s scared and maybe he needs reassurance from you that there IS an end date eventually and this long distance thing won’t go on forever.

As I said, my now-husband and I did the LDR thing for a year and a half. Drew was open from the get-go that he wasn’t moving and that I would be the one to have to make the move if we were to be together. I told him from our first weekend together that I was open to moving, but I didn’t commit to the move until maybe 10, 11 months in. And then I said I needed time to save money because moving across the country is expensive and I didn’t want to be entirely dependent on him (as it was, he did have to support me for a few months since it took longer for me to find a job than I anticipated and I eventually ran out of savings).

Anyway, my point is, Drew was willing to wait for me. It was hard — for both of us — but we kept our eyes on the prize and buckled down and got through it. And now, nine years later, we both view that first year and a half as a drop in the bucket. And I can only imagine that, forty-one years from now when we’re celebrating 50 years together, our long-distance period will be the faintest of memories — a mere blip on the radar of our life together. And six months? Jesus, if you want to spend your life with someone, six months is nothing. I’d be concerned if a guy I loved was willing to throw our relationship away because he couldn’t wait another six-twelve months to be together-together.

And waiting six-twelve months is exactly what I would advise you do. It’s too early to uproot your daughter now. And you wouldn’t want to move her in the middle of a school year, so you’re looking at next June as a potential move date. That gives you and your boyfriend time to really establish your relationship and discuss potential challenges (especially the challenge of his adjusting to having a young child in his life). It gives you time to make some exit strategies if things don’t go well in NYC. And it gives you time to make sure you’re really ready to move for love. If by then you still feel like you need to justify your decision to people, then you should take that as a sign it might not be the right move. You should feel so confident in your decision that explaining yourself is the easy part. You’re not there yet. And if your boyfriend can’t wait for you to get there, he ISN’T “the one” and you should, as he says, probably stop being boyfriend and girlfriend.


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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.


  1. Skyblossom says:

    You can’t move a child without the permission of their other parent. Even an uninvolved parent who rarely sees the child can prevent you from going or take away your custody if you do go. I’ve known two women who have done this and lost their children. Is he worth losing your daughter over? Unless there is no father on record you have to have his permission.

    Has your boyfriend suggested that you move to him or is that your idea? I think the answer is key to whether he wants to continue the relationship or if he was trying to break up in a kind way.

    Have your parents met him and do they like him? The same for your daughter.

    I did long distance for two years. I think that if your relationship will last a lifetime it will last through long distance. If it is falling apart now because of the distance it isn’t meant to be.

    1. tbrucemom says:

      I too was wondering about the father in all of this. It doesn’t sound like he’s involved but like you said she’d still need his permission unless he’s literally “unknown”. The fact that he’s not mentioned AT ALL is kind of odd to me. I would think if he’s not an obstacle that would be mentioned and if he was involved that would also be mentioned.

    2. monkeys mommy says:

      That is not entirely true. When I got an amazing job offer 10 hours south, my husband and I packed up and moved without a second thought as to what my ex husband (the father of my first two) would say. They were 10 and 12 at the time, and he came around about once a year at best. At the very best. My custody agreement granted me full custody, and visitation was deemed “at my discretion”, as my ex did not show for court. When he found out and called me in a rage, threatening to take me to court and force me to meet 1/2 way every other weekend (which is what happens around here when one parent moves, typically), I shrugged and told him to go for it. Its been three years, and that subpoena must be lost in the mail… even when my kids return to our home town to visit my parents (which they do several times a year), he does not bother to go pick them up. So, yeah, other parent does not alway have to consent, or even be a factor.
      And no, I still wouldn’t have turned it down had my ex been a decent father; I would have revised our agreement.

  2. Yes, as I was reading this, I was thinking, “but… he broke up with you. And you’re thinking of moving there to try to stop the breakup / fix this? Doesn’t make sense.” I definitely would not start making any plans to relocate. Just talk to him for now and find out where his head is in all this. It sounds like maybe he’d like to be open to dating other people. I don’t know if he’ll come out and tell you that, but he might. He has said he doesn’t want to be in a relationship at this point, but I’d say talk some more and find out where that’s coming from, what it means, and how, if at all, things might change if you were able to relocate in 6-12 months. And if that’s something he’s open to, talk about how you’ll handle your relationship and logistics in the meantime. But I have a feeling you may be more invested in this than he is, as much as that sucks.

  3. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

    WWS, putting pressure after six months of LD dating isn’t the way toward success. As Wendy said, there’s a lot that needs to be talked about. Would you live together? Are you willing to live in NYC and commute to NJ? Depending on where your company’s headquarters is that could be a bit tougher than you think–unless your company runs a shuttle to the train station (and not many do) or it’s within walking distance you’re looking at an expensive, time consuming commute. Chicago is expensive but it’s way cheaper than NYC/NJ. A commute like that puts you pretty far away from your daughter if something happens or she gets sick. This guy could be a great match but too often we get hung up on the idea of ‘the one’. He’s not the only great guy out there. Keep that in mind when making your decision and before you get into any of this make damn sure he wasn’t doing a passive breakup because it does seem like a definite possibility.

  4. I don’t really know how to put this, but it seems like this LW’s reasoning is that “if the only way to maintain this relationship is to make the commitment of moving now, then it should be done even though, under different circumstances, it would be considered too early to make the move”. This is dangerous thinking – it’s still a fact that it’s too early in the relationship to make the move. The conclusion should be that the relationship can’t be saved, not that she should move now. If it’s not possible to somehow make this work long distance until you reach the point where it becomes reasonable to move, then this relationship is over. And it sounds like the guy has already kind of ended it anyway.

  5. tbrucemom says:

    I think it’s too early for EITHER person to be moving but why is it that it’s not even mentioned that he would be the one to move? The LW is trying to compare her situation to Wendy’s but it’s very different to me. Like Wendy said they spent quite a bit more time together and were together longer but the BIGGEST difference is the LW has a CHILD! I don’t think an adult should not live their life just because they’re a parent, but this is a HUGE change for her daughter and one not to be taken lightly. Just because she handled it on her own when the child was 5 months old is not the same. It may be somewhat the same for the LW but obvoiusly the child didn’t know any better at that age but definitely would know now!

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      I think the main reason that there’s no mention that the guy should move is because clearly he’s not going to. His solution to the LD problem is to break up. So yeah, suggesting he be the one to move is kind of a non-starter.
      But I agree with everyone else here that it doesn’t make sense for the LW to move right now either. If it’s going to work out, then there’s no rush. If it’s not going to work out, then moving will just make everything worse.

  6. I would say that really you don’t know this guy well at all. Six months of once a month weekend trips is not really a foundation to base anything on. It’s like a vacation from your Real Life. You put everything on pause to enjoy a couple days of bliss and then Monday morning rolls around and you’re back to the grind.

  7. WWS & WEES.
    Also, you describing having a daughter as “The catch is:” kind of made me sad.

  8. Wendy, a heads up: the first time I clicked the “click to continue” link from the home page, I was directed to instead of to the article.

    1. This happened to me over the weekend as well.

    2. RedRoverRedRover says:

      She knows, she posted about it a week or two ago.

      1. Yup, that’s why I posted, so she’d have a log for her tech people to look into. She did request us to let her know when it happened, right?

      2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I already did have my developer look into it and it’s not an issue that we can fix. It’s a google issue. The way for me to fix it would be to get rid of the Google Adsense ads. If I do that, I have much less revenue to pay the bills it cost to run this site. So far, this year I’ve spent over $2500 on website costs (including over $100 to make comments editable again, which was something readers requested, so I DO listen to suggestions and requests and try to satisfy them when I’m able to). But I can’t afford to cover those costs without ad revenue, so until Google fixes the problem, I’m sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for being patient.

  9. ALSO: “Besides that, living on my own with my daughter doesn’t scare me — I lived five hours from my family before when she was a baby and managed.”
    => Who is she living with now??

    1. I didn’t read that she lived with them, but near them? It seems like she is living on her own. Just closer to family than she did when her daughter was young?

    2. I’m assuming she now lives closer to family, whereas when the baby was born/little, she lived five hours away.

      1. Jinx Jlyfsh

      2. Ah, yes, that makes sense.

      3. great minds 😉

  10. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Is there another parent that is involved that you need to consult? If so, you may not be able to move with your daughter, legally speaking. And even if you can legally move to a new state with your daughter, it may not be the right choice for her, if it means she will no longer get to see her other parent. Something to consider…

  11. But where is the part where you even slowly introduce your child to him and gauge how their relationship is progressing? If you have only been with him for 6 months – when did he meet your kid? If you have only spent a handful of days together – how much time has she spent with him? Late night calls are great and everything but those are just words – you have to go by action. ESPECIALLY when you have a kid in the mix. And the only action you write about is the part where he wants to break up with you.

    And not for anything but how close is your child to her grandparents? Ripping away that relationship doesn’t sit well with me. I know people move for all sorts of reasons and grandparents aren’t even considered but if your daughter is close to her extended family then uprooting her from them is going to be devastating for her. So if you are going to do that you better make sure you have your daughter’s best interest at heart. So far it doesn’t sound it. I get that you think he is the guy for you but the guy for you would want you to place your child’s interests first. Is that happening?

    1. FireStar always has such awesome comments 🙂

      1. aw shucks…

    2. monkeys mommy says:

      That is a really good point, about the kid and grandparent’s relationship. I did it, but it has been hard on all involved. That is the one thing that makes my perfect job not so perfect.

  12. Bittergaymark says:

    Eh, everybody I have ever been in a relationship SEEMED perfect after just a few dates — which truly, is all you really have at this point. That said — his dumping if you sounds like him letting you down easy. somehow… I can’t imagine he truly expect you to just up and move to New York after such a short time…

  13. The man just broke up with you and you want to get back together by moving to his state with your 5 year old child. If he wanted to be with you, he’d put in a transfer to Chicago. He doesn’t have a kid to think about, you do. Don’t rip her away from her extended family just because of some guy. If he really saw you guys together, he’d take steps to make it happen instead of expecting you to do it yourself.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Yeah, can the guy move to you, LW? It would seem like he can, at least considering he has no kids to think about.

  14. I agree so much with your 3rd paragraph Wendy! If he’s the one for you, you’re the one for him ! When somebody moves for love, it shouldn’t be one active person (the mover) and one passive person (the non-mover). It should be two people who both believe in the move and both work toward it. Working toward a move also means waiting for the right moment, and I think that’s the most important role of the non-mover. As Wendy said, she told Drew she needed time to save money. Drew accepted that, and that was the good thing for him to do. He was an active member of the team by doing that. He could have said “I don’t care”, or “But I want to be able to date other people in the mean time”, or “If you really love me you would move right now”. But he didn’t do that.

    LW, right now your boyfriend doesn’t sound like he’s on your team. He sounds like he’s either passively waiting for you to move, or maybe he doesn’t even want you to move and has moved from the relationship.

  15. If you can get a transfer, have a reasonably priced place to live there, aren’t taking your daughter away from her other parent, and won’t be devastated to the point of depression/quitting your job/giving up on life if this guy disappoints you, I say do it. It’s many people’s dream to live in NYC (or near it?). Better check out what schools would be available for your daughter before you make your decision. Keep in mind that you’ve only known him for 8 months so nothing is set in stone and he could surprise you/disappoint you. But if it’s feasible it seems like a great idea, personally I would love to experience a new city.

  16. I’m late to this, but I think even just thinking about doing this is INCREDIBLY risky. Moving for love is a risk in and of itself, but with a child too?? If you do this I have to say it would be a rash decision. You only know this guy from late night calls. It may *feel* like you are close to him, but you’re fooling yourself. You’ve only seen him in person when he was on his “A” game. Speaking from experience, visiting a significant other when long distance feels like a vacation, so it seems like all flowers and sunshine and rainbows. You cannot know yet if he gets along with your daughter yet. Simply put, you haven’t been with him for enough time yet to see if he’s good with your daughter. That is a HUGE risk. You have to put your daughter first in this situation.
    Not to mention…he hasn’t shown you he wants to be with you. Him saying he won’t do the distance thing anymore to me reads to me: “I like you a lot but only want to be with you when it’s convenient for me.” Do you really want to be with a man who views your relationship like this? What does that tell you about his commitment to you? What does that tell you about his commitment to your daughter? To me it sounds like he’s trying to be “nice” in breaking up with you, by basically blaming the distance. Trust his actions, not his words.

  17. It really sounds like he was letting you down easy, not inviting you to uproot your daughter and yourself to NYC. You’ve spent nine consecutive days with him. You even say that you know him better than anyone else. You don’t. Be a good role model for your daughter. Don’t move for a man you’ve seen in person for less than two weeks. She needs stability in her life, and this fantasy sounds like anything but. Sorry, but you should move on. Don’t believe it? Ask him to clarify what he really meant.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      I’ve removed Google Adsense ads temporarily to see if that changes things. please let me know if you continue to have this problem today.

      1. Anonymous says:

        It just happened again

      2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Thanks for letting me know. I’m trying to trouble shoot, tweaking different settings, so please continue to let me know as you experience this. Thank you!

      3. Unwanted_Truth says:

        Just happened to me while trying to click on the comments link about three times before I was successful.

      4. Unwanted_Truth says:

        Just happened to me while trying to click on the comments link about three times before I was successful. Also again after clicking “Submit” for this comment I am typing. Takes me to Shopping Monkey or something like that.

      5. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Thanks for letting me know. I’m trying to trouble shoot, tweaking different settings, so please continue to let me know as you experience this. Thank you!

      6. Happened to me just now:

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