Here's the Thing: Should I move to a new city with my boyfriend?
A BIG SWEETIE PIE:
So my boyfriend (dating 2 years, both of us mid-twenties) recently got a new job and had to move out of state to one of the most expensive cities in the world because he's annoying and a tech nerd and I guess that's where tech nerds go. And of course we talked about it before he moved and agreed to do long distance until he was settled there and I was able to find a job in the new city (we set the end date as January 2020 which is ominously approaching).
And the long distance stuff is actually going super well yada yada yada...BUT THE DILEMMA:
He got settled out there super fucking quickly, dude. Like he bought a house and he bought it with me in mind and it has a cute ass little office for me with nice views and shit. And like he closed on it and moved in and has fire insurance now (because apparently that's a thing holy fuck). And now I'm over in my little world freaking out because suddenly I'm like "OH...so moving out of state is actually a lot easier to SAY than DO. Got it." But maybe that's just immaturity on my part for not thinking of the actual steps I need to make to move out there.
I think I'm suddenly so scared though because I grew up with a single mom and the oldest of a lot of siblings and we were very very poor (like on medicare and EBT and had-to-clean-houses-to-pay-rent-poor). And although my mom finally remarried and is doing a lot better financially, when I look at this life this guy has built for us I feel like an imposter. Like it doesn't belong to me. And if I move out there and give up all my certainty (great job, close to my siblings, all my routines, friends, etc.) it could potentially blow up in my face. This girl wants SECURITY. And I have built a life that gives me that (first to go to college! woo!). And my income will be substantially less than his so like if things go south...AHHHHH. WHERE'S MY PLAN B PILL?? DO I NOT GET ONE IN THIS SCENARIO?
And that's why when I went to the dentist yesterday and the receptionist was like "yo wanna make an appointment 6 mos from now?" and I was like "yes, yes I do" I realized I AM NOT MAKING MOVES TO MOVE TO ANOTHER STATE AM I?? And I don't know how to make that leap. And when I talk to my friends about it they are like "should it be this hard to make that leap?" and I'm like well....yes I think so?? It's a fucking big leap even if my boyfriend was Keanu Reeves!!! It's very invalidating to be told I'm struggling because I don't love him enough because it's not that.
Also, I'm feeling this small amount of feminist guilt by women who tell you not to give up your life and career for a guy. The idea of telling a potential employer I'm moving to an expensive new city where I have no friends/family because of my boyfriend makes me visibly squirm.
I do not at all mean this in a dismissive way, but I have such, such, such good news for you: you’re going to be perfectly fine. Better than fine! Let’s get that out of the way. No matter what you do, or when you move or don’t move, you will be great. I promise. You’re clearly a brilliant, caring, kind, funny, responsible gem of a human who has built a full life for herself. (In fact the problem is that life is a bit too full right now). My point is, we will solve this!!!! (99.9% you and 0.01% me). And of course, by solve, I mean address this specific issue strongly rather than fix all your problems forever and ever. But again, you’ve got this and you’re going be ok.
Let’s get started!
I THINK THIS IS THE BIG ONE. I think this is your real issue. I think it feels nuts to you to get something really really really nice. I think it feels like if you’ve gotten something nice (boyfriend, house in expensive area) something horrible must be coming right behind it, sneaking in the door you opened up for happiness. THAT IS NOT TRUE. THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN. You will get at least 7 things in a row that are nice and happy before anything bad happens to you. I promise. (Ok, I can’t promise; but tell yourself that). Unfortunately, as you well fucking know life is not about deserving or not deserving things; no one deserves to struggle to pay for meals or health care. I cannot tell you that you “deserve” a home in New City, USA and a hot hunky boyfriend because deserving things is real crock. But you are not an impostor for having these things and then enjoying them. Those things (new city / hot boyfriend) also are offering you what you claim you want: security. Like most of us, getting what we want is rarely offered in the way we’ve imagined. You may have thought security meant living near home forever and ever—and it may— but you aren’t undeserving of a life that’s bigger or different.
💥it could potentially blow up in my face💥
So could staying. Sorry!!!!
Are you worried that if this relationship ends and you move back home a leprechaun is going to jump out of the bushes and follow you around for months mocking you with, “HAHAHA YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD MOVE TO ANOTHER CITY, YOU BIG FAILURE!!! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE???” That will not happen!! If things end and you “fail” at this (which is not actually possible; there is no such thing as succeeding or failing in a relationship), your family and friends will welcome you back with open arms and delicious food and space on their couch to cry and say soothing things like, “Let’s watch Wedding Planner and eat a whole rotisserie chicken tonight.” If they don’t do that, they are not loved ones, they’re meanies and we don’t have time for them.
💸my income will be substantially less than his, so like if things go south…💸
This, along with the rest of your various, reasonable fears is something you need to address with your boyfriend. You need to talk about how you’re going to split rent/mortgage. You need to address that you will not make as much as he will, and what you will do about this imbalance which will be emotional as well as material for you both. You need to actually talk about how a life between the two of you in New City will unfold, even if those talks are uncomfortable as hell. If you need to not pay rent to him for a few months to save up after the move so that you have a Get The Fuck Out of Here fund, ask for that. If you need something else, make it up. Try it! Maybe it won’t feel enough like security, maybe it will. Ask him to help you; he wants to help you!!!!
👯♀️small amount of feminist guilt👯♀️
OK IDK WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE BUT THEY ARE NOT FEMINISTS. To be sure, I’m not the arbiter of how to do feminism right, but I can guarantee you that people who think moving in with someone you’re in a relationship with is somehow antithetical to feminism are doing it wrong. THAT IS A BANANA PANCAKES NOTION. That’s like saying, “using sidewalks is anti-feminist.” WHAT. That makes no fucking sense. Now, if your partner were like, “You have to quit your job because you have a dumb, useless lady brain and I’m the important one,” THAT would be anti-woman. And if you thought that, it would be… not good. THAT IS DISTINCTLY NOT WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE.
People move for their partners all the time and it isn’t about submitting to their will; it’s about building a good life that you both want. Make sure that you aren’t only chasing his dreams and desires, but know that some years will be lopsided in favor of one of you or the other. Such is partnership.
🍤should it be this hard to make that leap?🍤
I’m sorry I chose the shrimps emoji on this one. There is not a clear “leap” emoji so I made a choice. Do I regret it? Hard to say.
YES IT “SHOULD” BE THIS HARD TO MOVE ACROSS THE DING DONG COUNTRY. Even to the house of someone you love love love. Even to Keanu Reeves. Even to fire insurance. It’s hard because you didn’t build an entire life around this guy and his whims, which is, in fact… REALLY FUCKING GOOD. You have a whole life in place now and it never occurred to you fully that you’d have to put that aside to make the move. I’m sure it occurred to you in some abstract ways, but not all of the concrete ones like finding a new dentist. And what is proof having a full life if not making biannual dentist appointments? That’s life babbbbyyyy.
Your trepidation doesn’t mean you love your boyfriend less. It also isn’t a gut feeling that means you should! not! move! It’s normal Moving Across The Country Away From My Family and Friends and Dentist fears! It would be concerning NOT to be afraid, imo.
You cannot control how it goes with your boyfriend forever. You can make choices to stay, to move with him, to not move with him, to ask for more, to change your mind. But you cannot see what happens in five years. You’re driving the whole way with no visibility past your headlights. Even if you’d both stayed in town, I assure you that things would have gotten scary, ok?
My ultimate advice: move, even if you have to change the date of departure. But move there. If you need to come back, you will. This is not a permanent, immutable action. They have the same tools to move back as they do to move there. Go live with your boyfriend and work on building up a life there. It will be hard and frustrating and cold and shitty at times, I guarantee you that. It will be isolating. You will feel like you can’t find friends. You will miss family. But if you stick it out, you may also get a fabulous life, one that you’re having a hard time imagining now.
Talk to your boyfriend. Articulate all the things you told me here. Know that he alone cannot assuage your (reasonable, although not entirely reliable) fears.
Do not base your actions on your fears. Base them on your desires.
If you and he talk, and you do some deep deep deep thinking and come to the conclusion that you are actually reluctant to be with him, that you want life where you are and that the move isn’t worth it, that’s perfectly fine. You aren’t a dickhole for not moving into a house he bought with you in mind, even if it may feel like you’re committing a heinous crime. You are not.
But I strongly suspect the move is just happening very quickly and that you aren’t totally prepared, that you feel fear and no one has validated it, or you haven’t fully articulated it to the right person (your boyfriend), or maybe even to yourself. I suspect the move will be hard, but ultimately lovely.
Sophia Benoit writes this very newsletter; she also writes about sex & relationships for GQ, tries to write about Fleetwood Mac for GQ, avoids writing by tweeting at @1followernodad, works full-time as a researcher for Lights Out With David Spade, and has had bylines in The Guardian, Reductress, Refinery29, Allure, and The Cut. You can reach her or yell at her at firstname.lastname@example.org.