I am writing you in hopes that you can help with a decision regarding my boyfriend of almost five years.
We are both in our early to mid-20s, and neither of us has decided what to pursue as a career, until recently. My boyfriend wants to get into MLB associations to try to be a general manager for a team. This is great, but it means we may have to move from Toronto to the U.S. Also, his job would make it hard on our relationship—he would barely have time for us, he wouldn't have a home life, and he would have to bring work home. We love each other, but this goal has taken a toll on our relationship.
We are stressing over the “what ifs.” I don't know what I want to do, but I don't want to move to the U.S., away from all my family and friends, and I don't want to lose him. This is something he is absolutely set on, and will be upset if I don't move with him.
We have been through a lot—there are a few trust issues because of something he did a few years ago, but we made it through that. But when I think long-distance, I have no doubt that he could easily go out and find someone else, But then again, he doesn't want a long-distance relationship!
I hope you can help clarify my decision.
—Baseball vs. Relationship
Clearly, you have a difficult choice ahead of you. You haven’t given me much to go on to help you make it, but I will do my best.
The first thing that stands out about your letter is that you say practically nothing about your own career interests, except that you haven’t settled on anything. Perhaps you’re more focused on your relationship, family, and home life. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and for some women, career can come after all the rest is settled, rather than before. You’re young, and if a career is important to you, you do have time to figure out a direction. I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities for you, whether you decide to move to the United States or stay in Toronto.
That said, if you want to be with this man, and he’s got his heart set on the MLB, well, you may have to go with him—or risk losing him. A while back, a writer on The Daily Muse did a story about how she felt it was worth it to leave her “dream job” for her boyfriend. While your situation may be different in that you’d be leaving your family and country for your boyfriend, this is what you basically have to ask yourself. Is it worth it? Remember, you can always try it for a while and change your mind (though, preferably sooner rather than later, and before you have any children with this man).
Or, for a while, you might try a long-distance relationship, which can work, especially in this age of Skype. However, in this case, I think all it would be doing is delaying the inevitable, and maybe even making your decision harder, especially if he gets going on his career. Why? Because let’s say he moves and you stay. Eventually, you’ll probably settle on a career direction, or at least get a job that you like, and it might be even harder to move away from that.
So, I do think you need to decide whether this relationship is the most important thing in your life—or if it’s more important to you to stay in Toronto with your friends and family.
If you decide the former, then it’s time to start focusing on the relationship itself. I have to say, it worries me a bit that he sounds so closed-minded about this, and it also worries me that you already have trust issues with him. As I’ve said before many times here, communication, mutual respect, and an ability to resolve the conflicts that are inevitable in any relationship are key to a lasting marriage. In order to resolve conflicts in a way that promotes a relationship’s health, couples must listen carefully to each other. To be honest, it sounds as if he’s been doing all the talking and you’ve been doing all the listening. Is this going to be a relationship in which he does what he wants and just expects you to just go along? That is something to consider.
I think the two of you need to sit down and honestly discuss this whole thing. Try the mirroring technique. This is the opposite of most conversations about difficult matters, in which each person is barely listening to the other and just figuring out what to say in response. In mirroring, each person listens carefully to the other and repeats back without comment what the other said. Then switch roles. This way each of you will have a chance to express your concerns and be heard, as well as make sure that the other person knows exactly how you’re feeling.
If he’s dead set on what he’s planning, and won’t change his mind even if you refuse to go with him, that may tell you something about the relationship and how important it is to him.
But if, in the end, you decide that what you want out of life is to be with this man, it’ll be up to you to make it work. Which means that you have to go into it with an open mind and heart, because as I’ve said many times before, resentment is a marriage destroyer. And you’ve got the potential for resentment every which way here. Marriage can work with one partner heavily invested in his job, and even when one partner spends a lot of time away from home, but consider how you’ll feel when, say, you have a sick child and you find yourself facing it alone. Or consider how you’ll feel 20 years down the road when you find yourself in a marriage in which you’ve tended the home fires mostly alone and at the expense of your own career. I’m not saying this will happen, because you can do both home and career, even if he’s heavily involved in his work, but all of this is certainly something to consider.
My best to you, good luck, and thanks for asking.
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Disclaimer: The advice in this column is Fran Dorf's personal thoughts. It is not to be construed as a professional opinion. Fran recommends seeking the advice of a trained professional for any serious matter. Fran Dorf writes the "Just Ask Me" column at the Daily Muse. Fran is a psychotherapist-clinical social worker and author of three acclaimed novels. Her essays, poetry, and articles have appeared in anthologies, national periodicals, and literary journals, and she's working on a memoir. Fran also writes a blog, The Bruised Muse. In her spare time, she reads everything, rants about politics, Zumba dances, skis, plays tennis, travels, and plays with her grandchild, Maya.More from this Author