Q: I am 22 and have been dating my 24-year-old boyfriend for over three years. His mom died earlier this year, and obviously, that has taken a huge toll on him. He lived with his mom while going to college, so losing her has changed every aspect of his life. He now owns a home and lives alone. I'm a more-than-full-time student and live with my parents.
We are very much in love and I see myself marrying him. I know I'm still young, but I have a good idea of what I want my future to look like. I know he feels the same way, but we are waiting at least a few years until we are both done with school to do anything permanent.
Here's the catch: I'm almost done with my master's degree and ready for a job. I know that in the future I want to live in Massachusetts and raise my family here (I'm from the area), but right now I am dying to get out, just for a few years. I would love to move to California, North Carolina, or Washington D.C. -- anywhere new and exciting, just to get a flavor of what's out there.
But my boyfriend is totally not feeling the moving thing right now. He owns his house now and knows it would be complicated to sell it. He is still in a really rough period after losing his mom. I know that I will have a really hard time moving without him and being alone in a new place, but I also know that if I don't do this when I'm young, it will be harder to do it later.
What do I do? Should I keep prodding him to apply to colleges in a new place so that we can move together, even though I know he isn't really into the idea? I really want to go somewhere, but I'm afraid that I'd hate being alone and that I wouldn't be able to handle it. How do I deal with this? We have a pretty perfect relationship and the last thing I want to do is ruin it (because I see the rest of my life with him), but I need to move away and do something totally new and different. I just don't know how to do this without wrecking my perfect and loving relationship and without making myself miserable.
– Anxious But In Love, Western Mass
A: You're telling us that you're basically as good as married, ABIL. That means you're planning as a twosome. And right now, half of your twosome needs to stay put in Massachusetts for some very practical reasons. That's your answer.
People in serious, adult relationships have to sacrifice and compromise all of the time. They don't get to have the pet they've always wanted because their partner is allergic. They change their sleep schedule to make it easier for their spouse to get ready for work in the morning. They put off plans to go exploring because the love of their life has just lost of a parent.
Staying in Massachusetts doesn't mean you'll never get to see glorious Raleigh or the traffic in Los Angeles. Maybe in a year or two he'll consider renting his house to go traveling with you (assuming he's on the same page about where you stand). Again, compromise.
If you're as confident as you say you are about your boyfriend being your husband-to-be, you have to stick around. He's in no shape to move and could probably use his wife-to-be by his side. But if you're not quite sold on being someone's life partner just yet, go explore as someone who's unattached. Just don’t try to have it both ways. It won't work.
Readers? Am I right? Should she stay? Or should she take this time to travel while he's sorting out his life here? Is she ready for spouse-like behavior? Does she have to be to maintain the relationship? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.