Q: Dear Meredith,
For the last two years my boyfriend and I have been separated by 3,000 miles. We see each other for a few days every few months, because as young professionals just starting out (he's 24, I'm 23) that's all we can manage. I have tried to convince myself that it's good enough, that a promise of a tomorrow together makes all the days in between -- even the most miserable ones -- worthwhile.
The truth is, it's not and it doesn't. We both know this. So, after countless phone calls, many arguments, and costly visits, we've decided this is it. Something needs to change. Either we're going to live in the same place and give this a real shot, or we're going to call it quits for good. We have a deadline of two months. If we can't figure out a way to be together by then, we're going to break off our nearly 4-year relationship.
Here's the problem: I just started my job here and can't move. He has been working in his for about two years and is in a better position to leave. But the job market is awful and the career we're both in isn't exactly burgeoning. In fact, most jobs are being shrunk, consolidated, or eliminated. It's unlikely he'll find the kind of work he's been doing if he were to move here, and I'm concerned he won't be able to find a job in the business at all. He's started thinking about going back to school.
Though I know I love him and I want him close, I'm nervous and guilty about asking him to give up his life to be a part of mine. What if things don't work out when we're in the same place? What if he begins to resent me for asking this of him? Is a deadline even practical? Or should we cut our losses now and go our separate ways?
Any advice would be helpful, because the way things are now isn't working for either of us. Staying thousands of miles apart is no longer an option. We need something more.
– Fed up with the distance, Washington D.C.
A: Ask him to move, FUWTD. See what happens.
You're not making any silly promises. You're not pretending that this will be easy -- or that you won't break up after he gets to D.C. You're just saying that you want to try a real, grown-up relationship and that he's in a better position to relocate.
Ask him how you can make the move easier for him. Would it be more desirable if you lived in a specific neighborhood? Can you help him with the job search and introduce him to some contacts?
You say above that you "can't move." But … you can. You just don't want to, and that's OK. If he moves it won't be just because of you. He'll move because he's ready to try something different and you're a part of what he wants.
Tell him what you want from him without feeling selfish about your boundaries. In another two years, after living in the same place, you might feel better about quitting a job and picking up your life for him. You just don't know what your relationship is worth right now. Find out.
Readers? Is it selfish for her to ask him to relocate? Should he move for her? If he does move, will it just be for her? How can she make this easier for him? Are their ages relevant? Help.
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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 new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.