Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Is Stressing Me Out”
My boyfriend of 1.5 years was offered a job across the country a few months ago, to begin in late summer of 2010, and before he accepted it, he asked me if I would move out there with him; I said “yes” and he accepted the job. In the meantime, I’m graduating from my masters program in a few weeks and am actively seeking employment here before I move across country with him. While we are both very excited about the move, the short amount of time I have between now and then makes me very unemployable, as I can only commit to seven months or so. Confounding this, is that my boyfriend says he wants to get engaged before we move out there and wants to be married in the winter or spring of the upcoming year (with me planning the wedding). So, I’m trying to graduate, trying to find a job in this state as well as the one across country, planning a move, perhaps anticipating an engagement and then needing to plan a wedding — I feel overwhelmed. To add to it all, my mother is concerned about my move because I am not engaged or married yet and have still made the choice to join him. Although I am a grown woman, my mother’s approval means a lot to me and not having it is just adding to my stress. (It also does not help that when she was my age she made the same move for her then husband who ended up cheating on her repeatedly and running off to join the military…) She thinks that I am silly to give up job opportunities because it means that I am compromising myself and my future for one that I don’t even know is going to happen yet (i.e. marriage/ a continued life with my boyfriend). While I don’t feel that a ring or a marriage will make us more committed for any specific reason, I cant help but feel that she has a point. Please tell me that I’m crazy and to take a deep breath. — Stressed Girlfriend
Well, you’re not crazy, but I will tell you to take a deep breath. And then I’ll tell you to take back the reins of your own life and stop letting your mother or your boyfriend or anyone else call the shots. As far as your mother goes, you both need to realize it isn’t your job to relive the mistakes of her past. It’s time you grew up and quit worrying about getting mommy’s approval on everything, because that game? It has no winners. Your mother’s going to love you no matter what choices you make, so accept the love and reject the manipulation. And while we’re discussing manipulation, why does your boyfriend get to decide when you’re going to get married? And why do you have to do all the planning? Girl, if that’s the way your relationship works — you move where he wants, you get married when he wants to, he tells you to do all the work and you do it without question — I’d think long and hard before signing on to a lifetime commitment of that kind of crap.
What about what you want? What about what’s best for you? If you’re only willing to move across the country if you’re engaged, you need to tell your boyfriend you aren’t even going to look for jobs there, let alone start packing your stuff, until there’s a ring on your finger. But, my God, whatever you do, don’t start planning a wedding until you’ve had enough time in your new home to make sure it — and the relationship — is working for you. The stress of planning a wedding on top of all the other stress isn’t even the biggest issue here; you need to make sure your relationship is strong enough to withstand the stress of a move that huge before you make a lifetime commitment.
If you’re serious about moving and you feel it’s the best choice for you, then start looking for a job in the new city ASAP. In this economy, you need all the time you can give yourself to land a decent job. Take a temporary position in your current home while you look for a permanent job in the new city: work retail, wait tables, or sign up with a temp agency. If you find something before your boyfriend’s job starts, move. Who says you have to wait for his job to begin before you move out there? In a perfect world, he’d go with you, help you both get settled, and work a temp job while he waited for his permanent position to begin. Relationships are all about compromise, after all, and if you’re uprooting your life to move with your boyfriend, the least he can do is help.
I’m going to give you one more piece of advice here and if you pay attention to only one thing I say, please let this be it. Yes, you have a lot on your plate right now, but life is full of stressful periods, and if you can’t count on your partner to support you through those times, to be there for you to lean on and to help carry the load, you’re not with the right person. If your partner pushes you rather than pulls you up, you’re not with the right person. If your partner consistently puts his needs before yours and isn’t interested in compromising for the good of you as couple, you aren’t with the right person. So, think about these things. Think about whether you’re really with your best match, and if you aren’t, tell your boyfriend to take a hike.
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.