My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years now. We are both 25 and have lots of love and respect for one another. I am currently working in L.A. at a job I really like. He’s graduating soon with his Ph.D. in Economics and is deciding to go back to school again for a second Ph.D. at Columbia where he just got accepted. Although I think it’s great that my boyfriend is so academic and ambitious, I am struggling with the idea that he is moving 3000 miles away! He says that when he goes, he would like me to quit my job, get married and move there with him. My issue is that I’m afraid if I do move to New York with him, I’ll regret quitting my job if it doesn’t work out but I’m also afraid that if I don’t go with him, I might miss out on a future with him. I’m not too fond of long distance relationships so this is really putting a strain on me because either way I feel as though I have to give something up in order for this relationship to continue. We have discussed options of him finding a job and staying in California, but since the job market has been extremely tough this year he believes that going back to school will put him ahead of the pack once the economy picks back up. What should I do? Any advice would help! — Torn
I get a variation of this question in my in-box more than any other sent to “Dear Wendy.” Almost on a daily basis, someone — usually a woman — wants to know if she should move for love, and as I’ve said before, there’s no stock answer for a question like that. Each scenario is unique, and a decision like that is dependent on so many personal factors that it’s usually not appropriate — or even possible — for me to tell someone “what to do.” I can give them questions to ask themselves and their partner or different outcomes to imagine that might help them come to a conclusion, but I typically stay away from saying “don’t go!” or “definitely follow love!” Sometimes, however, certain scenarios just scream for an exception and this, my friends, is one of them.
Torn, don’t go!! This guy is manipulating you like crazy. Getting a second Ph.D isn’t going to put him ahead of the pack any more than one Ph.D. will. The guy’s avoiding real life. He’s been in school since he was kid and he doesn’t want to get a real job like grown-ups do. Does he have any career goals and plans at all? Has he even bothered applying for jobs he may qualify for, or is he simply using the whole “crappy job market” line as an excuse not to look? And if he’s using that excuse for himself, does he think it doesn’t apply to you too? Let’s not forget — you’re the one with a job! He doesn’t have any prospects for one. He wants to be a professional student forever and thinks he can just get you to come along and help that work out for him. What does he think you’re going to live on in New York? Do you know how crazy expensive it is here? And how competitive and over-saturated the job market is? I have friends here who lost their jobs a year and half ago and they’re still out of work. Do either of you actually think you can move here — with no contacts or anything — and land a job you like that pays well just like that? Keep dreaming!
If your boyfriend were moving to New York for a promising career he was really excited about — one that paid well enough to support you during what could be a very long search for your own job — my advice would be different. But that’s not the case. Your boyfriend wants you to leave a stable job you really like for a future he’s too immature to even begin envisioning. Until you have some hardcore evidence that your boyfriend is serious about getting serious, I wouldn’t even think about uprooting your life and moving, let alone getting married. Worried about missing out on a future with your boyfriend? Take two minutes and imagine what that future might look like with a guy who has so little regard for you and your career fulfillment that he’d manipulate you into leaving a job you love without even first trying to find one of his own! This has disaster written all over it. Don’t do it, Torn. You’ll regret it.
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