Dear Captain Awkward,
I have this boyfriend, who I live with, in City A. I’m planning to move to another city (City B) in about six months, to study, and he plans on coming with me. This has turned into a problem. We don’t have a place to live, and it looks like it might be rather hard to find one. I have family in City B, and are welcome to live with them until we find our own place. The boyfriend is really, really not cool with the possibility of me moving without him, even if it’s only a temporary solution. He’s pretty much said that he would consider me to be breaking up with him if I did. I feel like that is a way of threatening to break up with me while at the same time making me into the bad guy.
Thing is, I really don’t like living in City A. The friends I used to have here have moved or plan on moving soon. It’s lonely. I miss my friends and my family. I feel like I’ve already stayed here for too long and I’m not willing to post-pone moving away any longer than I have to. I feel like he’s holding me back in a situation that I desperately want to get out of.
I’m questioning our relationship and it’s really hard. We don’t have a monagamous relationship, which I was fine with when we got together several years ago, but feel less fine with now. For now, neithor of us really engage in relationships with other people, but I feel worried about that becoming an issue in the future. We have talked about this. He doesn’t want a monagamous relationship and since it hasn’t made a difference in practice, I’ve gone along with it. He’s also done some things in the past that hurt me and that he considers himself to have the right to do anyway, so I don’t trust him to not repeat those things. I feel like I would be setting myself up for pain that I don’t want if I stay with him. On the other hand, I love him. Most of the time he makes me really happy and I don’t want to let go of that. However, we are young, and the kind of relationship I was looking for and agreeing to have when we got together is not the kind of relationship I want now. I still want it with him, though.
If he makes me chose between him and moving to City B and starting my education, I’m pretty certain I’ll chose moving. I don’t think I could forgive him if he stopped me from doing that. But it feels unfair that I should have to chose. And it feels unfair to be feeling like that and not tell him. I don’t know if we should even be together, since we obviously want different things out of this relationship right now. I feel like the rational thing to do would be breaking up, but I’m scared of doing that because I don’t want to let go of us being together. This is my first relationship and I have no idea of how I’m supposed to feel before breaking up with someone. When we aren’t together, breaking up makes sense. But when we are, it feels insane because it feels so good to be with him.
Sad and Confused
Dear Sad and Confused:
You can’t quite see this now, but I can. In your future, you’ll live with your family and friends in City B, pursuing your education, and this guy won’t be anywhere near your awesome shining new life. You’ll feel sad and miss him for a while, and then you’ll plunge into the exquisite awkwardness of dating new people, and a few years from now he will be a story that you tell people about. Someone out there is a better fit for you.
Or, you’ll live with your family and friends in City B, and after some time away from this guy you guys will miss each other so much that you’ll figure out a way to be together, and you’ll both have done some growing in the meantime that will make your relationship that much better.
Move. Move now. Move tomorrow. Move today! August 13th: A good day for a move.
And when he says “So I guess you’re breaking up with me” say “I am sad about that, but I guess I am” and if he tries to make plans to come with you, say “Let’s not plan anything right now. I need to take care of myself and figure out what’s right for me, and I can’t do that if I also have to worry about you.”
You don’t have to wait until he does something major and dramatic. You don’t have to wait until you hit rock-bottom unhappiness. You don’t have to make an airtight case that convinces him it’s a good idea or get his buy-in. Wanting to leave is enough reason to leave.
I believe you when you say that a relationship that is not working (or going to work out long-term) feels too good to leave right now. I believe that you will miss him, and that it will be hard to let go, and that you might have many second thoughts and regrets. I’ve recently walked a very long mile in these same shoes, and I’m still waiting for it to magically get better, and I know it will because it did every single other time I found myself here. Time heals. Distance heals. You have a golden opportunity to jump into the future and put some literal distance between you and this guy. Let’s trust the future, you and me.