#206: Torn between dreams and love.

Carl & Ellie from Up
On a certain level, this movie is a sad story about a lady who gave up her dreams of being the World's Greatest Explorer so she could marry Ed Asner.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am a college student pursuing a career in the TV/Film industry. In the next year I will be graduating, and in as little as 2 months I will be going to be an intern at a film festival where I will no doubt meet and network with people who can get me a job soon after I graduate. Sounds like things are peachy for me to move out to LA within the year, right? wrong. If I don’t find a solution to my problem, I may miss the one opportunity to fulfill my dreams of working on set and making movies.

I have been in an awesome relationship with my boyfriend for almost 3 years. We instantly hit it off. I moved and transferred colleges about a year and a half ago to be closer to him. I have sacrificed being close to friends and 30 non-transferrable college credits to be near him and to make things work. When I told him about my career aspirations he thought it was a joke that I wanted to move away. He does not take me seriously in that I will do it. I dont think he understands how badly I want to succeed in my life.

7 months ago we hit a rough patch in our relationship. we both got really busy in our lives and didnt make time for eachother or communication. everything became a fight. 3 months ago after nothing had changed much between us, i broke up with him. I had had it with his lack of effort, and in my mind it was only a matter of time until we broke up because I knew i’d be choosing my career over him in the long run. After that, it was almost like a wake up call to him. He convinced me to let him try harder and be better, and he did. He became the guy i fell in love with in the first place. We got back to the point where we talk about our future together. The sad thing is, although I can see a future with him, he does not see a future with me outside of this place. He does not want to move to LA to be with me. LA is far from where we are and our families. He has always been very close with his family, and if he had it his way, we’d probably move in next door to his parents if i would let him. i love him. i want to be with him.

I’ve been trying to convince myself that I can have both. I can find a job in production somewhere here, i do live in a pretty big metroplex. its just… it makes me depressed to think about a life that i can have if i set my feelings for him aside.I have an amazing opportunity to meet people that can help further my career. why wont he move away with me? why wont he at least give me a chance to make it and get a great job that i love? if it doesnt work we can always move back… Should i break up with him now? what would i say, again?? and if he does move away with me, will it even be worth it?? he will be just as depressed moving away as i will be if i stay…


torn between love and career.

Dear Torn:

I have no pretense of being unbiased here.


There will never be a better time in your life for you to do it, and you will always wonder if you don’t do it.

You say “He will be just as depressed moving as I will if I don’t do it.” That’s sad! But in a conflict this black and white, you have to choose yourself. Would he be able to live with himself if you gave up on your dreams to, what, move in next door to his parents with him and quietly resent him for the rest of your lives (or until you break up 2 years from now because you can’t take it anymore and you’re moving to LA)?

There are other men out there in the world who will love you and delight you and who won’t want you to make yourself smaller in order to be with them. They won’t treat your dreams like a joke.

Make a clean break and go.


A Film Professor/A Fellow Filmmaker/Captain Awkward

P.S. I’m sorry, I just had to come back and say FUCK THAT GUY for treating your dreams like a joke.

P.P.S. How do you break up with him? You say “Hey, I’m sorry, we need to break up. I’m moving to L.A. as soon as I graduate.”

49 thoughts on “#206: Torn between dreams and love.

  1. Yes to all of this. There isn’t just one person for you out there, and honestly, LW, anyone who treats your dreams as a joke isn’t the one for you. And “trying harder” isn’t going to help when you are dying to go to LA and give this a shot. You will always wonder what could have been if you don’t do it.

  2. Bang on advice. Never give up your dreams for a relationship, because no one who is worth giving up your dreams for would ever ask you to.

  3. My partner is moving back home with me in a couple of years. He is not doing this (and I didn’t ask him) because it is only fair, since I moved out here first. He is doing this because he is also approaching one of those wonderful, frightening life moments when you know it’s time for a big change/a big change could happen if you wanted it to.

    When I moved here, 3000 miles away from everything I knew and loved, I did it for myself. Because I was 24 and I had never lived further than 200 miles from where I was born and I wanted a change and I needed a change and it was time. My wonderful, loving, supportive partner was also a part of the bargain- but he was a lot of the reason why I stayed, and not why I emigrated. I think that it is too much pressure, sometimes, on a relationship (which is not to say it cannot be done), especially one that does not span decades, to move FOR that person and ONLY FOR THAT PERSON. Or to stay, when your whole heart says you want to go.

    When I doubted myself, when I couldn’t get a job, when I was a walking vortex of despair and loneliness, the thing that kept me from sniping at my partner about how it was his fault that I moved, damnit, this is his fault and fix it- was that it WASN’T his fault. He loved me, and maybe even would have come to me if I hadn’t come to him first, but I moved because it was time and I was having an adventure and I moved for me.

  4. Please don’t give up on your dreams. You’re young, you’ve got all kinds of wonderful things opening up in front of you. Now is the time, while you’re young and fearless, to grab on and move forward.

  5. Oh my gosh, LW. I understand it feels like you’re torn, but omg this:
    “When I told him about my career aspirations he thought it was a joke that I wanted to move away. He does not take me seriously in that I will do it. I dont think he understands how badly I want to succeed in my life.”

    Is never ever ok. That’s not how partners should behave to one another. Also, the Captain is correct in that if you stay, you’re going to wind up resentful and broken up anyway. Go to the film festival, intern and network your heart out, and follow your dreams. Good luck!

  6. And LW, maybe if you resolve to go he will stay with you. Right now, things are too mutable. He and you are living with the presumption that LA is an option, take it or leave it, and maybe even that there is Reality (your life now, current city, future prospects in current city) and there is Dreamland (LA, possible prospects in LA, murky life in LA). You need to decide how real LA is to you, and you need to live, and talk, as if that is the thing you are doing. You are going, you are calm and collected and immutable, you are going. Then, it will not be his choice IF you are going. It will not be a thing that can be disparaged or bargained away. It will be a fixed fact of your mutual future that you are going, and it will be up to him if he will share that future with you, or whether he and you will look back fondly someday on your past romantic entanglements (now you are Facebook friends, you’re both with other people, etc).

  7. A relationship in which your partner treats your dreams like a joke does not sound like an “awesome” relationship. And the whole “break-up wake-up call” part sent up a red flag for me. How long will he continue to be the guy you fell in love with before he goes back to not putting in any effort? My guess is: as soon as your chance to move to LA has passed. Go to LA! If he misses you so damn much, he can do what YOU did and move away from support networks and credits or jobs or whatever to reestablish your relationship and then MAYBE you could have a future together based on MUTUAL decisions about where you will live and what you will do. You are not the sole responsible party in the Making This Relationship Work!

    1. …Yeah, I had some friends in that situation. Eight miserable years after the first breakup, they finally separated for real. I’m kind of skeptical, and I also think you should choose your career. If he loves you, he will make sacrifices for you.

      1. “if he loves you, he will make sacrifices for you”.

        I don’t think that’s fair. By that logic, if LW loves him, she should be making the very sacrifice we’re telling her not to. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you love each other – there’s no way for it to work without somebody giving up a piece of themselves they can’t spare. If you both love each other equally but both sides of a choice mean someone sacrificing – well, how do you decide who has to give something up?

        LW, I’m going to go against the people here saying “maybe he’ll come with you”. I think you should make up your mind that in going to LA you are leaving him behind, and that you should be careful how you frame it with him – that it doesn’t come out as “I’m going, so if you don’t want to be dumped, you’d better come with me.” The last thing you’d want is to go on to your exciting new adventure in LA with him dragging at your heels, resentful and whining “when can we go home?” every five minutes. If you can reach a compromise with him – if he can see it as exciting and fulfilling, or at least something he can embrace wholeheartedly – that’s great. But I’d be really careful about potentially turning it into anything that sounds like an ultimatum – or accepting an “offer” to come with you after all that might turn out to be worse than the pain of breaking up.

        1. I’m also on the side of DON’T try to get him to come with you. If he doesn’t want to be there, you don’t want him there while you’re just getting started.


          Also, be EXTRA careful of your birth control right now.

          1. Yup.

            10 years of the academic “two body problem” and two transatlantic moves have taught me how much negotiating conflicting career decisions with a partner sucks even if you are 100% in tru luv 2 getha 4 eva. If your relationship is on-again-off-again or otherwise shaky, best make a clean break and save yourself drawn-out heartache.

        2. I didn’t really mean to make it an ultimatum, but to stop saying that L.A. is a choice, because it doesn’t sound like it is really a choice? More like, “I COULD stay here with my partner where it is hailing and then there will be slush and my feet will be cold, or I could go to the beach where there are seals that will swim with me and it’s warm all the time.” Not really a choice.

          I think, considering further, I am potentially wrong about the possibility of them staying together. After all, “I have sacrificed being close to friends and 30 non-transferrable college credits to be near him and to make things work” sounds sort of like the myth of sunk cost, which the Captain has covered extensively, and not like “I love this person and want to stay with him and how can we make it work?”

        3. That’s not my logic, and I think you’re being unfair to the idea of sacrifice.

          I don’t think this is like and like, and I think her boyfriend is a bad boyfriend for comparing them. He’s not living in the city of his dreams, or in the single best place he can make those dreams come true. I suspect that if he were in a remotely similar situation–I must stay in this city; I must stay in this grad program; I must stay with this company–she would have mentioned it. She’s working hard to be fair to him.

          But he’s not being fair to her. She wants to follow her dreams and capitalize on a lot of very strong career options. He…doesn’t especially want to move to LA. If he cared about her and respected her, he would care about and respect her dreams, and not dismiss them as the opposite of inertia. “I’ve thought about it, and I just can’t live in Los Angeles,” is a valid response. “That’s silly and you’re silly,” is not an unwillingness to sacrifice. It’s an unwillingness to take your partner seriously.

          And sure, the solution in that situation is usually to break up. But the person you keep will at least consider your ambitions as important to the partnership.

          1. [“I’ve thought about it, and I just can’t live in Los Angeles,” is a valid response. “That’s silly and you’re silly,” is not an unwillingness to sacrifice. It’s an unwillingness to take your partner seriously.]

            THIS. So much this. He isn’t saying, “We want different things but we want to stay together. How can we make this work?” Even if he were, the answer might be “break up.” But also the answer might be “move to LA together and see what happens, because sometimes love means chasing another person’s dreams with them.” The answer might be “try a long distance relationship and re-evaluate in one year, or two years, based on careers and finances and family.”

            But if he isn’t even willing to discuss those options, because the dream is not his dream and is therefore silly? Then he is not worth staying with. At all. Ever.

          2. LW mentioned he’s very close to his family who lives in the city they currently live in. But … I don’t exactly contradict you.

  8. I know many women* who put their dreams on hold at graduation for the dude they LOOOVVVVVEEEDDD.

    I know zero women for whom this was the best decision.

    Every woman I know who choose DREAM over BOY? Made the right decision AND smotimes the boy thing worked out in the end!! Or didn’t!! Whatever, they did the thing that was best for THEIR life and that’s what you’ve got to do friend.

    *I realize you did not actually say you’re a woman, but the advice stands for either gender, it just happens that all the people I know who put dreams on hold for dude were women.

  9. Seconded, thirded, fourthed from a fellow filmmaker and someone who broke up with her boyfriend (who she was living with at the time) to move to London and follow her TV and film dream.

    The stand out line for me is ‘When I told him about my career aspirations he thought it was a joke that I wanted to move away’

    If your boyfriend doesn’t take your career aspirations seriously, what chance is there that he would support you sufficiently while you’re trying to make it in LA?

    Don’t get me wrong, the breakup wasn’t fun and for a while I was living in a bedsit on my own and earning about thruppence as a post-production runner for a shitty reality TV production.

    But a mere few years later I’m now a 1st AD and the film I just made with my husband has been sold worldwide. This shit does happen and your career dreams can come true but that’s made a lot easier if the people around you support and endorse those dreams.

    You deserve someone who will do that and you deserve the chance to try.

  10. I agree with Captain. DO IT. Follow your dreams. If your relationship is meant to be, it will withstand the separation and be even more resilient. But you don’t want to spend your life remaining in the same city you’re in now, wondering how things might have been had you taken the chance to move to L.A. It seems clear to me that, although it will be a painful separation, no doubt about it, as soon as you’re in L.A. you’ll be swept up in the excitement of your career, meet lots of interesting people who will be mentors to you, as well as a lot of eligible men who are as focused and driven as you are. We’ve all been through those difficult times in life, feeling torn and sad, but this is your chance in life, you’re young, and you need to make a go of something that you love doing. There are tons of people on this planet who haven’t found their true calling, but if you feel that you have, you need to make the most of that precious gift!

  11. Truly loving someone means helping them pursue their dreams, even if it’s not what you want.
    I know it sucks, but unless your boyfriend can put aside his own needs (at least for a few years) & support you to follow your dreams, you’re better off without him.
    There are people out there that you can have awesome relationships with, who WILL be prepared to make sacrifices/compromises for you.

  12. GO TO L.A.

    Love that is contingent on location is not enough love to live on. By making your dreams secondary to his preferences and comfort, your boyfriend isn’t treating your relationship as a team endeavor.

    EXAMPLE FROM MY LIFE (that may get a bit soppy, you’ve been warned!):

    Only a few months into HusbandLogic’s and my relationship, HL was laid off. I knew down to my bones that we were Team Logic, so when he started looking for work I laid it out. “I really, REALLY like it in this city where we live now, and I’d prefer it if we could stay here. But, I know you’re thinking about other cities for work, and if you do get a job somewhere else, you’d best rent a 2-bedroom because I’m going to be joining you.”

    That wasn’t a “dream job” situation, but we trust each other to support the other’s dreams. Thankfully, HL found a job in our city, and we are doing splendidly, and making wild fantastic dreams for retirement and smaller, also fantastic dreams for the near future.

    If his dream is to spend a summer climbing the Andes, I will find a way to make that work, and I know that if my dream was to start a food truck, he’d be sending me links to reno’ed roach coaches in a hot second. Because when my Person has a dream, it’s automatically a Team Logic dream that we share.

    There is a guy (or gal or otherly gendered person) out there who will love you FOR your dreams and will make a team with you to make those dreams happen. And I can’t promise that you’ll find them in a year or five or even twenty, but Boyfriend is not that person and you will never be this age and in this situation again. GO TO L.A.

    1. I’d like to chime in with the Commander here.

      Things said to me over the years by my honey love:

      When our relationship was quite young –

      “I love you and I want to be with you, but my kids are little and I need to be with them. If you want to move to Texas, we’ll make it work. If you don’t, I will be sad, but I understand that’s a hell of a lot to ask.”

      When my telecommuting job was un-telecommuted:

      “I will miss you like crazy, but it would be good for you to go back up and spend time in Chicago.” (It was, for a good long while.)


      “I’m not ready to leave Texas yet, but if you really can’t stand it anymore, we will make it work like we have before.”

      Just because his Limits and your Limits clash doesn’t mean you don’t love him. But Limits are a hard truth, and ignoring them doesn’t make them go away.

  13. Oh yeah. Go.

    It’s not like you’re sitting on the couch watching tv, and who has been “writing” a script for the past ten years. You are actively working to make your dreams a reality. You’re going to school. You’re interning. That doesn’t sound like a joke to me. That doesn’t even sound like you have dreams. Dude. You have ambitions, and you’ve got the tools to bring it to fruition.

    So, seriously, fuck that guy for minimising your hard work and for trying to make you smaller.

    Love doesn’t involve this much sacrifice. Especially not for anyone who isn’t willing to sacrifice anything for you.

  14. I’m the product of two generations of women who gave up dreams for their dudes. And that’s a whole lot of bitter resentment to carry, even as I understand that I would be but for that reality.

    Your dreams are who you are. Your dude doesn’t love your dream? Doesn’t even give your dream airspace? Your dude has some motives behind his love for you and that’s just not so cool.

  15. i went and pursued my mary tyler moore dreams. my dude? very encouraging, but didn’t want to leave home. i left and had A WONDERFUL TIME. i love me the city – big doings all the time! great food all the time! he eventually moved up to the big city because i’m awesome, and he couldn’t live without me. but you know what? he’s not a big city guy. it just wasn’t his gig. we compromised on a smaller city and have had a lovely life together. the thing is though? he encouraged me to fly.

    he might be a nice guy, but that doesn’t necessarily make him the right nice guy.

  16. It sounds to me like the LW is already starting to feel resentful of her(?) boyfriend. Nobody describes a relationship as awesome and believes it but then launches into a list of After All I’ve Done For You.

    I’m not saying this to make the LW sound like a terrible terrible person – I would feel the same and I think most people would. But I’d lay money that even if the LW’s mind isn’t completely made up, her heart is. LW, go to LA.

  17. All I can picture is that scene in Anchorman where Veronica Corningstone is like “You KNEW I wanted to be an anchor!” and Ron Burgundy says “I thought that was a joke! I even wrote it in my diary – ‘Veronica made a very funny joke today’!”

    Anchorman is your for-real relationship. Think about that for a moment, and then go to L.A.

    1. Agreed. If your life starts to resemble Anchorman in any way, change direction. (Unless you find yourself in a newscaster fight with Paul Rudd. Then definitely stay the course.)

  18. I’ll join the chorus in saying follow your ambition, your dream, the course you’ve charted for yourself and earned. You’re young, the world is wide open, and now is the time to be exploring, adventuring, sinking your teeth into life so that you have a lifetime of anecdotes to regale friends and strangers evermore. All of that could happen staying in home town with boy, if that is the story you want to live (I’m not trying to say that exotic travel is necessary for adventure), but it sounds like it isn’t. So chase the story you want to live.

    I used to be a wildland firefighter. I loved that work. After 4 years, I left the hotshot crew to go to graduate school with the idea of becoming a Fire Management Officer. I returned to the Midwest for my schooling to reconnect with family after a decade away and to learn Midwest fire business. I had this plan to experience fire in every region of North America, because they’re all different and to get experience in every branch of the fire business. The summer after my first year of grad school, I had lined up a job on a helitack crew back west. I needed the aviation experience, plus I was so homesick for the fire line.

    But then I got a last-minute offer for research support, which meant staying in the Midwest. I thought I should probably get serious about graduate school and so take the money. Then there was my partner. We met on a fire in my last fire season. He was on the medical team. We started dating. And when I moved to the Midwest, he wanted to join me. I had already tried to break up with him once. But I had never been in a real relationship, so I thought I should not give up so easy and try to make it work. So he moved with me and we moved in together, far sooner than we would have otherwise (if ever). After all, it’s a little silly to move across the country together and then get separate apartments. And he was so jealous of my returning to the fire line while he stayed home. Plus he never really adjusted to losing his social network, so he clung to me all the tighter. I wasn’t sure how he’d function on his own in a strange town by himself. I didn’t follow the advice to follow my heart. I made what seemed to be the most rational and safe decision and turned down the helitack job.

    I never went back to the fire business. Six years later, I finally acknowledged that I was in an abusive relationship and broke up a second time, finally making it stick. My life has gone in new directions that I never could have predicted. I learned some very valuable lessons from that relationship and the jobs I found right here, there were also some real benefits. I am happy with my current life, but I always have to wonder what would have happened if I had taken that job and followed my original career plan.

    Your partner should be your cheerleader, your biggest fan, your reliable support. Even if zie doesn’t share your passion, zie needs to respect it. Love, trust, respect. How can you have a healthy, sustainable relationship without all three of these? Please don’t settle for anything less. Expect more.

  19. Never settle for someone who doesn’t support your dreams. If you give up your dreams, you die. All be it slowly.

    There is someone in LA or down the road in your life who you don’t even know yet who is perfect for you!!!

    If you give up your dreams for him, what else is he going to ask you to give up?

    Marriage is so very hard, even when two people agree on the basics. You wouldn’t be sharing a life, you’d be renting a space in his life.

    Painful now, yes. But you’d have a life full of pain if you gave up your dreams.

  20. Go to LA!

    I had a string of relationships where the people I dated wanted me to stay with them in the city in which I lived. It was okay, I guess. I figured I could be a teacher instead of doing grad school and getting a PhD, and that would be good enough, but in the back of my mind, it never felt satisfying. I thought that was just me being selfish and needing to learn to compromise, so I tried to stuff it down.

    And then I met Filming. We were friends and hung out and talked a bit, and he mentioned that he was in school and was planning on getting his PhD in Film Studies and being a professor. Before I knew what I was saying, I had blurted out, “ME TOO!” and was talking about everything I wanted to do and the grad schools I was looking at, and how I was so excited to continue beyond university. It was the first time I had ever felt a connection like that, or even known that such a connection was possible.

    I am marrying that man.

    Right now he is halfway across the country, doing grad school while I finish my undergrad degree (triple majors suuuuck). The long distance relationship is hard, but we are both SO HAPPY that the other person is pursuing their dreams. I cannot imagine a relationship where one of us gave up or compromised our dreams for the other.

    Break up with your boyfriend. Go to LA. You will meet someone who is wonderful and amazing and is 1000% on board with your dreams. And it will blow your goddamn mind.

  21. I am thirty-seconding the MOVE TO LA.

    True story:
    I had a brain snap one day, came home and told Husband I wanted to move to across the country when our lease ended – in 6 weeks. He was like “I…what? But…logistics! How…money! We…jobs! Wow. Alright then!”

    This is an extreme example, but your partner’s response to your dreams shouldn’t be “HAHA! Srsly though, no.” – it should be “This might be tricky. How can I help?”

    And if moving is a dealbreaker for him (and it might be) – the response still shouldn’t be guilting or coercing you into staying. It should be “I’m really going to miss you. Go live your dreams and KICK ASS like the amazing person I know you are.”

  22. Like everyone else, I say you must go to LA. But I want to add that you should break up with your boyfriend right now. Make a clean break of it well before you leave.

    My own experiences color my opinion, of course. My boyfriend was the one who wanted to move to LA, and I was the one who would have preferred to stay close to family. But we were young and in love, so we got married and moved out there together. After 8 years we called it quits. We still wanted different things, and the years only magnified those differences. So to the idea that he should sacrifice for you and go with you, I say please don’t do it.

    Two people can both be good people, and can love each other, but if what you each want out of life is incompatible then your relationship just won’t work in the long run. Better to let go now and free each of you to find new relationships that are compatible.

  23. LW here, (and yes, i am a young woman to those wondering)

    thank you everyone so much for your help and comments. I can’t believe the captain posted so quickly!!

    I think my first step is going to be to see a therapist (for free at my university.. yessss) and they will definitely help me in having the right conversation with my partner.

    @ jiggs – Loved your comment because i have actually anchored the news before at my university station, so i feel like a cross between robin sherbatsky and veronica corningstone!!

    @missprism “But I’d lay money that even if the LW’s mind isn’t completely made up, her heart is. LW, go to LA.” if i had any money, i would tell you that you hit the nail on the head! it’s just going to be extremely difficult to do.

    once again. THANK YOU!! i am definitely a new subscriber/reader/lover of captain awkward.

    captain awkward… you going to Cannes??


    1. Glad this was helpful for you. I won’t be at Cannes. My film was there last year!

    2. Its gonna be difficult no matter if your boyfriend is coming along or not.
      But I think even having tried and failed is better than resenting the fact that you didn’t even take the chance.
      Good luck!

      (and congrats to CA for her film being at Cannes!)

  24. Oh wow, that situation is so almost like mine: I transferred from one school to another (and all of my freshman year credits from my wacky hippie college transferred as “electives” so I was sorta boned but it worked out okay), I moved thousands of miles, etc. (This was ten years ago, for a boy I “met” on the internet.)

    The biggest difference is he NEVER treated my dreams like a joke. We married immediately after graduating from college and he followed me to yet another state so I could go to graduate school. Grad school was a disaster but he’s been there with me at every step. Taking each other and each others’ plans, dreams, ambitions seriously is so important.

  25. This bears repeating:
    “no one who is worth giving up your dreams for would ever ask you to.”

    Good luck, LW, it sounds like you are on the right path to fulfill your dreams.

  26. Ha! When I started reading this I actually thought it was a letter I wrote to the captain not too long ago.

    I moved to LA last September with romantic thoughts of my partner of five and a half years coming out to join me. For six months he told me that he was applying to jobs and needed to save more money before moving out. Whenever I called him he was just on his way out to drink with his buddies or going to a concert or other non-money-saving activities. And when he started posting his long term plans in Illinois on Facebook I realized that he wasn’t planning on coming out to me, but on me failing and moving back home.

    So, we fought and I got the “You should have waited until I was ready” speech. But you know what?

    There is no ready.

    It sucks trying to make it out here. I eat rice every day because it’s all I can afford and for fun I go hiking because it’s free. Rejection is constant and you need all the support you can get just to keep your spirits up. And he told me how selfish I was and that’s when I knew that we only really loved each other for the person that each of us wanted the other to be. So I broke it off. Cried a little. Then remembered where I was on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs so I got back to work and have been so busy I barely even think about it. I feel like a weight has been lifted and that so many more life paths have opened up. AND with all this rice and hiking my ass has NEVER looked so good.

    I do wish I had come to this realization sooner and broken it off while I was still in Illinois. After five and a half years our relationship deserved better than a fight-over-the-phone break up. If you want to show respect for your relationship, end it with dignity in person while you still can. It’s tough, but you’ve got a whole lot of tough waiting for you out here.

    LA is full of people who left something good behind because they knew THEY could be better.


  27. Oog…

    1) “Awesome” relationship that does not sound remotely awesome at any point in the letter.
    2) One breakup-and-reconciliation cycle already in the can.
    3) Boy’s “lack of effort” cited as the main reason for the breakup. (Heads up: This issue is not likely to go away. Stay with him, and you will end up constantly prodding him and nagging him and feeling like a bitch for it. Trust me. I’ve been there.)
    4) LW has already moved once for the boy, sacrificing friends and college credits.
    5) Boy treats LW’s professional and artistic ambitions as a joke.
    6) Boy is now forcing LW to choose between him and everything else she wants out of life.
    7) Her dream? To move across the country and pursue a glamorous, creative, demanding career. His dream? To live next door to his parents OH GOD NO RUN RUN RUN

    Putting aside all judgement of the boy, it does not sound like you are compatible people. You want fundamentally different things out of life.

    I can’t stand LA, and I’m still rooting for you to get the hell out there.

  28. My grandmother was an extremely talented singer who had the opportunity to do professional opera. Her husband couldn’t stand the thought of a wife who was more successful than he was and crushed those hopes, eventually walking out on her and their five children. From that point on, she never had the opportunity to do anything but scrape by after that.

    I’m not saying that your boyfriend is an abusive, alcoholic asshole, but I am saying that you should always be wary of people who are completely unwilling to meet you halfway on the big things. If he doesn’t respect something that is such a fundamental part of you, then can he really respect you fully?

  29. Seriously, go to L.A.!
    I have yet to meet someone who said, “I’m so glad I gave up all my dreams to marry a guy who treats me ok as long as I nag him about it.”
    Follow your dreams and if you hate L.A., go somewhere else. Don’t look back.
    It probably won’t be easy, but it is So Worth It.
    I wouldn’t be the person I am or as happy if I had stayed home with that guy who treated well but not great. There is so much out there, so much more then you have ever dreamed! It will be awesome, pinky promise.

  30. This letter really struck a chord with me because it sounds a lot like a situation I was in a few years ago … but it’s actually very different.

    My situation: My girlfriend was very home/family oriented, did not like big cities, and had strong attachments to place. Our relationship was serious. I was an anthropology student, seriously considering spending 1-2 years in a foreign country where I would likely need to go by myself or with a VERY willing partner. Later, I switched paths, but the new path meant moving to a big city to get important career experience. In both cases, my girlfriend was very clear about not wanting to live apart for 2 years/move to another country/live in a big city. The difference, though? She took my career choices seriously.

    We eventually made an agreement to move to the big city of my choice, but even if she had decided she didn’t want to move with me, the important thing was that she never laughed at me. She never doubted by capability or my resolve. She accepted that being in a relationship with me meant being in a relationship with my passions, interests, and career choices, and that those were mine to make. We’re married now because she took me seriously and because she made a decision (hers to make!) to move with me. If either one of those things were not true, we would likely not be together.

    LW, I’m sorry, but your boyfriend is not my then-girlfriend. If you are strongly career driven, issues like this may come up again with future partners. Someday, you’ll find a person who both respects (and celebrates!) your career choices and is willing to live with them. Until then, don’t compromise. Choose yourself.

    P.S. I’m worried that you’ll think choosing yourself is too selfish. The thing is, when you’re in a relationship that’s right for you, choosing yourself and choosing your relationship aren’t mutually exclusive. In my case, we made an agreement not to stay in this city indefinitely. I don’t want to live here forever either, but my partner made that agreement a requirement for moving here in the first place, and that was fine with me. Compromise and negotiation are important, but not if “compromise” means “giving up your dreams” — especially not for someone who doesn’t respect those dreams. If choosing yourself and choosing your relationship are mutually exclusive, that’s your cue to leave.

  31. It sounds as if you guys have vastly different energy drives/ approaches to pursuing goals/ priorities.

    If you didn’t break up over this? I get the feeling it’d be something else, eventually. There seems to be a incompatibility inherent in the fact that you’re a go-getter and he’s fine staying in the home town. Nothing wrong with either approach, mind, but it seems like something that will cause clashes over and over.

    (I say this as one of those homestead-stayers. I wouldn’t have the energy to keep up with a go-getter, but I wouldn’t see holding them back because of it as fair. Sounds like it’s time to let each other go.)

  32. Will go back and read comments in a minute, but


    That was Captain Awesome advice.

    I met a great guy in grad school — I was head over heels the first time I met him, and we had a good thing going for two years. When we got together, we talked about how neither of us really wanted to stay where we were in school on the west coast. He wanted to go back to the midwest or the east coast, and I wanted to go to New England, but mostly we both wanted to take the best job we each could get out of school We agreed that that was likely to mean we’d part ways at that time, but as we fell, we both sort of hope it would all sork out.

    Well, I graduated first into a crappy recession job market (not 2008, one before that) and after rejection after rejection after rejection, I got one of those great opportunities that you can’t believe is happening to you, in a place no one has ever dreamed of living. He was immediately a downer, saying there was no way he could get a job there. He made a half-assed attempt to get a job in a nearby town, but then did exactly what we’d both said we would do and I had already done, and took the best job he had on offer.

    We tried long distance, but in the honesty of retrospect, we were done the instant he couldn’t even bother to fake happiness and congratulations when I got that job. It was easy for him to support my dreams only when they didn’t impact his life. And that lack of equality just isn’t how I want to live my life.

    Move to LA. Live your life. Choose yourself first.

  33. Giving up your dreams is giving up yourself. There are too many people out there that have done this.
    Chase your dreams, be yourself, and don’t look back.

    My ex-husband also thought my life path was a joke, also an artistic pursuit, he was emotionally abusive, and did frequently want me to be a small, compact, simplistic person. But I am none of those things, and I don’t think that you are either.

    Never be with a person who wants to clip your wings.

  34. Oooh, this was me. Except I was saying;

    “I’m sailing around the world. I can’t drop everything and be with you because I have this dream, and I’m doing it.”

    and he was saying “That’s wonderful, that’s amazing, go do it, I’ll be here… why is it going to take so long? Why aren’t you with me now? Every time you talk about this, you give it more time and me less? When will your dream be over and when will you come and come live -my- dream with me?”

    And his dreams were great dreams too, but ours were 100% incompatible, and so we ended it over burritos and he is still my very best friend because now our dreams aren’t tripping over each other.

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