Which is more important to you? Money or love?
Would you move to a new city if you got a offered a job for 3x what you’re making now? In a heart beat!!
Would you move to a new state for a partner that you really love? Hmmmm… maybe? What if it doesn’t work out???
Our hesitation to move for love is the most absurd issue facing young couples.
Which is so unfortunate, because it’s a more common problem than ever before. Technology is making it easier to get into and sustain long-distance relationships, thank god, but for some crazy reason we hold onto outdated fears and insecurities that keep us from pursuing love in other places, whether it’s across the country or sometimes even when it’s close to home.
Most people admit that they would move for a great job, or to have more opportunities. Some people move for better tax deals for their business or better real estate values. Some people move to be closer to family or reunite with lifelong friends. But as soon as moving for love becomes an option – they freak out! “What if it doesn’t work out?!”
Of all the reasons to relocate – I can’t think of a better reason than love.
Even short-term love or love that will possibly implode is worth the risk of things “not working out.”
Of course I would never recommend leaving a job and life you love for an unhealthy relationship, but where is that tipping point of justification? Love is never going to be practical and the timing is never going to be just right. If you’re not willing to move for love, what are willing to do for it?
I understand there are tons of logistical issues to weigh. I never said it was an easy situation. I simply believe that it’s one worth giving the benefit of the doubt. Determining whether you’ll have opportunity for career growth or whether you’ll be able to find a group of friends are massively important. And openly talking about your options and insecurities with your partner is important. But you could spend years running logistical questions over and over in your head. I’ve created dozens of pro/con spreadsheets in my mind considering all the possible circumstances that could play out. But you’ll never really know the outcome of any “if ______ happens; then I’ll do _______.” situation until you’re actually in it.
I’ve moved across the country twice for relationships and I only have one regret. The one time I DIDN’T move. I lost one of the best relationships to over-thinking, second-guessing, poor communication and insecurities. That doubt and lack of communication kept us from building a real connection and fear won. Ughhh… I hate having to write that.
Looking back I know I made the right decision – not because I’m glad I stayed, but because I never want to be in a relationship with someone who wouldn’t drop everything and move for or with me; who values possibility more than certainty.
Here’s what I learned from those 3 long-distance relationships:
Is it an excuse or a legitimate concern?
Job security has always been the one legitimate reason for not moving. If both you and your partner have stable jobs that make you feel creative and fulfilled and they pay well, moving is a tough decision to make. But do you know anyone who is in that situation?? Job security is the unicorn of our generation. The idea of not wanting to leave a job because your company is putting money into a 401K and they give you great health insurance doesn’t exist anymore. 401K’s, pensions and social security don’t have the same allure they did before 2008. The idea of job security is complete bullshit. And for 90% of couples, it’s a bullshitty excuse for not moving.
Legitimate concerns might be staying close to your family while they need support. Maybe you are deeply involved in a longterm community building project or maybe you’re halfway through an education you want to finish.
Ask yourself honestly whether your reasons for not moving are legitimate or just excuses to justify your insecurities. If you need help figuring that out – call me.
Start before you’re ready.
There is no good time to move. Your life is an intertwined mess of overlapping responsibilities and happenings. Just go! Soon! It’s easier to keep expectations low when you move for a relationship early. When you draw out the process over many months or years you risk putting too much pressure on the move to repair or perfect any issues in your partnership.
If you hear yourself saying: “If only we were together we wouldn’t fight like this.” or “I just wish you were here to do this.” start planning a real move. You might be walking a thin line. Relationship problems and insecurities aren’t always healed just because you share a bedroom. It usually makes it worse. By moving closer to each other early in a relationship, you put less pressure on your partner for happiness and more on yourself to find a fulfilling job, meet great friends and find a community of your own.
Don’t tie the success of the move to the success of the relationship
Keep a clear mind about what a great relationship feels like in comparison to what a fulfilling life in a new city feels like. Sit with that feeling. Siiiiiit with it. Got it? Good.
My most successful cross-country relationship lasted exactly 5.5 weeks. The relationship crashed and burned almost immediately and left me in Los Angeles, single and in a completely new job. It was fucking awesome. I probably never would have moved out there without a reason (i.e.- someone to bang) but I knew we were taking a chance. It was no big deal when it didn’t work out. It was as messy and upsetting as any breakup, but I didn’t NEED the relationship to succeed in the rest of my life. It was still early in our relationship so I had my own apartment and I had started making my own friends. I had moved for ME not for him, so I didn’t hold onto the relationship longer than necessary. We never equated the success of our relationship and the “success” of the move. I lived in LA for a few years and absolutely adored it, we stayed friends-ish.
Plan for failure
All relationships end, until one doesn’t. We are consumed with trying to control the outcome of our relationships. That is simply not possible. There is no way of knowing when and how our relationships will develop. You can control yourself and how amazing a partner you are, but the rest is a crapshoot.
Planning for the possibility of failure is the best way to keep a relationship in tact if the move doesn’t succeed. But I promise that by ignoring the obvious red flags, and avoiding any difficult conversations you are ensuring the failure of the relationship and probably the move as well.
It is possible that the city you move to doesn’t suit you. Maybe you have a hard time finding a job or making new friends. When you keep the move and the relationship separate you give yourself the room for a failed move, without also destroying your partnership. Have an ongoing conversation about what a successful move looks like for you. Get specific. Maybe financially you know that you have 6 months to find a fulfilling job, or you want to make sure you are capable of keeping in touch with old friends and also making some new ones. If this doesn’t happen plan on potentially moving back, or moving somewhere else together.
Give yourselves some freaking options and take the pressure off the situation. You’ll probably never need a backup plan, but it’s nice to have one just in case.
Let it all fail
Moving for love is a litmus test of success for your relationship. Like spending an afternoon at IKEA or camping as a couple, moving across the country to be together is a stress-test for a relationship. And couples who see it this way, will be able to talk about the potential of failure openly and matter-of-factly. Having realistic expectations about the very probable failure of the “experiment in moving” will allow the situation to crash and burn without taking the rest of the relationship down with it.
But maybe it is the relationship that fails. What are you going to do then?
Our first reaction is to hide from that inevitability. We dodge asking the tough questions and reassure each other that you’re not like other couples. Newsflash: you are exactly like other couples. Instead of avoiding anything that might put strain on your relationship – I think it’s better to thoughtfully and carefully go into these trying situations 100%. Get all of the biggest challenges out of the way so you don’t realize years later your relationship can’t hold up against difficulties.
You don’t need to seek out stress-tests for your relationship, but go into them with the understanding that it will strengthen and reinforce your love or you’ll find out sooner rather than later that it wasn’t meant to last.