My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 10 years now. We don't want to get married and that's on me, not him (I'm not sure why everyone always asks). We met during college. I graduated, he didn't. That caused some tension, but we worked through it and it made us a stronger couple.
We lived in the area for an additional year before moving. We moved to a larger city, mostly my choice, because I was a country farm girl who wanted to try it out, and because a city move was best for my career. It wasn't all for me, though. It was closer to his family and only 45 mins away from where we both started. We made it there for one year, when a series of unfortunate events left us both hating it, and then we moved back to where we started.
I was eager to try to move to a new place (I don't think he was), but a year later we moved somewhere far away and tropical. It was the best experience of my life, but he expressed mixed feelings; some days he loved it, other days he had a lot to complain about. Every day we learned new things, we were active together, and it helped a lot of our relationship issues. But after two years and a natural disaster, we had to move back "home" again. My boyfriend finally admitted he didn't love tropical life as much as I did and said that if we did something "crazy" again, we should move somewhere with seasons. I was 100 percent OK with that.
So now here we are, where we started, and I am starting to hate this place. It's a small town and we know a lot of people – I hate that. There isn't a lot to do in the area that doesn't cost something. I am ready to move again. I told him he could pick where. He said picking a random place was a bad idea, so I narrowed it down to a few options. His response: "I want to settle down and get myself a career before I travel recklessly." OK? I am 100 percent in support of him finding a career and us settling down more permanently, but I don't want to do it where we've both been unhappy. (He's not happy either here. We both have some seasonal depression, and there is almost no sun.) My thought is: Since we haven't taken any steps toward this end goal, what difference does it make starting over here vs. elsewhere? What should I do? How do I compromise? At what point is the compromise too high a cost? Am I being entirely unreasonable, which is what he says? I want to work through this together but I don't know how. Please help.
– Stuck in a rut in the Rust Belt
Why does he want to stay put? I can think of a few possible reasons. One is that he isn't as unhappy as you think he is. Sure, it's probably a little stifling in your hometown, but it doesn't sound like he's desperate to leave at all. Maybe he likes living in a place where he knows people. Maybe it does feel like home. Talk to him about what is working for him. You might be surprised.
It's also possible that he needs to breathe a bit before he picks up and moves again. Moving and getting used to a new place can feel like a full-time job, which means he'd have less energy to focus on a career. Also, if transitions don't come naturally to him, he might need to gather his strength and energy – even in a place he doesn't like – so that when he does take the leap, he can do so with enthusiasm. Talk about the timeline.
Or maybe he’s just sick of guessing. Over the next few months, the two of you could research new places, apply for jobs, do in-person visits, and make an educated decision. That might make your next move less stressful – and more permanent.
Tell him you want to make this work. Ask him what would be reasonable.
Readers? What if he wants to stay?