Job vs. girlfriend

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To set the scene, I've been at my new job for almost a year and am really enjoying it. It's been great so far and really feels like the first step on a path to my dream career. I've been with my girlfriend for a little under two years, and she is all I’ve ever wanted and more in a partner. She's sweet, handy around the house, and is very patient and caring (I'm legally blind and she puts in a lot of effort in helping me with various things like driving to work and reading.) The job I have is unconventional and the hours can be all over the place. Most of my hours are on the weekends, often taking up a chunk of time, which has caused me to miss a few events that she and I would have attended.

This past week my employer asked if I would accompany a few others on a business trip. He told me this last-minute, short notice but a great opportunity for me to gain some clout with my superiors. I agreed to go, but when I got home and mentioned it to her, this led to a heated argument, as one of her friends was having a birthday party on Saturday and I was expected to go with her. I didn’t think it would be a big deal if I missed this party, but it apparently was to her, seeing as how I had missed a few events recently. We have been looking for a new apartment lately as well and she insinuated that I was leaving her to handle that herself for a week and that it would be too stressful. When all was said and done, my spot on the business trip was given to someone else and I went to the birthday party. I can't help but feel like I squandered a great opportunity that may never come my way again, and I can’t help wonder if something else did come up, would she get in the way of it again? I just don't think she takes what I do for work very seriously and in turn undervalues it, but I'm doing what I love, and it could lead to great things. If I came down to choosing between the job or the girl, I don't know what I would do. I don't want to lose either, but they may not be able to coexist.

– Working

This letter arrived in my inbox not so long ago. I just want to make the point that it is very weird to read about business trips and parties. The only way my brain can process this is to assume you live somewhere like New Zealand. Let's go with that.

It's time to have a talk with your girlfriend about whether she can be with someone who's building a career like yours. You're not a partner who can promise weekends. You also might have some last-minute obligations. But if you can be around whenever it really counts, and be fully present with her when you're in her company, is that enough for her? For now?

The party seemed to be a test. It didn't sound very important (it's not like you were missing a close friend’s wedding.) You story makes it seem like she wanted to know that if you had to, you'd choose her. That's no way to evaluate a relationship. It'd be better to know what moments are important, the ones you can promise not to miss, ever.

It would also be helpful to talk about the apartment process. What can you do to make her feel less alone? You say she's a big help to you, but how can you be there for her?

Maybe it's just your disappointment talking, but if you're right about your girlfriend not taking your work seriously, this is a bit doomed. This idea that she undervalues what you do ... that's something that can ruin a relationship. You have to figure out whether that's true. You want a partner who loves you at home and at work. That's who you are. Talk to her about all of this – calmly, and when you're not already in conflict – and get some answers about what's really missing.

– Meredith

Readers? Is it one or the other? Is it possible this was more about the apartment hunt?