Carolyn Hax: A good job offer in ex-girlfriend’s home town: Does it have to be awkward?

Carolyn Hax
Columnist November 14, 2013

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

Yesterday I was offered a good job in the home town of my girlfriend, whom I planned to marry. Our plan was she would follow me there when she could figure out her own career, and live with me while we planned a wedding. Yeah!

Then, last night, she told me she wasn’t sure that she was “all in.” She said she was conflicted by her feelings about me. Long story short: We broke up. Boo!

I’m heartbroken. And I don’t know what the heck to do about this job. I fully expect to be laid off from my own job in the next few months, so I NEED the job. Plus it’s a good job and I’d be excited to do it. But I don’t know anyone in this new city other than my girlfriend’s family. And I’m grieving.


(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

There are also financial issues. I’m way underwater on my mortgage and couldn’t sell my house except at a steep loss. (I could possibly rent it.) Anyway. I’m not even sure I have a question. I just need some clear-headed, I don’t know, guidance, from the Haxster. Any thoughts you have are warmly welcomed. PS: If my girlfriend is reading this, she definitely knows who she is. Baby, I’m not mad, just sad.

What do I do now?

Haxster feels your pain. How big is the girlfriend’s home town — we talking Mayberry or Manhattan? I think anything big enough for you not to risk running into her every time you go out for a beer is probably big enough for the both o’ ya (assuming she still plans to move back).

It would also help if you moved not to her town proper, but to one within a comfortable commuting radius around the new workplace — especially if you could find one that has a nightlife of its own. College town, say.

You’d have to go, though, with the clear understanding — stated to your now-ex — that you would be moving to her town as if you knew no one there, and will not lean on her or her family, and will not entertain hopes of winning her back. This is pure economic necessity.

It’s a setup that’s weird and difficult and will feel more than a little contrived, and will plop you amid reminders of her that will probably make your pain worse before it gets better. But, when you’re looking at layoff + underwater mortgage, the certainty of employment (+ renting your house) comes close to trumping all.

If you squint, maybe it will look like a fresh start?

Now I need you to promise me I didn’t just give you permission to harass this person. You really really really can’t get in touch with her when you get there, or hang out at her favorite spots, or go over to talk to her when you see her outside when you “accidentally” drive by her house. Any and all moves to stay in touch are hers, and if you can’t live by that then moving there is a terrible idea and forget I endorsed it. One pot of bunny soup and all advice is off.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at http://bit.ly/haxpost.

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