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Q. I am at a career crossroads, thinking of going back to school. My boyfriend and I have been long-distance for two years, together for four, so naturally I should be looking at schools in his city. I can’t stand his city. I lived with him there before and don’t want to go back, and I have a not-so-good feeling about making this sacrifice for him. But I feel like it would spell the end if I were to choose to go elsewhere when in reality this would be an opportunity for us to be together again. —At A Crossroads
Well, is it that you don’t want it to be the end of your relationship? Or that you feel like you shouldn’t want that? I’m struck that you don’t actually mention how you feel about your boyfriend himself. To weigh whether the armpit-city sacrifice is worth it, we’ve got to know what this relationship is really like: your hopes, your goals, your love for him, his love for you. If you postpone being in the same city together, is there a long-term plan — and a desire — to make it happen eventually? How much of this is that the city is a bad fit for you, and how much is that the fit with your boyfriend is not marvelous enough to make it worth it? What are his thoughts, and what is he willing to sacrifice himself? Be honest with yourself, and each other — only then will the cost-benefit analysis become clearer.
Hoping for a parental thaw
Q. I always imagined that my relationship with my parents would improve once I was an adult. They were never abusive, but they were distant and formal, believing that kids should be seen and not heard, and emotions shouldn’t be expressed. I grew to resent that and basically never shared my life with them. Now that I am in my mid-30s and contemplating having children with my partner, I feel a sadness when I think of the lack of warmth there, and how I can’t really imagine sharing the experience with them. Some of my friends with kids are so close to their parents. Is this something to try for? Or am I setting myself up for failure? —Sad
You really can’t know until you try. Some not-so-fabulous parents find their groove later as grandparents, despite their previous shortcomings (or perhaps because of them). And some beloved, nurturing parents fall surprisingly short as grandparents because they feel they’ve done their time and would rather be on a cruise than sniffing a diaper. There’s a spectrum here, and you won’t know until you see for yourself.
If you’re up for it, you can begin attempting more emotional intimacy with them now — letting them into your daily life more, being more vulnerable with them, finding topics to connect about, even discussing your hopes of children. See what happens, but if they still fall short, remember that there are other ways to build family beyond blood relations.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.
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