The Washington Post

Carolyn Hax: Boyfriend gets a dream job — in a different city


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

My boyfriend and I have been dating for four years, two long distance. For the past year, we’d had an agreement that he would move to my city when his temporary contract with his dream company was up.

Contract ran out, he got an okay job offer in my town, was offered a job by dream company, and he took the dream job.

I don’t know what to do: Stay with him because we love each other, knowing it means another year of distance and then I have to move? Or realize that he’s made a choice about what matters to him, and walk away?

We’re 24-25, so still getting started in our careers, and knew this was a possibility.

Time to Walk Away?

Take a break and see how you feel.

Or, stay together and see how you feel.

I’m being wishy-washy because I can’t decide for you, and can only suggest you try on both ideas and see how you sleep at night.

There’s also this: If I were your boyfriend, I probably would have taken the better job.

I don’t doubt it hurt you. But not knowing either of you allows me to be pragmatic: Especially at his age, and especially given this job market, the better job is the better bet.

Meanwhile, the chances you and he go the distance after meeting at 20 are so-so at best, while his career has an excellent chance of being at his side 30 years from now. He probably can’t say that to you without blowing up the relationship, but I can.

You can be pragmatic, too. For example, if you want the kind of devotion that moves someone to relocate for you despite dimmer job prospects, then this isn’t your guy.

Or: If you see this as a life partnership, then you can regard the one-year delay in reuniting as a minor inconvenience over the course of a lifetime. You can also weigh the hassle of moving against the value of his “dream” job to your partnership.

Which one applies to you? That depends on what your gut says about your relationship. If you’ve doubted his sincerity, then take a break and see how you fare. If you’ve never doubted him, then stay together and see how you fare.

Either way, talk to him. Your ability to be honest with each other — and yourselves — matters above all else.

One more thing: The “dream job” could be a dead end and the “okay job” an unlikely rocket to fulfillment. Pragmatism is not the same thing as certainty.


We’ve been taking a break while I clear my head, but I think I want to go for it and see how I feel. He says he still believes in our future and wants to be with me, although he understands he’s hurt me. And if I were in his position, I would have made the same choice — 100 percent confident he’d support me and go along with it.

Walk Away again

Last sentence says it all, no? That’s actually the key to getting past so many things with someone: Even if you don’t like what the other person did, can you sympathize with the reason s/he did it?

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Subscribe at



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