Group Therapy is a relationship advice column that asks readers to contribute their wisdom.
A reader writes: We're in our late 20s, together five years since meeting while working on overseas contracts. I left when mine was up, while my boyfriend stayed on to finish his. Then, over my objections, he signed up for two more years. So I moved back to a country I don't like, to be with him. I recently got a better job offer elsewhere. I took it, but he wants to continue in his job yet another year. Should I be patient? Or just give up?
Take the job. You've made enough sacrifices for this guy. But, on the other hand, if he has a good thing going then who are you to make him quit? You're both young, you don't have a family and you didn't mention wanting to settle down. This is the time to pursue career interests; work at making long-distance work for now and you'll likely be together again one day.
– Phil Stephens, Brantford, Ont.
Put yourself first
1. Your boyfriend made a decision as to what he wanted to do over your objections; and 2. You changed your plans to be with him and seem to resent doing so. I would tell my own daughter, 20, that she should do what's right for her. Unless he is "the one," I wouldn't be making career decisions based on a guy who is clearly making decisions for only himself.
– Heather Smith, Ottawa
Time to pack it in
You returned home, he renewed his contract for two more years. You went back then decided to leave again, he wants to renew for another year. You have each clearly answered your question. Twice. Your relationship may be genuinely important to him but not as important as his employment contracts. And it goes both ways: Being somewhere other than that country must be more important to you than your relationship. Recognize that reality, part amicably and move on with your lives.
– David Church, Toronto
The final word
Often in relationships, jobs keep us apart for certain lengths of time. When I first got married, I desperately wanted to work as a journalist in a small town so I convinced my husband, a physician, to move to La Ronge, a small town seven hours north of Regina. But then I got a great job offer in Toronto and promptly left to take it. He had to stay behind to finish his contractual obligations.
The question for me is, are both partners willing to make sacrifices at different times in their careers for the benefit of the other? I agree with Phil: You're both young now and don't have any children to consider. But once school-age kids enter the picture, moving for work becomes disruptive. Asking a teenager to move schools is like asking Lady Gaga to wear a burka. Both will be very unhappy.
Heather has a good point. Your boyfriend seems not to be taking your feelings into consideration when it comes to work. We can only judge people in our lives by their previous behaviour. As David says, it seems he's put his career before his relationship. If he does return home, and North Korea offers him a contract to build their tourism industry, will he go? Weirder things have happened.
If you want to continue with this man, you have to decide whether you'll always be the one sacrificing your career for his. Think of this scenario: You two get married, and you both get great job offers. You'll more than likely be the one who will be moving, given his track record. If that bothers you, then think hard about this relationship.
As for us, the Ontario government ended our nomadic existence by passing a piece of legislation making it impossible for my husband to work in the province. We moved to Saskatchewan. Permanently.
Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Next week's question
A reader writes: My boyfriend is an awesome guy whom I feel incredibly lucky to have. But now that we are discussing marriage, he says it's important to him that I take his family name. I have always considered this practice anti-feminist, not to mention unnecessary. How do I talk some sense into him?
Let's hear from you
If you would like to participate, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions are published anonymously, but we will include your name and community if we use your response (it will be edited)