Love is a fantastic thing. We all perform crazy shenanigans for it. Part of the reason we're all willing to sacrifice and change for the one we love is because we trust they will reciprocate. But what if they aren't as wiling as we are? What if they expected you to do the thing they said they wouldn't do for you?
Redditor badum-kshh needed some advice about a situation so she asked... My partner [35M] expects me [28F] to relocate for his career, but won't contemplate doing the same for me... the details....
My partner John [35M] of four years and I [28F] recently moved from a small quiet city on the west coast, where we met and lived together for several years, to a large city on the east coast. We were motivated to do this for a number of reasons - better professional opportunities, proximity to family, but most of all we were ready to try life in a big urban centre again.
We decided about a two years ago we wanted to try to relocate to the east coast, and both started applying on jobs. I had assumed that we'd jump on the first good offer either one of us got. That turned out to be me, but when the time came to make a decision John wasn't comfortable with the idea of being unemployed for an undefined amount of time, and so I passed. We had a big fight about it, but he felt that I had more opportunities that he did in the city we were trying to get to, so we should wait until he got something and I could find another job at that point (he was probably right). A few months later he got a great offer and took it, and we moved about a year ago. I pounded the pavement when we got here, and landed a fantastic job pretty much right away that I love.
Unfortunately, while the whole move worked out great for me, he hasn't been too happy with our new home city, and is struggling in the job. We're contemplating moving back west in another couple years, and started talking tonight about how we might go about that. I feel like I could stay here but John is unhappy, and I know I'm okay living in either place. I expressed that I didn't want what happened last time to happen again - if we were to move back, I wanted an opportunity for either one of us to be able to get us there. This is probably also a good time to mention that we make equal salaries (my earning potential likely higher than his overall); I'm generally more career-motivated; but he has considerably more years of experience than I do (age difference).
The discussion completely blew up. Even though it's John who wants to get back to our old city, he doesn't like the idea of me being the slingshot that takes us both there if I can find a job before he can. He saw his mom be financially vulnerable her whole life, and never wants to be in that position himself - even though I feel we are a committed couple and I'd be more than happy (and financially capable with my salary) to support us both while he finds a new job. He just can't handle the idea of being unemployed -- but has no problem expecting me to follow him back there without a job.
I'm frustrated. He insists he respects my career, and acknowledges that I place more value on my career than he does his. But the hypocrisy is really hard to deal with, especially when I've already been put in the position of relocating without a job in the bag once, and we're considering another cross-country move because he's so miserable with big city life. I know not everything in relationships is perfectly equal and that's okay, and that this is still a hypothetical decision a couple years away, but am I crazy for thinking this is really unfair? We're usually able to talk through conflict, but he can't seem to empathize with me on this, and I feel like we're totally stuck.
My partner and I moved across the country for his job, and we're looking at moving back in a couple years. He will only entertain a move back if he gets a job offer, and isn't comfortable following my career there, even though we're on equal footing salary-wise. I don't know how to move this conversation forward.
Even though this is still a hypothetical conversation for now, and he feels I'm hung up on some "symbolism" of fairness, connecting it with some of the other ways I feel I'm expected to adapt or compromise in our relationship has laid bare some fault lines that we clearly need to deal with.
Location, location.... location...Giphy
A couples counselor can help you have the conversation. He's being very unfair, expecting you to shoulder the entire burden of unemployment and financial dependency. You are supposed to be a team, meaning you share risk.
Btw, is it possible that the reason he's not happy is him, not the big city?
It's completely unfair. And he's clearly so financially insecure he's willing to burn the entire relationship to the ground to avoid it.
This is an issue that requires therapy for him. He basically has a phobia of being unemployed because of his childhood. Unless he processes this trauma, it will continue to negatively impact your relationship.
This is always unrest...
If at age 35 and after 4 years together he cannot make a clear commitment I think it is time for you to seriously reassess this relationship. He is clearly shifting the burden of his issues onto you without working hard on them himself (i.e. Therapy). Don't keep following him around and putting your life on hold and starting over. You deserve a committed partner that wants the best for you too instead of expecting you to continue sacrificing for him. I don't think there will ever be a "settled" feeling for him. You have put so much into this relationship but don't fall into a sunk cost fallacy; you were young when you got together and are still young. It is time to put yourself first.
He has some deep issues to sort out. He will never be comfortable making less than you imo or being umemployed. You are going to have issues with this for a while unless he gets some real help with it.
Commit to the goal...
So he's okay with you being financially vulnerable?
If he claims to love you but has no problem putting you in a position he'd never agree to be in himself... then he has some serious thinking to do about the future of this relationship. What happens if he doesn't like the city you move to (a very strong possibility?) Eventually, with all these moves, potential employers will look at your resume and think you are flaky and unwilling to commit. Is that a risk you are willing to take for someone who, at this time, cannot commit to a serious future with you?
If this is really about his fear of financial abuse, then the clear solution here is that if you two don't get job offers at the same time, you do long-distance for the few months in between. My parents did this exact thing when my mom's job relocated her halfway across the country.
But he should really talk to a therapist or couples counselor about how to handle if he ever has to rely on you as the breadwinner (for at least a short period of time), because it's likely that even if you two never move, he's still going to want to change jobs (or he'll get laid off), and he'll be relying on you for a few months here and there. He needs a plan in place to not take his anxiety about his situation out on you during that time.
You are not being at all unreasonable.
You have already bent over backwards to accommodate his (possibly sexist) double standards. You turned down a good job in the region he wanted to move to anyway because he had to lead and you had to follow. When he was offered a job, you followed him and then pounded the pavement to find a great job for yourself. Now that he's unhappy again, he not only expects you to uproot your life and career to follow him again, but with the expectation that you will only move if it fits his goals, not yours.
I would be really hesitant to be with anyone who treated me with so little respect.
Movin' on up!Giphy
You should move without him, OP. He doesn't get to demand you always put your career on hold so he can be comfortable. If he isn't willing to take the same risks you took for him, he can't be a supportive partner.
You're not his mama...
It's ironic that he sights his mother's financial vulnerability as his excuse, because the reason there's a gap in earning between men and women is precisely because of societal expectations on women to sacrifice their careers for male partners, for children, etc. (plus the fact that pregnancy and breastfeeding means that many women are unable to work during that time). So he's expecting you to do the same kinds of things that probably kept his mother financially vulnerable?
It's HIM... not YOU!!Giphy
Stop, please. Just please, stop.
You're making excuses for everything this person does every step of this post, and you just keep adding and excusing mistakes.
The move shouldn't have been cancelled to let him take a job over you. That was dumb, he wasn't right. Don't defend his reasoning. You made a poor choice doing it his way then.
Then, surprise surprise, the move works great for you and he's having trouble with work and friends. My guess is he was having trouble with work and friends on the west coast. I'm not surprised you have less experience but make similar - I'm sure this crappy attitude in your marriage comes out in his work life.
This isn't just about his mom and being financially vulnerable. It's about him being in control of the relationship. My guess is he resents you professionally and it's affecting how he's interacting with you socially. You need to get to the bottom of his problem and why he won't accept that he can trust you, or you're just going to follow this unhappy, floating man back and forth across the country.
Words are nothing without meaning...
He insists he respects my career, and acknowledges that I place more value on my career than he does his.
He lies. He's saying that to pay lip service to an idea, but the truth is in his actions. He refuses to even move back to a favored location if it's your career prompting it. He refuses to be supported by that career if it ever really comes to that. He doesn't even consider it equal to some theoretical job elsewhere that he doesn't even have. Is any of that respect? Hell no!
The respect for you he speaks is nothing but hot air and empty words.
Let him go... Let him go...Giphy
Because he saw how vulnerable his mom was, he wants to force YOU into that position instead?....Wow he sure loves you a lot, huh? It's not even about "sharing risk," it's about the fact he can empathize with his mother but has difficulty to extend it to you. What is that about? Is it because he finds it harder in general to empathize, or is it because he doesn't care as much about you as others in his close circle?
You keep saying he supports your career because he's ok with you working later. Is that seriously your definition of support? The guy sounds like he is only OK in very specific situations, and would never support your career taking off.
You're only allowed to make more by a small margin, even though you said his potential cap is lower than yours. On top of that, good luck getting promotions when you're jobless one month out of every year and forced to start over.
FYI, not to be a debbie downer, but at a certain age, "ageism" becomes a real thing. You will not continue to be able to bounce back quickly with a new offer lined up each time, and some companies will start to question why you're never committed.
"Partner" is a strange thing to call someone who doesn't see your needs as equal.
He's a massive hypocrite. The fact you ended up refusing an offer because he wasn't comfortable relying on savings or on you for a bit is bad enough, let alone the reality this might happen a second time when you two will be moving back for him. It's he ever going to be able to depend on you for a bit when needed? What if he gets ill? Would he rather move back in with parents than you caring for him? He needs to learn to accept that he's not going to be the full provider all the time and that it's OK to rely on your female partner when needed. I'd be adamant in that you don't end up in a situation like last time and if he can't get over his hang up, let him be alone. He's clearly not willing/able to be an equal part of your team.
You're not his therapist but he needs one! Stat!
I came in here prepared to defend him. My long-term boyfriend and I both work in higher ed, but his job prospects are a lot more limited than mine (fewer jobs/more competitive) and he actually envisions a long-term future in the career, whereas I'm open to something else. So, at some point, we'll probably relocate for his job, and frankly I look forward the idea of a few months off before starting something new.
Then, I read the post. Yikes, OP, he needs to be in therapy. And you need to consider if you think it's a wise idea to forego an income/health insurance/benefits for someone who won't marry you to offer you those legal protections.
There are no Norms!Giphy
Does he have some weird ingrained idea about gender roles? They can be extremely hard for people to shift them and very uncomfortable to be outside of what they consider the 'norm.'
He just can't handle the idea of being unemployed -- but has no problem expecting me to follow him back there without a job.
Why does either of you need to be unemployed during this period? The first one to find a job moves to that city, and the other remains behind in current city until he/she finds a job in the same new city. You guys act like temporary long distance isn't an option.
See ALL the options...
Sounds like you reached a pivotal moment and you need to make some major decisions about what you want out of your life. Even if you breakup with this man and find someone else the same exact thing might come up and these major questions need to be answered up front before you invest years into the relationship.
Your partner knows what he wants. He is looking for a relationship where he is the primary earner and his S/O is going to provide support (No discussion about it, he made it clear). He isn't right or wrong about his decision. This is what he wants out of life and there are lots of people in the world who want this kind of dynamic. If you don't want this kind of relationship then you probably need to start thinking what you do want.
1) What kind of relationship are you looking for? Are you looking for someone to help support you while you work?
2) Do you want children?
3) When you do have a child are you going to keep working?
4) Even if you keep working are you going to be keep working as intensely? Meaning, after a baby comes are you going to be as career oriented or will you be working at 60-80%?
I'm telling you right now that if you have children one of you guys is going to have sacrifice their career a bit. From what I read in your post that would be you (at least in this particular relationship). This isn't wrong or right, it's just how life is. Kids will demand a huge amount of attention and even if you are co-parenting one of you will be parenting more.
Anyway, he does sounds like an ass to me because in a hypothetical situation where if you land your dream job.... he wouldn't move for you, but would immediately expect it from you. Again, this attitude comes from his decision to be a primary earner in a relationship. The annoying part to me is that if you had to move to location X for your dream job... I don't see why he couldn't find a comparable job at the new location. Like it's not like he won't be able to find another job and is ending his career to be a house daddy. Realistically, he will prob find a higher paying job and at worst something like 10-20% less then what he gets paid now. Which would be temporarily.
There are no chains binding you!Giphy
I see in the comments you aren't married. If you were married there would be an established solution to this issue. You both would "own" the risk or reward.
Without being married, this isn't just hypocrisy. It's blatantly valuing his happiness, wealth, etc above yours. There no complexity to this issue. He is drawing a line in the sand and saying he needs you to sacrifice more than him for the relationship to work. Some people are fine with that. I wouldn't be.
To make a real decision, you have to stop talking around the issue. You need to discuss what HE'S willing to give up or take a hit on, if he wants you to take the hits here.
Maybe the compromise is for you both to create a moving fund and put money aside until you have 6 months of one half of your expenses available, so that one can draw from that while the other looks.