I have two friends who both think they’ve found “the one.” They don’t know each other. They’re ten years apart in age. Both of them, though, are in the same situation: their intended wants them to pack up everything and move to their dream city with them. Should they?
Should a woman move to be with her man?
Should a man move to be with his woman?
It’s interesting to put the question this way, because obviously there can be no right answer, and this is even more clear when it’s not a straight couple.
(How do polyamorous people decide where to live??)
My situation was much easier to resolve, at least on the level of logic. When I met my dream man, I was already living far from my friends and family and I didn’t really care about my job. If I didn’t move to a new city along with him, I had no reason to stay where I was, so where else would I go?
This is a very, very serious question.
Do I have plans of my own, and am I strongly attached to them?
If not, am I using someone else’s plans to provide myself a false sense of clarity and purpose? Am I using their situation as a distraction so I can escape the pressure of designing and choosing something for myself?
I know of another young couple experiencing a crossroads like this. They are young parents, and the mom has been home taking care of baby while the dad finishes his degree. He finds himself shocked and amazed that now she wants her turn to go back to school.
Pro tip: Nobody should be shocked or surprised at anything that anyone chooses to do before age thirty. Young people can’t settle into their final form and thus should not be expected to calcify prematurely.
There are two strategic points to consider when choosing a true love:
Both paths can lead directly to decades of disappointment. That’s the natural result of regarding your partner as an object or accessory, rather than working to connect and get to know them.
I started with the lifestyle. I’m fortunate to be super opinionated and decisive, and I know what I like. For instance, I hate snow, I don’t want a cat because I have a parrot, I won’t date anyone who has a recreational substance habit of any kind, and I’m a homebody. There is no man for whom I would be willing to spend my time hanging out in bars or cleaning out a litter box.
This kind of approach sounds extreme to a lot of people, and I’ve heard plenty of pushback from (single or unhappily married) women my age, and older, and younger. What?? You can’t just say you would never date a smoker!!!
Um, yeah I can? I can do what I want? I wasn’t born to be any one specific person’s love appliance?
Love is only love when it’s freely chosen on all sides.
Basically all I did was to narrow the field. There are at least three billion men in this world. I couldn’t even hear all their names or look at all of their photos in this lifetime. My first job was to eliminate at least two billion, nine hundred million, nine hundred and ninety thousand of them before I even started. (That still leaves at least nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine dudes, and crunching the numbers, if I speed-dated three a day, it would take me nine years just to meet them all).
That’s a complicated way of saying, BE PICKY and make everyone’s life easier!
There were probably four or five men in a ten-mile radius of where I lived who would have been solid, viable candidates for me. Four or five people probably could have kept me interested and happy. That’s actually quite a lot. Why complicate things by giving people a try even when they started out with at least one desire I could never accommodate?
What we’re talking about are non-negotiable lifestyle requirements. We’re talking about zero-sum, this-but-not-that, ‘only one can survive’ types of requirements.
A big one of these was the “I want kids” requirement. I got broken up with at least twice because I can’t have children. Another woman might be heartbroken and utterly devastated by this. I just shrugged because I felt like it was fair. Both of these guys did go on to have a kid, and those are two bright, sweet kids who wouldn’t have existed if I were in the picture.
Maybe one of them will be my dentist or something one day, who knows?
Perhaps because of this, I feel like people have to match on this requirement. It is not fair or realistic to be a “kids necessary” person and try to drag a “no kids please” person over the ditch. Just find someone else who has the same feelings that you do!
I set up housekeeping for myself, determined to learn from my divorce and be fully responsible for myself. I had my own career plans and I managed my own retirement portfolio. I knew it would take a lot for me to ever consider marrying for a second time. Other people can save themselves the bother and expense by simply being clear and specific enough the first time around.
Try to avoid falling for someone whose heart’s desire doesn’t match with yours, okay? It’s so much easier for everyone.
If you’re someone who has to live near your family to be happy, make that clear early on.
If your life’s dream is to pack it all up and live on a sailboat, time to start hanging out by the marina.
If you don’t want to start a family until you finish grad school, maybe buy a fake wedding ring at the pawn shop and avoid that whole thing for a couple years.
I told my husband that I would follow him anywhere if it made sense for his job. He brushed this off, saying it was unlikely that he would ever need to relocate, but a year and a half later, guess what? It made our strategic planning so much easier because we had set those policies in the abstract, when nothing was happening.
You can do the same thing all on your own. Figure out what you want for yourself and start making it happen. If you’re wishing on a particular dream life, that’s the easiest way to meet someone who feels the same way. That way, everyone wins and nobody withers from disappointment.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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