Tell Me About It: Pair's move must be joint decision

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: I have finished my graduate degree and applied for jobs. Hooray! My problem is that my boyfriend of three years will move only if I go "someplace cool." I understand not wanting to move right away since he owns his place and would need to find a new job. But his declaration has me thinking this is a relationship of convenience for him, which really hurts. Am I missing something?

Answer: You have the two of you in mind as a couple, so you're probably thinking, What happened to "we" and "us" and "Home is wherever I'm with you"?

On the other hand, in a practical sense, can you really expect him to get excited about moving someplace dreary or remote or lacking in something he values?

What's missing here isn't the right phrasing or attitude from him; the omission is a couple of steps back, before you started applying for jobs. That's where two people who are both committed to a relationship talk about the possibilities for your job hunt. You talk about cities that have something to offer you, he weighs the idea of moving there, and together you decide if that's a place you'll apply.

It appears now as if you're both acting as independent agents.

Q: I have tried to get him involved, even before I began applying. He said he didn't want to hold me back, that I should just apply for everything and we'd discuss it when I had an offer. Now I'm doing interviews, so still nothing is decided. I thought then that we weren't on the same page, and this just confirms it.

A: It's OK to come up with the response now that maybe wasn't at your fingertips then, for various reasons. Say you've thought about it, and if you're interviewing in any cities he wouldn't consider, then you'd rather know it now.

If he still declines to engage, then you need to choose a job/city as if you're going alone, because you probably are.


E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.