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Dr. Susan vs. Dr. Laura: Should I follow my boyfriend’s job?

Deborah is 21 years old, in love with her boyfriend of six months. He got a great opportunity at work (but he has to relocate), and has said that he doesn’t think they will work out if she doesn’t move with him. This is taken from Dr. Laura’s “Call of the Day” page.

Dr. Laura
Dr. Laura: living a life made possible by feminism, and then bitching about feminists.

Dr. Laura: Say goodbye. Say goodbye.

Deborah: For real?

Dr. Laura: Yes, come on. First of all, you don’t give up your life knowing a guy for six months. That’s silly. You don’t really get to know him until after about two years. Takes that amount of time to see how a man functions in many different circumstances, and with your family and friends and when problems arise and illnesses and stuff, it takes a long time to know somebody well enough to think, “this is a wise choice.” But any woman who goes traipsing after a guy immediately loses his respect.

Deborah: Right.

Dr. Laura: Good luck. He should definitely take the job.

Deborah: Now he’s going back on his word and saying that he’s sorry, and that he loves me, and that he would choose me over the job because there will be other opportunities.

Dr. Laura: Tell him not to do that, he shouldn’t be choosing you over the job at 21.

Deborah: Right. This sucks. Yeah. I should say goodbye to him.

Dr. Laura: You know how many boyfriends I can remember that I said, “I think this is the one?” I would have been married ten times. It’s just part of being your age. We’ve all been there, and one day you’re going to say to some young woman you’ve been there.

Truth be told, I was expecting this to be slut-shamey, but it bothered me for entirely different reasons. The woman is looking for advice, and Dr. Laura’s advice is “don’t trust yourself.”

I agree that getting married at 21 can set a couple up for difficulties. But Deborah isn’t looking to get pregnant, she isn’t even talking about getting married – she’s looking at relocation. Relocation is a big deal. But it’s a reversible deal, and if it turns out to be a mistake, it will be a great lesson for Deborah and there may be a world of opportunities and adventure for her once she moves.

The worst thing that will happen if she moves is that things don’t work out with her boyfriend, and she is out a lot of money, a lot of effort, and potentially will have no place to return to, and no chance to fix things. That will suck. The best thing that will happen is that her trust in her relationship is on point, and she lives happily ever after.

The worst thing that will happen if she doesn’t is that she will spend the rest of her life thinking about what might have been. The best thing that will happen if she doesn’t is…

I’m not sure.

Heartbreak and the satisfaction of a job well done?

My advice is to go. Before she goes, though, she should have a safety net in place in case it doesn’t work out. She should apply for and find a job before she follows her boyfriend, and she should leave things on good terms with friends or family in case she has to move back in the middle of the night and has nowhere to stay. She should research things to do in the area, book clubs, cooking classes, church (if that’s her thing), any sort of group activity that will help her to start making friends.

Lots of people get married at 21 and later divorce. Lots of people get married at 21 and stay together forever. If Deborah has faith in this relationship, she doesn’t have to jump at the first sign of a potential bump in the road. Just because Dr. Laura wanted to marry a billion guys when she was 21 doesn’t mean that Deborah is making the same mistakes; even if she is making the same mistakes, she should be allowed to make them. If she doesn’t learn for herself, she will never really know for sure.

By Susan

I am old and wise. Perhaps more old than wise, but once you're old, you don't give a shit about details anymore.

18 replies on “Dr. Susan vs. Dr. Laura: Should I follow my boyfriend’s job?”

I don’t think her age should have anything to do with this, or the length of their relationship for that matter. Twenty-one is exactly when lots and lots of young people all of a sudden face the huge change of…graduating college, moving to a new or different city, looking for full-time work or an internship, starting graduate school, etc. Would she really be doing something THAT much different than most of her age-peers? Nope. She’d just be doing it with a slightly different catalyst than them. Big fucking deal.

I think I am overly sensitive to letting people make their own mistakes – probably because my 2-year-old is an anxious kid, and I am always having to say “you can do this by yourself” so that she will try to climb the play equipment, float in the pool, etc.  Two years old and 21 are very different, obvs.

A couple of people have had similar sentiments to this, but it seems like the dude is just being honest about his needs. He wants her to go with him. At first it sounds like an ultimatum, but then when she said no, he didn’t say they had to break up. Quite the opposite — he was ready to turn down the awesome job offer to stay with her instead. What this says to me is that he’s the type of person who doesn’t think he can handle a long distance relationship. And that’s ok! LDRs are hard, and not everyone or every relationship can take that kind of stress. I’ve been in two of them before — one ended disastrously, and the other ended in my marriage. I would rather have a partner who knows his limitations and is honest about them end a relationship instead of trying to drag out something long and horrible that will only be more painful in the long run.

Heyo, 23 and I just did exactly this. I was prepared to get out here and then look for work, but a great job fell out of the sky before we had to leave and so now we’re both here and starting great full-time jobs in a couple of weeks.

Things around here are so different from my hometown and the surrounding area and even though I’m scared shitless, the things I didn’t do would weigh on me more if I were still safe at home in my parents’ basement.

Hmn, I’m somewhat annoyed by Dr. Laura’s points about age. People do things at different times of life, and assuming they’re an adult, it’s not up to anyone else to declare them unable of making a decision themselves, whether that’s to marry or to move. My greater concern about Dr. Laura’s “advice” is that she has said nothing of the caller’s own doubts getting to a point where she felt the need to contact a complete stranger for help. That alone suggests this isn’t perhaps the right direction for her. That doesn’t mean moving to follow a partner at a young age is an inherently bad thing.

Yes – and her tone of voice (which you obviously can’t hear by the text) is REALLY condescending and grating.  Lots of 21 year olds aren’t ready for big changes.  Some are.  Some 50 year olds aren’t ready for big changes.

I am going to have to go with Dr. Laura on this one.  Twenty-one is way too young to be  traipsing off  behind your boyfriend.  By the time you are 27, you will be a completely different person.  The one person I know who got married right after college, is now divorced.  At 21, I was begging for a ring from my college sweetheart.  He gave me one…6 years later.  Turns out we weren’t meant to be together as I met someone else and am happily married for 7 years now.  If he does’t think long distance will work, then maybe he is not worth the effort.  Plus, have you heard that there is a job shortage in this country? Work is no longer readily available and if you are gainfully employed,, I suggest you keep it that way.  Just  don’t let a boy  come before your own dreams, career, aspirations and goals.  I honestly believe that if you are meant to be together, it will work out.

Best of luck,

January

Oh – I agree 100% that quitting a job and moving for a relationship is iffy, but the caller didn’t seem to be losing anything by moving (although maybe she would be, it just wasn’t clear).  It didn’t seem like she was putting aside her aspirations to go with him, just changing things up.

That said, 21 IS young to make big choices.  But I think 27-year-olds who have made big choices and failed, or made big choices and succeeded (as long as they aren’t irreversible) when they were 21 are wiser and more grounded.

Not to mention, she’s 21! Is moving for a guy — especially when you’re young, especially when you haven’t been together long — a great idea? Probably not. But if ever there were a time in life to pack up your shit and move somewhere new, 21 is it. I mean, if you’re going to relocate your life, doing it before you’re settled into the middle of your career, before you’re stuck with a mortgage, before you have kids to try to transplant is going to be a lot easier.

She doesn’t say anything about not wanting to leave a promising job, or feeling conflicted about leaving her family behind. Her only concern is the reason she’s leaving. His ultimatum is kind of gross, but maybe he’s being honest about himself and his needs in a relationship. That’s good to know 6 months in. If she’s hesitant because she doesn’t feel great about the dude, that’s probably a bad sign. But if she’s just concerned about “should I do this for a dude, shouldn’t I be doing things for myself?” then she should probably figure out what she wants. What’s keeping her there where she is, what might be ahead of her in the new place. Just because you move together doesn’t mean you’ve got to stay together forever. 21 is young enough to go off and try a new place on for size if it’s something you think you want to do.

I think there’s a part of me that romaticizes this – that thinks “wow, to be 21 and be able to just go anywhere” – for all the reasons you said.  It could be a terrible idea, but it could also lead to big changes and adventures.

I’m on the fence when it comes to this one.  Sure, he should take the job, but they should see how everything goes with it while he’s down there.  Then, if the relationship is good enough and he is established at this job, and if she has a job lined up down there for herself, she should go.  But she still needs to have that safety net just in case.  Sometimes risks are worth it, but you also need that Plan B.

For once, and I hate saying this, but I (whisper) agree with Dr. Laura. Ugh. At least it probably won’t happen again. Here’s a guy who attempted to give his girlfriend a guilt trip/ultimatum based solely on his needs (Red Flag #1). Then, when he’s taken at face value for his ‘bluff,’ he back-peddles and loses his sense of self (Red Flag #2). They’ve only been dating for six months, so if the relationship has potential, why can’t it survive working from a distance until she has time to evaluate moving on her own terms versus having an either/or martyr situation? Unless he goes, she stays, and they go from there, there’s just too much potential for resentment and what-ifitis. I know it might be easier to pack up and go at her age, but who knows what she’d be giving up and what sort of power imbalance that would create between them (and it seems that with these all-or-nothing tactics already in play, the power dynamic may be a bit unhealthy)? If they’re not able to communicate effectively so that they’re each compromising and each getting something, the relationship is probably not solid enough to consider giving up everything yet; so maybe they need to reflect more on why they don’t think that they’d work from a distance, and go from there.

I agree about the red flags, and I don’t think Dr. Laura’s advice is AWFUL, just not the advice that I would give.

You make a very good point about “if it is a strong relationship it will work out from afar.”  Then again, I married my husband because the choice was get married or move across the world from each other, and we both knew that wouldn’t work.  And here we are!  Still married.

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