2

I've been dating someone. They're still employed, but recently got a job offer for a job that is a 1.5 to 2 hour drive away, which they like more and pays better. We're still living apart. They haven't made up their mind about moving to the new city if they take the job, but probably will.

I told them that it's not the optimal choice, but I would completely understand if they went for it, and that we can make things work if we're both committed. They said (very sweetly) that they really want me to be fully supportive before they're comfortable making the decision, and am a bit hesitant because I'm not fully supportive.

On the one hand I'm genuinely happy that they got this offer and want to try to make things work regardless of their decision. On the other hand I want to be honest that it'll definitely make things harder (especially if I can't get a job in the new city).

How can I be honest and supportive?

6
  • 1
    You may have choose between the two priorities, but why do they say you are half-supportive? Apr 21 '20 at 20:01
  • 1
    How serious is your relationship with them?
    – Rainbacon
    Apr 21 '20 at 20:08
  • @Rainbacon I'd say "quite serious", but because it's hard to define what quite serious means, and I also want the answers to be generalizable to other readers' situations, I'm not sure it is good to go into more details.
    – wwl
    Apr 21 '20 at 20:40
  • @YosefBaskin I'm not exactly sure and will probably ask them but I think it's because of the "its not optimal for me, but..." part.
    – wwl
    Apr 21 '20 at 20:41
  • Have you asked exactly what they mean by "fully supportive"?
    – DaveG
    Apr 21 '20 at 21:37
4

Being supportive does not always mean to say, "Yes, take the job, I love you. I am so happy for you and support you with my whole heart. Go with my blessing and grab while the grabbing's good."

That is actually very superficial and lacks the depth of real understanding and support. In a comment you say to make the answer general, not just for you. So if I were the person who got this great job offer but first wanted your input before I made the decision, I'd want you to bare your soul about how you really feel and what concerns you have regarding it. I'd want you to talk to me at a time when there's nothing else on the agenda and tell me exactly what you said in your last paragraph:

On the one hand, I'm genuinely happy for you that you got this offer because I know how much it means. I want to try to make our relationship work no matter what your decision. [That is what I understand you to be mean by "I want to try to make things work..."] On the other hand, I want to be honest that it'll definitely make things harder (especially if I can't get a job in the new city).

That will put your deepest concerns out there. I will know what I'm working with. I will know that you are being honest and that I can trust you. Knowing I can trust you to be honest is the most important thing for me in a relationship, it feels like the vital foundation on which to build, i.e. a form of support. It will also give me permission to put my deepest concerns on the table.

Two people making a life-altering decision putting both their deepest concerns on the table can feel deeply intimate. Each can see what the other is dealing with, which aids understanding, empathy, and the willingness to compromise.

That is the best way I know to be honest and supportive. I'm not sure if you're interested in further suggestions. A compromise may be for your partner to take the job offer and for you to decide about it later. You say you are not yet living together. While you are apart geographically, you might get clarity on your relationship, and it would also give you time to find a job there while keeping the one you currently have where you are. I'm not sure if that would feel supportive to your partner or not. Everyone is different. It's just a suggestion but it's a suggestion that puts the relationship out there on the table where it belongs so long as you are not sure about it.

I understand your partner is willing for the sake of the relationship to give up a once-in-a-lifetime job offer that leads to a career life goal. If, in the end, you decide the relationship is not what you want, your partner will be short-changed. Thus, if you're not yet sure about it, your partner deserves to know. That is an important part of what honesty is about, at least for me. Maybe others are different. I wish you well.

3

Before my wife and I got married, she had an opportunity to move across the country for a job. She didn't end up taking the job, but she did later tell me that my response was one of the things that helped her know she wanted to marry me when the time came. Here are the things I did:

  • Talk about the opportunity

    • When my wife was looking at the opportunity, I had several conversations with her where I basically hyped up the opportunity for her. I talked about how much happier she would be in the new job and showed her that I was excited by her happiness
  • Put some thought/effort into seeing what you can do to make the change more bearable

    • When you are talking about the opportunity, it's highly likely that the downsides will come up. This is where you can be honest. Talk about how being apart will be hard, but don't just stop there. Continue the conversation to things you can do to alleviate the difficulty. For me this mostly consisted of looking for jobs in her potential new city and talking with her about some of the opportunities I had found. In your case, since the cities are only 2 hours apart, you could also look into moving somewhere in between so that the distance wouldn't be as great

Ultimately, any successful relationship involves making sacrifices for the other person. The best way that you can be supportive of is by showing that you are willing to make some sacrifices for your partner.

1

Being together long distance can be a big test for relationships. I'm sure it feels scary to potentially lose a relationship you feel serious about. In my experience, it becomes very clear whether a relationship is really strong and worthwhile when you have a barrier to overcome.

For myself, my first two semi-serious dating relationships both ended fairly quickly after we ended up in different places. Both times I realized that as much as I cared for them, our relationship wasn't going to withstand long periods of time where we wouldn't see each other.

In contrast, my relationship with my now wife was long distance for about half a year while we each studied abroad, and it only made it more clear that our relationship was going to work out long term because we were both committed to making it work despite the challenges involved.

While I can't tell you what to do exactly, I think it is important to convey some things to them clearly

  • Make sure they know that you are happy for them and their success
  • Reassure them that you care about your relationship
  • Let them know that you are concerned that distance may be hard on that relationship
  • Ask them if they are still interested in pursuing your relationship long distance
  • If they are going to try to make it work, talk through options and ideas of how to make a long distance relationship work (video calls, driving to see each other on days off, etc.)

If you truly want what's best for them and you truly trust them, then in my opinion you should support them in making their own decision about this. If you don't feel supportive then ask yourself why.

Best of luck with this tough situation

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.