Move Again? Are You Kidding?

Dear Robin:

I am a 32 year-old woman living with my boyfriend Chris for 6 years. We are very committed and in love and both have chosen against marriage. 

When we first began dating Chris was finishing law school and I was well into an established career and clientele I built as a hairstylist in New York. We discussed his plans to move to Chicago and I was willing to move after he passed the Illinois bar.

The Chicago legal market was bad.  He found contract work (not enough) but I was supporting us financially which was fine!  He didn’t like the work much either.

Then he was offered a good job in Seattle. We moved again and I began working with a great group of women in a salon there.  After a few months he was disenchanted with his boss and looking for something else and we landed in LA.

I quickly built a thriving business and love it here.  Chris enjoys his work but loathes his boss, who has been described as a tyrant by many.  Although he has been promoted and is doing quite well he doesn’t feel he can go on in that environment.

He wants to relocate again.  I am completely stunned. I have a stable career and business which can’t just be moved to another city.

I truly want him to be happy and have told him that he needs to do whatever it takes to make his life what he wants it to be. So, if there’s another work environment out there that will support his happiness I want him to have it.

How do I make this decision between losing my love or losing my career. Please help!

Cynthia 

Dear Cynthia:

As you can see from reading my version of your letter above, I had to do a massive edit.  Your original email was about three times as long and filled with an odd combination of wringing self-doubt and bold confidence in your new business.

My audience and management team is on my ass to be brief and I let you use up most of the words today, so I’ll sum it up for you nicely in one sentence and then I’ll blather on incessantly for a while.

Your relationship will never be happy until your partner admits law school was probably a mistake, identifies his calling, and seeks it in Los Angeles.

Cynthia, you have been supportive to the point of ridiculousness.  

enough_cat

You are not a military wife who signed up for a life lived out of moving boxes with transient connections both personal and professional.  You are an accomplished businesswoman whose livelihood depends upon local and loyal clientele.

STOP

Stop capitulating.

Stop perseverating over his career satisfaction and happiness and focus more upon your own.

Stop moving.

Stop fooling yourself.

Stop Fooling Myself?

Cynthia, I speak from personal experience when I tell you Chris is not the unlucky fellow he believes himself to be, hopping from shit pile to shit pile and blaming the dog who left it there instead of walking the ample feces-free path before him.

I can barely count on both hands the number of legal jobs I had before finally giving it up almost two years ago to chase this crazy writing gig.  

A professional job-hopper with a penchant for playing the Blame Game, I was sure every job I left, always on the worst of terms, would have been a great fit if it just weren’t for ________________.

Fill in the blank.  

My boss, my co-workers, the company, the commute.  Whatever.

Chris Isn’t a Happy Lawyer.  

Instead of facing the uncomfortable truth he may have wasted three years and $120,000 on law school, Chris is “pulling a geographic” by moving from city to city, job to job, hopping and hoping that this next time things will be different.

They won’t. 

Until Chris does a deep dive on his career goals, what makes him happy and gives him purpose (and what does not), his ennui will follow him everywhere he goes and of course you as well.  

How many times can you pick up and move, Cynthia?  How many client lists will you start over from scratch in an unfamiliar city with no friends to support you?

There Is Another Choice.

Your question to me was posited as one of you having a choice: lose your business or lose your love.  The 5,000 pound gorilla here is that you should have to lose neither and that is not the only choice.

If he loves you and considers you an equal partner, Chris will make his way in your latest adopted city in deference to your success and your prior moves on his behalf.

If he stands firm that you both should move for him, you won’t have to guess at what will happen because your life has been and will continue to be a series of re-runs with the predictability of a Perry Mason episode: always a little different but with the same elements.  

Behold your future:

  • Chris lands new job and you both move with optimism about his latest opportunity;
  • You work your ass off getting a new business together, finding clients, and making friends;
  • After a few months Chris starts to grumble over dinner that his boss is a jerk and the work does not please him;
  • You try your hardest to make him happy at home to dull the pain of his dissatisfaction at work;
  • He grows more unhappy and starts to look for another position (and always in another state – what’s up with that?);
  • He quits his job and you both move;
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.

Advice for Cynthia

Remain where you are and continue your professional development and personal relationships in Los Angeles.   

If Chris wants to make your love a priority he will have to do some work to discover why he keeps failing and moving you both from state to state without anything ever changing.  He will become good friends with the term “personal responsibility” and own up to the role he has played in his rocky career so far.

A few sit-downs with a therapist, both together and apart, may help clarify things for him and for you both as a couple.

Until he sorts out his life do your own thing and the love, whether from Chris or someone new, will follow.

Readers, what do you think?  Sound off in the comments, and please don’t forget to share this with the “sharing” buttons you see below!

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. tamsen

    OK, Chris is a spoiled brat. If law isn’t his true calling then tell him to grow the f*ck up and figure it out. But it sounds to me like he “likes the work” in his latest gig, but once again can’t abide the boss. That sounds to me like “spoiled brat syndrome”. In this world, god forbid, you actually need to suck it up and pay your dues sometimes. That way, you get the experience you need, and the resume you need, to either become your own boss, or (as with Robin) decide that you really don’t like law and want to do something else. I don’t think he as enough experience yet to know whether he does or doesn’t like law.

    Has the guy EVER worked long enough at something he doesn’t like just to pay the bills? Or is he one of those perpetually dissatisfied people who would rather just not work? Or is he one of those who is always better/smarter than the boss and it’s always the boss that’s the problem? I’ve met them all.

    I agree some therapy would be good, but for god’s sake (and I don’t believe in god, but whatever). DON’T move. Los Angeles is a big enough place that he can either find another 25,000 lawyer jobs, or discover his true calling (my guess is it will be sitting on the beach dreaming of being a surfer while his girlfriend supports him and he complains.)

  2. Mark

    The “Geographic Cure” never works. As Robin said, if he has been through that many bosses, and he doesn’t have the gumption to make a go of it on his own, then maybe the law is not his calling after all.

    I’d say go West, young man, but seeing as how you are in Los Angeles now, there ain’t much west left to go. So now it’s your choice to adjust to the cards you are dealt or go off to pursue a different field altogether.

    As for Cynthia, dig in and anchor those tent poles. It’s time that you have a chance to build a business that will thrive….with or without the old man.

  3. JZ

    Chris’s situation is actually pretty similar to mine…similar enough that I’m also looking for therapists to see as I begin my next new job. Fortunately, I’m at least quite happy with my city.

    Great response as always, Robin!

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