Have you ever relocated for a relationship?
The first time, I followed my future-ex-husband from San Antonio to Atlanta. I left behind family, friends and school to move to unseen apartment in a city that I had never even visited. Even with all of the sacrifice, I never considered not making the move. At that point, being with my fiance was more important than anything else.
What can I say, you live and you learn.
The next time was slightly different. After the divorce, I was ready to launch myself out of Atlanta like a pilot jettisoning from a crashing plane. I had my sights and my intention focused on Seattle. And then I met my future husband (and later his dog, Tiger) and made the decision to stay put in the area for at least a year.
But I still had to move, even though it was only towards the western end of town instead of the west coast. This time, I was able to become comfortable with my new surroundings, pick out my own apartment and find a job in the area all before I took the plunge.
Yet even with all of that preparation, it was still sometimes a struggle. Because when you relocate for a relationship, you inevitably are making some trade-offs. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if the exchanges are worth it (and many time they are). But make sure you carefully consider these factors before you take the plunge:
Is this a location where you would choose to live in spite of your partner?
The place where you live has an enormous impact on your overall well-being and happiness. No matter how in love you are, if you hate your city every day, you’ll become miserable. If the draw of the relationship is too great to ignore, can you find a way to make the location more palatable? Maybe a certain neighborhood is more pleasing or the perfect home outweighs the negatives of the rest of the environment. My mom ended up in landlocked San Antonio and she cursed the lack of water until she installed a small backyard pool.
If you and your partner break up, will (or even can you) stay in this location?
At one point, my now-ex and I were looking into the possibility of relocating to California. I remember feeling a strangle little pull in the pit of my stomach when I realized that there was no chance of being able to ever afford to live there on my own salary (and this was when I thought the marriage was healthy). It’s good to have the outline of a “what if” plan sketched out before you invest the time and money into moving.
Do you have your own social group in the location? If not, what will you do to build your own connections?
When one half of a couple relocates for the other, it can easily create a situation where the newly-moved is completely dependent upon the other for their social and emotional needs. If you don’t already have friends or family in the location, what can you put in place immediately to start to grow new friendships. Also, how will you keep in touch with established friends as you nurture these new relationships? Try to have more than one possible source for friendships at the ready in case one proves to be a bust.
Are you giving up status at work or credits at school in order to move? How will that impact you down the road?
When I moved to Atlanta, I basically lost over two years of college credits. Then, when my ex lost his job, I was forced to make some difficult decisions about my planned degree. At the time, I was okay with the decision, yet I’m not sure that I would make the same one again. Be very careful about your professional or earning potential losses with a relocation. The impact of those can be quite large and irreversible. It may make sense to delay to move for a time or to work to find a creative solution.
What will your living situation be like? Are you starting fresh together or moving into their established space?
Moving into someone else’s space is difficult. Even once all of your clothes are in the closet and your pictures are on the wall, you can still feel more like a guest than a permanent resident. Beyond that, how will your space differ from that which you’re accustomed to? Are you moving from the suburbs to a small city apartment or having to deal with the lack of public transit for the first time? Do your research, ask questions and read this for more advice on how to move in together.
Do you have children? How will they be impacted by the move? How will their relationship with their other parent be affected?
Will your kids have to change schools? Based upon their ages and temperaments, do anticipate this will be relatively easy for them or especially traumatic? Will they have to share a bedroom for the first time or adjust to a change in available activities? What can you put in place ahead of time to create a niche for them to slide into? If you’re moving away from their other parent (and this parent is involved), plan ahead for ways that your kids can maintain contact. Adult friendships can be sustained with minimal and/or infrequent meaningful contact. Kids’ relationships with their parents cannot.
Does your partner frequently expect you to be the one who makes sacrifices or is this generally an equitable relationship?
This is a biggie. Maybe in this case, it makes sense for you to be the one uprooted. But if the tables were turned, would your partner relocate for you? Outside of the move, is your partner willing to compromise their own desires sometimes for the betterment of the relationship? I know that I would never move for somebody that wouldn’t also move for me.
So how about you?
Have you moved for love (or for what you thought was love at the time)?
Do you have any regrets?
Did you experience any triumphs?
Do you have any lessons to share?