‘Do I quit my dream job to be with my boyfriend in France?’

‘The only reasonable options seem to be that I move to France’. Picture: Supplied.

‘The only reasonable options seem to be that I move to France’. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jul 5, 2023


Advice by Elaine Welteroth

Question: Last year, after I graduated college, I accepted a grant to teach in France.

While there, I met and fell in love with a truly wonderful man. I was totally pessimistic about dating as a straight woman.

Every experience I had was agitating at best and emotionally traumatizing at worst.

Then I met him. We fell for each other, and the whole experience restored my faith in love. He is gentle, loving, considerate and really cherishes me.

After a year and a half, my programme ended and I returned to the United States when my visa ran out and I could not extend it.

I ended up applying to jobs in the United States, landed my absolute dream job and moved to New York City.

Although he lives in France, my boyfriend was born in a country that the United States subjects to an extensive visa process, even just to visit.

This has led to a situation where I'm the one who can travel most freely. However, I can only afford to fly to France every six months.

The only reasonable options seem to be that I move to France, which would mean forfeiting a job that has set me on a path to achieving my ultimate dream, or I marry him so he can move to the United States.

I'm only 23, so marriage is not something I would consider right now. The third and most unfortunate option would be to end things. I'm so tortured by this situation.

I'm so in love with him. He supports, respects and adores me in a way I didn't think I would find in a partner!

When we have discussed going our separate ways, we both end up crying so hard that we can't finish the conversation.

What do I do?! I'm so lost.

Because I am undoubtedly the more privileged partner (White whereas he is a person of colour, US citizen while he is not, more economically privileged professional while he is blue collar), I feel that I should utilize that privilege to stay together in the face of all these systems that have complicated what should be very simple: two people who love each other. Help!

- Overwhelmed

Answer: This reads like the plot of a heart wrenching rom com. I'm at the edge of my seat. I don't say that to minimize this dilemma that is, as you say, torturing you.

Instead, let's borrow this movie plot metaphor to help you navigate this. Stepping into the proverbial director's chair of our lives can help us zoom out when big feelings cloud our perspective.

When I don't know what to do, I like to pretend like my life is one of those books with multiple endings. What happens if we play out each of these alternate paths?

Just to recap the options you laid out: A. Move to France to be with him and give up your dream job.

B. Get married (sounds like you are not actually open to this) so he can move to the states.

C. Break up.

But what if there are more options? Try on choices that feel right for you right now and that leave room for the most flexibility, knowing that if your feelings change your choices can too. What is right for you today may be different from what is right for you next year.

I want to be clear about option A: Please do not quit your dream job and risk your entire career for love just yet.

Normally I try to keep my advice age agnostic, but in this case it is very much age-specific. Different seasons of life call for different priorities, and it is my belief that your early 20s are a pivotal time to prioritize growing as an individual.

Making big decisions with other people in mind too early can limit your potential in ways that you may regret or resent later.

Instead, let this challenge drive you both harder toward your goals and fuel a singular focus to save up to get to where you both ultimately want to be together.

In the meantime, how can you both choose yourselves, meaning your individual professional pursuits, and stay together?

Depending on your company's flex work policies, could you explore working remotely part of the year or work toward taking on an international role?

Can you and your partner speak with an immigration attorney to understand your options, even if the end goal is far off? What are all the ways you can stay intimately connected despite the distance in the meantime?

Don't underestimate old school romantic gestures. Written letters. Postcards. Pictures of each other that you keep at your desk or in your car.

My assistant is a 20-something in a long-term and long-distance relationship, and she swears by a bracelet that uses Bluetooth technology to send alerts between partners. No matter where her partner is, with one touch, her bracelet lights up as a reminder that he is thinking of her.

Sweet hacks aside, the reality is long-distance relationships take a lot of work that require both people to be on board and willing to compromise.

Are you both up for that? If so, how long are you willing to do it? Draw up a plan that breaks down into quarterly and yearly goals and be willing to work at it.

Having common goals will help keep the long-term vision of your love alive even when the short-term reality is not ideal.

Be upfront about your dealbreakers and leave nothing open-ended.

Elaine Welteroth is an award-winning journalist, a TV host, the former editor in chief of Teen Vogue and an author.