I’m a med student who came to SF from France on a fellowship I couldn’t pass up. After a two-year long-distance relationship with the love of my life back home, my boyfriend moved here to be with me. Now his career is taking him to Africa. I love him deeply and would marry him in a minute. But I can’t give up my career, and I don’t want him to give up his. They say “love conquers all,” but we are more practical than that. We are living our life purposes, and if either of us gives that up, I’m afraid the relationship will suffer. It looks like we’re headed for an amicable but painful breakup, and it kills me that I could be giving up the best relationship I’ll ever have. How do I live with the decision? Am I making a huge mistake?" src="/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" alt="">
He Said: You aren’t making a mistake. You are making a decision. And in relationships, decisions come with tradeoffs. You can expect there will be times when you wonder if you made the right choice or even believe you made the wrong one. But you must trust that by taking your best shot at major decisions and then accepting them, you can make a great life.
Life is not a highway: If we take an exit we don’t like, we can’t get off at the next exit and return to where we started. Instead, we are boating on a delta where the water itself is shifting, and there is little sense in trying to fight the current. Often, we can only keep moving and make a new way forward. Do what your heart says, and then go forth confidently.
She Said: Of all the self-help advice I’ve ever read, one of the very best nuggets said, “There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision. There is only Path A, which contains certain lessons and benefits, and Path B, which contains other equally valuable lessons and benefits.” This is not New Age gobbledygook. It’s damn true.
In your case, Path A would entail marrying the love of your life (though honestly, I think we each have a handful of those) and moving your career to Africa or bringing his here to SF. These challenges would be interesting, build character, and make you each stronger—if you choose to let them. Path B means breaking up with a wonderful partner, dedicating yourself to the field you’ve chosen, letting yourself grieve the loss, and then taking new risks in love and dating. You may someday find an even better partner or learn to be happy alone. These challenges would also be character-building and interesting. Go with your gut, and then give it your all.
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