Lesson #44: How to Decide to Move Across the Country for Love

by Rachel on October 21, 2010

This week, I got an e-mail from someone in need of boy advice, and, even though we don’t know each other, she thought I might be the person to ask. Why? Well, this boy happens to be in another state. They have been date-cationing and now she’s thinking about moving and wanted to know how I decided to move to Texas to be with Eric after such a short amount of time.

When I read her e-mail, I realized that I never wrote about how I made that decision. It was a conscious choice — part of owning it is not justifying what you do, and I really didn’t feel the need to explain myself. However, this isn’t the first e-mail I’ve gotten about long-distance love, so I thought I’d give you some questions to ask yourself to see if you’re ready to make the move.

1. Does he want you to move? I mean, I’m assuming so, but I do have to ask because there is being delusional and it’s cute, and then there’s just being fucking delusional. So is the guy all for the move? In my case, Eric was for it. Even when we first started talking, the fact that one of us might need to move came up. (Although I was pretty cautious and justified everything I said with “Don’t read into this.” Like, “So when is your lease up? DON’T READ INTO THAT.”)

2. What is the guy’s story? How old is he? What is he looking for in a relationship? Is he balking at becoming FBO? I knew Eric was looking for a serious relationship. I knew because Leah had told me that before she had even thought of introducing us, and also just through everything he said and did. (Um, like referring to me as his future wife in our first G-chat.) So although he doesn’t like to have wedding convos while football is on, he doesn’t mind having them other times and that definitely made me feel better about it. I don’t think I would have moved if he had been AT ALL “you can move if you want to.”

3. What are you giving up if you move? You need to think about what you’re risking. In my case, I didn’t feel like I was risking that much. Eric made me promise I could afford it before I came (and I could…I’m kinda broke now, but I eat, and I’m not wasting money on flights at least) but other than that, there wasn’t a ton of sacrifice on my part. I wasn’t leaving a job I loved, I wasn’t leaving my friends (most of my friends are scattered about the country). I was giving up Fall, though, which has turned out to be pretty hard. But overall, there wasn’t a good reason NOT to go.

4. What do you expect from the move? A huge part of why I moved was because I didn’t want to be in a long-distance relationship; I wanted to be able to just DATE! It was a “speed up to slow down” sort of thing. People were acting like I was going to move down here and get wifed in a month. Umm, no. I moved down here so I could get to know Eric as he is every day, not how he is when we only see each other once a month. And honestly, it’s a little different. Not bad different, but different. But I thought it was really important to know that sooner rather than later. If every date is a date-cation, you’re not getting the whole picture. On date-cation, you will do things have sex three times in a 6-hour time frame. In a short-distance relationship? Uhh…I’ll let you know if that ever happens again.

5. Can you handle change? This is huge. Can you handle being in a new city and the frustrations that come along with it? Even if you aren’t giving up a lot, are you OK with giving up life as you know it? Eric told me that I wasn’t allowed to resent him if I moved, which I think is perfectly fair. If you’re going to scream, “I moved across the country for you!” every time he makes you sleep on the wet spot, you’re going to be very unhappy. Part of owning it is owning that it’s your decision and the other person didn’t make you move. (But please don’t move across the country for someone who makes you sleep on the wet spot.)

6. What can you do to protect yourself? You need to make sure you have an exit strategy before you go. My exit strategy was getting my own apartment and planning to support myself. It was also being really, really blunt and saying to Eric (kind of kidding, kind of not), “Don’t read into this move.” Really though, a move is not a marriage, and if you have your own place and a good job, I don’t consider you being that tied down. So consider the worst-case scenario before you go, and prepare for it, both emotionally and logistically.

7. Can you own it? You have to be able to own it; if you can’t, your big move won’t be nearly as fun because you’ll be caught up in your friends’ and family’s negative opinions. You have to own it — own that you made the choice, own that it might not work out, and make sure people know that you’re telling them, not asking them. I got a lot more support from my friends (and strangers!) that way. Seriously, whenever people ask me what brought me to Texas, I flat-out say, “A guy.” And you’d be surprised how many people start telling me how they (or their sister, or their best friend) did the same thing. And if they have a problem with it, you can always say, “Well, it’s fine if you don’t support my decision. Anyway, how’s your life as a cynical old hag going?”

8. Would you move for a dream job? Probably. So I think it’s OK to move for a dream guy. I don’t know why people think if we move across the country for our careers, we’re ambitious and fearless, but if we do it for a guy, we’re foolish and young. The risks are about the same, and honestly, I think the potential happiness that comes from love is a lot more worth it. But before you moved for a job, you’d do your research and consider the options; as long as you do that, and think about the things above and the worst-case scenario, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

Honestly, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. The week before I flew down here the first time, when Eric and I were up at 2 AM on video chat and he was calling Southwest to get my flight changed to the next day, I knew I wasn’t going to last long in Michigan.

(He’s cute, and moving here was the right thing to do…but I’m still really excited to go home next weekend. There are leaves falling in some parts of the country!? Don’t tease meeeeeeee!)