Continental Drift

8 Jan

Letterbalm Map with PinsDear LetterBalm: My longtime girlfriend stayed behind when I moved cross-country to a new city for a job. We had a long-distance relationship until she made the decision to move here last year. But she isn’t happy. She got a lousy job that doesn’t pay much, and she misses her friends and her family. Understandably, she’s pretty bummed. Even though she’s joined my gym and done some volunteer work, she hasn’t made many friends, and most of my friends are connected with my work. She’s talking about going back home. She’s a great person and I love her, but I also love my job and my town. What do I tell her?

–Torn in Opposite Directions

You put it very well. You are torn between your love for your girlfriend and your love for your new life. Different kinds of love, to be sure, but meaningful love nonetheless. (Our forebears never had to worry about such divided loyalties; people stayed close to home.) Ms. L.B. believes you have some serious thinking to do, and, when you talk with your girlfriend, you must be scrupulously honest and kind. Whatever your decision – to leave with her or stay behind – don’t be ambiguous. It wouldn’t be fair to string her along. Pick a private, quiet moment, take her hands in yours, and say this:

Lindsay, this is painful to say, but I think you know best that you have to go back home. It isn’t right for us and for you here. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I moved here I found my place. You were so awesome to be with me long distance and then to move here. But this city isn’t for you, and you’ve got to do what’s right for you. We’ve meant a lot to each other for so long, and those feelings will never go away. We’ve given it our best shot, and now we both deserve to move on with our lives. It’s going to take me a long time to stop being sad about losing you. Tell me what you need me to do to help you now. And, you know if you ever need anything in the future, all you have to do is ask.

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