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Ambitions put first, can relationship survive?


Giulia

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Hello,

 

Me and my partner are 22, we have been together for 2 years and lived together for 1. We are both away from out home country and studying engineering in one of the top 10 universities in the world.

 

Right now we are in Europe, we study more than 10 hours per day average, we have 1 year left to finish our master degree, then we both want to achieve a PhD.

 

Over the past year, what satisfies me has changed a lot. I always wanted a family one day, but now the idea of waiting until I'm 30something has become not happy at all. I still want to have a PhD and everything, and I'm not thinking of getting married or kids any time before I finish that. But I want to emotionally commit to my partner, I want to stick to him through our future studies until we are ready to start a family together.

 

I really believe this person is the one I want to stick to for my life. I would not want to give this person up for ambitions because I believe it would be reaaaaly hard for me to find anyone else that makes me nearly as happy as him. I know feelings can change, (and that's why I'm not asking for a commitment like a marriage), but I would totally take the risk of sticking to my partner no matter of the external factors such as universities that accept us, for the possibility of then having a future together.

 

My partner says that I'm the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and he doesn't think he could find anyone that makes him as happy as me. He is, though, way more ambitious than me. He's grown up with the idea that he has to achieve something really big in life in terms of career/studies. He wants to apply for the best university in US, take a PhD of average of 6 years, then spend few years building a successful career and only then, past his 30s, start building a family. He says that he would not give up his dreams for any person in the world because he would regret that for the rest of his life.

 

So, this is my situation:

 

-I'm unsatisfied with pure studying as the meaning of my life. I want to feel I'm working towards a good relationship, that what would make me happy.

-My partner dream for the next 10 years implies insecurity in what the relationship will be + for sure no idea of family before our 30s.

-I believe both dreams our understandable, just different.

 

- I'd like to achieve a 3 years PhD, then start working on a family in my late 20s. He'd like to work on a family in his 30s. Even if we stick together through our PhDs, I'd need to wait that late for the dream of a family

- If I want to stick by him for the PhD, I have to go to US therefore study for 6 years, I might honestly get depressed if that is all my life is going to be for that long

-If I decide to stick to him, and we do not get into the same university, the amount he is willing to compromise is about 3 rankings, so we might even end up not being able to stick to each other for PhD. Meaning spending 6 years in different continents.

-He assures me he really does want a family and when the moment will come, he won't be one of those "workoholic", not being there for kids and wife...but with these premises, is that likely?

 

We have stick together through so much, we have seen the worst in each other, helped each other out, grew together. Everything we have shared and achieve is just amazing, we both believe in our team. If there is anything I can do to save the relationship, I want to go for it.

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I hate to be nitpicky but this is about children -so, when in his 30s? Early? Mid? Is he willing to start trying at 29? 30? Have you been checked out as far as your fertility (it's often hard to tell but there are tests that can be run). I see where he's coming from but if you start trying in your 30s and have problems conceiving at some point the biological clock becomes an issue and you will be very unhappy that you delayed that long.

(I started trying when I was 40, gave birth at 42 -wouldn't advocate for waiting that long).

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His plans and your plans do not mesh.

He has told you he won't compromise his ambitions.

If you follow him....you will grow to resent him.

There is an expiration date on this relationship.

And you are too young to believe there is only one man for you.

 

Your goal in life is to take YOUR journey....not try and persuade someone from theirs.

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Well....people have marriages and children in college, grad school, med school, law school, while getting their PhD's, in the middle of wars and famines, etc. So not really clear how a relationship would get in his way of doing what he wants to do. As for telling you that he will suddenly switch off in his early 30's and become a devoted husband and father.....mmm....I really don't see how an ambitious workaholic at the beginning of his career would suddenly change like that. The challenge here is that he wants to put his life into neat, organized compartments and you are both too young to understand that life won't turn out that way and won't fit neatly into those compartments as per planned schedule. You kind of have to roll with things and make it all work simultaneously.

 

Anyway, at 22 you probably can give this a little bit more time and see how things unfold before you jump ship.

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I think what is slowing down my decision is that, when I try to talk to him about this, he says stuff like:

"I say studies are more important, but if you look at facts I often gave up and am giving up lectures and time before exams to solve problems for the relationship, so does this mean I'm putting you first?"

or

"I changed so much already in this past 2 years, before I would even give up sports and now I'm spending most of my free time with you"

and stuff like that

Is it true that most males change their view about family etc in their mid 20s?

Also, this person used to have no friends for like 10 years, all he had was studies... Is it believable then when he says he's changing?

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This might not be quite relevant but my parents know two very academic people who were very study focused and who never had space for children in their lives. They're both mid thirties now and have two little children

 

Things change or don't change with time there's no way of being able to tell for sure in the present.

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The above in bold is the cruxt of your issue.

Your boyfriend has had this goal in his life from long before he met you.

He has made his plans clear to you. What will make him happy and not depressed is just as important as what will make you happy and not depressed.

You don't have as much of a drive to get your PhD as he does---you're ready to jump onto the mommy track and it sounds as if you want him to put aside his life long goals to give you your way. If you pressure him to give up his goals, there will be bitter resentment awaiting you at the end of that road. The relationship is not going to survive that.

 

If he pressures you to give up your goal of marriage and family on your time table, there will be bitter resentment awaiting him and the end of that road. The relationship is not going to survive that.

 

The fact of the matter is: you both have goals which are not compatible for each other's time table. Neither of you are wrong for having your goals, but despite how much you may love one another right now, you may, in the long run, be wrong for each other.

 

And don't fall for the lie you're telling yourself that you won't find anyone else. AT 22, you have a long, long time ahead of you before that lie could become truth. No, there is someone else out there, just like you found this guy, who wants babies on your time table--he may be a bus driver or he may be an IT guy with a Bachelor's degree, but he wants a wife and children asap. Your dream does not sound like it will fulfilled by this guy, so it would appear that you have some hard thinking ahead of you about your life goals.

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Neither you nor him should be skipping lectures, not going out with friends, quitting sports, etc. for a relationship. A healthy relationship leaves room for all of that and more. You should be enabling each other to grow and enjoy life not suffocating each other and trying to isolate or get in the way of things. If you are treating his studies and ambitions as the enemy or competition, then your relationship is doomed.

 

As for changing, most people change a lot while going through their 20's, college, and early work stages. Some people dramatically so and of course some don't change at all. Nobody really knows the future and certainly, nobody can tell you that he will become whatever it is you want him to be.

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Neither you nor him should be skipping lectures, not going out with friends, quitting sports, etc. for a relationship. A healthy relationship leaves room for all of that and more. You should be enabling each other to grow and enjoy life not suffocating each other and trying to isolate or get in the way of things. If you are treating his studies and ambitions as the enemy or competition, then your relationship is doomed.

 

As for changing, most people change a lot while going through their 20's, college, and early work stages. Some people dramatically so and of course some don't change at all. Nobody really knows the future and certainly, nobody can tell you that he will become whatever it is you want him to be.

 

^^^^^this!!!

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