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Long term goals don't align - how do I find middle ground with my boyfriend


Aircarrot
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I have been with my boyfriend for two and half years, I'd say so far it has been going great, and he's an amazing guy, but I am very concerned about our future. 

To shorten things up, I would need to move to another country to fulfil my career dreams, and my boyfriend doesn't see himself moving and living somewhere else forever. We had a serious talk yesterday and I wouldn't say that it made things easier. We both agree that our current country is really bad, and he admitted that he would never live here either, but the thought of him leaving his family behind makes him want to stay. He has a really strong bond with his brother, I guess he always looked up to him and he is the main reason why he wouldn't move. He said he would be open to live in other countries for a shorter amount of time, or if I got a really big opportunity abroad. I on the other hand, don't have strong family bonds, and I always wanted to move and work on something that I really love. I feel torn and horrible inside. I really love him and I can envision a future with him, but then deep down I know I would never be happy with my living situation and with my country. I might even say that I'm worried that I will never be the most important person in his life, I don't have siblings and I haven't experienced that kind of bond with someone, but in my opinion it's normal to start a family of your own and put those people first. I might be expecting too much, and I'm open to change my view on things. I might just add that his brother has his own family and kids, and they don't see each other everyday, but he moved to the same neighborhood to be closer to him and his family a couple of years before we met. 

Has anyone had a similar situation? I would love to find some middle ground and make things work, but so far I wouldn't know what to suggest, we agreed that we will have to talk about it again in the future until we find a solution. What are your thoughts about his relationship with his brother? I genuinely don't have experience with that, and I don't know if its normal or not. 

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There's no middle-ground. You've just grown incompatible and that's OKAY.

I've been through the same thing with my ex. We didn't want the same things. I wanted a better and healthier life/future, but he didn't mind settling for the corrupt broke country we were living in. He had his routine and life there and he didn't want better. He just complained about it all the time, but didn't act on it. Talk is cheap after all... It doesn't make him a bad person, but I definitely wanted something better for myself and that spoke of our core values being different. Hence, it's an incompatibility that can't be met in the middle (brother or no brother). Nobody needs to bend themselves like a pretzel to un-necessarily fulfill the sole agenda of the other partner.

The adult thing to do is to accept this incompatibility and walk away. You just want different things out of life. Happens in relationships. It's totally fine. Just make sure when you break up with him to go low contact so that you can heal and move on quickly. Don't go back and forth and make this a toxic waste of time.

Bonus: I left that ex, moved to another country and my life has completely changed and improved. It still is getting better. No LDR, I'm free to explore and date other men, make new friends, ect. The world is your oyster. You won't regret leaving him and looking out for your best long-term interest. It's your responsibility to look out for your own best interest and happiness in life. At some point later, you'll meet a man who is a better match.

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If you remain in the relationship, no matter if staying or moving, one of you will feel resentful, and it will begin to affect your or his feelings, depending on who got their wish.

It is important to see his existing family dynamics and the problems that might arise. Such as if his brother moved to another city or country, etc., expect that past behavior predicts future behavior, and he might want to pick up and move as well, no matter how you felt about it.

In your shoes, I'd see this as a "starter relationship" in your younger years. It may have worked for a time, but as people grow into adulthood, goals can change or opportunities come to light, and it's clear you're moving toward two separate paths.

Nobody said life is easy. There are no do-overs, so do what's best for yourself. You will mourn, heal, and move on.

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You don't have siblings and can't relate, but I don't think anyone can really explain it. 

Even when I don't get along with mine, we are stuck together in life.  Nothing can change it. 

While I agree, one's spouse does become your number 1 person in life. It's not that simple. Priorities ebb and flow around all the members of a family.

To simply say, he would move on with you and that's what's expected, also highlights another incompatibility. 

It's not fair to expect him to abandon family ties for you. Of course you have the right to want that and to move to anther country etc, but it's probably more likely you'll change boyfriends, not change your boyfriend. 

Your problems are either something you agree to compromise or you don't.  Talking about it later, is another way of saying you both hope the other will change.

You don't mention anything you are willing to compromise on. 

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I am afraid there is no middle ground there. You clearly have no bonds and want to go away, he doesnt. He would either have to follow you or if he doesn t want to go, you would have to stay. Both of those solutions would not be in best interest of one of you. But I think it requires a serious conversation about it. And that you need to say that you want to go and to see if he is willing to follow you. Because you mentioned that he might will at least for a short time. If you are important to him he might will. They say that when you get married those bonds often surpass even family ones in some cases. Because then you are family. So you might be that in his future but you are long away from that.

Also, I think you are "jumping the gun" here. While I do understand your wish, those kind of things require months, even years to complete. You still have more then enough time to weigh in if you want to break up or not. But it is something big to think through for sure as far as the future goes.

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Middle ground -going to sound kinda crazy but here goes - commuter marriage? How far is the other country -would that be possible?? 

I do agree with the others.  I am celebrating many years with my husband this week.  We got back together in 2005 after close to 8 years of a broken engagement.  And when we did we literally discussed the really hard stuff which included my willingness to relocate for his career if needed.  I'd lived in my major city almost 40 years -my whole life -and he grew up there too.  Never lived anywhere else. 

It was absolutely crucial that we discuss and agree to this if we were to get back together. I said yes -and I actually gave him a few places I didn't think I could move and he agreed. 

So far we moved once - shortly after we married in 2008.  We actually may move again for his job in the next couple of years.  It wasn't easy to move as a newlywed and new mom and unemployed/SAHM for the first time in many years.  But even though it's "just" geography to some to us it was and is a big deal.  It's hard to talk about the big stuff but it's crucial.  Also I wouldn't have moved unless we were married.  He knew that and completely agreed with that.  I can relate to your boyfriend not wanting to move for a non-family member - are there plans to marry? How long have you known there was this potential incompability?

I'm really sorry you're in this stressful situation.  For the first 7 years we lived in our new city my husband had to travel back to our hometown very often to help his parents and we actually lived there a few months a year for the first 5 years. It was stressful -all the moving around -but the love and marriage (and baby carriage!) made it all worth it.  Find someone with common goals especially since your career is so important to you.  Good luck.

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5 hours ago, Aircarrot said:

I would need to move to another country to fulfil my career dreams, and my boyfriend doesn't see himself moving and living somewhere else forever.

Okay, so this wouldn't be forever, right?  He sounded like he is open to a 'short time'. So isn't that your plan?  Just to do your schooling?  

You have options.. moving to do your schooling & leaving him behind, but continuing to see each other on your breaks, or figure out if he'd be okay to go with you.

An issue I find in this is his choice to move closer to his brother 😕 . It may just be, that eventually he will just choose to remain where he is.  Can YOU accept this? 

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Thank you everyone for the insightful answers. I do agree with a lot that has been written here, even though it might be hard to hear.

We both agreed that if one bends backwards and fulfils the other's wish to the fullest, we're gonna end up resenting each other. We didn't have many serious conversations about our future, mainly because we both aren't sure where life is gonna take us, especially since we started dating during the pandemic when both of our lives changed a lot. His suggestion was to go and travel quite a bit, and experience life abroad together (like work remote for a month in a different country), until I make the final decision to move forever. I guess that would be a good starting point, especially since he is living in the same city his entire life, and didn't experience moving away for college. I'm fairly young and I might be getting ahead of myself, I'm glad to hear that it worked out in some cases, but I will also keep in mind that we should go our separate ways if we don't find common ground.

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4 hours ago, Aircarrot said:

I'm fairly young and I might be getting ahead of myself, I'm glad to hear that it worked out in some cases, but I will also keep in mind that we should go our separate ways if we don't find common ground.

Yea, exactly. It can be a "I'll cross that bridge when I'll get to it" kind of situation. Once you're all set to leave with a job/study plan secured, you can simply part ways. He's aware of it, so he might not be that upset. I know a young couple who was engaged, and then one day the fiancé got a work opportunity in the USA. He left and they parted way peacefully. No bad feelings. My friend found another man shortly afterwards and it was someone who wanted to stay in the country, build a family there, have his parents nearby, ect. They are married and have two kids now. Nothing wrong with any of these people. You just need to make sure you are looking out for your best interest in the long term, cause no one else will do that for you.

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14 hours ago, Aircarrot said:

  we will have to talk about it again in the future until we find a solution. 

Sorry this is happening.  How old is he?

Unless you are engaged/married and both have specific job offers in a specific country and all the required paperwork, this is really a rhetorical conversation.

The real issue is you have a dream to live elsewhere but he doesn't share that dream because of family ties.

Basically, it's not your concern to determine his family ties but rather follow your own dreams and make them viable rather than creating conflict over his family about something you haven't even secured yet.

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Quote

It can be a "I'll cross that bridge when I'll get to it" kind of situation. Once you're all set to leave with a job/study plan secured, you can simply part ways. He's aware of it, so he might not be that upset.

You are right about that. I was scared that would be selfish of me, rather than ending it so he can move on to a better match. But looking at it from a different perspective, he's aware of my wishes and would know when to let go if things break his boundaries. We really care for each other deeply, I know no one will look out for my best interest other than myself, but he's been really supportive of my career so far and is helping in any way he can. 

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55 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Sorry this is happening.  How old is he?

Unless you are engaged/married and both have specific job offers in a specific country and all the required paperwork, this is really a rhetorical conversation.

The real issue is you have a dream to live elsewhere but he doesn't share that dream because of family ties.

Basically, it's not your concern to determine his family ties but rather follow your own dreams and make them viable rather than creating conflict over his family about something you haven't even secured yet.

He's 30, I'm 24. I wouldn't create conflict about his family, I respect them and they are good people. And I do respect his wishes and understand why it would be really difficult for him to leave them behind. He is working from home for foreign companies, but my job would require me to be on-site. But I guess it is still in question if I manage to be successful in the industry and if I'll get the opportunity to chase my dreams.

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51 minutes ago, Aircarrot said:

I was scared that would be selfish of me, rather than ending it so he can move on to a better match.

You could end it, but it sounds he's aware of the possibility that you'll leave at some point so he's just rolling with it 🤷‍♀️

My sibling had a bf who was planning on leaving to work in Canada. Supposedly, he was preparing documents, ect. She stayed with him knowing he might leave and told me she liked him enough to stay regardless of that. His plan didn't pan out and they're still together.

I guess if I was serious about someone and he told me he was planning to leave, I would break up because I'm looking for something long term-ish like marriage, ect. In your case, it's your bf would be more likely to call the shot. Same with my sibling. She could have walked away and said that this doesn't work with her, but she chose to roll with it.

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Do you want children someday? If so how badly? And ideally how many? If you do I'd put an end date of around one year from now to figure stuff out.  I started dating my future husband (well, dating again after years apart) at age 39 and we married and became parents at 42- both of us (I shared my story above -the long distance part, etc) - it would have been much easier in my life had I married by my early 30s at the latest (stressful to be a newlywed, new mom, new city and the stress of a geriatric pregnancy).

If you know you never want kids and since neither of you are in a rush to make a more forever commitment then sure take your time.It's lovely he's so supportive of your career- I needed that badly too in my 20s and 30s - and you two care about each other a lot so if you can part amicably if the geography is the dealbreaker you should carry that sort of care and kindness with you to future relationships.  Good luck!

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3 hours ago, Aircarrot said:

He's 30, I'm 24.He is working from home for foreign companies, but my job would require me to be on-site. it is still in question if I manage to be successful in the industry and if I'll get the opportunity to chase my dreams.

He seems happy where he is and with what he is doing. If at some point you do get a job offer, visa, paperwork and housing where your dream is, you can go or stay.

Either way it's not his burden to rearrange his life because you want to rearrange yours. You'll have to do whatever you need to, but until then try to relax and follow your dream but try not to pressure him to follow you. Especially since you don't have a viable plan activated yet. Also keep in mind you're not engaged or married so moving together is not an option at this time.

Perhaps your main focus should be to reflect in the here and now why you've been together this long already at your ages and there is no talk of a future or staying together but rather your dream of going elsewhere and his goal to stay near family..

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