You’ve done it: you’ve secured that promotion, landed a job with the company you’ve admired for years, got your foot in the door of your dream career.
But there’s a problem. You have to move city, state – maybe even country. And your partner can’t move with you.
Only you can decide what to do next: break up with your partner, break up with the job offer, or stay in the relationship and try to make a go of things long-distance. Articles on the career-versus-love debate are easy to come by, with the two sides equally represented online – but chances are, you won’t find an answer to your predicament in an editorial. Whether in this instance you should prioritise your career or your relationship depends entirely on the particulars of the situation and the individuals involved.
But deciding to relocate, and leaving a partner behind, doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to the relationship. Here are a few tips on how to ease the transition to a new job while staying connected to your significant other.
Routine is important to our mental wellbeing, and that’s one of the reasons why big life changes such as moving house and changing jobs cause us so much stress. It’s going to take you a while to establish a new routine after you relocate. You’ll be navigating a new city, getting used to a new office full of new faces, and settling into a new home. Having your partner at the end of the phone is going to be immensely comforting amidst all this upheaval, and you’re probably going to feel like talking to each other a lot, but neither you nor they can expect the other to spend all day on standby. It’s a good idea to compare schedules, and make it clear when you’re not going to be available to talk. You should also discuss how much contact you need and expect, and what form you’d like that contact to take.
The parameters are up to you here – some couples take a highly regimented approach to communication, with Skype dates set in stone, while others are looser in their planning. You want to end up in an arrangement that allows you and your partner to remain close without contact feeling like a chore. What that arrangement looks like really depends on the sort of people you are.
Speaking of living your own life, try not to fall into the trap of clinging too tightly to your relationship in order to avoid having to confront the unknown. What you need to do is to start turning the strange into the familiar, and that means immersing yourself in your new environment. You’ve worked hard to get here – and now you need to make the most of this opportunity.
As daunting as it may feel, start to get to know your new colleagues, and don’t use your partner as an excuse to turn down after-work drinks with the team. Putting yourself out there is incredibly hard, but it’s also incredibly important, and the office is the perfect place to start making new connections. You don’t have to be best friends with your workmates, but simply being able to chat to someone in the kitchen is going to give you a sense of comfort and belonging. Plus, being on kitchen-chatting terms with colleagues (especially seasoned administrative staff) is the best way to gather information about the quirks of the office, from how to soothe the temperamental printer to who makes the best cakes for the bake sale. That knowledge will go a long way towards making you feel at home.
Fear of the unknown can lead you down the path of focusing all your attention and effort on your partner, leaving little for the opportunities that your new location has to offer. But another fear can be involved in this sort of behaviour – the fear that embracing your new life means rejecting your old one. Thinking in such binary terms is a mistake; transition doesn’t mean cutting and running – it means evolving.
It’s perfectly possible to maintain a long-distance relationship while settling into a new job in a new city, state or country. Just don’t cling to your past – make it a part of your future.