Let novelty of new job wear off before worrying about boyfriend
Q: My boyfriend started a new job. We've been dating for over five years, and live together. The job is exciting and in a field he's interested in, and the company is very young with tons of people our age (mid 20s) all working together in a very creative and collaborative environment. They go out to bars, drink in the office sometimes, and go on trips together for bonding that spouses and partners aren't invited to. He is expected to work late almost every day.
I'm having a hard time adjusting to his not being home, and I feel so left out of his life now that work is a big, exciting part of it instead of a necessity. I'm glad he likes his job, but I'm worried I'm being sidelined. I've talked to him about it, but there doesn't seem to be a resolution. I haven't even met the people he works with. Can you help me get over my fears? I know he loves me and I'm not really worried about him cheating, I just feel less important in his life now.
A: Your feelings sound completely justified, and here's why: You have been sidelined, these are exciting developments for him, you are less important in his life right now, and there is no resolution. At least not immediately.
What makes your position so difficult here — more difficult even than his cheating would be, albeit less painful — is that significant elements of his huge life change are beyond your boyfriend's control. He cheats, you're gone; but this one isn't so clear.
He could, of course, quit this job — but would you, in his shoes? I hope not; it sounds like winning the career lottery. He could, of course, skip the bonding trips. But would you? I hope not — that's career suicide at Teamwork Inc.
He could stop going out after work — but why should he? And, he could invite you along … which I hope he does. It might not be realistic now, for the new guy, but as his allegiances shake out and his confidence builds, you warrant a standing invitation to happy hour (as long as you don't get freaky about being there Every Single Time). That's the not-immediately resolution.
If I'm laying out this argument correctly, then it should start to resemble a situation you may have witnessed (or lived) about seven or eight years ago: Your circumstances are strangely analogous to high school sweethearts facing separation, with one half at No Limits U, and the other staying home for Commute U. It tugs them apart, they miss each other, but just about everyone will say young people with wings have to fly. Have to.
Were you committed for life, this answer would be different. Were you 18, also different. But you're adults-in-progress in a commitment-in-progress, and that suggests neither permanence nor futility.
As such, I have this highly unsatisfying advice: Wait. When he settles into this job and the buzz wears off, you'll both see more clearly whether you want to be home together, out together, or neither of the above.