Torn between New York and his girlfriend
Q: I live in Arlington, Va., with my girlfriend of five years. Both of us hope this is headed toward marriage, but we haven't made it official yet.
The problem is, I want to move to New York, but she doesn't, and her job doesn't allow for easy moves. I feel very called to New York, maybe even just for a year or so — I went to college there, love the city, still have friends there.
We have been long-distance before, very successfully, so I don't see the big deal in doing it again. But she said if I go, she'll take it as a clear message that I don't want to be with her, and break up with me.
This is so unfair! I do want to be with her, I just also want to take New York for a spin, especially while I'm still relatively young and figuring my life out. Can you think of a compromise I could offer? I feel like there's no good solution here.
Wishing I were writing from N.Y.
A: Someone who decides it's not a "big deal" to arbitrarily demote his committed partner to dating via bus (and possibly eating his half of the rent) has no business calling anyone "unfair."
She's just as entitled to her needs as you are.
Meanwhile, if by "good solution" you mean getting your way without sacrificing anything, then I think you'll find good solutions are rare.
A problem by definition means you both want different things, so a "good" solution will be the one that does the least damage.
If you think her needs trump yours, or if you would derive more satisfaction from honoring your partnership, then you stay and face the consequences (your disappointment). If you foresee feeling resentful and stuck, then you move and face the consequences (your breakup).
There are variations. If you have the means and/or flexibility, you head north for a month. You can give your trip a clear purpose and finish line.
Even better: If you're ready to propose, then propose. Explain that you know New York living won't be an option after you're married, so you want to go now. Last hurrah. Since it's now or never, you're hoping she won't insist on "never."
If that's the truth. There's no right answer, only the sincere one. To downplay doubts, pretend you're not asking much of your girlfriend, act without trying to see her side? Wildly unfair.
Invited to reception, not wedding
You've addressed destination weddings, but what about when we are not invited to those weddings but, rather, to a reception weeks afterward. Are we obligated to attend and take a gift? I'd rather not since it seems like a cheap way to get a gift.
A: I dig occupying a couple's outer tiers of social relevance, and find it gratifying to buy them housewares with a SKU number they provide.
That's fun to write, but not fun to believe. Not when I could be enjoying a warm party on a cool night, toasting the marriage of friends who thought to include me in their celebration.
Are they my closest friends? No, but I still care, so I'm not going to let my ego prick me for failing to make the 20-person cut to witness the vows. They wouldn't make my 20-person cut, either.
If I want a new set of crystal glasses, buying them is a lot easier than throwing a catered party. But if you suspect a couple of base materialism, then you don't like them much and should decline the invitation anyway. Otherwise, go with a smile.