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Hump Day: Relo’d

The career vs. the boyfriend/girlfriend: a very common young professional dilemma, worsened only when a job relocation means the relationship can't exist at all. It's time for a decision

Maya Chendke is the author of Awake but Dreaming, a novel that will make you regret wishing to be famous. She’s passionate about self-publishing, cars, and volunteering. When not writing, she studies at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto. Follow her quirky thoughts @mayachendke.

I received an email last week about a situation that I think many young professionals can relate to.

You’re working your way to the top of the corporate ladder, nose to the grindstone, and are focused on realizing a stellar five-year plan. The late hours are paying off, people are taking notice of your output, and the office is feeling like your domain. Suddenly, you’re presented with a career-making opportunity.

…in Philadelphia. Or Dallas. Or Vancouver. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.

But maybe you’re in a relationship, or have coincidentally just started seeing a new person. You feel that little “ack” in the pit of your stomach. Obviously it’s feast or famine with these kinds of situations, these sorts of things never happen in neat, easy bite-sized pieces.

Is this one of those moments where you’re supposed involve or account for your significant other in your decision-making? Wouldn’t it be really bitchy/douchey not to mention this opportunity at all as you weigh the pros/cons? So, what do you do?!

If you don’t look out for yourself, I’m going to slap you.

Though I’m truly happy that you’re hypothetically dating someone you really like, I honestly think that the young professional relocation is a critical moment that tests your resolve to executing that stellar five-year plan. It’s a point when you have to really get introspective and realize that if it’s a great opportunity for career advancement…you need to take it.

Yes, the five-year plan changes and evolves over time. People fall in love and get married. Careers change industries. Priorities change. But at the root of the so-called five-year plan is the promise you made to yourself as an ambitious, hungry individual. Maybe you’re in a life circumstance (married, kids, unable to leave your family) that will not be conducive to you moving away. And then you’re ok with it.

But chances are that if you’re in a dating situation, you’re better able to cope with packing up and taking the leap. The relo separation is a tough one; I’ve gone through it before. I once actually had someone outright disclaimer me, saying that they were in town (and available) for six months during a training placement with their company. Unless I was prepared to move.

Talk about an awkward first date.

It’s a touchy thing of timing when to discuss moving and relocations. First dates are definitely not ideal, but nothing beats taking the approach of genuine humbleness when you do decide to have “the talk.” Never apologize for the kick-ass opportunity that has presented itself. It’s about being grateful for it, and acknowledging to the significant other that this is truly a tough situation. Tough as in “hurts my heart,” not tough as in “will this put my work life into the next stratosphere?” ‘Cos that part seems pretty obvious. 

Maybe you’ll promise bi-weekly visits, or decide to break things off cold turkey. It’s kind of like that stereotypical high school graduation predicament when your sweetheart stays in town while you go away. But this time around, the stakes are serious and you need to own up to the responsibility you hold to yourself. 

You never can predict where a relationship will go. Maybe the significant other joins you in Philly soon enough, or you realize that it was never meant to be and are thankful to be in another time zone. These unpredictables are the reason why you should to rely on those closest to you who are tried and true. These sensitive matters need advisors who are truly advising with your best interest at heart. Family, friends, and mentors all offer an arguably more balanced dimension than the person you’ve just given Valentine’s flowers to. But honour that significant other if you bravely decide to pack up, and give them the opportunity to set boundaries around how much they want to stay in touch. You might be surprised.

Maya Chendke