Am I being selfish?

Discussion in 'Relationships' started by starbuck_80, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. starbuck_80

    starbuck_80 Member

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    Hi everyone,

    So I’ve been seeing my girlfriend for 5 months now and everything has been great up until yesterday. I’m British and she is from the US and has been living in the UK for 5 years. We talk about our future quite a bit and occasionally she mentions that at some point she will need to move back to the US for a while. We had a chat about 6 weeks in about this and I said that it wouldn’t be possible for me as there is no way that I could get a working visa and she said that I could move over there if we got married. This shocked me as I really don’t think that getting married just so I can move to the States with her is the right thing to do. If we ever do get married, I want it to be a natural progression from living together, getting engaged etc. Apart from that, my life is here in the UK – my family, friends’ job etc and really don’t want to move across the world and start again. Anyway, we were walking around the supermarket yesterday and she jokingly said something along the lines of ‘when we move back to the States’ and rather than letting it go, I told her than I really didn’t see myself ever moving to America. When we got back to her flat we had a massive argument about it and (understandably) she said that she missed her family and wanted the option to move back. Again, I said that it’s not something I want to do and then she said that maybe we didn’t have a future as I’ve now put an expiration date on our relationship. She also told me that within 2 years, that she imagined our life (if we stay in the UK) living outside London (where we both live), married and thinking about a baby. While I would like all these things with her, I don’t want to plan my life to a schedule and would like us to take each day as it comes. Am I being selfish in wanting this?
     
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  2. Kareen

    Kareen Member

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    i think it is fairly logical for you to feel this way. your gf is asking you to give up your life in London, when she herself couldn't give her life in the U.S. for you; this is very irrational on her part if you ask me. Also, I don't think getting married and having babies in a foreign land is a good idea, as you have known each other for only 5 months; in my opinion, doing so would be ridiculous and a recipe for disaster.

    however, you mentioned that you two have talked about your future together. it would be unfair if you keep quiet while she lays out a plan of what she wants, and where she wants to be in your relationship over a period of time. you have to be clear with her, that living in a foreign country, away from family, work, and friends, (like she did when left to work in the UK) is not something you are willing to do. Approach her from a point of reason and fairness. If she brings it up over and over again, do not argue, be calm, and simply tell her the same thing again.

    but, if you want to keep your relationship and want her to be happy then you will have to employ the "carrot and stick approach 2.0"

    in politics, it is impossible to please everybody but crucial to maintain a relationship, some politicians use the "carrot and stick." it is a strategy of appeasement, in an otherwise unpopular situation.

    by not willing to move, you essentially gave your gf a stick; to keep her, you must also give her a carrot. how about tell her that you'll be willing to accompany her on vacation to the U.S. every year?

    you get to keep your country, your heart, your sanity, and go on a vacation. it's not a bad deal if you ask me.

    well, that is if your gf recognizes a carrot when she sees it. goodluck!
     
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  3. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    Nope. You're not selfish; she's not crazy.

    You are just both people in a new situation. Timescale is everything here; here's what I see, as an outsider looking into a fledgling relationship.

    Your girlfriend, five months in, is heavy into the obsessive, stressed, infatuation phase of being in love. This is not because she is crazy; she is 100% normal, and her body and brain are sending all the "SPEND ALL YOUR TIME WITH HER" signals that early love is. Biologically speaking, this is intended to get one of you pregnant (well, nuts to you, evolution). And it's totally normal for her to not be able to STAND the idea that the relationship does not have a neat, all-wrapped-up ending, because being with you (and not being with you, and thinking about you, and thinking about you in the future, and thinking about the future without you) floods her body with stress hormones. It makes her nuts; her desire for a plan, a future, a structure, a decision, is part of dealing with that stress and uncertainty.

    So yeah, she's being irrational; I challenge anyone to look back at the honeymoon phase of a relationship and honestly say that they did not do things that were nuts. The stress of being in a relationship that will potentially isolate her from her home and family, when it's starting to get serious, make her want an answer and a finish line - a benchmark so that she'll know it's working out according to plan and she's not just making a giant, foolish mistake. What's more, people tend to get serious around 6 months - to move from "this is a thing that's happening, let's see where it goes" to "this is THE thing that's happening, ours lives will start to be built around it." Even though it's early, that's the choice that she is feeling, and it's freaking her out. If let your ego go and put yourself in her shoes, I bet you'll actually be able to empathize with her; it sounds like you understand her pretty well.

    That doesn't mean that you need to go ahead and get married and haul it over to the new world; in fact, despite totally understanding your expat girlfriend's feelings, I think that's a terrible idea. You aren't selfish to want to make sovereign decisions about your home, your family, your proximity to both, your work, etc - and neither is she. You both get to control your own lives and make decisions that are best for you. That might mean that one of you agrees to put down roots in a foreign country, for the relationship; it might also mean that you decide that this relationship will not work out, because neither of you can make that decision long term. This is not an ultimatum, it's an honest discussion that gives you the information you need to move forward. That information might lead to an outcome that you don't like; I have friends who broke up over irreconcilable differences around having children, and I actually massively respected them both for not compromising on their needs and ending a relationship that was going to lead to one or the other making an unacceptable concession. It was heartbreaking, but it was the right thing for them to do.

    What you need to do is have this conversation honestly, so that you can clearly express your feelings, she can explain hers, without trying to reach a compromise or resolution right now. That comes later. You might find that there's more flexibility in both your positions than you realized, or that there is some outside-the-box thinking that might keep you both happy. But if you understand completely where she's coming from, and are honest about your needs and capacity, you'll be in good shape to figure out whether the relationship has potential for growth and what kinds of steps/plans/approaches will meet both your needs - her need to know there's a future and your need to "see where it goes," while different, will be easier to reconcile if you both understand the underlying hopes and fears.

    So - "Babe, I really regret that we fought over this, and that it's making you so upset. I don't have a solution yet, but I think it's important that we understand each other really well so that we can keep from blowing up again. Join me for coffee?"

    (Also, "carrot and stick" is not the right metaphor. Yeah, carrot is incentive, but a stick is a potential punishment if it doesn't go the right way. A stick would be not getting her coffee if she steals the blankets in the morning. Not relocating stateside is not a stick behind the donkey, it's a big damn rock in the road that you're asking the donkey to get around, and the carrot of "but we'll go on vacation" is a consolation prize. And just my two cents, but I don't think it's healthy to approach important life decisions with the mindset of "what incentive/punishment combination will get me what I want and keep my partner happy with it?")
     
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  4. Kareen

    Kareen Member

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    it's not?!! well shit!!! lol.

    anyway, let me clarify myself just in case. the reason i used the term "carrot and stick 2.0," is because you have a not so good situation at hand, but assuming you both love each other and both want to move forward with your relationship, then staying together would be your goal. choosing to not move to the US with her could be detrimental to your relationship and could cause heartbreak, but by considering her feelings and offering a reasonable alternative, you might be able to move the relationship forward. She might not be able to get exactly what she wants, but you're willing to give her the next best thing in the hope of moving your relationship forward and motivate her to stay in a relationship with you. the "threat" part of the stick, is not a threat from you, but a threat to your relationship.

    either way, hope you both work it out and that you continue to receive a multitude of different opinions on your situation, so as to give you a better perspective and help you make an informed decision for yourself.

    goodluck!
     
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  5. Brandy Alexander

    Brandy Alexander Well-Known Member

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    I understand the "honeymoon" phase. I understand the "nesting" phase. After all, I think the need for "nesting" is encoded in the female DNA inside every species roaming the earth. Erasing the need for "nesting" after a million years of evolution can't be possible. Right? You will only be delaying the enviable. i.e. building a home and a family.

    I often joke about the UK being located across the "pond", however, the reality is a bloody ocean separates us. The commute isn't an hour or two car, train, or bus ride. Nor is it cheap! My parents live on a private lake an hour and 15 minutes from me. In the summer I don't think twice about jumping in the car with my dog (who LOVES to swim) and cruising over for an evening dip and dinner. I have so many fond memories of random drop-ins for dinner and a dip. I wouldn't have time to shake a stick at all of them. I love my family and I would never give them up. I couldn't move more than a couple of hours from them. I know everyone is different and certainly everyone has different relationships with their family. With that being said, I don't think asking anyone to live 12 or more hours away from family is fair. Especially,if they have a strong/good relationship with them.

    The unwillingness to relocate is probably the biggest characteristic you and your gf have in common. It is, also, the biggest roadblock. It's a very important roadblock! Once you start nesting this roadblock is going to increase exponentially. Imagine yourself in the US.... buying a home, furnishing that home, learning you have a child on the way, the birth of that child, the child's first words or steps. Now imagine your family not being present? Imagine all those things happening in the UK and your gf's family not being present. Can or SHOULD either one of you compromise? In my opinion I say NO!

    One of my best friends fell in love, married and moved to Germany. She moved away from family and friends in the States. She built a home and a family without the presence of her family. After 18 yrs and 3 kids she divorced and moved back to the States. Her youngest kid is with her and the other 2 stayed in Germany. They grew up there and identify as German instead of American. I see the pain on her face. I feel the aching in her voice and words because she misses her children. I'm not saying your relationship is doomed to fail in 18 years, I just saying it's a possibility you must consider.

    You and your gf should have a "pressure" free realistic discussion of your future. Loving each other is important, however, is it enough for either of you to compromise and sacrifice your "homeland"? The best thing in my opinion is to sit down and talk. You have been together 5 months, which is no time at all in the grand scheme of life. If this relationship is doomed, isn't better to end it now? Begin the healing process for both of you, instead of waiting until you're standing in a crowded yet lonely airport saying "good-bye"?

    Your situation is probably one of the most difficult I can imagine. Please talk to your gf sooner rather than later. Choose your words carefully...once said they can never be taken back! Good Luck.
     
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  6. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    +1

    Brandy Alexander, that's a really well reasoned and clear response - from a perspective that's really hard to understand when you're inside the situation. Nice!

    I also wanted to say, I have a friend who moved from the UK to Vermont when she married; she and her husband have two kids together, and have been married for 12 years. They manage the distance by making an extended visit to the UK each year, and her parents spend 1-2 months with them in the US over the course of the year; her mom came to visit for that long after the birth of each of their children. Obviously depends on your tolerance for in-laws, but it's just part of the rhythm of their lives, and they're really happy.

    And: the US is also HUGE. Where matters; California to the UK is two days travel, while the East Coast is a redeye. (I live on the West Coast, while my family is from New England - sometimes I also feel super isolated from home, though in my case it's for work and not a relationship.)
     
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  7. Brandy Alexander

    Brandy Alexander Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, lorienczhiu for the positive feedback and winning example. The goal of my post was simply to give them "food for thought" by starting the discussion off with the worst case scenario. According to the information provided the relationship is in its infancy. The "honeymoon" is intoxicating and often distorts reality. It can be difficult to think rationally when a millions hormones are flooding their systems.

    I wish them a productive discussion.
     
    #7

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