DEAR AMY: My girlfriend and I are both in our early-20s. We are pursuing our educations. She is a great person. We’ve dated for over two years now. I was recently offered a job halfway across the country in one of my dream cities. The company is holding this offer for me until I graduate in two years. My girlfriend has flipped-flopped between wanting to move there with me, and not. I do not want her to come with me if she truly does not want to, because she will resent me, and that is not fair to either of us. Should I break this off now (before I leave) to ease the pain and explore my options, or should I prolong breaking up until I leave? Am I chasing a love that isn’t really love?
Confused College Kid
DEAR CONFUSED: You seem to be asking about the proper timing for you to break up with your girlfriend. If you don’t want to be with her, then break up with her. There is no “good” time to do that, although sooner is better than later.
Otherwise, I suggest that you leave the timing up to her.
The college years represent periods of massive transition — away from home, into serious relationships, into a first job and out into the world. It is tempting to try to either delay all of these big transitions (by moving into your childhood bedroom and hiding beneath the covers), or to accelerate these transitions by mapping out these massive life choices and trying to make all of your decisions at once. You have two years to figure this out. Take it.
The most challenging thing to do is to lean into the uncertainty. You should not pre-emptively make your girlfriend’s choices by deciding to break up with her. Many people relocate to be near a partner, and there are worse reasons to choose a post-college landing place. The choice should be hers — and hers alone.
What she shouldn’t do is try to emotionally manipulate you into reversing your own plans. If she chooses to move, it will be of her own volition, and she will be responsible for her happiness. If she blames or resents you for a choice she is making, then she is not quite ready for adulthood.
DEAR AMY: I received a save-the-date card for a nephew’s wedding. My nephew lives 3,000 miles away, and I have never had a relationship with him. I tried to have a relationship early on, but he was always obnoxious to me and I gave up, so he’s pretty much a stranger to me. My relationship with his mother (my sister) is strained. I really don’t want to go, and to be honest, I don’t want to send a present to someone who has never been nice to me. I have never met his fiancee. What is the polite way of dealing with this? Should I reply now that I cannot come and save them the expense of sending me an official wedding invitation, or should I wait for the invitation and then respond? Do I need to send a gift? I know that normally one doesn’t need to if not attending, but he is my nephew. Thank you for your help.
DEAR RELUCTANT: You don’t disclose the timing of your unpleasant encounters with your nephew, but if you essentially gave up on him when he was an obnoxious 8-year-old, then you just haven’t tried hard enough.
Weddings can actually be positive experiences for family members who haven’t been close to reconnect. Of course, weddings can also be estrangement-producing nightmares.
If you don’t intend to attend this wedding, you should send a polite response now: “I’m very happy to see that you are planning to get married. Thank you for sending the save-the-date. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend. I hope you have a wonderful wedding day, and I wish you both all the very best. Love, Auntie.”
Why express this using such polite and warm language? Because you will feel better if you do.
And, yes, because this is your nephew’s wedding, it would be kind of you to send a gift.