Writer’s note (31 March 2019): This piece was written when I was targeting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) women who were having dating troubles. I’ve since transformed my coaching business into one helping all women who feel anxious and insecure in their love lives find healthy, intimate relationships with themselves and others. Learn more.
Even dating coaches have trials and tribulations in their romantic lives. Let me tell you about a recent event that put my rock-solid relationship, well, on the rocks.
It’s a story about choices. It’s a story about effort. It’s a story about not settling.
It’s a story about compromise.
I recently had what looked like an amazing opportunity to move up to Monterey Bay to do science communication at the local aquarium. (Don’t worry, I would have still been a dating coach for women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM).
It was an opportunity to work near sea otters, on the oceanfront (what any scuba diver would want), in a beautiful area, with some really nice people.
Really, I was looking for a change. I’ve lived in Los Angeles my whole life and never had a chance to uproot to another world semi-permanently. In fact, you could say my theme song was (and still is) Queen’s “I Want to Break Free,” based on the title alone.
I was thrilled to explore this opportunity, but there was one major problem: my partner, Phillip, was sooooo not down to move to Monterey.
Even though we grew up three minutes apart, he’d lived in Santa Cruz, CA in his early 20s, was in no hurry to return, and thought he’d struggle finding engineering work when he was enjoying his current job.
In fact, he was sooooo against moving up north that he started to stress and lose sleep. Then that stress turned into multiple arguments about my needs versus his. I kept telling him it wouldn’t be forever (since nothing is forever; we’ll all die eventually), but it was too much for him.
Then, one weekend afternoon in the living room, he told me he started making backup plans in case I wanted to continue pursuing Monterey Bay.
“I asked my friend how much his spare room is,” he told me.
In other words, he was putting his foot down and saying he wasn’t going to follow me up there.
I froze, as if Mister Freeze had shot me with his ice gun. After labeling our relationship “rock solid” on my dating coaching website multiple times, suddenly our relationship didn’t feel so rock-solid anymore. It felt cracked.
I sobbed until my eyes were puffy.
In my mind at the time, it came down to these options:
- leave this four-year relationship and my Los Angeles life for a new life with sea otters, developing the courage to start over single
- stay where I am, in the unhappy life I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to change, but still be with the man I love
Some might choose the first, while others might choose the second. Regardless, the cards were in my hands, and it was one of the most difficult decisions of my life.
Decision and Dating Lesson
I was scheduled to talk with the aquarium in less than a week, which meant that the big decision whether or not to move up there was forthcoming.
I drove to work on an early Monday morning while it was still dark, crying some more. (Okay, PMS influenced my emotions, but I still felt like my life was over while I was trying to create a new beginning.)
After I emptied my tears, I paused and realized I had to look at the big picture. Sometimes certified coaches coach themselves when they don’t have another person to coach them, so I took my time in the car to look deeply within.
Among many thoughts, I reminded myself that:
- love trumps all
- relationships take effort (and the turbulent ones take “work”), and you made a decision four years ago to be a team
- some of that effort involves compromise (how easily we could forget)
Anyway, after having a calmer conversation with Phillip that evening, I decided to cancel my chat with the aquarium and look for the next best thing in LA (or in a different city that we both like, where we both have job opportunities). Phillip was also open to supporting me if I ever needed several months off.
That was our compromise.
As far as “not settling” goes (as mentioned in the beginning of this post), this smart man also reminded me that there could be long-term harm in jumping into something that doesn’t meet all or most of your criteria.
Sound familiar? Just as we do in our careers, we look for what works best for us in our romantic relationships. (We have relationships with our employers, too, and sometimes my STEM clients’ dating struggles are closely tied to their career troubles.)
After our chat, we had a quiet, cuddly evening watching and laughing at It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
If the time is right and you need help moving away from relationship anxiety and insecurity and toward peace, then fill out the easy form toward the bottom of this page and I’ll be in touch ASAP.
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