How to Strengthen Your Relationship/It's Complicated...


Dear Leon,

I have a pretty complex situation here, and would really appreciate some help on this matter!  I am 27 years old and have been in a long distance relationship for about 1.5 years now, with my boyfriend who is 31 years old who lives and works in the UAE. We met in London, and London was where I stayed when he moved to the UAE. I have recently moved back to Hong Kong, which is where I am originally from - and somehow, the stars aligned, he is moving here in July (a job transfer, that was conveniently in line with where his girlfriend is going to be)  I have been looking for a job since the end of October, and it has caused me a great deal of stress and as definitely pulled my self morale down - I've not had much luck with work, I couldn't seem to find the right one and I was of course in a long-distance relationship that made it even more difficult to have time for my boyfriend (no matter how hard you try, you can't change time difference, I've learnt that.)

In Hong Kong, I got a job 4 days ago. It is a role that is in my field that I believe I will be really good at and that I would enjoy doing (here's to hoping as I do not start until May 20th) that has very atypical working hours and that is worked on a rota system, so I would get 2 days off every week but it could be any 2 days (not necessarily a weekend) the hours are 10am-9pm - as this is in a retail environment i.e. when the shop is open, I am open. I am also Chinese with parents who are on the more conservative side, so therefore am living at home and will be doing so when my boyfriend moves here. It's a culture difference, which I've had to explain, bear the brunt and fight for him to understand.  I got in a fight with my boyfriend yesterday where I was blamed for being insensitive and not having him in mind when I accepted this job offer, as I would not have a typical weekend and will not be able to 'hang out with him' when it is his weekend.  But after a gruelling 5-6 months of unemployment and relocation I of all people understand how bad the economy is now, ANY job is hard to come by...and now I don't know what to do, is this job going to be bad for my relationship? And should I sacrifice what I would like to do for this relationship? He moved all the way to the UAE and I never had a choice and was supportive as it was what he wanted to do to further his career (he is very ambitious and is very work centered), why can't he do the same for me? Or am I in the wrong here?

I hope this is clear! And I hope I hear from you soon. Many thanks in advance for your help!


Hello C.,

Look, I understand your boyfriend's frustration. He is excited to finally be near you again, but now he's learning that you won't have much time for him with your work schedule. He feels that you are choosing work over him. Yes, I understand his emotions, but he needs to switch them off and turn on the logic switch.

Logically speaking getting a job, especially in your field, is a big deal in this economy when you have been out of work as long as you have. You are not necessarily choosing work over him. You are choosing work. That's crucial. You've chosen work AND him. Yet, if you didn't take this job, you would be choosing him over work. Right now he needs to be flexible.

It's not like you are the winner and he's the loser. You both are going to miss one another. But, at least you both are working AND you do get to see each other. He needs to look at the positive. In a long-distance relationship, you weren't getting to see one another at all! Besides, he chose the UAE, which put you two in this long-distance relationship in the first place. You were understanding of that. Now, it's his turn to be accommodating.

Again, I understand that he feels hurt because he wants to be with you so much, but you are looking at the big picture, and that's what he needs to do to be able to accept this. You are choosing both him and your work. You are going to be together more than you have been. He has done the same thing in the past. And, this is a job in your field. You don't need to lose the relationship for this job. You can have both!

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