Living Columns & Blogs

Carolyn Hax: She legally can’t move to where he is, and he won’t move back

DEAR CAROLYN: I am a 33-year-old single mom with an 8-year-old son. I have sole custody of my son, but by state law I cannot move more than 60 miles away from my son’s father.

I’ve been in a wonderful four-year relationship, but he lives 360 miles away. We were together for a year before he was offered a great job and moved away. We have made our relationship work for three years while holding out hope that my son’s father will allow me to move someday.

Well, I’m afraid someday is never coming. Legally unable to move, I asked my boyfriend to consider moving back. He is unwilling to quit his job or even look for a good job here. We are crazy in love with each other and want nothing more than to be married and spend the rest of our lives together. But I can’t live my life in a never-ending long-distance relationship, and I would like more children.

Where should I go from here? If he really loves me, shouldn’t he be willing to quit his job and move? Do I break up with him so maybe he will realize what he lost and come running back to me? Do I stick it out and wait for a miracle?

Never-Ending Long Distance


I suggest sticking with the obvious and the quantifiable: You are not moving for the 10 years it takes your son to reach his 18th birthday; and the person in this relationship who can move sooner has chosen not to.

So how long do you want to be in this long-distance relationship? Another decade, another year, not another day? That is your decision right now, in its entirety: How long do you want to do this? The rest is just tying yourself into so many optional knots.

Whatever you do, though, don’t break up with him “so maybe he will” anything, reducing your life to a get-the-guy version of “Mouse Trap” (Lifelong Resentment Edition). Make choices that meet your needs, period. He can then make his.

DEAR CAROLYN: My husband loves his parents and sister but makes no effort to see them (we live in Virginia, they are in Florida). His excuses not to visit are pretty weak, like too much work, too little money, or his fear of flying, for which he has medication. I feel he is being selfish and, after nearly 30 years of marriage, I know he will regret this after Dad and Mom are gone. Should I just get over it?


DEAR UPSET: Yes. Ultimately it’s his job, not yours, to pre-empt his guilt.

Before you reach this resignation point, though, I hope you do call him out. Bluntly: “You’re making weak excuses again.” And volunteer to plan a trip: “How’s the week after Christmas, by car?” I.e., drag the horse right to the water’s edge.