If you’re thinking about moving cross-country or cross-ocean to be with someone, you have to do it for you, not for them. Is that counter-intuitive? Isn’t moving anywhere to be with a person necessarily for and about them?
I’ve talked about this before, and thought about it plenty. It’s something that every resource online at least mentions. It’s something that bears repeating, and reflection.
If you move somewhere with nothing in it for yourself – everything hinging on this other human – you’re bound to be disappointed. Or to become resentful. Or for it all to go up in flames somewhere down the road when you’re lonely or don’t feel supported enough or the other person feels that you’re leaning too heavily on them for your needs. You need to have your own reasons for being there.
You need to choose your own adventure, that happens to have your partner in it with you
For me, with the thought of moving to Paris, I’m fortunate to have toyed with this idea long before I ever met my Frenchman. I was reading historical fiction novels set in France and throughout Europe when I was 8. (I was a weird kid.) I started learning French when I was 11, as I entered 6th grade. I immediately fell in love with the language, the culture, the humor. I’ve always said that it just made sense to me, in a way that a completely foreign language shouldn’t make sense. But it did, and I was hooked.
I’ve been imagining Paris since I was just old enough to know what Paris was and to understand the incredible stories my mother told of her whirlwind trips through France in her travelling days. So it comes as no surprise that I was dreaming of living some fantastical life in Paris, strolling down ancient cobblestone streets – basket of baguettes in hand. I’ve been picturing the idyllic lifestyle, looking oh-so chic and impossibly fashionable, going about my Parisian existence. But, true to my nature, it never occurred to me that I could actually… do it.
I’m also fortunate enough to already have a friend of my own in Paris. Up until recently, she was my French connection, my vacation destination. I met her in grad school, and had barely spoken to her since. But lo and behold, when I mentioned an upcoming trip to her city in the fall, she jumped at the opportunity to grab a drink and catch up despite the fact that she was packing to move the very next day. She was there for me then, at the drop of a packing box, and she would be there for me if I lived there.
Given that I would be moving to Frenchman’s hometown, his comfort zone, this seems so crucial of an advantage for me. Having my own, albeit minimal, support system to start with and having my own desire to be there means a lot.
There are things you’re supposed to consider when making a move for someone else, and things you’re supposed to make sure to do once you get there.
- Do you really want to live there?
- Make your own friends
- Explore on your own
- Have your own hobbies/activities
The goal, essentially, is to make the adventure your own and to have your own reasons for being there. You can’t cross the world and land somewhere with no reason besides accompanying someone else.
I suppose the idea is that ultimately, even if your relationship crashes and burns, you would have built a life for yourself along the way. You wouldn’t feel so abandoned or lost, and would have support for yourself in your own network of friends. Or at least you would know your way around by yourself.
When I think about these things, I think I do have them. I have the personal interest in moving there. I have the beginnings of a network to lean on. And I think I would be capable of trying to explore on my own – at least conquering the Metro by myself.
I have the makings of a plan to do this for me, too, not just for my Frenchman.
Things I didn’t address: Why I might just be doing it for him…