Today in Red Flags: Brand New Girlfriend Demands Long-Term Commitment

Savage Love Letter of the Day



There's of course no way to know what will work out best in the long run, but generally speaking, IMO, it is not the best course of action to dive into the deep end with someone new so soon after getting out of a very long term relationship (in this case overlapping...?), especially a relationship that started in relative youth.

It may behoove you to take some time to understand what did and didn't work in your marriage, and what you were attracted to that was good, and what you were attracted to that was bad. Otherwise, you run the risk of jumping into something too similar to what you had. If you feel like your relationship was generally healthy and you are generally well-adjusted... this is less of a concern.

Good luck and have fun!!

Oh yeah... the demanding of commitment part after 4 months and before your divorce is even finalized... not the best sign.


So she's a hard "no" on trying long distance for a little while—I can respect that, but perhaps that puts this into perspective for you a little, LW?


Normally in matters of life goals and relationship awareness I consider women to be far more mature than men of equal chronological age. Call it a positive prejudice. Normally I would expect a 24 year old woman to have her shit far more together than a man 5 years older. In this case though, CARL has clearly demonstrated an ability to sustain a relationship and run a household. While his new girlfriend may be entirety capable of these things too, she has yet to prove it. For someone who's years away from doing that she sure is demanding a lot from him.


She seems super pushy and annoying and selfish for asking so much of you given the circumstances. I'd see it as a huge red flag/dealbreaker, but you say you love her, so I'll assume you don't find her personality to be horribly overbearing, though to me she sounds like a total drag. That being said, you are only 29 and child-free, so why not just tell her you are considering moving and then see what happens? Who knows where she'll end up getting a job anyway once she is done with school. You don't even have to start looking for a new job yourself for a few more months, so see how you feel once the summer is over. You are in a vulnerable position so be careful, but also keep yourself open for adventure. I know you think that 29 is "established", but sitting here as someone 15 years older than you, I wish I'd taken more chances at that age, before kids/marriage/divorce and an actual long-term and successful career set in (golden handcuffs and all that comes with it).


I always get a sense of unease when people are willing to hop from one relationship into another without giving oneself an emotional break. You need to get up from the table serving the LOVE banquet, walk around a little, and reassess who and what you are now and where you eventually want to go before hopping on another train to anywhere.


@3 That's frankly insane to me. No wonder women have such a hard time getting treated as equals, paid fairly, and moving up the ladder. We have to act like we're pushing 30 when we're barely out of college too? Fuck that.


Eh I don’t think you’re pushy and annoying for asking for what you want. It’s not about this guy (or him having “proved himself” at being able to run a household in his early 20’s which is an altogether insane measure of a person). It’s about her knowing what she wants in her early 20’s, which is to travel and explore, and her not wanting to invest emotionally into a relationship that won’t mesh with those goals. Give her a break. I kind of think her boyfriend, Dan, and all the commenters are being harsh.


I would swiftly DTMFA. And yes, I do think she qualifies as a MFA for giving you a commitment ultimatum before your divorce is final, that is not cool. NRE is a hell of a drug...


LW, You have an easy out: you're getting divorced. Take it slow. Tell her to respect that it's in her best interests to let you take it slow. The best part of this excuse is that it's 100% true!


Also, to expand on Dan's analysis of "works out" and "together forever", many people seem to think these two things are synonymous when in fact relationships can "work out" when they come to a timely end, and "together forever" doesn't necessarily mean things are working out.


It's too bad that 'love with an expiration date' doesn't appear to be on the table. To misquote Whitney... it can be the greatest love of all. You can enjoy the moment, and the red flags/dealbreakers/I just wouldn't like that longterms don't have to be a cause for concern.


I agree with @5. Also, she sounds like she is trying to have it both ways. Wants to travel, but feeling like this might be a long term relationship. She doesn't want to invest her heart or emotions in this if he is unwilling to travel too. But this is selfish on her part. Making demands is selfish in general, but especially now, when he is not even out of his first relationship. He needs time, and so does this new relationship. She needs to be willing to risk her heart and give him the time he needs.


"that certainly sounds possible, let's see how we both feel, closer to the time"

You've been seeing her a couple of months, and the actual decision date is nearly a year into the future - this is just not a conversation that deserves to be had with any seriousness. That both of you seem to be thinking that this is a talk you really need to be having right now is a little weird, frankly.


CARL, I think you need to better understand your girlfriend’s thinking. Why does it matter to her that you provide a commitment to move now, when her move won’t happen for 12 months? I think that is the discussion you need to initiate. If you do so in a non-judgmental way, you may be able to understand her feelings and value system that is driving her request. Possibly, if you can understand why she is asking you to commit to moving now, you might be able to satisfy her needs without feeling like you’re prematurely agreeing to something significant.

Also, does your girlfriend have a specific place to move in mind, or is she open to a few options? Saying you must move to Seattle, is different from saying let’s find a city on the west coast we both like. Don’t agree to move it a city in which you would be unhappy living or could not find work in your field.

As for whether a move is unreasonable. A year from now, if you’re still together, it won’t be, and you will have plenty of time to search for a new job in a new city. However established you feel right now, at 29, you’re not a seasoned professional tied to one job.


Speaking purely from the perspective provided by my own experience: I married my college girlfriend, relationship ended up not working out - painful, but they all are. I was in no way shape or form prepared to jump into the next long term relationship right away. I had missed out on a lot of the self discovery that comes from the experiences found during those early twenties; friends, dating, breaking up, hooking up, being alone, being paired, being bored while alone or paired, going dry for seemingly ungodly stretches, lather rinse repeat. I found out a lot by dating, hanging with friends, not dating. When I did find the next Mrs. Right, I knew it was right.

To the LW, I'd strongly suggest slowing things way the fuck down. It's one thing to get into a LTR so soon after a breakup (or, before one is even complete), but to tie that to a cross-country move driven by an ultimatum as well? No, this is no recipe for a successful outcome. Don't move in with the new girl, don't agree to the cross country move. Figure out who you are first - you'll do yourself and her a huge favor.


It's pretty clear that his new girl is a bit of free spirit who tire of her boring married squeeze once she moves on from college. No matter what he does, she will be through with him only a few months after graduation. When she starts discovering more interesting things than an older fart who has planted his butt in middle america somewhere she will be off like a prom dress.


@3 - You're wrong when it comes to this age group. Our brains don't finish developing until around age 25, regardless of gender. GF is on one side of this bright line, LW is on the other. That's red flag #1.

LW's divorce follows the oh-so-typical pattern of ostensibly grown adults in their early 20s making a commitment that no longer makes sense starting around age 30. It's because after you've had a few years with your fully mature brain, the choices in the adult world expand exponentially. Put simply, you are no longer the person you thought you were 10 years ago.

So LW, slow down. Definitely say to GF that you don't want to make that decision now, before it needs to be made and while you are still going through a divorce. If she says that's enough to break it off with you, then you've learned something right there. If she compromises, you've learned something too.

And then here's the most important part: You have just entered this new phase of adulthood, and you are simultaneously going through a huge emotional experience. I 100% guarantee you that by age 31-32, you will have incredible new perspectives on who you are and what you want to do in your life. So if this doesn't work out with new GF, don't fret. There's a lot of great stuff right around the bend.


I think most here have the way of it. This particular question is similar to my own quandary, but with some major differences too that I think are somewhat telling.

I am quite a bit older (two kids heading to college this year and next), married for 16 and together with my wife almost 19 years, and poly/open/swinging for at least a dozen years albeit very selectively. We both started dating a very lovely woman my same age a year and a half ago, and most of the year was great. Some insecurity issues and unresolved conflict over the death of a family member got the better of my wife when the stress of the girlfriend having to choose between a good job that wanted to move her across country (OK, 750 miles anyway), or stay here and live off us to avoid financial ruin came up at the start of the year. Everything went down hill from there and so currently the score is wife demanding divorce without further discussion so she can date more, girlfriend out of state and trying desperately to maintain a long distance relationship with me at least, and me trying to figure out what the hell to do.

The differences then: we are much older and more established (moving for me also entails selling 2 houses, a business and other assets). The girlfriend desperately wants to live with me, but refuses to even concider the idea of me moving because she knows what it will cost both financially and practically. And most importantly, I think at a year and a half, NRE mostly doesn't count now. Then there's the fact that I largely agree with everyone here about taking some time to learn a lesson or two....

The only reason for me to consider moving across country is because I will no longer have the resources to visit the girlfriend as much as I thought I could once assets are divided and everything else is said and done. Having lived and worked together on some short term projects and a year and a half of memories, shared experiences, and the shared trauma of both being dumped by my wife means we already have some idea of what to expect if we do this. And I'm still unsure of it! Being young enough to change course, being high as a kite on NRE, and looking at something that doesn't even have to be decided yet (who's to say she won't have a change of heart or circumstance in a year?) means I second the motion to make no promises, but rather discuss your willing but uncertain state and if that isn't sufficient, then yes, it will become a clear red flag.


So after a couple of months this woman is giving ultimatums about what's to happen in a yrs time? Imagine what fun she's going to be, pushy chick.


Man, I couldn't do Dan's job because I'd just get really depressed that there are grown ups out there that are this fucking stupid.


"I know that rebound relationships are a thing and I know NRE is a thing, but I think that THIS TIME it's different because it's happening to ME. So, should I quit my job, pack up my house, say goodbye to my friends/family and move away with a younger woman who I've known for a few weeks just a few weeks after I got divorced from the woman I was with since I was in college?"

Yes, LW. Yes you should. That is EXACTLY what you should do.


She...seems like she's jumping the gun a bit? She has a year fo school left, so I can't imagine she has a job lined up somewhere else, unless maybe she's been interning with a company that has multiple locations around the country. I've come to understand that some people just pick up and move without a plan, but that always seems fucking crazy to me, since most of them aren't independently wealthy (and then run up massive amounts of debt on credit cards and then complain about "predatory" credit card companies, which they are, but that wasn't the problem here).

And, yes, CARL, this is just standard infatuation/limerence (it's not "energy," it's a psychological state). That said, CARL should absolutely tell her he's willing to move; if he actually is a year from now 'cause they really are compatible, great! If he's not, then he can opt out at that point. It's a little deceitful, but that seems justified by the GF's (one hopes momentary) unreasonableness. It's not like she's super likely to find someone else who would pack everything up on the spot in the next year if she and CARL break up now, nor is she likely to meet a new partner wherever she wants to move unless she's frequently traveling there (which I guess she might be if she's rich enough for moving with no plan to not be a terrible idea).


Hm... where have I heard all this before...?
"extremely easy to be with"
"it seems like we want the same things"
"I love her and she loves me and it just all feels so right"
"like it should feel when you know somebody really has your back and is committed to being with you"
Not to mention ... swooping in with massive romantic love bombs when you are emotionally vulnerable, post-divorce... Best high ever, right? Like, you've never been in love like this before, maybe?

Of all the different kinds of love, Romance is absolutely the most fickle.

Oh! I know! It was a narcissist with partial Borderline Personality Disorder! Yep, that's it!
They just slip behind your defenses with lovelovelove and more LOVE and effortless connection and beautiful futures... ...until they've got you locked down (move to where now? get married so soon?) and then they slowly reveal that they want all of that, and more! More attention! Actually different futures! Different versions of reality even! New things you don't want, & never agreed to! And maybe you pay for everything! But oops! Too late!

I dunno CARL dude, I'd stay put for a couple years at least, and let the rosy emotions expend their energy long-distance. And let all your post-divorce emotions work their way through you too. Deal with those first. Then consider life-changing options when you can actually see each other (the new woman) in the clear light of day, warts and all.


@21 EmmaLiz: I thought the same thing! I am aware of NRE as a thing and I'm certain that it applies other people and not me.


@24 me: To clarify, that second sentence is my impression of LW. I'm sure NRE affects me, Ankylosaurus, just like it does all the other dinosaurs.


I don't understand why people are coming down so hard on the girlfriend. She knows she'll be moving somewhere after graduation and she doesn't want to get serious with somebody who definitely wants to stay put. She's not asking for a commitment to move somewhere specific, she's trying to get him to state for the record whether it's even something he'd consider. I'm giving all my side-eye to LW.

"it seems like we want the same things", he says. Oh? "She wants to move across the country and explore new parts of the world...I don't want to uproot my entire life at this point and try to transplant somewhere else".
"It feels like when somebody is really committed to being with you", he says. Oh? "She basically made it clear that if I'm not going to consider moving...then she wants to break it off".
"She's extremely easy to be with", he says. Oh? "[a paragraph about the difficulties of long term relationship daily grind and his wife's depression and anxiety, then saying a couple months of fun new connection is easy in comparison]"


@21: right? This guy is moving way, way too fast, and his judgement is ... questionable at best.


Dan was way, way too easy on this guy.


I'm aware of NRE, and I won't deny that some of these feelings could be that so I'm cautious here, but it also feels real to me. >>

NRE always feels real. That confidence that this person is perfect for you? ("it just all feels so right" / "[we] click on a completely different level than I've ever had with anyone")

That's NRE.

It provides no actual evidence that the person is a good match long-term. Which is why people are well-advised not to make substantial decisions while under the influence.

I would say calmly that you can't make any serious commitment to move and you understand that may not be enough for her. If she breaks it off over that issue then you've gotten useful information about how committed she was to you.


Holy dogshit, Batman! You're not even through with divorcing wife #1 and ALREADY you're contemplating dropping everything and running off with a woman you barely know?! While this doesn't exactly fit into my "nature weeding out the stupid" category, it's close enough to be a nextdoor neighbor. Take a breath, dude! I'd be super-wary of ANYONE demanding a "my way or the highway" decision at ANY point in a relationship, but THIS early on? Stop thinking with the little head and start using your brain, CARL. If you employed this type of careful logic and reasoning with wife #1, it's no wonder you're divorced.


What happened to the poly thing? Apparently, it was important enough to wreck his marriage. Now it doesn't seem to be on his mind. Where can I get some of this NRE?


Once again I'll say, "BRING BACK ITALIC & BOLD OPTIONS FOR THE COMMENTARIAT! This yelling is making my fingers sore!


More important than NRE in this case is the truism that:

The woman you're fucking is a helluva lot more fun than the woman you're divorcing.

What's the harm in him saying, "Absolutely, GF, a year from now when you're done with school if we're still doing this well together, I'll happily move across the country with you."?

Because if you ARE feeling like this 15 months and not just 2 months in, a cross-country move would be worth the chance of it continuing to work out.

And if (when) you're NOT feeling like this next year, invoke whatever your complaints are at that time to justify staying put.


Holy dogshit, Batman (spot on and I second it, Donny!), CARL sounds just like my ex. We weren't even officially divorced yet, and during what became our one and only meeting with my attorney when the chips were on the table and he knew he had no contest, to me he blurted out, " I, uh..umm....hope you don't get hurt feelings but, um....I met someone on the internet!" And then my attorney stuck a fork in his butt and called him DONE. We settled out of court.
@32 DonnyKlicioius: Yeah--bold and italic options would be nice.


"What's the harm in him saying, "Absolutely, GF, a year from now when you're done with school if we're still doing this well together, I'll happily move across the country with you."?

Exactly. There is not actually a problem here, except the willingness of (apparently) both of them to think of this as a problem.


Dan wrote:

"If she's willing to kick the can down the road, i.e. put off a decision about moving away for at least nine months, keep seeing her, see where it goes, see how you feel in three, six, nine, and twelve months."

I would give her one and half Friedman Units..

or what Dan wrote: "nine months"..

Personally, I would had let her go now, and if she loves you, she will come back. She needs to explore for a couple months years.


LW, you need to become your own primary for awhile.

You can certainly date/fuck/whatever, but srsly, discover who you are as a formerly-married person, and commit to that person.

Oxytocin is a helluva drug, but when (not if) you OD, the crash is shitty.

It'll be even worse if you wake up in a gutter in an unfamiliar city, where the streets don't know your name.


Most commenters are addressing the problematic ultimatum, the short nature of the relationship, etc. I have a perspective on moving.

Ultimatum issues aside, what is your objection to moving? I have lived in 14 different cities in 3 different countries in my life. Some have been better than others, of course, but most have had something worthwhile to brag about. I'm currently happy living in Seattle, but there are lots of interesting places in the world to live, and I wouldn't hesitate to move again if there was a valid reason to. Rural Kansas would be a deal-killer, but there are lots of interesting places that I'd enjoy living in. Perhaps I'm a bit of a free spirit, or perhaps I've moved so many times I no longer fear it. It just seems odd to me that you wouldn't even consider a move.

Also, why does the girlfriend insist on moving? Why does she hate your current location so much? Your explanation is kind of vague. Is there something about your current city that is particularly objectionable to her? Have you talked about it (probably not if you've only been dating a short time)? Maybe you should explore her motivation a bit more.


@17 What a weird mix of determinism and scientism.


Poor schmuck. Going from the frying pan into an expensive fire.


What, she doesn't like the whole state. That's heavy.. though given some of the laws of some states in the US, I can understand a woman wanting to get the hell out.
LW, we can't answer these question for you. It's your career and your friends and your family.
Follow Dan's suggestion, no promises and see how the two of you feel after a yr. If she insists that you promise now, then she is being young. She might fall out of love in that yr, so it would suit her also to wait. You two don't even know if you can live well together, check that out first before promising a move across the country.


I think maybe the girlfriend is getting a bum rap here. She's just getting out of college, so maybe she's not even from there, and her friends and family are 1. there and she knows she wants out, or b. elsewhere and she knows she wants to go back. At any rate she's at a different place in her live than the correspondent. Maybe he's the settled type who doesn't like to move or go new places -- it happens.

I can't fault her for knowing her own mind at 25. Grid knows few of us do.


*in her life


Flip the genders on this one and you get: I'm a woman in a vulnerable place, not yet divorced from a bad relationship. I met a guy who's terrific, tons of love showered on me; it all feels great, so easy, but he's moving awfully fast. It's only been a few months, and he wants me to move cross country with him, give up my job and my of friends. Either that, or he breaks up with me.

This is all established abuser talk. The speed, the ultimatum, the isolation from money and established support network. Red flags all over the place. Whenever the answer to the question "what's in it for me" is "you get to be with me doing what I want," the advice is to get out of there quick. Love, whether it's poly or monogamous or anything else, involves doing what's best for BOTH (or all) parties to live and grow and support each other. There may be interdependence, but not complete dependence of one on the other.

I can be a little easier on this young lady when I remember how naive I was at her age when it comes to making a living. I thought it was nothing to get out of school, find a job, and begin my adult life. Now the idea of asking someone established in a career to pick up and start over makes me shudder. If CaARL wants to break it off easy, he might ask his young friend about finances. Ask her what money they're to live on while they're moving and exploring. Ask who's going to be paying for her, and give her some straight talk about what he makes and how he's going to make a living on the other end of the country. That might wake her up as to what she's asking.

And yes, to those who noticed the statement of "I know all about New Relationship Energy but don't think it applies in my case." Sorry, CaARL, that's exactly what's going on.


Much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but an out-of-context Richard Pryor quote gives you all the advice you need: "Run. And if you can't run, fly."


The GF only wants CARL to "to consider moving...a year from now". And he is considering it. And if when the time comes he wants to do it, he should. Moving can be freeing. Buck up CARL, "uproot my entire life" sounds a bit dramatic; if a year from now you /want/ to do it, don't be "afraid of changing".


Wait, I changed my mind, because of course it is not a good sign that the GF wouldn't want to continue to be with CARL if it is to "only" be for the year. Why would she want to leave CARL now? No find some /other/ guy in a couple weeks who /will/ commit to leaving with her in 11.5 months? All is not right with that picture.


@Reverse Polarity,

There's nothing wrong with moving around. But doing it to chase an infatuation when you'd rather not (he likes where he lives, his job, his friends) is a problem. This is a guy who has a lifetime of taking deep plunges with seemingly no self-awareness about that. He needs to spend a little time being a grown up on his own and get a grip on himself before he does anything else.


also @Reverse Polarity

The GF is in her early 20s and is just finishing college. Unlike the LW, the sort of person that married his college sweetheart then settled down, the GF wants to travel about a bit now that she's done with school. We don't know why. Maybe b/c she's the sort of person you described in the beginning of your post. Maybe for job prospects. Maybe just because she's young and not settled and refuses to settle for this guy.

In any case, it's really obvious that some of that NRE is actually just how nice it is to hang out with someone who is not burdened by family responsibilities, careers, established friend circles, etc. Amazing how often people mistake this for deep personal compatibility. Yes, of course it's easier to get along with your girlfriend than it is with your wife. There's literally nothing at stake.



I don't see it as abuser talk from any. It's a red flag (as Dan stated in the title) and if the LW goes along with it, he's being stupid. But from the point of view of the younger person just out of college, it's simply a statement of where she's at in life. And if the genders were flipped that would stay the same but you left it out:

"I met a young guy who is just finishing college who's terrific, tons of love showered on me; it all feels great, so easy, but he's moving awfully fast. It's only been a few months, and he wants me to move cross country with him, give up my job and my of friends. Either that, or he breaks up with me."

This is not abuser talk even with the difference in phase of life, regardless of gender, but it's even more not abuser talk with the difference in phase in life. It's a young person saying "I'm not going to settle down. Since your life is changing too, if you want to let everything go and move around with me, then great. If not, then I'm going to go enjoy my youth".

It's a perfectly reasonable acknowledgement of incompatibility. The young person is putting her cards on the table and being honest.

And while Carl's questions are important if HE goes with her (he shouldn't) they aren't important to her considerations. Even if she moves from place to place and lives in relative poverty while she tends bar or something, so what? I agree with Reverse Polarity above- there's nothing weird or naive or immature about a young person wanting to travel - after they've finished college, before they've settled down. This is perfectly normal and healthy- and it's good for her to be honest with her bf about this. They are falling in love fast. She's probably thinking of her own plans and considering how if she stays in this relationship for a full year, it's going to get harder to leave him and harder for him to let her go, so she wants to be careful from the beginning. "If we don't wan the same things, we should probably break up". It's stupid for her to consider that he'll uproot his life and follow her just like it's stupid for him to consider doing so, but it's not abusive and wouldn't be if the genders were flipped either. There's no indication whatsoever about any controlling behavior or mind games or power differentials, etc.


@49 "The GF is in her early 20s and is just finishing college. Unlike the LW, the sort of person that married his college sweetheart then settled down, the GF wants to travel about a bit now that she's done with school. "

They are in different stages in life, no matter the age gap is not that wide.. He is trying to recover from a divorce, he has mortgage payments, besides splitting of community property from the divorce, he is happy with his career. She wants to travel, explore, it sounds like she wants to date other people. I think he is afraid of losing his rebound emotional crutch..

I feel that the GF is not that committed to the relationship, and wanting to travel or transplant across the country, is a passive/aggressive way to end the relationship..

The LW sounds vulnerable. In some ways he shouldn't move, he needs stability, he needs support, as much as a romantic partner can be a powerful mood altering drug, it sounds like a short term painful withdrawal of not having her in his life, is a better alternative. Let her go, let her enjoy life.


Why would she want to leave CARL now? No find some /other/ guy in a couple weeks who /will/ commit to leaving with her in 11.5 months? All is not right with that picture.

I guess having been a young person that moved around a lot, I think this is more obvious than it actually is.

If you meet someone awesome and things start to get serious in a few weeks but you know you will be moving again in a few months, if you are the sort of young person who considers your future plans in contrast to your current actions, then you will think to yourself "hmmm, it's going to get REALLY hard to leave if this relationship keeps growing. People are going to get hurt, our lives could get intertwined. OMG I could end up being stuck here with this guy if I'm not careful." Please note this is a perfectly valid thing to be on her mind, seeing as she's with a guy who did EXACTLY that himself- marrying his college sweetheart, settling down with her, leading to this unhappy situation in the first place. The GF would have to be an idiot not to see the parallels, and since she's probably been in a poly relationship with them (unclear on that, maybe she came around after that had fallen apart) she's probably seen it from the wife's point of view too. And obviously the LW is someone who likes where he lives, likes his job, likes his friend circle, doesn't want to move, BUT he wants to be with the GF- what does that mean? He wants her to slide into place settled along side him. That's not what she wants- she wants to move around after graduating (and we don't know why- maybe it's because she wants to travel as has been assumed but maybe also it's because it's better for whatever career she's finishing preparing for). So she says to him, "Hey- you have to tell me what you want a year from now. I'm going to move. If you aren't going to go with me, then we should end this now while it's still easy for us to do so."

The thing that is stupid about this is that she's trying to have it both ways (just like he is) by even suggesting he should move for her. Nope, they should just acknowledge this is a short term thing- be up front about that and stop building castles in the sky about her settling or him moving (both are stupid) and just enjoy themselves. And if they can't do that (obviously this is a guy that CAN'T- he gets a gf in college and marries her, he goes poly in his marriage and it leads to divorce, he meets a new gf and is considering uprooting his life in weeks even before his divorce is final- this is OBVIOUSLY a guy that can't do anything casual), then yes they should just break up.

Cry about it and move on. They'll both be over it in a few weeks, and in CARL's case, he'll probably have another soul mate by then.


EmmaLiz @49

"Amazing how often people mistake this for deep personal compatibility."

Our brains fool us into thinking that. I've been through NRE a few times and I don't think it's amazing that people believe what their brains (under the influence of powerful hormones, etc.) tell them. I rather think it's amazing that we can sometimes avoid uprooting our life for this new person, who feels so perfect.


I agree with @7 lovemydog, @26 ankylosaurus, and @50 Emmaliz. There is nothing at all wrong - and in fact everything right - with the gf telling him what her dealbreakers are. One dealbreaker for her is geographical incompatibility. She's not going to stay where he is. She knows she's moving in a year. She's being upfront about it, and asking him to be honest about whether he is firmly rooted in place or willing to consider moving. That's just as legit a conversation to have as a conversation about monogamy, kids, money, religion, politics, drugs, pets, nose hair, or any other dealbreakers either of them might have. I applaud her for initiating that conversation early before either of them get too invested in someone with lifepath incompatibility.

LW needs to answer her honestly. I think he needs to search his heart and ask whether, if he and she still feel the same about each other a year from now, he'd be supportive and excited to move to a new location with her, or at least to explore the options together. Maybe he can identify some criteria that are important to him in a new city, like population size, cost of living, job market for his profession, heat/humidity index, opportunities to go bungee jumping, or whatever he needs for happiness. If what's tying him to his own city is largely family and friends, that may be hard to overcome.

In my own case, I thought I was pretty planted in my last city. My then-boyfriend of a year, now-husband, got a job offer in another attractive location. He asked me to at least go take a vacation there with him and see if we liked the new city. I humored him. We loved it. We've been in our "new" city for 10 years. I love it here, but I love him more. He's getting the itch to move again, and I'm open to it, even though it's not my natural inclination. It helps that we both have portable careers.


50-Emma Liz-- I agree that the way the letter reads, CaARL's plan to uproot everything doesn't feel so dangerous as it does foolish.

I see something a little optimistic in CaARL's position, that ability to get a wild impractical crush on someone. It's been a long time for me, and I miss it.


Erica, I was referring to mistaking a) the ease of interpersonal relationships with no responsibilities for b) personal compatibility. This might be the same thing as NRE, or at least a component of it. So many people find that they are uniquely compatible with a wonderful person with whom they share none of life's chores or responsibilities. What a wild coincidence.

I don't have the slightest idea how much this has to do with brain chemistry and I'll take your word for it. I'm a little dubious myself. I get that being with a new person is exciting (so much to learn about, so many new experiences, a fresh slate, new sexual experiences, etc) but beyond that, I just think people generally gulp down any story that centers them favorably and gives them pleasure all along telling them how very much they deserve it or very special they are. It's the same reason people can be swindled or taken under by a charlatan, why they join cults, why they scapegoat others, why they uproot their lives for a piece of ass. If a thing is real, then it can happen to you, so any time you find yourself thinking "I'm the exception to the rule", no you are not. Re-examine.


@strange observer

I agree, and it leads to something that Dan (who has lived in one place with one job for a very long time) overlooked. If the GF isn't moving away just to travel but rather to settle somewhere else, then the LW needs to prepare for it. Especially if he has a career or owns a house or whatever. Dan says put off the decision for 9 months. OK so that gives him 2 months to find a job somewhere else, pack and move? The GF might be telling the LW he needs to make the decision now bc moving can take a while. If she is applying for jobs in lots of places, then he might need to coordinate and see if he can work it out.


@56 emmaliz yes to all of this: "I just think people generally gulp down any story that centers them favorably and gives them pleasure all along telling them how very much they deserve it or very special they are. It's the same reason people can be swindled or taken under by a charlatan, why they join cults, why they scapegoat others, why they uproot their lives for a piece of ass. If a thing is real, then it can happen to you, so any time you find yourself thinking "I'm the exception to the rule", no you are not. Re-examine." Well put!

@57 emmaliz, another good point. Preparing to move takes time, especially if jobs in lw's field aren't easy to come by, or real estate is hard to move in his hometown.

Can I also just say boo to the headline writer? Asking someone whether they are stuck in Lodi is not the same thing as asking for a long-term commitment.


I am all in favor of being upfront about life goals, and if the gf said "hey, I just want you to know that I am planning to move away in a year from now" that would be totally legit (even if it was followed by "and I don't see a LDR as a good option"). But the insistence on breaking up if he doesn't commit now just doesn't make any sense. When somebody says "hey, I just want you to know that I never want to have kids, so if you are planning on having them let's break up now, so that I can find a partner whose views on kids matches mine" that is perfectly reasonable. But in this case, what would it be? "hey I just want you to know that I am planning on moving away, so if you are not planning to move with me let's break up so that I can find a partner who......what?! ..."who will immediately agree to move to the other side of the country with me in a year??!" It just doesn't make any sense.


Kusanagi, If she's wanting to break up so that she can rush into another relationship and find a different partner who will be willing to move with her, that's foolish and a tad manipulative too. But there's no indication of that. It makes total sense that someone would not want to continue a relationship that is becoming serious if they know that it will end in a few months due to incompatibilities. You and Dan might be able to just enjoy a thing while it lasts, but not everyone can do that. For example, if I were in that situaiton, I'd want to keep it casual until I moved. They are falling in love (or think they are). If he's not going to move and she's not going to stay, it might be really depressing to drag it out for months rather than just end it swiftly.

If you mean because it might give him some time to make up his mind, I think that would be very foolish, even though this seems to be what Dan suggests. It means they spend the next several months weighing all these pros and cons- it's not something he wants to do and puts her in the position of having to make it worth his while. Then if it doesn't work out- what an awful lot to give up for someone. And it's different than an LTR that might lead to a move as the GF is also not settled anywhere and doesn't sound like she will be for a while. Continuing on those terms- that he's maybe going to move and she's maybe going to convince him meanwhile they continue to fall in love- that sounds like a nightmare.

Makes sense to break up. I think Dan is wrong here for these people. If they were the sorts of people who just enjoy a thing while they have it and can take life as it comes at them, then Dan's advice would be good. But these obviously aren't those sorts of people- being a man who repeatedly takes deep dives and is well-settled in his life, and a woman who doesn't know what she wants to do with herself. They are not compatible. They are both just in a transitional time in their lives, they have no responsibilities to one another and they can build castles in the sky.


@59 kusangi, they break up, and she dates other people who are not stuck in Smallville - like maybe other students. She's not asking anyone to run away with her at the drop of a hat. She's saying she isn't open to being in a serious relationship with people who are perfectly comfortable settled in Smallville and can't see uprooting their nice, comfortable, Smallville lives. Easy.


This young woman is demanding a commitment and that is a red flag after a few months. Doesn't sound to me like she's got your back at all, LW.
If she did she'd know you are going thru a transition and making long term plans now, would not be in your best interest. In fact that's what experts suggest.. after life changing events, death or divorce say, it's best Not to make big plans for a good yr after.


For the pedantic * death of a loved one.


Fichu @55 "I see something a little optimistic in CaARL's position, that ability to get a wild impractical crush on someone. It's been a long time for me, and I miss it."

You see those wild impractical crushes as a positive thing? To me, one of few advantages of getting older (over 45 in my case) is that that no longer happens.


Fichu and RE, I miss it too Fichu. Youth really is wasted on the young. I miss the romance involved in youthful attraction, at least on my side. I don't miss the drama and yes that's what this young man is caught by, youth.
LW, something feels off to me about a person laying that condition down so early in the piece.
You are allowed to have got your life together by twenty nine and feel looked after by your community of family and friends. Congratulations for getting it sorted and gone into poly lifestyle as well. At twenty nine I was not together at all.
I think you've got to let this young woman go and spend some time alone. Why do people jump from one relationship to another, without a moment for reflection. Take some time to look at your years with your wfe. Why did she end up feeling so overwhelmed? You were part of her getting to that point, so reflect on you and how you affected the relationship.
You need to grieve rather than jump straight to another woman. Yes it's scary being on your own, at first. Then thru looking at your fuckups and going shit, did I do that? You gain insight into you, and by the time you go and look for another partner, you won't be part of the same routine as last time.
And you're young and soon to be free of a marriage that no longer works. Why get tangled up with an insecure young woman who is trying to chain you to what might go down months from now, and you've only just met her. No. Take charge of your future by sitting with yourself.
good luck.


It's certainly a trade-off. The wild naive wonderful energy of love and new relationship on the one hand. The calm practical drama-free secure sensible feeling of an established relationship on the other. That's why I call it a "little" optimistic. It's not whole-hog wish-I-had-that. Romantic comedies sell us on the idea that we can have both, and maybe somewhere there's someone who can.


@52 EmmaLiz "hmmm, it's going to get REALLY hard to leave if this relationship keeps growing."

Oh then by all means the GF should break up with him, perhaps instead she can find someone to spend the next year with that she has a lousy connection with. And hopefully barely likes.
Interesting, I can't relate to his at all. Seems like a sad and cowardly way to run away from life, for "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" (Tennyson).

"When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden." (Gibran)


Curious, I don't understand the hostility there. It's totally normal for a person leaving college to wish to move and start their lives / careers. Why in the world this would be called running away from life, I have no idea, but I could claim the same in the opposite. Choosing to give up all your future travel & career plans at 24 and instead settle down with someone you've known for a few months could also be called "running away from life". And why does everyone here keep saying she's going to dump him to find someone else to spend the year with? There is no indication of that, and it might shock some of you to know that not everyone need be looking for a serious connection all the time. Avoidance of a serious connection at a time when one could hinder one's future is often exactly the point for leaving. The opposite of a serious connection is not a lousy one but a casual one (or two or three etc).


@69 EmmaLiz
You make good points, but what I'm calling cowardly is avoidance of hurt. I'm not suggesting she give up her future plans, I'm suggesting she open herself to the pain of leaving her love behind when she /pursues/ her future plans. (Good point about "not everyone need be looking for a serious connection all the time", but that ship has sailed, she already /found/ love, and IMO that is not something to abandon before one needs to.)


A Newmar Award (or should it be a Kitt Award?) to Mizz Liz for the concluding sentence of #52. It was likely your best sentence of the thread.

The exchange between Mizz Liz and Ms Erica makes me wonder in part what Mizz Liz would make of Julius King, who in A Fairly Honourable Defeat spouted a very similar line on human nature to the closing sentences of #56. Ms Erica appears to expect people to act like Linnet Doyle, but without going so far as Mr Savage and justifying it.


So he married his wife when she was about the same age his new gf. Probably what is attracting him to her is the same kind of early 20s energy that made him want to marry his wife at that time of life. It's great that the new gf is self aware enough to know she wants to live elsewhere and told him early, but she can't expect a commitment now and he needs to do the same thing and let her know all his concerns now, too. An observation I've made from men who move with/for their young GFs is that they are attracted to that wild energy but may want to keep her home rather than participate in it outside the house. If he moves across the country away from all his family and friends I forsee her going out a lot, and him staying home a lot. Her making a lot of friends and him making none or very few. He needs to prioritize cohabitation compatibility, and with that is being honest about what you want your day to day to look like. I don't recommend homebodies to uproot because it's very isolating.


Yes this young woman has every right to set her own plans and tell people that's what she's doing. That's different from this situation where she is equally feeling it for the bf and wants guarantees and after such a short time.
It feels like a form of blackmail. If she knows she's leaving then it's on her to take it slow with any relationship, rather than insist someone uproot their well managed life.


This is where feminism wants it both ways. Freedom as a woman to be free spirited and at the same time, have the guy along.. a good stable one.. to help keep the story afloat. Fine if the guy goes willingly and is also a free spirit a la jack and co. To have to manipulate a man like this, one who is near his family ffs, people he gets along with, good friends and economic stability.
Maybe she's a trust fund kid and daddy pays for it all anyway. Because what's the plan? Jobs are hard to find, the political climate is unstable.. what is the plan.


I feel like folks are overstating what the LW described. In his words:

"Recently, the subject of moving came up again and she basically made it clear that if I'm not going to consider moving when she's done with school (about a year from now) or shortly thereafter then she wants to break it off. "

That's not an ultimatum, or blackmail. That's a reasonable conversation to have to figure out whether she and her bf are compatible. If he would not consider moving, they are not compatible. End of story. She has a right to withdraw from a relationship with someone who isn't compatible. LW seemed to mostly want Dan's advice about whether he (LW) should try to overcome his Bilbo Bagginsesque love of Hobbiton and go on a grand adventure for love. I think folks are probably right that he should not, because NRE and not making big life decisions in a time of crisis, etc etc. I still fail to see why everyone is coming down so hard on the gf.


Regarding whether they should stay together and bask in their love knowing it's time-limited...I never had time to put my life on hold like that. I wanted a life partner, and there are lots of people out there to love. If I knew I wasn't compatible with someone, I would move on. Gauzy flings with a known expiration date are more fun in theory than practice.


This is princess behaviour from the LW's gf, and it's bullshit.

LW, a compromise. Can you take six months leave from work and sublet your home?


Princess behavior? That's a funny name for not agreeing to while away a year with Mr. Wrong.


Girlfriend has plans to move after graduation and is being upfront about it. No quarrel with that. She also is saying you gotta commit to the move NOW or no relationship. What’s wrong with enjoying the rest of the school year and then sticking to her guns and moving? It’s highly unlikely she’ll find Mr. Right before the move. And LW, open your eyes. You sound like a star struck schoolboy, head over heels in love with his teacher. Come back to earth and see the situation for what it is. Give it the rest of the year and see if she’s really Miss Perfect. If she is, AND she thinks the same of you pack your bags. If not, let her go with a fond farewell.


Take some time post divorce to learn about yourself and what you really want out of life. Enjoy your family and friends. Travel. Date. Have one night stands. Explore any kinks you might have. Explore life for yourself sans a commitment to a wife or children. You're still young at 29. And if it's just fear of not having anyone once the divorce is complete and if you say "adios" to the 4-month girlfriend, remember that apparently you didn't have any problems finding poly relationships or this girlfriend. Unless you're socially underdeveloped/sociopath/psychopath, or Trump voter, you'll be able to find someone else. Take the time for yourself and you might actually find someone far more compatible.


Wow, 80 comments on a letter whose answer is so obvious and which Dan answered so well.
Philosophy @1: They haven't even been together four months; it's half that. BIG RED FLAG.
I don't think CARL can possibly be healthy enough just four months into the process of ending a 10-year relationship to make a big commitment. He hasn't grieved for the loss of his marriage; he's (probably subconsciously) using this new relationship to avoid having to deal with those feelings. Agree with Dan and probably everyone else: let her know you are not ready to make a big commitment while you're going through a divorce, and if she can't accept that, she is not mature enough to make one either.


Won’t somebody please think of Dr Mack!


If ALL the NGF is asking for, at this point, is that he will consider moving at some point in the future. This is something he can give it to her in good conscience.

Personally, I think he needs therapy. In four years he undergone 7 major (high stress) transitional changes. Finished college. Started a job. Got married. Bought a house. Changed the nature of his (previously?) monogamous relationship (why did they even bother getting married?). Is getting divorced (which really shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone) Started a new relationship. The only major (stressful) change that he (thank whoever/whatever) did not choose, was to become a father. I would be greatly surprised if he isn't in shock or is he an adrenaline junky (which would explain a lot).

I also think he has major problems with his communication/interpersonal skills. His wife just decided (apparently, completely out of the blue) she wanted to end their marriage. No conversations. No discussions. No attempts at counselling or therapy.

This letter is surreal if real (right out of the Twilight Zone) or a fabrication on the order of The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen.


I forgot. He also did not choose to move to a new city, state or country. I also compressed the ending college and starting a job stages by leaving out the stress of finding a job (possibly the first real jobs that either he and/or wife have ever had), which may have necessitated moving to a new city, state, country. Stress doubled by the need to find two starter jobs in the same location.

Buying a house right out of college (no student debt?) Leaving college at 25 implies graduate school for at least the LW and the additional debt normally incurred.


I'd be with fubar @52: there was a lot of talk of polyamory and ethical nonmonogamy when CARL was in a struggling marriage, but none with his new, exciting partner. This makes it sound as if 'ethical nonmonogamy' for him was just a way of having sex with someone other than his wife, whom he did not seem to love.

What does he want? In terms of relationship style, does he want to be with his new gf exclusively, or does he want to be poly? Is he happy with her being with other people? Why has he let himself be dragged into questions of make-or-break choices with someone else so soon after the breakup of his marriage? This should be a time for him to step back, to consider what he wants--how he can be someone that one, or many, people want to be with. But he's rushing headlong into a situation that threatens to replicate the relationship that--possibly unhappily, or part-unhappily or unproductively--took up ten years of his youth.

Contra EmmaLiz's suggestion, I would be surprised if his current gf dated both CARL and his wife. (But what Emma says about the natural cautions she has about getting involved with him are right). CARL is either unclear, or not fully upfront, about how his wife wanted to end the marriage, and is probably not dealing with it, either emotionally or intellectually. Meeting his new partner was something that happened for him while his attention was not on the ending of his ten year-long partnership--while he was disengaged from it.


LoveMyDog, EmmaLiz, strange observer: I'm surprised how outnumbered we are! I blame the headline: "Today in Red Flags: New Girlfriend Demands Long-Term Commitment", when I see neither demands nor commitment. If there's any commitment question, it's whether or not he's completely committed to their current town. If not, that doesn't mean he would move with her. If so, then he definitely wouldn't.

It's like she's laying her kink cards on the table during the designated before-3-months window, and her kink is traveling and living somewhere else.


@86 ankylosaurus EXACTLY. She didn't ask him to definitely right now immediately promise cross his heart absolutely without question move with her in a year. She asked him whether he would even consider leaving the town that he says he's quite comfortable living in. I'm sure she picked up on his vibes that he's not interested in leaving and wants her to stay there with him. FFS, that's a totally reasonable deal-breaker. I'm surprised it took them 4 months to get there. I'm SHOCKED at all the people who are acting like she has some obligation to give him another year of her life.


86 & 87

Another aspect is that they are discussing moving in together now. So since they are talking about taking the relationship to the next level, it makes even more sense that she would want to discuss longer term compatibility before deciding to move in together. Moving in together is a commitment, but I don't see the GF demanding it.

I've seen before with some commenters here that some people think that moving around aimlessly in youth (when you have no other responsibilities) is a bad thing. We don't know that this is what the LW is doing- she might be moving because her career prospects are not good where she lives. But I've seen the trend before that a lot of people seem to think that settling down is always the better option. You will note how many people in this comment section say things like "like she's going to find another compatible relationship in that time" etc- as if the idea that no, she'd just take the option of not settling with someone isn't a possibility.