Stressed about change


Stressed about change


your avatar   Kitty (23 year-old woman)

I am 23 years of age. I am a student and I have a live-in boyfriend of 2 years. I have a problem with depression, but it is not out of hand. I have my own home and my parents take care of my bills. My problem is this: my boyfriend wants to attend grad school. This involves moving, which I really don't want to do. I love the town I am in. I already have the perfect setup. I don't want to change it. Once grad school is over, he will move somewhere else. I am settled already. I might be able to move 4 years down the road, but in the near future I don't think I could do it. I do love my boyfriend very much though. I am stuck with this decision. I know my boyfriend likes it where we are, but he will have a hard time finding work in the field of his choice here. I know that it is a while before any decisions have to be made, but the whole idea of this is stressing me out really bad. I don't want to do something that I might not be happy doing, but I do not want to lose my boyfriend. However, the idea of all of this is pushing him away from him (in my own mind). I find that I don't have anything to say to him.

What do I do about this? I tend to dwell on things. How can I get over this until it has to be decided? How do I stop letting things hurt me so much that I can't do anything about now? Any other helpful advice you can give would be awesome. Thank you.


    Jerry Button, L.M.H.C.

Dear Kitty,

There are so many things I would like to know before I try to answer your question. Unfortunately that's impossible so I'll do my best in the circumstances.

To begin with, why do you see the situation as an "either/or" problem? What's to prevent you staying where you are and continuing your studies while your boyfriend goes to whatever graduate school he's planning on going to for however long that takes? Or, have I gotten it wrong? Is the problem that if he goes to graduate school now he'll have to move after he's finished his degree? If it's the first problem, my advice is that you will be able to find a way to maintain the relationship even if you are physically separated while he does his graduate work. You have two years together and that will, hopefully, have given the relationship enough strength to tolerate separation.

If it's the second problem, my advice is to encourage him to get the degree. I give that advice because I'm guessing he likes whatever field he is in and that, if he does, that the degree will help him succeed in that field which will be good for your future life together. At the same time, however, you should make it very clear to your boyfriend that you like living right where you are. That you feel secure in your house and in the town in which you live. Most happy couples have found ways to be mutually supportive, and you need support in your need for comfort in your living conditions just as your boyfriend needs support in his desire to pursue his career.

You say you have some depression. That certainly impacts the relationship to some degree. It's also likely a factor in your sense of security in your present circumstances and your desire to stay put. If your boyfriend is aware of the connection, it will make it easier for him to support you. Thinking about moving and being uncomfortable with that idea makes you afraid that you'll eventually lose the relationship. It's this thought (perhaps unconscious) that's making you push your boyfriend away (as you say, in your mind). If you make the separation gradual and if you control it you feel (again, probably unconsciously,) that it won't hurt so much.

If you can, I encourage you (and maybe both of you) to find a good psychotherapist to help you work through the depression. I think it will improve the quality of your life, the quality of the relationship and that it will allow you to consider the future more positively and with a much greater degree of confidence.


Jerry Button

This question was answered by Jerry Button. Jerry is a psychotherapist, personal development trainer, workshop presenter and relationship coach practicing in Delray Beach, Florida. He believes that the key to quality of life lies in relationships. His approach to interpersonal and emotional problems is relational and psychodynamic. Jerry is experienced working with individuals, children and families and welcomes challenging opportunities.For more information visit:


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