Author Topic: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO  (Read 14590 times)

teadirt

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Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« on: April 02, 2015, 10:44:54 AM »
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« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 10:34:47 AM by teadirt »

cashstasherat23

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2015, 10:50:36 AM »
Wish I could offer you advice, but I am in a similar position with my BF of 3 years. Following this post to see if anyone else can provide any insight, as I am feeling very torn.

teadirt

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2015, 10:54:11 AM »
Wish I could offer you advice, but I am in a similar position with my BF of 3 years. Following this post to see if anyone else can provide any insight, as I am feeling very torn.

Sorry to hear that, I know what you mean about feeling torn.

JohnGalt

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2015, 10:59:02 AM »
I'm not sure that any of us will be able to offer much in the way of help here... ultimately, you're just going to have to decide what to prioritize between the relationship and your personal goals.

I'll add a couple thoughts though in case they help...

1. You can probably figure out a way to do the software thing remotely from wherever her career sends her if that's what you decide is important - especially if you have a few years of her being in school still to work out the details.  However - I'm not sure that helps with your desire for your own place.

2. You're right, you're both young and will do a lot of growing.  On one hand, it may not make sense to try to force something now if your goals are not in sync - on the other, it's entirely possible (maybe even likely) that one or both of you will change your goals over the next few years.  Without knowing either of you, it's really going to be difficult for any of us to provide much insight here.

NumberCruncher

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2015, 11:04:29 AM »
Awww, it's a tough situation.

A few things to consider - for option (1), why would FIRE be out of reach? Depending on where she goes, you would likely be able to find something that pays reasonably well. You could even start your own business (maybe as a side hustle, then scaling it or something). FIRE might not happen as quickly, but it would not be out of reach.  Also, if she eventually wants to be a professor, that to me implies some amount of stability and "home base" at a certain university/city. There could also be international trips for research involved with that, but as a professor, she'd have to come back and teach for a majority of the year, I'd imagine.

(2) Long distance does suck. Long distance for 4+ years would be really hard. In the future, long distance for months at a time probably wouldn't be so bad, though...hard to say.

(3) If you break up now, that doesn't mean you're over forever. Just saying.

Another option could be moving closer - maybe someplace 100 miles away, for instance. That way weekend trips could be made.

This is obviously something you two need to decide for yourselves, but I'd be hesitant about option (2). I've done long distance before too, for a little over two years. It's a bit easier with an end in sight (I'm now married to that person).

Dee18

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2015, 11:08:15 AM »
My advice:  don't think so long term.  What do you want in the next 3 years?  Do that.  At 22 you do not need to plan out your life.

ENL

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2015, 11:15:29 AM »
I don't want to offer too much advice because there is absolutely no way that strangers on the internet can make a better decision than you can in this situation.  Ultimately you both have to search your hearts and decide if your relationship is something that can work long term and if you can start working towards shared goals together. 

However, I do want to address one thing you said.

We have an amazing relationship, never fight...

Never fighting is NOT a sign of an amazing relationship.  It is quite the opposite, actually.  I have been in a number of relationships myself and seen even more of my family and friends' relationships (even marriages) come and go. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the relationships where the couples never fought has ended in a breakup/divorce.  When there is no fighting one of more of the people involved in the relationship are:
1) Not committed enough to the relationship to get upset about anything
2) Suffering from very poor communication skills in the form of shutting down and resenting instead of discussing issues
3) Not spending enough time together to get into fights, which also will eventually end the relationship as they grow apart.

I'll also say that my husband and I started with very different goals and 5+ years into the marriage and 10+ years into the relationship we are still struggling with issues that would be nonexistent to other couples.  We have slowly made progress at having shared goals for our life and family and in general are quite happy together.  But sometimes things can still get really bad and we are not sure it was wise for us to have gotten married in the first place.  We are both Christians, though, so we at the very least are on the same page about how divorce is not an option in marriage, which has helped us get through our rough patches together.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 11:21:18 AM by Evil Number Lady »

Cookie78

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2015, 11:17:25 AM »
Speaking from experience, long distance doesn't suck as much if you are both able to see other people (honestly and ethically). If you are both on the same page about having new dating experiences then try that, but without the breaking up part. It doesn't have to be forever, but it can buy you some time to decide if this is someone you want to move for, or if you'd rather follow your own dreams.

cynthia1848

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2015, 11:18:27 AM »
As a counterpoint - my husband and I also never fight, but have MUCH MUCH better communication than our friends who do fight.

I agree with Dee - think about what you want for your career and your life.  Does that include your SO?  Then staying together should be part of the equation.  If getting a higher-paying job and not moving are more important, then maybe it's time to call it a day on your relationship.

2ndTimer

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2015, 11:22:38 AM »
First step:  Talk with her.  Lay out what you want and ask her what she wants..  Then talk about where these two overlap and what you should do about it.  Warning this process may take many discussions to hash out as she may not have thought about it much and may need time to catch up.  Also, you will both have more ideas as you mull over what the other one has said.

We had to have this talk early in our relationship because we were both getting advanced degrees and the future was uncertain and then again a few years later when we realized we were a little off course in terms of happiness.  I won't bother you with our solutions because they are irrelevant to you.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 11:46:12 AM by 2ndTimer »

NumberCruncher

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2015, 11:25:37 AM »
At the risk of getting really off-topic...

I do want to address one thing you said.

We have an amazing relationship, never fight...

Never fighting is NOT a sign of an amazing relationship.  It is quite the opposite, actually. 

It depends, though. I think different people have different definitions for "fights." Like, I hear "fight" and think yelling, not just disagreements. http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-rules-for-friendly-fighting-for-couples/0001342 there's one semi-legitimate link/site that talks about this a bit. There are many ways to have a healthy relationship.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2015, 11:32:01 AM »
3. Break up, move on. Obviously I don't want to break up with the love of my life but I can't help but wonder if we would both be better off in the end. We have an amazing relationship, never fight, but could this be the best thing for both of our life goals? One thing that's been discussed is that neither of us have had another serious relationship before. We were both virgins when we met. We've both admitted curiosity about dating other people, not because our relationship is bad, but because we're so inexperienced. My SO and I are both the type of people who love to try new things in all aspects of our lives: food, places, entertainment, friends. We talked about this, and in light of her moving away, we both admit these thoughts have become more prevalent.  Plenty of other fish in the sea, you know? We're great together, but maybe we'd be better with people with more similar goals.

I can't tell you what to do, but I can say that there is nothing to be afraid of in terms of breaking up.

You'll have lots of time to find someone else who is great and if she is "the one" you can always get back together once she is done school.

What I wouldn't do is stick it out with someone with whom you don't see a common shared vision for a life together.

-- Vik

Argyle

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2015, 11:34:46 AM »
I don't actually see that there's a problem here.  Or if there is, it's not quite the problem you're envisioning.

Are software jobs really so hard to get?  I'm not in the field, but I would imagine this is one of the more flexible, transferable job fields there is.  Are you saying you'll need to stay where you are to stay in a software job?  That just sounds unlikely.

But about her career path.  First of all, biologists may work in the field (it sounds as if your GF is that type of biologist?), but their jobs aren't in the field.  Their jobs are at a university or research institution, and those are located in cities.  Cities with software jobs.

But this is getting ahead of things.  First she has to be accepted into a good graduate program.  The rule of thumb is never to pay for a PhD program, so she needs to be good enough to be accepted into a good graduate program which offers her full funding.  This is no mean feat.  I work in a mid-tier place that offers only mediocre funding and we have so many applicants we're turning down people with 4.0 undergraduate gpa's. 

So she has some hurdles to clear before embarking on a career as a biologist.  But say all those go well.  She does her PhD, she does a post-doc, she lands a tenure-track or research job.  Well and good.  All of those things will happen in cities.  Meanwhile you will be working.  What's unachievable about FIRE under these circumstances?  Two incomes devoted to supporting a household makes it even easier.

Solar panels and a garden and big trees are achievable in this scenario, and probably just as fast as if you labored on your own.  I just don't see the contradiction.  It is simply not realistic to think that you personally have to stay in the same job in the same place as you are at 22, or there's no FIRE for you. 

On the other hand, it sounds as if you're wondering what kind of other women are out there, and if you should get more experience before settling down with one person.  That's fair.  But that's not the same question.

Noodle

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2015, 11:37:18 AM »
I agree that it's really good to think about your goals and whether they're compatible, but I also think you are trying to think longer-term than you have data to support. For instance, you are projecting what you think her career will be like, but you don't actually know that yet. She might end up based out of a research university in a big city with lots of opportunities for you. If FIRE proceeds well for you, you might enjoy traveling with her on research trips. On the other hand, GF may realize after a year in grad school that her career plans aren't as good a match for her as she thought. It happens.

All you really know right now is that she is moving faraway in the fall, and you have a job that is working well for you locally. I would think in the shorter term for right now. For instance, you could look for jobs in her new city and see if anything grabs you. You could agree to break up in a friendly way, or date but make it non-exclusive, and then if you find you really miss her, you could contact her and see if she is open to getting back together. You could try dating long-distance and agree to revisit at the end of fall semester, at which time you might decide to break up or move. You're not signing a seven-year contract here.

MillenialMustache

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2015, 11:43:21 AM »
I broke up with my first boyfriend when I was 19 and am now 28, and wanted to share the thought I had. When I was 19, I had been with my bf for four years, never with anyone else, and couldn't imagine what life would be like without him. As we moved through college though, it became apparent that we both were curious about other people. At that point we broke up. I met my DH a few years later. There was never a point in which I was curious about other people or even considered breaking up with him on any level. It was like everything just made sense at that point. Also, my DH had previous relationship experiences to my own, and it was a bonding point, as well as lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of each other.

Based on what you said and my previous comment, it seems like you may want to try and see other people. You can always go back to each other if you both want, and you will likely be stronger for it if you do. There is a reason that the saying about, "if you love something let it go..." exists.

Good luck to you. No road is an easy one.

Imustacheyouaquestion

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2015, 11:43:28 AM »
The question here shouldn't be about logistics. Literally every couple on the planet is different in terms of how they figure out living arrangements and balancing their goals and dreams together. The question for both of you to answer is, "Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?" If you think it might be yes, you'll figure out a way to make the rest of whatever arrangements you need work. If you're not feeling that tug, it might be time to part ways.

Becoming a professor is not going to happen overnight. Assume a minimum of 5 years in grad school, plus post-docs and fellowships, before she's even on a tenure track. By the time she has a permanent position, you may well be FIRE.

Software jobs can definitely be done remotely. Especially as you progress in your career, you may be less location-dependent than you think.

"She'll always be leaving" is an eternal complaint about people who travel frequently for work. You might have to spend some time apart (maybe even extended periods of time) but that's not unique to her specific professional goals.

My neighbors have jobs in two different cities (one's a professor) and alternate driving to spend weekends with each other. On breaks from school (way more frequent in academia than other jobs, btw), he drives down to spend longer chunks of time with her. So don't assume that your incompatibility in this regard makes having a functional relationship impossible.

coffeehound

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2015, 11:46:34 AM »
[One of the reasons that FI/RE was so appealing to me is that my spouse is an academic.  Having financial freedom is, I am discovering after about 10 years of marriage (I'm a slow learner), critical to a lifestyle in which a spouse may need to move to some distant land for 3 months to 2 years or more. Frankly, the reality that my partner would have MORE options if I was FIRED helped me get him on board with investing and cutting costs, because my RE-ing would allow him to accept opportunities he's been unwilling to take because of the whole 'long-distance is a nightmare' thing. 

It seems to me that if your gf is on board with a plan in which:
a. Both of you are aiming for YOU to be FI;
b. You both put money and effort into this goal, and you're both willing to accept compromises that will get you to the goal;
c. There is an understanding that her career success will be both of your goals once you're near FI

Then both of you can get what you want, and you'll be able to travel along to some interesting places, while being free to follow your own interests in RE.

Yes, there are other issues that you and your SO need to work out, and if you work out the other things, then FI/RE means that you WON'T get left behind, unless you don't want to go along.

ENL

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2015, 12:01:37 PM »
It depends, though. I think different people have different definitions for "fights." Like, I hear "fight" and think yelling, not just disagreements. http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-rules-for-friendly-fighting-for-couples/0001342 there's one semi-legitimate link/site that talks about this a bit. There are many ways to have a healthy relationship.

To clarify my point, I agree with this article.  "Friendly fighting" is definitely superior to name calling, screaming, tantrums ect.  However when  people say they "never fight" they often mean that they literally never argue.  At all.  In THAT scenario, the relationship is not healthy.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 12:37:48 PM by Evil Number Lady »

2ndTimer

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2015, 12:11:13 PM »
First step:  Talk with her.  Lay out what you want and ask her what she wants..  Then talk about where these two overlap and what you should do about it.  Warning this process may take many discussions to hash out as she may not have thought about it much and may need time to catch up.  Also, you will both have more ideas as you mull over what the other one has said.

We had to have this talk early in our relationship because we were both getting advanced degrees and the future was uncertain and then again a few years later when we realized we were a little off course in terms of happiness.  I won't bother you with our solutions because they are irrelevant to you.

You want to hear what we did, here it is:  After the first talk we got married and spent the next three years living apart finishing our degrees and starting our careers.  After three years, we arrived at a point where we needed to revisit the discussion because we were very unhappy with that arrangement.  We decided to be a 1.5 career family instead of a two career family so we could live in the same place.  It worked for us.

Genevieve

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2015, 12:31:40 PM »
To me, your question has nothing to do with FIRE but is instead about how to handle two people who want to very different careers. My husband and I started dating when we were 19, so we also navigated this together.

I took an internship after my sophomore year of college that was long distance. I did it exactly for the reason you mentioned -- I didn't want to have any regrets or feel like we held each other back. We missed each other like crazy and we could barely think of anything else other than wanting to be together again. Similarly, my husband went to grad school and we dated long distance for 9 months while I finished my undergrad degree. After that period we decided we wanted to be together forever and we started talking about getting married.

If you want to be with someone in academia, there will be a trailing spouse. Do you want to be this person or not? Thing is-- she might change her mind about wanting to be in academia. My husband is going into an industry job in part so we can build a life together where we can have a more stable location. Some of that is so I can develop my career in the way that I want.

So this is how we personally have navigated that situation.

I have many more stories like this since everyone with a serious partner has had this exact same discussion in navigating grad school/academia/job.

 Your situation will be different, of course. If it's her dream to go get a bio Ph.D., she should go do it. You could move in a year or so if you change your mind about keeping the job. There are other ways for you to get experience.

If you want to be together more than you want any particular career path, you'll both work together and find a way to make it work.


If you're not sure, then some distance isn't necessarily a bad thing. You'll find out really quickly what you want.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 12:37:49 PM by Genevieve »

Cassie

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2015, 12:47:39 PM »
I know of a young couple in a similar situation. When they graduated HS he went in military & she away to college. When they were home they dated & when away saw other people. At age 28 decided they were right for each other & got married. Are still happy 10 years later. There is a middle ground. If you are right for each other it will last even if it is not exclusive.

Imustacheyouaquestion

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2015, 01:50:09 PM »
But I do feel like I'm at a crossroads with this, whatever happens will mean big things for both of us further down the road.

It's a big decision for sure, but not one that I think you need to drive yourself crazy over. If you move and take a job near where she's in school so you can be together and you realize after 2 years that it's not going to work out, you can break up and move on with your life. If you stay at your current job and the two of you split up, you can call her and ask to get back together if you think you've made a huge mistake. If you date long distance and find it strengthens your bond, you can figure out how to stay together. Even if you make decisions now based on what you think are your long term goals, people change, life changes, and you just have to make the best decision for yourself based on what you know at the time. But you have to accept that t's impossible to know how everything in your life will turn out.

This data is old, but it looks like about 60% of people even finish PhD programs in biology: http://www.phdcompletion.org/resources/cgsnsf2008_sowell.pdf. There's no guarantee she'll be in academia (or she could well end up in an industry job working in a lab.)

I feel a duty to stay at my present job (no telecommuting foreseeable) for at least a few years to get some experience and to give my employer some return on their investment in me.



That's fine if you feel that way, but I guarantee your employer feels no similar loyalty to you. People leave jobs all the time for all kinds of reasons (moving to follow a partner is particularly common).

 

also i cant help but feel a little offput by the "im doing x, you can come along if you want, but thats what i'm doing" mentality. like theres no room for compromise. ah, i just dont know.


Obviously you two need to talk this over more. This quote actually made me wonder if she's trying to suggest you two split up, but is trying to blunt the news with a soft landing, especially given how long you've been together. "You can come along if you want" is actually fairly different from saying, "I feel like I need to pursue this phD because it's my dream, but I still want to be with you, so let's figure out how we can make this work with your job and my school in two different places." If she's the one suggesting you two consider dating other people, that's a sign she wants to downgrade the seriousness of your relationship.

17oclockshadow

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2015, 02:45:02 PM »
   Hi everybody. Long time lurker of MMM, first real post on the forums. A little bit about me: I'm a 22 year old male, just starting my journey to FIRE. I just started my first real job out of college, in a new city, 3 months ago, and I have been saving ~60% of my income so far (almost all of which is going towards student loans, which I should be able to pay off in about a year, hell yeah!).

   Anyways, I had a long talk with my SO of 3 years last night about the future. She recently got accepted into a Biology PhD program 3,000 miles away at a very good school, where she will be moving this Fall, and this has caused us to worry about our future together. She is very career oriented, as am I, and we're both kind of stubborn, so this new development has caused some friction.

   How does this have to do with FIRE? I'm slowly learning that we have different dreams. She wants to move around the world doing research, with a goal of becoming a professor. I want put my nose to the grind and build an awesome life. I want a place in this world to call my own, with solar panels and gardens and big trees, out in the country somewhere. I have no problem grinding for a decade or more to reach RE. I fully support her following her dream, but it leaves me in a tough spot. I've thought of three scenarios, none of which are appealing, but which seem inevitable:

   1. Follow her. I work in software, and I imagine it will be very hard to find steady jobs, especially considering the places people study biology (read: not in cities.) Granted, she'll be stuck at grad school for a few years, but eventually this will be the case. In the academic world you go where the best opportunities are, and that leaves me with something like "well you can come along if you want", with no opportunity for compromise, and a difficult career path. On the plus side we will be together, but FIRE seems out of reach.
   2. Stay behind. Anyone who has done long distance knows it is HARD. We did it for 2 years in college, but let me tell you, it's hard. We are both young, and spending 5+ years of our precious youth waiting to be with each other... I don't know. I know we don't want to hold each other back from growing as people, you know? but it seems inevitable in this situation. People seem to grow a lot in their 20s, and I know we will grow in different directions. Doubt has been creeping up on me too. I don't know how long I could take it. I mean, if her career involves taking off to remote corners of the globe for long periods, this is going to be a LIFETIME of staying behind. And I don't want her to have to deal with this either. I know she feels bad about leaving me to go to school...
   3. Break up, move on. Obviously I don't want to break up with the love of my life but I can't help but wonder if we would both be better off in the end. We have an amazing relationship, never fight, but could this be the best thing for both of our life goals? One thing that's been discussed is that neither of us have had another serious relationship before. We were both virgins when we met. We've both admitted curiosity about dating other people, not because our relationship is bad, but because we're so inexperienced. My SO and I are both the type of people who love to try new things in all aspects of our lives: food, places, entertainment, friends. We talked about this, and in light of her moving away, we both admit these thoughts have become more prevalent.  Plenty of other fish in the sea, you know? We're great together, but maybe we'd be better with people with more similar goals.

   If you've read this far, thank you for listening to me vent. I don't know many people in my new town and have no one to discuss this with. Any folks on this forum with more life experience have any advice? I'm feeling totally lost here.

   Thanks for reading.

I would wager that the likelihood of you surviving multiple years of long distance is very low.  Some people have done it before, but it is quite rare.

You can probably find job options in her college town if you look hard; it will be harder for a biology PhD to find jobs where you are located.  There is a larger demand for programmers than for biologists.  Plus, the sciences sometimes get stuck in crappy locations (I know from experience). 

Some serious advice: it is probably to early in your life and even in your relationship to be making such long term plans.  Who knows if she will make it through grad school.  Who knows if she will become a professor (it's a pyramid scheme; way less prof positions than people that want to be one... and on top of that biology is the worst of the sciences).  Also, she will likely have to do a post doc which means another few years, in a different locations.

If she doesn't already know this, she should be told that the job market for biology PhDs and especially profs is very poor right now and is not looking to improve any time soon.

You two should probably do some soul searching and decide if you want to stay together, and then commit to it.  If you don't seriously think you are going to marry this person, and she doesn't feel exactly the same, it will fail.

Anyways, in terms of FIRE, keep on track with your plan regardless of her plan, and keep your finances separate.  If you stay together and she becomes a prof eventually, you could always retire early and she goes on to pursue her professional career.  But if your FIRE goals are to go travel the world and do all types of stuff that you'd like to do with a partner, you may realize that she is no longer a good match for you.  Or alternatively, maybe you don't need her involved in your FIRE life.

Anyways, long story short: you two don't seem like an ideal match... and the fact that you both have hints of that in your thoughts just about guarantees that breaking up is the right thing to do.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2015, 02:48:32 PM »
I followed my husband for his PhD program.  In turn, when he graduated he found a local job- so that I could stay at mine.

Relationships are about sacrifices.  It would be extremely unlikely for the ideal situation for both partners to line up.

maizeman

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2015, 03:00:10 PM »
What kind of biology is she going to grad school to study? "Biology" could mean anything from cancer to ecology and the two are going to produce very different career paths going forward. Others are giving you very good advice about relationship vs career which is probably more valuable, but I might be able to help you get a better sense of what the career path she's pursuing would actually look like,

teadirt

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2015, 03:02:53 PM »
What kind of biology is she going to grad school to study? "Biology" could mean anything from cancer to ecology and the two are going to produce very different career paths going forward. Others are giving you very good advice about relationship vs career which is probably more valuable, but I might be able to help you get a better sense of what the career path she's pursuing would actually look like,

Her undergrad was in Ecology.

Raislin

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2015, 03:03:50 PM »
I like to be pretty straightforward.  It's not really meant to be advice, but just my own thoughts, as you seem to be wanting them from others.

I still feel I'm young at 26 years.  I've been married for a year now, but I was in a simpler version of your situation just 6 years ago with someone else.  Ultimately, we ended up halfway across the country from each other.  Our dreams and lifestyles just didn't match up at the time.  I imagine that they still wouldn't.

That being said, I'm just now in the beginning stages of my FIRE plan and I don't see how your current situation should significantly impact it.  Regardless of where you end up at any given time, your lifestyle could theoretically be adjusted for FIRE goals.  First, be brutally honest with yourself about what you want -- and I don't just mean financially -- and how you want to get there.  Then talk to her.  Such a situation is not insurmountable in a relationship, but you probably shouldn't waste your time if it simply isn't worth it.

charis

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #27 on: April 02, 2015, 03:09:34 PM »
I met my husband at 18 and then spent four years away at college - we were not exclusive, but it was a rare day if we didn't talk on the phone.  I lived in Europe for a semester.  He moved away for a time.   Then I moved back to our town and he moved away again.  Our relationship stayed very strong.  7 years after we met, I asked him to move with me when I went to grad school and he said yes.  I would have gone even if he had said no.  At that point, it was more important for me to get my graduate degree than stay.   Now we have 8 years of marriage and two kids.  Point being, if 7 years of extreme long distance and other relationship traumas couldn't break us up, ... well? 

You are young, if you can't imagine breaking up, try the long distance thing. It will give you some pretty good indicators.

caliq

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #28 on: April 02, 2015, 03:15:56 PM »
What kind of biology is she going to grad school to study? "Biology" could mean anything from cancer to ecology and the two are going to produce very different career paths going forward. Others are giving you very good advice about relationship vs career which is probably more valuable, but I might be able to help you get a better sense of what the career path she's pursuing would actually look like,

+1

I can't get a 'biology' PhD in the field I'm interested without being in a major city...actually my top choice (by far) would be in Palo Alto.  So I'm not really understanding the issue here (and I'm not sure OP does either).

I currently work in admin at an Ecology/Evolutionary Bio department at a large research university.  This means I deal with travel reimbursement requests from faculty, staff, grad students, etc etc.  There are maybe three professors (tenured faculty with giant grants) out of 30 or so who do extended field work.  Usually a couple months in gorgeous locations around the world (winter break in Costa Rica, anyone?  or summer break in Australia?).  Their grad students do not always get to go, or have to go...there's plenty of at-home lab work to be done (someone's got to process all those samples collected at the beach!).  And Eco/Evo is one of the most field-work oriented biology fields; a computational biologist is much more likely to spend all day writing code for genome analysis than they are to be trekking around the Amazon or something.

Someone more experienced (like, with an actual biology PhD) should be able to give more details, but you'd basically be looking at 5-7 years for a PhD, then another 2-4 for postdoc, then whatever tenure track looks like -- unless she decides to go into industry or government, which is probably pretty dependent on what exact type of biology you're talking about.  Or she could leave after 2 years with a Master's and just get a job, in academia or industry or government.  Also, I'm sure she applied to multiple PhD programs, so this 3000+ mile move may not be her only option. 

Honestly, it really sounds like you need to do a lot more research on what exactly your girlfriend's plans are.  It's rather telling that you don't even know enough about her dreams to be able to articulate what they really are -- my husband has no formal education beyond high school and is capable of describing my goals in a much more specific way than 'biology.'  He also knows, roughly, what my day-to-day life is like now (as an undergrad), what it would be like as a PhD student, and what it would be like as a post-doc and as a tenure track academic.  Also, if I got into my dream PhD program and DH's first reaction was "omg what about me?!" I would be pretty cranky and probably make some comment about how he didn't have to come if he didn't want to.   Maybe she's not the only one sending subconscious signals.

historienne

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2015, 03:33:24 PM »
I'll start with my own situation.  I am your girlfriend in this story.  I am a professor, my husband is a software engineer.  He's moved twice to follow my career, first to the Bay Area for grad school (great for his career), next to upstate NY (less great).  If I get another job, we'll move a third time. I also do research internationally, which I enjoy, while my husband is a homebody.  I'm currently on another continent while he holds down the fort with our toddler.  It works for us because:
1 - my husband can work remotely
2 - upstate NY is really cheap
3 - the combination of 1 & 2 mean that my husband will be able to FIRE and indulge his dreams of solar panels while I keep my job and keep traveling internationally for work on a regular basis.

Honestly, it's actually a great combination for us in a lot of ways.  Once my husband is retired, he'll travel with me some of the time (and bring our daughter), but marriage doesn't have to mean being together 100% of the time.  FWIW, we met when we were 23 (and were also long distance for several years while I was in grad school) so I don't think you are too young to be thinking along these lines.  And I totally gave my husband the "this is what my career ambitions are, this is what that entails, if we get serious you need to understand that I'm not giving it up for you" speech.  It might have sucked for him to hear, but it's better to hash out sooner rather than later. 

Final thought: there's a difference between where she'll do fieldwork and where her job will be based.  Plenty of people do biology (even ecological fieldwork) while going to grad school or teaching at jobs that are based in urban areas.  The bigger issue is that, after grad school, she is unlikely to have much choice about where she lives.  If you want to stay together, you will need to make peace with that one way or another.  FIRE is actually a great thing if you want geographical flexibility, so this could work well.  But you may need to do the long distance thing for a year or two first if you really can't leave your current job.  My advice would be to try long distance and see if it works.  If it makes you unhappy, change it (either break up or move to follow her, whichever seems right then).  Don't give up on the relationship preemptively.

intirb

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2015, 04:00:59 PM »
I think many people in this thread have already said everything I wanted to say, but I'll echo their points.

For background, I'm getting my PhD, and my partner followed me.  His job is pretty flexible - more flexible than software engineering, but software engineering is still an extremely flexible field, with job opportunities in every major and most smaller cities.  We've actually tried all thee of your options (long distance sucked, breaking up sucked harder) before settling down on the first one.  So with this in mind..

Academia is extremely conducive to financial independence.  Moving around a lot means you don't have any reason to accumulate a lot of stuff or rent too much space.  As an academic, you don't have a lot of time to spend a lot of money, so your spending is extremely low.  Unlike in other careers, you won't have any pressure from academic coworkers to spend ridiculous amounts of money.  Although the pay is lower than industry in the beginning, you get a lot of financial benefits in academia - for example, I have subsidized housing, excellent healthcare at no cost to me, a free costco membership, subsidized public transportation passes, free access to any museum in the city, access to subsidized childcare etc.  Plus there's free food and booze events on campus all the time.  It's very easy to live a full life very frugally.  All the traveling your SO has to do for things like fieldwork or conferences should be covered by grants and university money.  I'm happy to give you plenty more tips about FIRE and academia if you like.

Sure, your SO might not want to stop working ever, but tenured faculty members choose their own hours and most academics have extremely flexible schedules (if sometimes grueling work hours).  Plus, once she has a tenure-track position, you'll be able to settle down with your solar panels and gardens and big trees.  Getting that tenure-track position might take 10 years, but that's a perfect amount of time for you to be saving money for FI(RE).  Also, a lot of universities help spouses and partners get jobs - at least at my university, some amount of preference is given to spouses and partners for non-academic jobs.  So in the very least, you could always be a software engineer for the university.

So basically, I don't see the incompatibility at all.  It sounds like you are kind of bitter about having to move for your girlfriend, and if that's the case, yes definitely break up rather than subjecting her to your resentment.  But really, an academic career is extremely competitive, requiring you to move wherever it takes you, and getting a job as a software engineer can happen anywhere.  Her career would take precedence because it has to and your goals aren't career-related anyway.

So basically, my personal advice is options 1 or 3.  Long-distance is terrible, but without any kind of expiration date, it's even worse.  If you can't imagine a life where your career doesn't take precedence over your partner's, then I guess she's not the one for you.  That doesn't make a lot of sense to me since your main career goal is actually just to stop working, but I'm not here to judge.  If she's worth it, then follow her career and enjoy your life together. 

Ricky

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #31 on: April 02, 2015, 04:06:10 PM »
After reading the initial post, I'm left wondering what I am missing. A 22 yr old, fresh out of college, first job, dreams of retiring, and scared of moving with "the love of his life?" What am I missing here? You found a job? So what? Find another one. You dream of retiring early? So what? Do it, eventually. You're 22 dude, not 50. You don't have a stache yet and have nothing to lose.

Sure, I think there needs to be stability in order to grow your stache, but that will happen naturally, trust me! Do you REALLY love this girl or not? Don't NOT go over a job and FIRE plans.

If nothing else, work until you can find a remote position so location isn't a factor. If you can't handle the distance in the meantime, then do what's best for you. Wanting to FIRE and not wanting to move around aren't necessarily correlared at all. So this is less about wanting to FIRE and more about not wanting to move around and deal with the uncertainty of your SO's career prospects. Defer to paragraph two.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 04:22:06 PM by Ricky »

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #32 on: April 02, 2015, 04:26:54 PM »
Quote
Actions speak louder than words, and while she never said the words "you can come along if you want, but that's what I'm doing" that does seem to be the underlying message. I know it's her dream to go get a PhD but I feel like I'm being put on the spot to either move across the country or be the one who doesn't care enough about our relationship to do it.

Doing the trailing-spouse thing is fine if it's your decision, but not if you feel it's being shoved down your throat. Does she know that you feel that way? That may not be what she intends--she may believe that you're totally cool with it, or mostly. She may be more flexible than you think. Perhaps you need to talk about it more frankly.

A lot of things in life can change fast when you're 22, and some decisions that seem hugely important turn out to not matter much, or to have completely different outcomes from what you expected. I don't mean that in a condescending way. Just that if I could give advice to my 22-year-old self, I'd want her to know that you don't have to nail everything down yet, this is the time to try things, and there will be plenty of time to change if one thing doesn't work out. I would have taken a few more risks.

wtjbatman

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #33 on: April 03, 2015, 06:28:09 AM »
And I totally gave my husband the "this is what my career ambitions are, this is what that entails, if we get serious you need to understand that I'm not giving it up for you" speech.

Aww, what a romantic story!

zinethstache

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #34 on: April 03, 2015, 12:56:47 PM »
I married my high school sweetheart. I did date a couple of youngsters before him earlier in high school. We have a very healthy relationship now 30 years later. He FIed in 2011, I still have a great day job for a bit longer as we establish our rental empire. He is not as mustachian as I, wanting more luxuries etc. We do accomodate each others dreams, careers etc. There's been so many changes for us over the years and now we are approaching my end game, that of me not working a full time career. I also have 2 side gigs that I can shrink or grow as I see fit. He now manages our properties. Looking back I am not sure I would to much different. I can tell 100% we will be to death do us part:)

Good luck on your journey, I think you know too much too soon and that is a good and bad thing. Keep communication open and perhaps in the end you will have your solar panels and garden in some other place in the world where your then wife gets to research away!

Gone Fishing

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #35 on: April 03, 2015, 01:14:43 PM »
I didn't read all the responses but couples with two awesome careers are rare.  Couples with two awesome careers and kids are very rare.  One partner inevitably follows the other.  I just so happens that my wife followed mine despite being well educated herself.  This was simply due to me finishing school a year earlier and having a jump start in the job world.  If it had been the otherway around, I would have had no problem following her.  I would have followed her to the moon if need be!  As it was I was ready to quit school mid-stream and follow her across the country before we were even married if she picked a far off school.  Thankfully she picked a school within weekend travel distance!

We are FIREing in our thirties with 2 children.  My wife hasn't worked full time in 7 years.

If you want to make it work, you can!
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 01:21:46 PM by So Close »

Doulos

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #36 on: April 03, 2015, 02:02:26 PM »
I followed my wife.
I work in software.
The internet's existence provides software developer the ability to work from almost anywhere in the world.

I work from the comfort of my 1 bedroom apartment, for a company 2000 miles away.

MissPeach

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #37 on: April 03, 2015, 03:59:20 PM »
I think it might be worth finding a good therapist, life coach, or someone you can work this out with who is not your SO.

I think these conversations will go much more productively if you figure out your values, goals, etc. for yourself before discussing them with your partner.

A good therapist should be able to walk you through things you aren't thinking about, challenge your thinking, etc. so that you could get a better sense of where your line in the sand is so to speak. You need to figure out your priorities and what you're prepared to deal with first. Then you can talk about potential compromises.

Good luck. I totally understand it's hard to think about taking a break from a good relationship may not be right for you.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 04:01:19 PM by MissPeach »

maizeman

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2015, 12:26:33 PM »
What kind of biology is she going to grad school to study? "Biology" could mean anything from cancer to ecology and the two are going to produce very different career paths going forward. Others are giving you very good advice about relationship vs career which is probably more valuable, but I might be able to help you get a better sense of what the career path she's pursuing would actually look like,

Her undergrad was in Ecology.

Gotcha. Yeah, Ecology is one of those fields that turn out to be a lot different in practice than many undergrads envision when they apply to grad school. Funding is very tight, so she'll probably finds she spends the majority of her semesters as a grad student TAing on campus. When I was in grad school the ecology students were in the next building over (my own focus was more bioinformatics and genetics) and they spent a lot more time teaching than we did. Most students did at least some field work, but we're generally talking about one 3-6 month trip over the course of a 5-7 year PhD program. So at least for the next 5-7 years, following her would mean moving to the city where she'd been accepted for grad school, but it won't mean lots of time sitting at home while she's out trotting around the globe. I remember one guy whose whole thesis was based on analysis of hyena movement patterns he collected over a single summer in Africa his first year of grad school.

After grad school will come a postdoc, but if her PhD has been successful enough that a faculty position is still a real possibility, she'll likely have multiple good offers to chose from, so you won't be in the position of her saying "I have to move to X for my career, either follow me or it's over."

After one or more postdoc positions comes finding a faculty position. Right now that's very hard to do in evolution/ecology. Which is not to say she won't be able to do it, but if she does, she likely will have less choice about where she ends up living and working than at the postdoc stage. There has been a trend towards greater percentage teaching appointments (faculty positions are split between research, teaching, and sometimes extension) for new assistant professors in evolution and ecology, so likely her life as a professor would mean a lot more time spent teaching students on campus and less time traveling to interesting locations than both you and she are likely envisioning right now.

The other thing to keep in mind is among biologists, ecologists are probably the most likely specialty to get disillusioned with academia and run away screaming as soon as they finish grad school (I think it's because we burden them with so much more teaching than students in fields that depend more on labwork or in silico work instead of fieldwork).

JLee

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #39 on: April 06, 2015, 10:51:05 AM »
   Hi everybody. Long time lurker of MMM, first real post on the forums. A little bit about me: I'm a 22 year old male, just starting my journey to FIRE. I just started my first real job out of college, in a new city, 3 months ago, and I have been saving ~60% of my income so far (almost all of which is going towards student loans, which I should be able to pay off in about a year, hell yeah!).

   Anyways, I had a long talk with my SO of 3 years last night about the future. She recently got accepted into a Biology PhD program 3,000 miles away at a very good school, where she will be moving this Fall, and this has caused us to worry about our future together. She is very career oriented, as am I, and we're both kind of stubborn, so this new development has caused some friction.

   How does this have to do with FIRE? I'm slowly learning that we have different dreams. She wants to move around the world doing research, with a goal of becoming a professor. I want put my nose to the grind and build an awesome life. I want a place in this world to call my own, with solar panels and gardens and big trees, out in the country somewhere. I have no problem grinding for a decade or more to reach RE. I fully support her following her dream, but it leaves me in a tough spot. I've thought of three scenarios, none of which are appealing, but which seem inevitable:

   1. Follow her. I work in software, and I imagine it will be very hard to find steady jobs, especially considering the places people study biology (read: not in cities.) Granted, she'll be stuck at grad school for a few years, but eventually this will be the case. In the academic world you go where the best opportunities are, and that leaves me with something like "well you can come along if you want", with no opportunity for compromise, and a difficult career path. On the plus side we will be together, but FIRE seems out of reach.
   2. Stay behind. Anyone who has done long distance knows it is HARD. We did it for 2 years in college, but let me tell you, it's hard. We are both young, and spending 5+ years of our precious youth waiting to be with each other... I don't know. I know we don't want to hold each other back from growing as people, you know? but it seems inevitable in this situation. People seem to grow a lot in their 20s, and I know we will grow in different directions. Doubt has been creeping up on me too. I don't know how long I could take it. I mean, if her career involves taking off to remote corners of the globe for long periods, this is going to be a LIFETIME of staying behind. And I don't want her to have to deal with this either. I know she feels bad about leaving me to go to school...
   3. Break up, move on. Obviously I don't want to break up with the love of my life but I can't help but wonder if we would both be better off in the end. We have an amazing relationship, never fight, but could this be the best thing for both of our life goals? One thing that's been discussed is that neither of us have had another serious relationship before. We were both virgins when we met. We've both admitted curiosity about dating other people, not because our relationship is bad, but because we're so inexperienced. My SO and I are both the type of people who love to try new things in all aspects of our lives: food, places, entertainment, friends. We talked about this, and in light of her moving away, we both admit these thoughts have become more prevalent.  Plenty of other fish in the sea, you know? We're great together, but maybe we'd be better with people with more similar goals.

   If you've read this far, thank you for listening to me vent. I don't know many people in my new town and have no one to discuss this with. Any folks on this forum with more life experience have any advice? I'm feeling totally lost here.

   Thanks for reading.
1) Have you considered the possibility of remote work? Some places don't care where you are physically, as long as you have an internet connection.
2) Distance sucks (2+ years here). Avoid it if you can.
3) Have you considered an open relationship / ethical non-monogamy? That may help with the experience concerns and also, once the emotional gremlins are worked out, can also make distance easier to handle (not being devoid of all romantic contact while apart).

Edit: What she said!
Speaking from experience, long distance doesn't suck as much if you are both able to see other people (honestly and ethically). If you are both on the same page about having new dating experiences then try that, but without the breaking up part. It doesn't have to be forever, but it can buy you some time to decide if this is someone you want to move for, or if you'd rather follow your own dreams.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 10:57:23 AM by JLee »

Kris

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #40 on: April 06, 2015, 11:26:10 AM »
I've almost posted this twice and then reconsidered it, because I know I'm going to sound like a patronizing old person.  I really don't mean to.  But I want to add a couple of thoughts to the conversation.  Please take these comments as they are intended: kind suggestions.   

The main things that stood out from your original post are these: 

1) You are in your very early twenties, you are one another's "firsts" and yet you say she is the love of your life.  I think it's very short-sighted to think of this relationship as "the" relationship of your life.  And honestly, I think that's completely normal.  A 22 year-old isn't supposed to have the relationship perspective of someone twice his/her age.  But it's definitely something to keep in mind.  Trying to make life-long decisions that will be difficult to reverse at this age and stage of your life is probably not a great idea.

2) You two seem to have very, very different goals in life.  So different that one or the other of you is likely to be very unhappy depending on what you do, or else both of you will be sort-of-unhappy if you try to find a compromise.  Maybe my read of the situation is off, but that's what it looks like to me.  And what I want to say about this is, love is wonderful, fine and dandy.  But love is not enough.  You can love someone with your whole heart and soul, and if enough "life things" are stacked against you, it won't really matter in the end.  I'm not saying a couple needs to have exactly the same goals, tastes, and values, but they need to be similar enough on these things that their life goals can be accomplished by traveling the same road.  You say that you are both very oriented toward your goals, and both very stubborn.  Your dreams are radically different.  This is a very difficult problem. 

Honestly, if I were to be blunt, I would say that you both should probably wish one another well and go your separate ways.  In reality, I know that is a difficult thing to contemplate.  But I would say at least this: Please, please, both of you should pursue your life goals, for now.  I have seen so many young people (I work with college students) who have tried so hard to shoehorn their lives into a small space to fit the life path of a partner who didn't share their goals.  In the end, every single one of those relationships have ended (the ones I've kept in touch with, which are many).  Sooner, or (painfully, complicatedly, and often with children) later.  I think your #3 option, and what you said about it in your OP, is spot on.  Please don't sacrifice your life and career goals for a relationship so early in your life.  As you say, you are good together.  But I would almost guarantee that you would both be better with people whose goals are more similar. 


southern granny

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #41 on: April 06, 2015, 08:22:54 PM »
Was any of this discussed before the marriage?  Were promises or agreements made that one party or the other is backing out of?  But marriage is always a compromise.  I hope you guys figure it out.

Exhale

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #42 on: April 06, 2015, 09:31:47 PM »
I think these conversations will go much more productively if you figure out your values, goals, etc. for yourself before discussing them with your partner.

+1

amberfocus

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #43 on: April 06, 2015, 11:42:54 PM »
I am a biologist. The SO works in IT. We met in college and have been together for more than ten years. A few comments based on my personal experience.

1. Dreams of professorships at age 22 are a dime a dozen when you have boundless youthful energy, and academia is the only world you've ever known. I started out with similar dreams, but wound up ditching academia for industry after 1.5 years, and never looked back. Anything can happen.

2. Software is actually one of the more portable jobs, and university IT departments are full of professors' spouses. And as others have already pointed out, biologists -- ecologists, even! -- can absolutely work in cities. There is nothing inherently incompatible with your career paths.

3. Grad school stipends put a crimp on short-term earning potential, but you can both still reach FIRE if that is your goal. A more important question is whether she shares Mustachian values and habits. Real life bears little resemblance to college life. Do you know how compatible you are out in the real world?

4. Life does not proceed based on a perfectly laid-out plan. You have to be flexible, and make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself some room to explore. It's okay to not have everything figured out just yet.

5. If FIRE is important to you, then your job is likely more a means to an end, rather than a passion in and of itself. Even if that's not the case, I would still hazard to say that the older and wiser among us would rank family above career (or wish that they could). After all, at the end of the day, jobs are replaceable, but family is not.

I can't tell you the best course of action to take, but the situation is probably not as dire as you might fear. So long as both of you can stay relatively independent and free to find your own way should you wish to do so, you'll most likely be fine no matter what you choose.

Best of luck to you and your SO.

Villanelle

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #44 on: April 07, 2015, 05:56:48 AM »
thanks for all the friendly responses! i wish i could respond to all individually, but i dont have nearly enough time.

many of you have said that only i know what is right in the present situation, which is true. I guess I am just wondering if anybody has gone through anything similar and what they did in their situation. and to those that have volunteered this information, thank you.

I agree that I am thinking pretty long term about this, but from my perspective, whichever path we choose in the fall will impact both our lives, significantly, for years to come, and to me, that is long term. i realize im just a kid to many of you, and that the phrase "long term" to me may mean something different than to you. But I do feel like I'm at a crossroads with this, whatever happens will mean big things for both of us further down the road.

I realize telecommuting and changing jobs is an option, but still comes short for two reasons. I feel a duty to stay at my present job (no telecommuting foreseeable) for at least a few years to get some experience and to give my employer some return on their investment in me. also i cant help but feel a little offput by the "im doing x, you can come along if you want, but thats what i'm doing" mentality. like theres no room for compromise. ah, i just dont know.

so many thoughts bouncing around my head right now. There's good advice in this thread though, keep it coming. I like the idea of the possibility of dating others while staying in a LD relationship, haven't thought of that, ill be discussing this with SO.

Being in a military marriage, I know plenty of people who have done long distance relationships.  When we were in Japan, there was a guy husband worked with whose wife and kid lived in the States.  They saw each other twice a year, for 3 years.  It can definitely be done.

That said, what concerns me is that it sounds like she is unwilling to compromise at all.  Is she willing to pursue academic jobs at universities, for example, which tend to be in larger towns and cities?  Is she willing to at least say that she will take your preferences, goals, and career in mind when choosing locations for PhD and post-doc work? 

If not then to me, this isn't really about the logistics or the jobs.  It's about one partner showing signs that she isn't all that invested, and that she isn't willing to make decisions as a team.  And I'm not sure I'd be willing to make huge sacrifices for someone like that.

midweststache

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #45 on: April 07, 2015, 06:30:51 AM »
If you want to be with someone in academia, there will be a trailing spouse. Do you want to be this person or not? Thing is-- she might change her mind about wanting to be in academia. My husband is going into an industry job in part so we can build a life together where we can have a more stable location. Some of that is so I can develop my career in the way that I want.

So this is how we personally have navigated that situation.

I have many more stories like this since everyone with a serious partner has had this exact same discussion in navigating grad school/academia/job.

Your situation will be different, of course. If it's her dream to go get a bio Ph.D., she should go do it. You could move in a year or so if you change your mind about keeping the job. There are other ways for you to get experience.

If you want to be together more than you want any particular career path, you'll both work together and find a way to make it work.


If you're not sure, then some distance isn't necessarily a bad thing. You'll find out really quickly what you want.

This.

I'm finishing a PhD program, but my partner is an analyst and fairly geographically limited. Thus, job-searching for me isn't about finding an RI school but rather finding someplace I'll be happy and he can still work. I'm lucky that he wanted to stay here while I finished my PhD, but he could've gotten a job in DC or NYC and then we'd be in a very different place. He's made some sacrifices for my career, and I'm very willing to do the same for him. It also helps that I've never dreamed of the RI position, so there's that....

Let me also say, there are a lot of people who go into graduate school thinking they want to be a professor and end up HATING some aspect of it. I love it, but I would love what I study at any level, including high school or in nonprofit work. Your girlfriend may find that what she thought she wanted was a professorship when in reality she just wants to teach anywhere, or she wants to do a specific kind of research, or she wants to be a science writer, or the next Bill Nye...

Finally, grad school drop out rates are astronomical. I'm not saying this is your girlfriend, but it's a possibility (obviously one you don't want to be banking on, but still). Graduate school is a hard, long, soul-sucking slog of putting off adulthood while, at the same time, having all the choices you've made as an adult constantly called into question and your very self-worth constantly destabilized through the academic power structure (this can't be just me, right?). I know a number of people have left my program for their sanity, and been very happy after their decision. If she sticks with it, be prepared for years of functioning as emotional support. If you do the LD thing it's going to be harder than either of your realize yet, by virtue of the incredible levels of stress, anxiety, and time she's going to be spending on her school.

MrsPete

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #46 on: April 07, 2015, 06:35:45 AM »
I have been saving ~60% of my income so far (almost all of which is going towards student loans
Clarification:  If you're using that 60% to pay back student loans, you're not saving it.  You're using it to repay money you've already spent.  Yes, that's admirable, and it's not the same as spending it all on a cool motorcycle and going out to bars ... but neither is it saving. 

She is very career oriented, as am I, and we're both kind of stubborn, so this new development has caused some friction.
The "stubborn" part grabs me.  It gives me the impression that you both want the other to "give in" and say, "Okay, you rule the relationship.  I'll do what you want."  If you want this relationship to work, BOTH of you have to give that up and decide upon SHARED GOALS and HOW to reach them. 

I really think that's the crux of your issue:  You and your girlfriend lack shared goals.  I think you both need to decide what you want your lives to look like in 10 years, 20 years, 50 years ... and see whether you want the same things.  If you see yourself working hard for a short time, then settling into a little homestead and relaxing, while she imagines herself living near a big university and devoting herself to her work until she's 60ish, you have a big discrepancy.

Right now you're at the point you have to make decisions.  I suggest you float the idea to her that next time you're together, you do some serious talking about your adult goals ... and make decisions based upon how that goes. 

Two careers (not just jobs, but careers) in one family can be tough.  Where to live, how to take care of the kids, etc. doesn't always fall into place easily, and the only way to deal with it is to have a clear-cut vision of what you want for your family ... and when a question arises, ask which option fits into your shared long-term goals. 

For what it's worth, I do not buy into the idea of soulmates or "love of my life".  I don't buy into the idea that one person exists who is absolutely perfect for you, and no one else would work.  I think any number of potential partners exist with whom you could be happy -- though perhaps happy in different ways, since your life will progress differently based upon which partner you choose.  You have to decide whether this girl is it for you or not. 

For what it's worth, I dated a guy for three years in college, and I was sure I'd marry him.  We got along well and were kind of the "it couple" in our circle of friends.  However, when we were seniors and were preparing to leave college and move into the world of work, I realized that our goals were incompatible.  No, he and I weren't incompatible -- it was our goals.  The biggest issue was that he didn't want children, but where to live and how to spend money were also big concerns.  Our differences had nothing to do with careers; rather, they were more lifestyle based.  I knew we'd always be fighting over a few fundamental goals, so I ended it.  He never understood why, and I'm sorry for that ... but I don't regret the decision to leave him. 

As for couples not fighting, my husband and I rarely ever fight -- I don't know that that's good or bad.  When we disagree about something, we tend to discuss it and decide what's best for the family unit, and we do it.  We're coming up on our 25 year anniversary, so something's gone right. 

I have seen so many young people (I work with college students) who have tried so hard to shoehorn their lives into a small space to fit the life path of a partner who didn't share their goals.
Yes, I remember that when I was a senior in college, trying to decide whether to remain in the above-mentioned relationship, one of my big concerns was, "I've put three years into this relationship!  It's working well!  How can I be thinking of ending it?"  At that point, three years seemed like so much time.  I should've been thinking more about the 70-80 years I had left to be on this planet! 

As I said above, he and I lacked shared goals for the future.  It was better to cut it off and "throw away" the three years than to try to force one another to live the way we wanted to live. 

« Last Edit: April 07, 2015, 06:40:21 AM by MrsPete »

Dodge

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #47 on: April 07, 2015, 08:19:44 PM »
it's entirely possible (maybe even likely) that one or both of you will change your goals over the next few years.

This is exactly what stood out to me.  I would be VERY hesitant to make possibly life-long decisions, like breaking up with the "love of your life", based on the anticipated career path of a 22 year old.

Do what you can to stay together now, and decide when/if you get to a breaking point.  You can't predict the future.

marcela

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #48 on: April 08, 2015, 09:40:01 AM »
The thing that sticks out to me is that you are talking about how she won't compromise to consider your goals, but it sounds to me like you are the one not compromising. Finding a Phd program in your field with an adviser you would want to work with who has a slot and funding available is much tougher than advancing a software career. My husband is in vet school and when we left college and he started applying this meant that this meant he would determine where we were living for the next 4 years. This was not because my career didn't matter or because he didn't care about me enough to compromise. He had no choice. If he was going to pursue his career, it required him to move to whatever school would take him. That's the situation your girlfriend is in, she has no choice but to move to where her program will be if she will be able to pursue her career.

Kaspian

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Re: Dreams of FIRE not lining up with dreams of SO
« Reply #49 on: April 08, 2015, 11:03:50 AM »
I think you should stick to your guns but not push.  People often dig their heels in deeper if they feel they're being pushed into something they haven't completely understood or accepted.  That said, "Millionaire Next Door" has some stats which show FIRE is virtually impossible unless a SO is also completely on board with the program.