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Dear Fifi: Should I take a big pay cut to stay in the UK with my boyfriend?

Dear Fifi, every Tuesday, same place, same deal.

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Transparency and honest communication are two things I come back to time and again in Dear Fifi, so here goes: I’m writing this in early October. I’m currently somewhere in South East Asia and I needed a few weeks to get my bearings so I stockpiled columns.

Who knows where exactly in the world I’ll be when you read this sentence? 

No matter where I am, I’m always here for you. Virtually that is. With this curious cat thingie

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I’ve recently moved to the UK to be with my partner of four years, who’s already been there 9 months for a job. I encouraged him to go. I didn’t move because I’d just got a promotion and wanted to give it my best shot. Eventually, I was so miserable in the job and missed him so badly, I made the decision to move to the UK to be with him. I handed in my notice with no work lined up and no real idea of what the job situation would be like in the UK. 

I’ve now secured work in my field in the UK and unfortunately there’s quite a significant pay difference between my Irish salary and here (in excess of 12 grand). I’m very frustrated by this. I feel I’m already starting to resent the move and the change of job. I don’t want this to affect my relationship because I value it so highly. I love my partner and I truly see a future with him.

Do you think it’s selfish of me to want to move back home for better job opportunities? Can I expect my partner to move home because of this? Or am I being unreasonable?

You poor thing, you’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place with this one. However, I think that the strong foundation of your relationship and your value for it will see you through this, so fret not. This will all work out. 

I think you need to open the lines of communication with your partner on this one. You say you see a future with him – so it’s time to start talking to him about it and planning. Where do you eventually see yourselves settling down? How long does he plan to stay in the UK? Is it home now or just a work thing for a few years to get up the ladder? 

If he sees himself coming back to Ireland eventually, it might not be the worst idea for you to head over before him and earn that higher salary to save for a future together, be that travelling or a deposit for a house or whatever you two have planned for your lives. Your career will be on track, as will his.

Now here’s the caveat: while you’re frustrated now in the UK, you admit you were miserable at home in Ireland without him before. Which of these feelings is stronger? Which can you bear?  

I think long distance can work if there’s an end goal in sight. If you both know it’s just a couple of years and you’ll see one another every second month or more (the UK is close) then it just might be doable. I think the important thing here is to be pragmatic and think long-term, whatever you do. 

Now, if the UK is the long-term plan, maybe you need to consider ways to advance professionally that weren’t in your game plan originally. Is money the only frustration with work? Are there workarounds here as regards payment? Could you see a recruiter or a guidance counsellor type figure who could advise? A mentor in the field could be helpful. If it’s the UK you’re settling in, you’ve gotta make this work to get happy and that’ll (unfortunately) take work itself. 

Whether it’s Ireland or UK, you really do need balance between work and your relationship or else, as you say, resentment will seep in and affect both. Take the bull by the horns and have the chat with your boyfriend, make a plan, set some bloody GOALS and you’ll figure this one out no problem. 

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PS – it would be foolhardy of me not to mention, make full sure you’re protecting yourself in all this. I know you guys are a unit, but allow yourself to think of a time when you might not be together and consider how you feel about your career in that light. Go into this with your eyes open.

You’re a team, so if you take this one, down the road you should feel confident he’ll have your back. Make sure you do feel that. You don’t seem to have any doubts whatsoever about this relationship, so I didn’t even go there in this reply, but I need to say that much.

  Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

Last week’s column – I feel pressure from my mother-in-law to have a big wedding

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