Dear Viv: My new job isn't making me happy

On this week's podcast, Viv discusses what to do when moving in with a boyfriend is complicated, how to build a relationship with a new family member, and how to cope when a new job turns out differently to how you’d hoped

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv,

My boyfriend of a year and a half has asked me to move in with him. I love him and had been planning to move anyway as my current landlord is selling the house, but his work schedule is an issue. He works in scientific research and spends several weeks at a time abroad doing fieldwork. He’ll then have a few weeks off where he comes back to London, before he’s off again. I do want to live with him, but the reality is that I’d be living alone half the time. I’d consider myself to be quite a social person and wouldn’t ideally want to live alone, but I can’t decide if the benefit of living with him when he’s in town outweighs the cost of him being away the rest of the time.

Sorry, I just have to say something really childish before I answer this. Ooh, scientific research! Ooh! A scientist! Fieldwork! Exciting! OK, I’ve got that out of my system now. In seriousness, celebrate that you have a very interesting-sounding boyfriend! I know it’s annoying when you are with someone whose work makes things inconvenient. But in the long term it does make for a more interesting and fulfilling life, I think, if you’re with someone who’s doing something they’re passionate about. Ok, that’s that mini-lecture over.

What I’m puzzled about in your letter is how this would change things. You say you’re worried that you’d be living alone half the time. But surely you’re living alone half the time at the moment anyway? You don’t say but I’m guessing you’re moving out of a shared house and so that’s what the problem is. Is there a middle way here? Could you get a place together where you can have a lodger? Or two lodgers if you think it would be weird to just have one? That way you will live together but you would still be able to have other people around when he’s not there. Could you look for a place where there are lots of neighbours around? Again, I can only guess but maybe what you’re saying is that you don’t want to move into the place where he’s already living. That is a whole other question. Are you actually saying that you don’t want to move into the place where he’s already living?

I think you need to figure out what the exact problem is and grasp the nettle. Yes, you might have to inconvenience your boyfriend if this means him moving to a new place that suits you better. But long-term it will be easier if you move into somewhere that fits with both of your needs -- and that includes your perfectly reasonable need to not feel lonely when he’s not around.

Dear Viv,

I have recently got back in contact with my brother after a six-year fight, which means I'm also back in contact with my niece. She's 13 years old and I really want to build a relationship with her and let her know that I'm there for her, but I'm scared of coming on too strong. What should I do?

Blimey. Six year fight. I like that you just mention that in passing without giving any details. Never mind. Water under the bridge. Quite right. This is a tricky one, not because of the brother and the six-year fight but because of the age of your niece. You don’t need me to remind you that she is a teenager and that this is an exceptionally tricky age.

I would start with talking to her parents. What do they advise? Is there any way you could help them out? I’m thinking, for example, that she might have things she’s interested in that they don’t have much time to explore with her. You might be able to propose a series of weekend visits. Does she have a favourite restaurant or cafe her parents don’t really like visiting? Take her there. Or just try talking to her. Tell her you’d like to do something with her. Does she have any ideas?

I’d be less worried about the idea of “coming on too strong” than about whether she will want to form a relationship with you at all. Teenagers are difficult creatures, full of whim and indecision. What they need most in their own families is stability and reliability. So at first it will certainly be tricky for you because you’re a new thing. That’s why I think you should get the parents on side and seek their advice.

Also: downgrade your expectations and take it slowly. You may want to build a relationship with her but she may not want to build a relationship with you -- you would have to accept that. Good luck. Speaking as the mother of a thirteen year old -- seriously, good luck.

You can hear the answers to these and the following question on Viv’s podcast, Waving, Not Drowning, above.

Dear Viv,

Last year I started a new job. It seemed amazing at the time, a step up from what I was doing before and a role that most people on my career path would love, but it's not really making me happy. The promotion has meant that I don't do any of the things I love any more, and I have a lot of responsibility for things I don't really care that much about. However I feel like I should keep pushing forward and getting better. Is this something I'll get over or should I cut and run?

Got a question for Viv? Email her at DearViv@thepoolltd.com. The Dear Viv podcast airs fortnightly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

You can subscribe to The Pool's podcasts on iTunes


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