I am a management trainee at a well-known company and have been offered a sought-after posting – a year's stint in our New York office. My difficulty is that it would mean leaving my boyfriend – a junior hospital doctor – behind. He says I should go, but I'm worried our relationship won't survive. Part of me wants to tell my boss the truth, but I fear it would make me look drippy and uncommitted. This isn't fair – I am committed – but I don't see why I have to choose: why can't I have love and interesting work?
Management trainee, female, 24
You can't have love and interesting work because life tends not to be like that. Some people manage it, but most don't. Women, in particular, spend their lives having to choose: job or love/family, etc.
All these decisions are wretched because you are being pulled in two directions and because you are never in full possession of the facts. In your case, you don't know if this lovely doctor is going to go on being so lovely when you are 3,000 miles away. And you don't know if the ideal job in New York really is going to be ideal.
The real question to ask yourself is this: which is harder to find, a good man or a good job? Both are devilishly hard, but in my experience a good man is harder. If you have a good job with a big multinational, you could switch to another company and find it was much the same. With men, the same does not apply: some are very much nicer than others, and a really good one is worth keeping.
Quite possibly your relationship would survive New York, though equally it might not. Many readers seem to think that if it failed through absence, it would have failed anyway. This seems like strange reasoning to me, as relationships are hard enough even without a 3000-mile gap between you.
Your actual choice isn't as stark as between love and job. Instead, it is between a good man and a slightly less fast-track job, or a fast-track job with possibly no man at all.
If you stay behind, you will not be giving up your job altogether, you will be just giving up one opportunity now. Your boss might think you are wimpy, and maybe your career would suffer a bit. But he is not going to fire you.
One proviso. All this depends on you being good at picking men.
I am assuming this doctor isn't the latest in a series of giant passions that have burnt out with indecent speed. If he is, go to New York and don't look back.
All at sea
If you were a sailor, there would be no question – shipping out for a year is part of the job. With globalisation, we're all sailors to a degree. I turned down a job abroad to be with a woman. We broke up six months later. The Russian poet Yesenin once wrote: “From love no one demands promises.” At least your employer will provide you with a contract.
Analyst, male, 29
This IS drippy. You sound like someone who also thinks life owes her a right to be a full-time mother without it affecting her career. Telling your boss it's a really bad time for you and you want to do it next year is reasonable – as long as you make your decision, present it clearly and stop whining about life not being fair.
Banker, male, 26
If you turn down NYC, I can guarantee you won't be on the fast track any more. There is no guarantee that your current BF will be your life-long partner, so risking your fast-track opportunity is absurd. True love will survive distance and time. Unfortunately, in professional life we are all replaceable and if you don't embrace the opportunities you get left behind.
MD, female, 36
At 23 I'm already tired of this corporate rhetoric that tries to convince you that a dream job can make up for a miserable personal life. I've lost my boyfriend as a result of something similar. Don't try to find all your fulfilment in your work, you'll spend all your time looking for it and will never find it.
Banker, female, 23
A good man
If he's a good enough man to support you pursuing your goals as he pursues his, take advantage of that because there are still a lot of men who won't go near a woman who isn't inclined to let her goals take second place to his. Live it up and take New York by storm.
Why on earth would you want to work in New York? It's dirty and has an uncouth culture. Remember today's fast-track manager is tomorrow's redundancy candidate. Ignore all this career nonsense and say no.