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Moving for love and/or having a plan B?

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

A couple of days ago, one of my (female) expat coaching clients, let us call her Jane, came to me with a dilemma. She is now in the process of planning her moving abroad, in particular, she’s going to move to her boyfriend’s country, and as the moving time comes closer, she’s starting to come up with all sorts of fears and concerns. What if I don’t like it? What if I feel lonely there? What if I don’t find a job abroad? And worse case scenario…

Moving for love and leaving things, people, places behind raises the question of: What if we break up?

Well, yes, I asked her: “What if you break up?

To my surprise, she started to tell me how she would then “re-direct” her life. Although she did not have a clear Plan B, she did have options. For example, she thought of going to another country where she would have better working opportunities and less migration-status problems. She even had very specific ideas of the kind of job she’d like to do there.

So, “Where is the problem?” I asked her.

I feel bad to be thinking this way…” she said.

It is funny of we often tend to think of having a Plan B (or alternative options, if you like) as not being 100% committed with the relationship. In fact, I know many women, including myself once upon a time, whose partners frown upon the idea of them even thinking of having a Plan B. Mind you, I’m not talking about an escape plan where you have designed a very clear strategy of what to do if things don’t work out. I’m talking here about a plan that allows you to carry on with an independent life on your own if things don’t work out.

Moving for love, having a plan B
Having a Plan B

I have seen it far too many times that the partner who stays (so the one who does not migrate) has this highly romanticized idea of someone else moving in for him/her and then living happily ever after. Sometimes the relationship has strong foundations based on a long time spent together, but some other times the relationship has mostly developed in the distance. Moving for a long-distance relationship is a significant life decision.

The partner who moves is leaving a lot of things behind: her family, friends, job, properties (yes, some people sell their properties for love)… And most importantly, she or he are leaving everything for the unknown. They’re somehow putting at risk their whole lives for the sake of a relationship. For the promise of a life together, which might or might not work. If it works, no problem. All good. But what happens if it doesn’t? Then the migrant partner has not many choices. If he/she is “lucky”, they might be legally allowed to stay and work in the country of the partner. Mind you, sometimes this is only possible if they remain married or legally together as a couple. In other words: a perfect recipe for an abusive relationship to develop and flourish. If they’re not that “lucky” they might have to go back home, or at least go somewhere where they’re allowed to stay and work. But alas! If you never took the time to think of you, your needs and what you would like to do, then you can find yourself totally lost. Literally. Why? Because after spend several years abroad with your partner, you might not have a strong network “back home” anymore. So, where do you go? What do you do?

Having a Plan B does not mean that you don’t love your partner. It does not mean that you’re not giving 100% of yourself to the relationship. It does not mean that you are having doubts. It just means that you’re a sensible person with a sense of self-preservation.

Having a Plan B does not mean that you don’t love your partner. It just means that you’re a sensible person with a sense of self-preservation.


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