Ask E. Jean: Do I Choose My Career Or My Boyfriend?

I want to move up in my career but he’s not ready to

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MIA FEITEL

Dear E. Jean: I am a newspaperwoman on the West Coast—a young and very low-paid reporter. My boss is bipolar and goes back and forth between complimenting my work and screaming at me. My editor-in-chief is aloof and doesn’t interact with the reporters much. I receive minimal health insurance and don’t even get paid overtime.

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The only good part of my job is my boyfriend. He’s a fellow reporter, and we’ve been dating for six months. Our relationship is great. We work really well together in and out of the office, and I’m so happy with him! He doesn’t like our boss either, but he wants to stay for a while longer than I do because he wants to get a good recommendation from our EIC when he finally does leave. So he’s going to put in his time. However, he’s not financially independent from his parents yet, and I am. I’m paying for all my own living expenses, and I’m approaching a point where I can no longer afford to work for this newspaper. I already know a raise is out of the question, since there are a couple of senior reporters at the paper who’ve been here for years who make only a little bit more than I do.

As an unmarried woman, I’ve hit rock bottom financially. I want to leave and find a better position, but part of me wants to hold out a little longer and stay with my man until he’s ready to leave, too. I’m completely in love with him, but I’m always broke! What do you think? Should I stay with my dead-end job to be with someone who could be the love of my life until we can leave together? Or should I put my career first and leave town without him? All the best.…—Career Girl in Love

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Career, My Kumquat: Bah! Stop yammering about love: Give the editor-in-chief 10 solid items of proof that your reporting is increasing readership, damn the senior reporters, and ask for the raise. And keep capturing readers and asking for the raise until you get it. This is how you solve your problem—by taking action. Not by holding yourself back for a man.

Meanwhile, begin interviewing with other papers, magazines, and media companies. Many people beat their breasts wondering why women—as smart and talented as men are—run only 6.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies. I never beat my breast. I never wonder. I’ve read your letter, Miss Career Girl, and I know. It’s contained in your question: “Should I stay with my dead-end job to be with someone who could be the love of my life?” The “love of your life” could fall for someone new, decide to become a chef, return to school for an MBA, or make any of 100 other moves. By waiting around for him, you’re chaining yourself to his victories and defeats. Stand up, Girl! Give yourself as much freedom to be successful as you’re giving him. That is the real test of love—and its tragedy.

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.

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