{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "My boyfriend of 7 years gave me an ultimatum — leave big law or we’re done…Sure there are better jobs but I don’t want to leave. I enjoy the money and things could be worse. Is this a sign that the future isn’t looking hot in my relationship ?", "post_id": "60f6bda9f69a83002ea99757", "reply_count": 90, "vote_count": 29, "bowl_id": "5da60c126e5f0d001f32f497", "bowl_name": "Women in Law" }

My boyfriend of 7 years gave me an ultimatum — leave big law or we’re done…Sure there are better jobs but I don’t want to leave. I enjoy the money and things could be worse. Is this a sign that the future isn’t looking hot in my relationship ?

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Here’s my question, why do you have to leave big law? I assume your actual job is not the issue, the issue is how your job affects certain elements of your life. I’m not a huge fan of ultimatums, but I assume it didn’t come out of the blue. I imagine (or rather hope) you two have been discussing the negative impacts that at least he believes are a result of your job. Has he asked you to change certain aspects of your life and have you been unable or unwilling to do so because of your job? What are they? Are they reasonable or is he being absurd? Because he’s allowed to have certain expectations from a partner. If his expectations are that you’ll have a 9-5 and then be free whenever he wants for whatever, that sounds like what you want from life and what he wants are incompatible. And if that’s true, then good, you should both want to end the relationship. No point staying in a relationship where you want different things out of life. But I don’t think we know enough about the situation to judge this wholly. Are you miserable at your job? Is it making you depressed and unhappy in other aspects of your life, because if so, and if you’ve both talked about it and tried to fix that in other ways, his request doesn’t seem unreasonable. Does he not like that you work long hours/on the weekends and thinks you should be home all the time for him? That’s not necessarily fair in today’s world. Has your job unnecessarily interrupted important things like weddings etc and are you unable to create boundaries? I don’t know that leaving big law will help if you are the kind of person who works all the time and can’t shut off. There’s always going to be work that you CAN do… Anyway, my point is, determine why this ultimatum is being made (I assume you know) and then decide if you’re willing to work on the underlying issue (if indeed it is something you can work on and not an unfair request). If the answer is that it’s an unfair request or you’re not willing to change to work on the underlying issues, then you probably need a change in partner, not a change in job.

likesmart

Go with your gut, bc you have to live with whatever decision you make. If you do that, you won’t resent your decision. With that said, what are your career goals? Is this the guy you want to spend your life with? Is it a balanced relationship or are you the one always making the sacrifices? REGARDLESS, this post brings up a recurring issue in probably all our lives: how to set boundaries with our employer and our clients. Although balance is impossible for some of us, depending on our practice areas, it’s worth considering how you can build some more free time in. What’s worth having all the money in the world if you can’t enjoy it, and furthermore, no person you love to enjoy it with? I was divorced in part because of my work hours. I felt like my husband understood because I was building for our future (we were together before law school as well, when I was more fun to be around LOL). After 5 years of putting work/school first, we drifted apart and that was a wrap. I’ve since changed law firms, and I work less hours but I’m paid fairly and I’m happy. And on a side note, relationship expectations are relative. You should see what he expects in terms of a relationship. Realistically, we are never going to be able to just take off spontaneously and also have 4-6 weeks’ vacation every year. We do not have the luxury of jetting off when we would like, unlike entrepreneurs and remote workers outside of the legal industry. (hence, the young sugar babies happily volunteer for that role LOL) So I tend not to date entrepreneurs anymore haha. It just doesn't work.

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It’s hard to do over comments but I’ll try.. when I say “you”, I just mean generally. These are things that helped my current relationship-happy to chat off the comment thread too.. and this also assumes your partner is doing the self work too (goes both ways): Try not to bring work stress home with you. Calendar time specifically for dates / partner time. I like to book a concert, comedy show, or something extra fun to look forward to at least monthly. Think about what you used to do before law school/lawyering with your partner. What did you guys do for fun? What initially caught your attention and interest? It’s easy to lose ourselves in our profession. You may not have the free time that you used to, but if you intentionally build time in for you as a couple, you’ll find you are together more. Take time out for your own self care/mental health. I enjoyed listening to the Mindset Mentor podcast and going to gym more regularly. You have to re-energize and connect with yourself again too, apart from your partner. Try something new, with and without your partner. Will be fun, also new thing to talk about. (Back to enjoying life again)

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Throw out the whole man. Beep beep trash collector your forgot something.

likefunnyuplifting

I did not know that! Thank you 😊

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If he is expecting you to leave big law and suddenly have a job where you only work 9-5 then he has unrealistic expectations for being in a relationship with an attorney. Make sure you know what he is expecting the result to be from “leaving big law.” Have you gone to counseling together to address this problem? That would be my first step to figure out if the job is really the issue or if it’s something else.

likesmart

Yass love this ✨✨⚡️⚡️

Just as food for thought or a point of comparison (recognizing that people are different etc etc): I recently quit my big law job to go in house. For a while I thought I might grind it out and gun for partner but I was exploring a ton of in house positions for at least a year and a half or so. During my transition process, my partner of 7 years never wavered from his tune of: “this is your career and your choice, and whatever choice that may be we will make it work.” It wasn’t until I had put in my notice and fully went through my emotions around quitting (I was pretty sad to leave my colleagues) and started my new job that he revealed that he always hoped I would take an in house position and he was over the moon that I finally quit big law. In his eyes, it was never his decision to make or influence. I really wished during the time that he had an opinion but in hindsight I realized he wanted me to have full clarity on my own career without his wishes in mind. 🤷🏻‍♀️

likesmartfunny

Haha, does not. He has a sister! But she is also taken sadly.

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Unless you are getting married he doesn’t really get a say… is he going to make up the income difference? Is there some sort of plan for future financials? A family in the works? If not he’s just being a baby bc men are whiny babies. You are not his mommy.

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I’m not sure leaving big law is derailing a career. It’s a terrible job that only pays well because it’s terrible. No one would do it absent the greed and status anxiety. There are many other career paths she could take.

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I don’t believe in a concept of a boyfriend/girlfriend of 7 years. If in late twenties or thirties and hasnt proposed yet dump

likefunny

Dated my husband on and off for eight years before we got married. I was 20 when we met, he was military then a gov’t contractor and moved around a lot. I agree that waiting so long was a lot, but during that time we lived together on and off and talked about marriage and got engaged. On the other side, with being so young, I felt it was good that we waited.

Find yourself a partner who supports you in everything you do and puts your needs in front of his own. Then, do the same for him. This is what great loves are made of.

likeuplifting

This! The situation sucks, OP, but only bc he's making it suck. Replace him!

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Listen to why and take him seriously. IMO, your personal happiness is far more important than a job. Let him tell you why he feels that way and work it out together. If he isn't prepared to be attached to a lawyer with long hours, you probably need to break it off for both of your benefit. If you would be happy in a different position with easier hours, maybe you should consider it. Y'all need a long conversation. Why did he make this ultimatum? Is he seeing something that you aren't? Are his fears justified? Are either of you willing to compromise? The answer will not be on this forum lol, but I wish you the best of luck!

likeupliftinghelpful

Agree with AA3. Likewise, not everyone wants to officially get married so, without more personal details, martial status is a distinction w/o a difference to me. I’ve been with my SO for about 15 years. We’re committed.

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Ultimatums have no place in a healthy relationship

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Well is being in biglaw slowly killing your relationship? What are the goals you both have or has there been an immediate effect in sex life, plans, vacations etc being put on hold because of your position? Maybe he see things that you don't because you are "in" it? Can you both financially afford to not have that income if you were to take a lower paying attorney role at say a midsize, in house or boutique? Ultimatums are never great --again though if he is seeing red flags that you arent necessarily seeing maybe he has valid concerns.

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“Leave your high paying job or I’ll leave you.” Ok, what happens when you’ve done that and he leaves you anyway? You’re his girlfriend not his wife. You have no protection there (not that wives have much, wives get screwed when husbands leave them too). That’s a crap deal he offered you. Don’t take it. I don’t care how much you love him, if you like your job he’s not worth your financial security and career.

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If you don’t want to leave, my advice would be don’t leave. You don’t want to eventually resent him for changing the career trajectory you’ve set up for yourself

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I'm sorry you're going through this. The prospect of a long-term relationship ending is incredibly stressful and sad. Can I ask whether you have any desire to be married? If so, a boyfriend (as opposed to a spouse or a fiance with a date set) would be the last person dictating to me what I'd be doing with my career/financial future. If he won't commit to a future with you, why should you commit to a future without this lucrative job? I appreciate the demands of a big law job can put a massive strain on relationships, and I'm not opposed to making changes in my professional life if they're creating a substantial hardship in my personal life, but I would not make huge sacrifices for someone who hasn't brought a serious commitment to the table. I would also say that after seven years, if it hasn't happened yet, my sense is he is unlikely to willingly propose (unless you're the one who's voiced opposition to marriage). If you're opposed to marriage (and I mean just you, not what he has said about the topic), then I would still ask whether you'd be okay/happy having changed jobs if you and your boyfriend broke up the next day. If not, then maybe this relationship has run its course.

likehelpful

Similar to all the prior comments, I say talk it out at least, but I would leave the man before leaving a good job… I know people say your job won’t love you back, but love can fade, he could still decide to break it off next year, etc., and then what? Ultimately it’s about what’s important to you. Maybe it’s getting married and having a family and you plan to eventually leave big law anyway and taking a big pay cut. But if you like your job and the money, I would take the energy you’d spend working in this relationship and use it to find someone else that will support your career goals. For context, I’m in a 10+ year relationship, went through law school and me starting big law together, and although work sometimes causes us stress, the biggest stress last few years has actually been money (or lack thereof in his part) to start planning for a home, maybe kids, etc. And throughout any rough patch I’ve always felt comforted knowing that even if emotionally a breakup would be devastating (I do love him!) I can 100% take care of myself and do not need a man to live my life.

likesmart

TA1 you are awesome

My husband and I separated for the same reason - it was him or the job. There were some other factors too but that was the main one. This was only a month ago or so. He was sick of me not being around for 12 to 14 hours each weekday, then being too tired to meet his needs (not just sexual, emotional support etc). I can see his point but the nature of my practice area requires that much time spent working Mon to Fri. Weekends weren't enough for him. I don't want to quit my job, so I don't see a way forward. He has no degree and a poor work history (currently off sick long term) so he wouldn't be able to support me or make up any income drop. If he had been in a job for a couple of years making enough money to cover all the basic bills on his own and some savings to cover emergencies I might have come to a different conclusion. I might quit in the future, but not because someone else told me to. So in summary, you are not alone!

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Can I ask..... do you feel a bit less stressed now your ex is (presumably) out of your life? I have to be honest and say coming home to a clean quiet apartment every day with no demands/problems is very soothing! Did you tell your team or direct boss what was going on at home at all?

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Also, what is his problem with the job? My SO hates that I get distracted by my phone in the middle of our conversations. Fair complaint, we’re working on it, and it’s not him being threatened by my job bla bla. So it depends what are the problems your job is causing and what you value most. If your partner is feeling unseen but you prefer your job over giving him more time, then yes, the future is not looking hot. If the partner is only complaining cause he wants to have a stay at home wife or is jealous of your success, well, same

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This is the kind of measured response I love to see on these posts about partners. Well said.

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Throw the man out. You're not married and I'd imagine no legal job will give you enough time to focus on him in his eyes. I'm going through this with my husband (I went to law school after kids) and it's not something you want to be dealing with years into a marriage.

likefunny

This is how they trap women into relying on them.

likesmart

I think ultimatums are unacceptable...but I do think you should listen to his reasons. As an example, I spent a number of years in a job that made me absolutely miserable. I cried constantly, I was always anxious & it was clearly harming my mental health & my relationships. My partner never gave me an ultimatum, but he did sit me down, tell me how he felt & strongly encourage me to start looking for new jobs. I didn’t ultimately leave after that convo, but I did start working on finding a way to make my job more sustainable & it made both our lives infinitely better. Just because you listen to his concerns doesn’t mean you have to quit - it means you have all the information & can make an educated decision about the future of your career & your relationship. Good luck!!

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Agreed ultimatums are never good.

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You won’t be an associate forever and if he can’t make it with you during these hard years, I can’t imagine he will be supportive of you in the long run. His name isn’t on your diploma, he didn’t take the bar, he doesn’t get to decide what your career ends up being. You’re at a big firm, clearly like it and probably kick ass. If he can’t appreciate that, he has underlying issues he needs to talk to a therapist. If you want to try to work it out, go to one with him, but never, ever, make yourself less for a man just because he demands it. You’ll do what you want, when you want, because you want, in your own time. Ultimatums are never respectful, especially in this circumstance.

likesmart

You said boyfriend, not fiancé or husband. I’d dump him. If you like your job and your career, don’t sacrifice it - you will find someone who respects your career and he is not it.

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If you've loved someone for 7 years, it's worth fully hashing out this argument with them. Discuss what you both want in the future, and be candid. Make sure both your and his expectations are clear. I ended a long relationship in law school because I thought he'd hold me back. It was a horrible assumption to make about someone. I learned so much about the value of having tough talks from that experience. I was really good at biglaw, but I recently chose to go in house. My husband was thrilled, but I also moved him across the country. Compromises on both sides, so we can achieve common goals together. Good luck!

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