07/29/2016 10:07 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

ADVICE 36: Which Will You Regret More?


Photo Credit: Brent Stoller

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(Questions have been modified for space and clarity.)

I've been with my partner for a year. He has a daughter from a previous relationship, and recently, he relocated to be closer to her. His new place is about 40 miles from me. He's with his daughter three nights a week, plus Sundays. He tells me he still wants to be with me, but he doesn't think our relationship can work unless I move closer to where he's now living. What should I do?
--Teen67; North Wales

Considering I grew up and now live in a spread-out city, I'm probably not as sympathetic as I should be when it comes to the inconveniences of driving. I don't know how easy it is to get around North Wales, but 40 miles seems manageable. It's not next door, and lord knows it's not optimal, but is it enough to bring down a relationship?

As I see it, there are three options to consider:

You could bear the travel burden. Your boyfriend has taken on new responsibilities, and while it sounds as if he still wants you in his life, he's now slid you over to priority 1B. His daughter is his primary focus, and it's unclear if he can give her the attention she needs if he's shuttling back and forth between the two of you.

Sidestep that stumbling block by always traveling to him. That way, his time with both of you won't ever be compromised. This could be a good starting proposition, as well, a trial run, as it would provide a preview of what it'd be like living in this new area under these new circumstances.

You could strike a balance. Who wants to be in a one-sided relationship? Why should you have to do all the traveling? Though it might work in the short term, how sustainable is it over the long haul?

Your boyfriend has compromised with his ex -- he gets his daughter on certain days, she gets her on the others -- so why can't he do the same with you?

He doesn't have full-time custody, so half of his week is free, meaning he can meet you halfway, literally and figuratively. Set up a rotation schedule -- on these days you go to him and vice versa. If he's going to be with you, he's still got to make you a priority. You can't be the only one holding the relationship together.

You could move. I don't know if that's possible, and I don't know how much that would disrupt your life. But it'd be an undeniable demonstration of your devotion to your boyfriend.

Of course, all of these options are dependent upon how much you want to remain in this relationship. Is this what you want for your future? Is this something worth sacrificing and fighting for? Is it worth the risk?

These are the questions at the core of your conundrum, and are the same ones I asked myself a few years ago while sorting out an either/or dilemma of my own. I've written about it extensively (here and here, for instance), so I won't bore everyone with the same details and jokes. But here's the gist of it:

In spring 2013, I was contemplating quitting my job to caddie at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. It was something I'd dreamt about doing for years, but this was as far into the process as I'd made it. I'd actually gone out to the resort, met with my potential supervisors and secured a place to live. All that was left was to actually do it.

It felt like an impossible decision to make. On one hand, I had a comfortable life with a lot to lose, including a steady paycheck and a beautiful girlfriend. On the other, I had my dream and the temptation of the unknown.

Teetering atop my tipping point, I was looking for an "Aha!" moment, an epiphany that would illuminate my path toward destiny. Instead, I got something better.

As magical as it would've been to hear some song or have some dream that made it all click, my inspiration came in the form of a question -- a question I was asked that not only gave me my "Aha!" moment for this decision, but also will help create more of those moments in the future:

Which will you regret more -- doing it, or not doing it?

Asking yourself this cuts through the fears and pros and cons and all that other stuff that clogs the decision-making process. It gets you out of your head and into your heart, revealing what you truly want. And once you know that, the details sort themselves out.

For me, when it came to Bandon, the answer was clear. But when it comes to your relationship, Teen67, how will you answer?

Which would you regret more -- breaking up, or doing what it takes to stay together?

COMING WEDNESDAY: How to be a Supportive Friend

Need more ADVICE? Check out the most recent installments:

ADVICE 35: Family Boundaries

ADVICE 34: Should I Forgive My Cheating Boyfriend?

ADVICE 33: My Boyfriend Went Insane

ADVICE 32: Summer Lovin'(?)

ADVICE 31: My Aunt is Going to Ruin my Wedding

ADVICE 30: The Debate Over Premarital Sex

To send in a question, please complete this short Google form. All submissions are anonymous, even to the author.