Relationships

The Country Girl vs. the City Boy

Every time we fight, we’re replaying an old argument about how much we both project our own upbringings onto our hypothetical future kids.

A family getting held between a farm and a New York City apartment
Doris Liou

Every couple has one core fight that replays over and over again, in different disguises, over the course of their relationship. In this series, couples analyze the origin and mechanics of their One Fight. To pitch your own One Fight (we’ll also accept pseudonyms, if necessary), email humaninterest@slate.com.

Miles C. is a blogger and writer. She works in social media. Alex R. is a former educator; he now works in consulting. Miles and Alex have been dating for 10 months and live in D.C.

Miles: I would definitely say that deciding where we want to live in the future, and figuring out what lifestyle we want for our future family, is our core fight.

Alex: I agree, and in fact, this is the only fight we’ve had in the 10 months we’ve been dating. It’s the only issue that’s threatened our relationship. You really want to live in a house and have a yard because that’s the life you had growing up on a farm, but ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted to live in New York City. I may have an opportunity one day where I think I’ll finally be able to live out that dream. So, I want to raise our hypothetical kids in the city, but you think it’s more practical to live in a house.

Miles: I just feel like you got this new job in consulting, and it’s become an obsession of yours to get to New York. You know I won’t be happy there because of my social anxiety and claustrophobia. I just cannot envision a lifestyle like New York being my day-to-day life.

Alex: You haven’t said anything wrong per se, although I want to clarify that I’ve wanted to live in New York my entire life. Even though I grew up in the suburbs of Maryland, New York is where my family was originally from. Since the first time I visited the city with my mom 20 years ago, I knew it was where I wanted to be. But when I met you, that was the first time I was like, wait a second, is it possible I won’t move to New York? It’s just that we’re young and I’m not ready to give up on my dream yet. I think I can live in my dream city and have my dream girl.

Miles: Ideally, I want to live in the South to be close to my own family. I’ve already missed so many years with my extended family because my dad’s job has been in Saudi Arabia my whole life. New York is so off course from anything I’ve ever wanted for my future. I want my kids to experience the joy I did playing outside and riding horses. And I’m afraid if we end up doing long distance, you’re going to decide to never leave New York.

Alex: I’ll be transparent in the fact that I have the same fear. You say that living in New York isn’t what you want, but at this point, living in a suburban environment is not what I want, nor is it what I think would be best for our future kids.

Miles: But how do you know that? How do you know that’s what’s best for our future children?

Alex: I just think living in New York is a lifestyle that leads kids to grow up to have an appreciation for diversity and to work hard for a living. I was fortunate enough to be raised like a city kid and to come from a family of New Yorkers. I’ve lived it and know what happens to kids who grow up in a little privileged bubble.

Miles: I didn’t grow up in an urban environment and I think I turned out just fine. If anything, growing up on a farm has taught me hard work and responsibility. Animals don’t feed themselves and barns don’t muck themselves either.

Alex: I know you turned out great. You’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.

Miles: Thank you, but I just don’t necessarily agree with the thought that growing up in a city is the only way to obtain those qualities.

Alex: I get that.

Miles: I think you grew up in a very privileged area where the majority of people could be stuck-up, which gave you a bad taste for suburban living. But growing up on a farm made my childhood amazing.

Alex: Well, this is the crux of the fight, essentially: We come from different backgrounds.

Miles: We are completely different and it makes me sometimes wonder how we even ended up dating in the first place.

Alex: The first time we ever had this fight was—

Miles: When you broke up with me!

Alex: I don’t count it as a breakup. It lasted six hours and we were still Facebook-official. But when I “attempted” to break up with you, yes.

Miles: We didn’t have a big argument or buildup. You just tried to end it.

Alex: I think we started to have conversations about this prior to the “breakup,” but you didn’t think we’d ever had a serious conversation. Looking back, I do see your point. We never dug deep to come up with solutions. I naïvely thought that there was no way this was going to work no matter how much we loved one another. I now regret what I did and am so grateful you gave me a second chance.

Miles: When we went to New York and I basically had a panic attack in Times Square, that was when you experienced my social anxiety for the first time and had that “Oh shit” moment. It also scared you when I took you to North Carolina to see my family and you saw how happy I was being in the middle of nowhere.

Alex: Shortly after we started dating, and I realized this could be a serious relationship and not just a quick fling, I had a feeling that this exact fight could possibly break us up.

Miles: You never expressed to me that living in New York was a deal breaker for you.

Alex: I guess not, and that was where I messed up. I would say that over time, we’ve learned to stay positive and assume the best intentions in each other. It’s important to know that neither of us is trying to hurt the other person.

Miles: Yeah, that is the biggest difference from when we first started fighting to now. Unrelatedly, I remember that time when we didn’t talk for a whole night because you kept picking at the scraps of food on your plate; you know that’s my pet peeve. We’ve definitely gotten better at fighting in general.

Alex: Oh wow, yeah, that was bad. But on a serious note, I think the fact that we are still together despite everything shows that we care for and love each other. We love each other so much that we are both willing to make sacrifices to be together. We just still have to see exactly what those sacrifices will be. I love you a lot.

Miles: I 100 percent agree. With any of the other relationships in my past, if we’d had a core disagreement like this, I just would have been done.

Even though I’ve wanted to physically hurt you several times in the last three weeks, I still love you so much. I hate that this fight is happening, but at the same time, I feel confident that we’ll figure it out eventually. Whether that means me living in New York for a few years so you can live out your dreams, or you deciding you’re down to live in a house in North Carolina. We’re only in our 20s and so much could change.

Alex: Which is so hard to accept, because you want to know everything in your 20s. But the reality is we just don’t.