I've been with the same company for 9 years. I started out on a fast track, then my company was bought out and all my original bosses were gone. My current boss runs hot and cold and has promised me promotions and raises and sometimes delivered and sometimes not. I recently applied for a new position within my company and didn't get it, and my bosses reasoning was because he had a different position in mind for me. While it would give more money, it would be a lateral move. What my wife and I really want to do is relocate to a different town. I am scared to ask my boss for help with the relocation. I fear this recent job offer and more money will be taken off the table. How should I approach this??
A frank and direct discussion is always best. If you're afraid that your boss would withhold a transfer or promotion opportunity simply because you asked if relocation was an option, you might want to start looking for other opportunities.
Additionally, nothing is set in stone unless it's in writing. Unless you have it on paper that your boss is FOR SURE going to offer you that lateral move, you shouldn't operate on the premise that it's legitimate.
It sounds like your boss has a tendency to tease promotions - the only way around that is to be direct. And, honestly, start looking for other options, because it doesn't seem like you're very comfortable in the environment they're creating.
Since you state "What my wife and I really want to do is relocate to a different town.", approach this from the stance that you want to relocate.
Will you have the same boss in a different position in a different location? If it is going to be a different boss, then maybe talk with them about the job. Have a short, informal informational interview about it. If the new boss is interested in you, they might get you to move over.