He’s Not Ready to Move In. I’m Not Ready to Break Up.

He’s Not Ready to Move In. I’m Not Ready to Break Up.


I am entirely happy with my boyfriend of two years. He makes me feel loved and confident. But (there’s always a “but”) I really want to live together and make a home with him. He refuses. He says he needs his space and moving in together is why his previous relationships fell apart. I respect this, but I am incredibly sad — not angry, just sad — that we will never have a home together. He gives me everything else I need, and I am not going to break up with him over this. But is there a compromise here?

LOUISE

You are blooming with mixed messages, Louise. For starters, you are not “entirely happy” with your boyfriend. (Who is?) By your own admission, you are “incredibly sad” about his refusal to live with you. And though I disagree with old Sigmund Freud on many issues, I find, as he did, that sadness is sometimes anger turned inward. Let’s consider that.

Your boyfriend has been clear about living separately. If he never changes his mind (which is probably a wiser assumption than hoping he will), can you be O.K. with that? Do you imagine your incredible sadness will simply dissolve? (I don’t.) Now, I am certainly not advising you to call it quits with him.

Instead, figure out what sharing a home means to you. Is it a symbol of intimacy or commitment, the freedom to fight without fear of abandonment? Whatever it means to you, see if you can approximate those good qualities (and minimize the bad ones) without combining addresses.

Maybe a fixed weekly schedule would work for both of you, or an agreement not to storm off to the other apartment because of tension. If your boyfriend resists these efforts, though, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship. They all come with compromises. The trick is finding ones that don’t hurt too badly.

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CreditChristoph Niemann

My husband got a job in the city where my father lives. For six months, he will be commuting five hours a day, several days a week. We expected he could stay with my father when he does. But my father told us he doesn’t want my husband to stay with him. He may have guests, he said, and doesn’t want to feel “constrained.” Am I wrong to feel hurt? I am close with my father, and he knows we will struggle to pay two rents.

ANONYMOUS

Funny, no one wants to cohabit this week! Unfortunately, being an adult involves periods of struggle — financial and otherwise. This seems like one of those times for you and your husband. I won’t shame your father for refusing a houseguest of six months. He raised his children already, and he is entitled to his freedom. It’s probably a testament to your closeness that he was honest with you.

I respect your hurt feelings, too. But I wonder: In your view, does entitlement to your father’s financial support ever end? We don’t know your exact coordinates on the march to adulthood. But you are married. You may also find that Airbnb suits your husband’s short-term housing needs and your father’s independence.

Am I wrong or what? My first cousin announced the death of his mother (my aunt) on Facebook. When I read his sad post, I called my mother and said: “I think Aunt Hilda passed away.” He didn’t call anyone! So, if I hadn’t logged in that morning, I wouldn’t have known. I know my cousin was devastated by this loss. But don’t you think he could have made a single phone call?

SUE

You are absolutely right. Someone should have made a phone call — and that person may have been you, Sue. When our parents (and other loved ones) die, we can go off the rails and neglect to do things we normally would, like calling other people to let them know.

But rather than venting at mourners for underperforming in their worst moments, why not offer help? “I just saw your post,” you could say. “I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do or anyone I can call for you?” I’ve been the beneficiary of kindness like this from close friends and relatives. Let me tell you, it can feel like a lifesaver.

We have a wonderful coffee shop where I live with limited seating. When I go in, I get in line to place my order before claiming a seat. But others take seats before ordering by placing their book bags on chairs. Sometimes they take the chair that I intended to occupy. This seems sleazy to me. You?

A.

Well, “sleazy” may be taking things a bit far. But I get your annoyance. In an ideal world we would all follow the same rules. Ask the manager to post the coffee shop’s policy on seat saving. At my local cafe, they did: Get your food and drink before you sit down, please. If yours refuses, it’s practically an invitation to use your jacket to save a seat. (Sleazeball!)


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.





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