I’ve been dating my boyfriend for the last 9 months and I have brought up a few times the topic of moving in together. Every time I have brought it up he has been somewhat resistant and says that he can’t afford it and won’t be able to any time soon, as well the situation depends on whether or not he gets his raise at work. He has some debt from a previous relationship that he wants to pay off before moving in with me (which I appreciate and understand) however any time we talk about it he pushes the answer further and further away (e.g. first it was maybe August, then at least September, then November). Last weekend he promised me it would be before December, yet has since told me he shouldn’t have promised that.
Our relationship is wonderful in every other way and I am very happy in the Now. I am searching advice more so for myself and my own peace of mind. How can I focus on the now and being patient with what is to come, instead of freaking out about when we are going to live together? I feel like I am pushing him to do something he isn’t ready to do and I don’t want to make him feel that way.
I congratulate you on asking the right question, which is “How can I deal with this?” rather than “How can I change his mind?” You are the only one you can control, and you are right not to want to push him to make this decision.
First, ask yourself why you want to move in together. I’m sure it seems like the next logical step in what sounds like a solid relationship. Beyond that though, what is your motivation? Our longing to take a relationship to the next level—whatever level that may be—is often a longing for security. We want a guarantee that the happiness we feel is never going away. The good and bad news is: There is no such guarantee. Even if you get exactly what you want, there are unexpected downsides to every situation. If it’s security you seek, recognize that you have as much of it now as you would if you lived together.
It seems to me (and perhaps to you) that your boyfriend isn’t ready to make this move yet—exemplified by the excuses he’s making. I say give him space to think. You want him to be fully on board—not feel obligated to do this. For him to keep giving you future dates as to when it will happen and not follow through is not cool, so let’s try to stop that cycle.
I recommend ending your campaign to move in together for a few months and talk to him about it. Tell him you’ve decided to put the living-together issue in his hands for now. You won’t bring it up for six months. Seems like a long time, but I promise the New Year will arrive at death-defying speed. Emphasize that this is important to you and you’re asking him to think about it, not forget about it. If, at any point, he decides that living together is not something he wants, then you have a right to know that. Or if he wants to live together but has fears, then ask that he discuss those with you. Let him know that you’re here to discuss any concerns he may have, and then let the issue go.
In doing this, you’ll set yourself free from having to think or worry about it for the rest of the year. Savor your relationship for all that it is right now. Also, don’t be afraid to notice if anything is awry. I say this because sometimes we set our sights on a goal—like living together or getting married—and we focus only on that goal, seeing nothing else. People ignore enormous red flags just for the chance to share a mailing address.
I’m not saying there are red flags in your relationship, I’m recommending that you be familiar with the trouble spots between you and your man. All relationships have trouble spots, it’s a matter of whether they are manageable or not. Let “not living together” not be a problem for a while and see what you see.
My hope is that he will think this through and bring it up to you when he’s ready. If, however, you are the one who brings up living together again, then ask calmly—as opposed to a you-missed-the-deadline voice—“Have you thought about living together?” If he hasn’t thought about it, then tell him that hurts you. If he has, ask about those thoughts. Whatever response you receive, remain calm and honest. Seek to understand where he is coming from, without insisting that your relationship be a certain way.
While this situation is different than yours, here’s an awesome essay about the power of giving your partner space to make decisions.
I want to give up my 9-5 job and go on an adventure. I have some money saved up and I plan on selling some of my things to take the time to travel. My family and friends think I am crazy. They are not being supportive and say I am being selfish and compulsive. Am I being selfish? Should I save my money for when I am ready to have a family?
Itching for Adventure
I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t lay awake at night, dreaming about breaking free or going somewhere exotic and new. In fact, I think fantasizing about ourselves in a different world helps us to stay sane and grounded in our day-to-day lives. Personally, I have this itch every two years or so and I have to ask myself why is this impulse showing up? What would satisfy my craving for the exotic? And, is this a realistic idea that I can put into motion? You seem to be right here. So, my first question would be, do you have a significant other that this decision might immediately effect? If so, this is a mutual discussion to be had, and most likely multiple perspectives, desires, and concerns need to be considered. If not, then I find it to be helpful to thoughtfully consider which frame of mind you live by or that you want to live by. Of course, there are many belief systems at play within us at any given time, many of them unconscious and I’m sure, many of them in opposition; this is the stuff of life! But there are two ways of thinking in particular that I am referring to. The first is common among previous generations where working hard and sacrificing now will pay off later when you can then have the life you want. The other is recognizing that what you have is the present and that this is where you must live, in the moment. Being present does not imply that you don’t make plans, only that your long-term plans are more vague, they are outlines really, that you are more flexible and capable of adapting to whatever presents itself, and that your focus is on right now. I tend toward the latter. Living this way allows you to realize that your life is being shaped moment-by-moment into what you truly want for yourself, and that you have a moment-to-moment choice in creating your own path, despite circumstance or outside influence. Pretty powerful, right? What possibility!
I say go for it. There will always be an opportunity to make money and your family fantasy will come along right when its supposed to, when you are out there living your life! Trust the process. As every wise person I know has told me, waiting on financial stability and the “right timing” to plan a family doesn’t typically happen the way we think it will so much as they tend to come along while your planning and not realizing the present!
It’s not selfish to want new experiences for yourself. Wanting to experience life, become a more well-rounded person, and have something to bring into that family is more valuable than denying yourself now and feeling less whole and perhaps somewhat resentful down the road. You won’t have time for resentment when you are trying to love your partner, your children, and yourself. So, take advantage of the timing of things. Have gratitude for the opportunity to do something romantic and spontaneous, and realize that those voices of guilt telling you that you’re selfish are voices of jealousy and narrow-mindedness. Live now. It’s the only time you have. Your life will be waiting for you right here when you return.
Perhaps you won’t return! Perhaps you will fall in love with the adventure, with yourself, with another life, with someone on their own adventure. Whatever you choose, the experience is in the attitude you keep. If you choose this exciting alternative then do it all the way, not with one foot still in your everyday world. Allow yourself to experience something that will likely enlighten your life and that will bring you great joy. This is part of growing, choosing to do the things that seem to be crazy or off track. This is where you find out who you really are. What have you got to lose? And perhaps having lived out your fantasy you will be the voice of encouragement to someone else seeking such adventure after all is said and done. You never can tell. Go for it.
You can ask Samara and Caroline questions for the Love & Life Advice Column here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The ideas and advice presented here are not a substitute for professional advice. Talk to your psychologist, counselor, physician or health care professional for situations that warrant further analysis.