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Am I living in his apartment?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  January 22, 2010 07:39 AM

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Love Letters launched a year ago today. My, how we've grown.

I still find you very attractive. I still get butterflies. I still think about you late at night (and I’m not embarrassed to say it). I might even be ready to say those three words.

We'll celebrate on Feb. 12th. I'm finalizing the location of the pre-party today. It's looking like a good time. Save the date. 7:30 to 10ish in Harvard Square.

And here's today’s letter.

Q: Hi Meredith,

I recently (about 2 months ago) moved in with my boyfriend after a rather whirlwind romance. Things have been great, he treats me like gold, makes me laugh, and is always there to support me. My problem is this: Since moving in with him, I feel as though I'm living in HIS apartment as opposed to OUR apartment.

He doesn't let me pay rent or bills as he "can afford it" and wants me "to have money." He does make considerably more money than I do but he doesn't seem to understand that in letting me pay for rent and bills I would feel less ... dispensable. I should say that I do the grocery shopping and pet care (taking our animals to the vet, paying for grooming, etc.) So I am not completely without responsibilities in the household.

On top of this, there is no place for my things. He lived in his apartment as a bachelor for about 3 years before I moved in. This means that the apartment is littered with his things with very little organization, making it even harder to begin the task of going through everything. As of now, two months into cohabitating, I am still living out of boxes.

We don't have any time off together as our work schedules are incompatible (I work nights, he works days and we have different days off). I feel that if we had more time together this would be an easier subject to take on as we could do it together, but right now I'm struggling to get him motivated to make space for me so we can live in OUR apartment and not HIS.

What do you think is the best way to express how important this is to me? How to I get him to let me pitch in for rent and bills when it seems his pride and need to be the breadwinner keep getting in the way? And how do I motivate him to make space for me instead of sitting around the house after work doing, well, a whole lot of nothing?

– Needs Space, Bridgewater


A: NS, the problem with whirlwind romances is that they rarely involve the discussion of practicalities.

You live with this guy now. You need to be able to say to him, "Dude, you have to move your stuff so I can make this apartment feel like home." (Maybe don’t call him dude.) You made a choice to move in with someone you're still getting to know. Let him get to know you. Let him know exactly what you want to contribute and how you need to live. This won’t work any other way.

I think it's nice that he wants to pay for more because he makes more. I don't think that means you're dispensable. That's about him wanting to be fair -- I think.

But if he's making these choices for you -- without your input -- he isn't being isn't fair. And if he's making it difficult for you to move around in your own home, he isn't being fair.

There is no "best way" to express all of this other than honestly and without sugar on top. You're living together now. It's time to extinguish some of that whirlwind excitement and get down to the heart of what has become a serious relationship. I know it seems sad to bring the love into a less sweet reality, but trust me, knowing how to communicate honestly will make life far more romantic than tiptoeing around your problems and maintaining the status quo.

Be clear. Make a list. Tell him what's what in no uncertain terms. And maybe discuss the idea of finding housing that's new to both of you, an apartment that feels more like a shared space than his place.

Readers? Is this cohabitation thing going to work? Does paying for less make her dispensable? Is she really cohabitating with him or is she simply living in his apartment? Should he pay for more? How can she communicate all of this? Can you share some cohabitation adjustment stories for our letter writer? Share. And happy anniversary.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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