Q: Dear Meredith,
I have been dating my current boyfriend (Harry) for 8 months. He is 28 and I am 26.
Harry and I have basically lived together for the past few months and we've decided to get our own apartment this summer. There is one catch. My dad lives in the area and he is a widower. My mom passed away almost 10 years ago. Dad is a great guy and gets along well with Harry. Anyway, my dad suggested that Harry and I move in with him instead of getting our own place so we could save some money. This might sound like a strange idea, but my dad works a LOT so he really isn't home that much, his house is very big, and he isn't overprotective at all.
At first I said no way; we don't absolutely need to save money. But I've been thinking about it more lately and I'm starting to believe that my dad wants us to move in because his is lonely. He has lived by himself for two years and before that just with my younger sister, who is now in college. So I now really feel like I should move in with him -- not because I feel obligated to, but because he has always been great to me and I really don't want him living all by himself. I honestly feel like this is something I have to do.
I explained this to Harry and was a little surprised by how against this idea he was, especially since he is always so easy going about everything. The reason he gave me was that it "would look weird" for him to be living with my dad. And while I agree that in 99% of cases it would, this is a different situation. I've asked a bunch of friends and the opinion is pretty mixed as to whether I would be expecting too much of Harry to ask him to do this. I've come to realize that if this is so important to Harry, I should really respect his feelings about this.
I don't want to hurt Harry but at this point I feel like the most important thing is for me to be there for my dad. I am not at all thinking about ending things with Harry, but I need to figure out a way to do what I feel like I need to do (be there for my dad) while continuing to have Harry in my life. I don't believe that living in our own apartment and seeing my dad on the weekends is enough. I know that even if I did live with my dad we wouldn't see each other much during the week, but it would still be significantly more than otherwise, especially since I work most weekends. I also think that it would just make my dad feel better to know that someone else is living in the house.
What would you suggest?
– Good Daughter or Good Girlfriend?, Boston
A: I'm with Harry, GDOGG. I don't think you should move in with Dad. Not because it would "look weird," but because it wouldn't be healthy for anyone involved. You can't live with your dad forever so you'd essentially be creating another temporary situation for him. It would be better for all three of you if you lived close to your dad, made lots of plans with him, forced him to do some social things outside of the house, and then went home to Harry to live the normal life of a young couple.
You can't be a fake spouse for your dad and he really doesn't seem like the kind of guy who wants to be babysat. He works a lot, he's a capable guy, and he needs to learn how to be independent. He might want to date. He might want to make friends his own age. He can't do that if his kid is filling all of his emotional voids.
This thing you're feeling with your dad might have to do with some of your needs and insecurities, by the way. Maybe you feel overwhelmed because you've met the guy you might marry. Maybe you miss your mom and fear that coupling off will pull you from your roots. And that's why you have to move in with Harry -- alone. Commit to spending a lot of time with Dad and being a good daughter but balance that by living the life of a 26-year-old in a good relationship. That's all you can/should do. Let everybody (including yourself) evolve.
Readers? Should she move in with her dad? Is Harry right? Does Dad even want her there? How can she balance her concerns about her father with the needs of her relationship? Discuss.
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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.