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I'm not ready for her to move in

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  June 8, 2011 06:26 AM

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Q: Meredith,

I am a divorced father of a young child. I had a particularly rough marriage that had me on the receiving end of quite a bit of verbal abuse and a few incidents of physical abuse. The divorce wasn't much better and I had to fight for fair visitation. All the while, with mounting legal expenses, I lost my home to foreclosure.

During the divorce process and in the months following its completion, I had two relationships. The first one was with someone who had commitment issues. The second relationship was long-distance and had all the early signs of becoming just volatile as my marriage.

Needless to say, neither of those relationships were healthy and I turned to professional therapy to attempt to figure out why I kept finding myself in situations where I allowed other people to walk all over me. Therapy helped me make a lot of positive changes in my life.

Last fall, I had managed to pull myself enough out of debt to make the decision to move back out of my parents' home and get my own place. Shortly after that, I met a great woman. She is supportive of me and understanding of my deficiencies. Where I am forgetful and a daydreamer, she is organized with lists and has her feet firmly planted on the ground. Most importantly, she is amazing with my child. I think she will make a great step-mom someday.

There are a few problems that I am wrestling with, however. I have felt constant pressure from her about when I am going to be comfortable moving in together. I am in my 30s and she is in her late 20s, and I think that maybe she's feeling more urgency to make that leap than I am.

I have tried to explain my side of the situation, which is that I have only just gotten myself out of the financial mess from the divorce, and just moved out on my own, and that I need time (for both myself and my child) to settle into this new situation. More importantly, I feel an overwhelming responsibility to prove to myself that I can handle life on my own before having someone else move in with me.

She is uncomfortable without a timeline, so I recently suggested that at some point, we should maybe think about spending a few weeks with her staying at my place just to see how it goes.

At first she thought it was a great idea, but now she's upset about it because she already spends most of the week at my place and doesn't understand what more could be learned from spending a few weeks here. Perhaps she is right, but the idea of it made me feel a lot more comfortable and prepared to have a discussion about where we're at. After all that I've been through, I need reassurance that I am making the right decision and not rushing into anything.

I am disappointed that she is not understanding to my need to take it slow. Is she right? Am I making her suffer and wait because of my relationship history? Or am I just doing what I need to do to make sure I don't repeat the mistakes of the past?

– Thrice Burned, Once Shy


A: I'm on her side about the trial run thing, TBOS. That just doesn't make any sense to me. An extended sleepover isn't going to make you any more comfortable with the idea of her moving in than you are now.

But I'm on your side about everything else. You haven't even been together for a year and she wants final answers. All you can do is tell her this: "I'm into you, I don't want to lose you, and yes, if we're happy and comfortable after a reasonable amount of time (at least a year?), we can revisit the cohabitation issue." Because that's how you feel, right?

If she can't give you at least a year to be in a relationship with her before moving in, she's just another woman who isn't considering your needs and you should reconsider the whole relationship. It's possible that she has her own past to deal with -- that she's been strung along in previous relationships -- but that doesn't mean you have to live on her schedule.

My advice is to bring her to therapy with you so that you can have this discussion in a safe zone. Don't attempt to keep her at bay with long-term sleepovers and promises you can't keep. Just set your boundaries, be honest, tell her all of the good things you told us, and see if she's capable of empathy. Because that's what you need from her.

Readers? Should this woman be asking to move in after just a few months? Is she just another woman who's telling him what to do? Do you think there's more to this story? Is the trial run/extended sleepover idea a fair one? What’s happening here? Discuss.

– 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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