Should I move out of boyfriend's, and into best friend's?
October 23, 2008 12:08 AM   Subscribe

How bad a faux pas would it be to move out of a (multi-person) shared house with a new but lovely boyfriend, and into my best friend's house instead?

A FWB, became a housemate, and in the last few months, a boyfriend. Despite some initial confusion, everything seems to be going really well.

But. A room has finally come open in my best friend's house.
Best friend... sounds so highschool?
This is the person I would most like to hang with, travel with, live with, and according to the old saw, accompany to move bodies with etc (I don't find the last one very funny :( ).

So, exactly how bad would you consider it to have a new partner want to move out, and go live with their best friend & several other friends, instead?

To explain, in my shiny happy world, I'm all 'Yay! Friends!', my first thought is that I would understand if he felt the same situation. Let's just assume I have some-times socialisation problems, in a slightly 'aspie' happy-shiny world kinda way, and I often don't realise the social implications and consequences of certain actions, until they are explained to me in small (or big) words, at which point I can take them into account.

I have a sinking feeling this might be one of those situations. Rather than getting into a mess -
I was just going to ask/tell him directly, but I'm worried it might be one of those sorts of situations where someone would say "Sure, do whatever you need to do" even if they didn't feel that way, and put a brave face on it.

And if so, if I just try to feel out they'd feel about it, if were hurt by the idea then they may not be able to explain it in the best/clearest of ways?

And therefore, I'd appreciate a gauge of opinions?
posted by Elysum to Human Relations (28 answers total)

"And if so, were I to just try to feel out how they'd feel about it, if they were hurt by the idea then maybe they might not be able to explain it in the best/clearest of ways?"

Clicked too soon (again). I was still considering Anonymous-ing this.
*Sigh*. Drat my impulsive fingers!

posted by Elysum at 12:14 AM on October 23, 2008

It sounds his transition to boyfriend is fairly recent. Given that it's a multi-person house (and not just the two of you shacking up), and provided that your lease is actually expiring and you're not running out on your current housemates, I'd be tempted to say it's okay if explained tactfully. Especially emphasizing the bit about how much you value your best friend and how long you've been looking forward for this and how this doesn't mean you're running away from the relationship.

Living together can be a huge toll on a relationship, especially a new one, so your boyfriend may even see this as a wise move - give each other some time away to explore feelings and figure things out as the relationship progresses, and whatnot. Since you were housemates first and became a couple later, it makes sense from an outsider perspective to get away from that living situation even if your best friend didn't have an open spot in their house.

But then again, this does depend on how long you two have been "together" together, known each other, and how sensitive he is to these types of situations (e.g. is he the type to take things personally, etc.)

So why not tell him exactly what you've said here and consult his opinion? Make it clear you want to know his honest opinion and will be considerate of it/won't take it personally whatever he says. I mean, yeah, there's the likelihood of him saying "OH SURE GO AHEAD I DON'T MIND" then sulking about it later, but you're both adults (presumably), if he has an issue with something his significant other is doing, he needs to learn to communicate it.
posted by Phire at 12:25 AM on October 23, 2008

Man, nothing like having a girl you've been kinda seeing and now seriously seeing come up and tell you "hey, I'm going to go live with my friend instead but I still want to date."

It seems to automatically imply the "we need space" side of things and it DEFINITELY implies "I'd rather spend time with her than you." And that's assuming the friend is a girl. If it's a guy, this will only end in fail.

Despite your maturity level, this can just be perceived in a strange way. I think if you explain it like there's been a long-standing agreement with the friend and that you're still very excited about the relationship and such, that might work out. A lot of it depends on what kind of guy you're dating; some guys are NOT able to process stuff like this without reverting to the extreme side of jealousy and freakoutness, but frankly, you probably shouldn't be dating someone like that anyway, and I guess this is one way to figure it out.

On the other hand, even a non-controling, non-jealous guy might throw up a large "the hell?" with this one. It'll depend a lot on the phrasing, the explanation of the motive behind it and your view on the relationship currently and how it'll be moving forward. Especially if you'll be someday at a place where you'll be moving BACK together.
posted by disillusioned at 12:36 AM on October 23, 2008

Well, one would hope that your boyfriend is becoming the one you'd most want to hang with, travel with, dispose of bodies with, etc. That said, living together is usually a big step in many people's relationships and can put a strain on things if it makes the relationship a bit too intense too soon. I know a few couples who've got together in Uni halls then, when choosing new accommodation, chose to live separately to avoid rushing things. Note that it doesn't have to go this way: I did pretty much the same as you -- arranging to live together then becoming a couple -- and it worked really well. *Shrug* You're the only ones who can judge whether this might be an issue for you.

Anyway, maybe you can frame it along those lines? Explain to your boyfriend that he's great and it's still early in your relationship, so you want to be able to give him some space. It's also quite common for housemates to be nervous of sharing with a new couple (mine were at for at least the first few months), because there's a risk of ending up as the nth wheels and always a chance that they'll end up sharing the lease with a pair of bitter exes.

So there are reasons why moving out would be good for your relationship, but only you can decide if they're relevant to you. I'd avoid telling your boyfriend that he's less fun to live with than your best friend, though.
posted by metaBugs at 1:47 AM on October 23, 2008

I'm thinking "You don't speak my language" would have been a good title.

First, thank you for two very informative and well thought out answers.

Phire -

I'm a bit despairing of the communication in supposedly adult relationship, given we'd been FWB for nearly 2 years, and I had no idea he'd been interested in 'a relationship' for a year of that. o_O
And yet, there's a lot going for it, otherwise. In actions, we seem to be clicking very well, and we're trying, and doing better on the communication front. But I've never had it so difficult before.

Thank you, that is one of the perspectives I'm looking for...

Yes, friend is guy. I'd be moving in with three gay males. Very gay (Not bi, quite sure).
posted by Elysum at 2:05 AM on October 23, 2008

If you're not into your boyfriend enough to live with him, that's legitimate. Maybe your relationship with him just isn't mature enough to be living together, and I think if you're young, you should have your own space to be alone, at least part of the time. The real question is: will you be miserable by turning down this opportunity to live with your best friend? And if so, will that in turn sour the relationship with boyfriend?

So I'd explain how you feel about it, which again, is a legit want, but don't expect him to like it. That's the risk you run.
posted by zardoz at 2:11 AM on October 23, 2008

I'm a bit confused as to who's actually moving in with the best friend and who's not, and whose best friend it actually is - after reading the answers, it sounds like:

* You moved in with Wonderboy, when he was just a friend.
* Wonderboy became your boyfriend.
* Your best friend had a room open up, and you want to move in with your best friend -- but leave Wonderboy in HIS house.

Is that the case?

If that is, I don't think that's odd at all. There's a difference between "living with" someone who's just a friend and "living with" a boyfriend, and you're not really "living with" your boyfriend -- you both just happen to live in the same house.

But I also should point out that sometimes it can be dicey to live with a best friend too, for the very same reasons that it sometimes feels awkward to live with a new boyfriend -- because when you do have the occasional rough patch, it can be harder to get through it if you're both also in each others' faces.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:52 AM on October 23, 2008

Pretty good. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
posted by watercarrier at 5:04 AM on October 23, 2008

Is your friend discrete? If so, have her ask him when you are not around. She could bring it up as completely her own idea. She could also claim that she is just exploring the idea. She's "Just wondering how he would feel if she asked you to move in with her." He's much less likely to put a "brave face" on in front of her.

That sort of thing.

Also, have you thought about your boyfriends rent/roommate situation after you move out? Things will go much more smoothly if there is a good option for him, too.
posted by oddman at 6:07 AM on October 23, 2008

So, exactly how bad would you consider it to have a new partner want to move out, and go live with their best friend & several other friends, instead?

I wouldn't think it was bad, per se, but I would certainly interpret it as "she is not all that committed to this relationship, or is just not ready to be serious." Presuming that I was ready for more commitment, I'd be disappointed, but I wouldn't think she was a bad person, just maybe not the person for me, assuming that I was looking for a more serious or committed relationship.

But can you notice how many assumptions there are in that paragraph? Do you have any sense of how your boyfriend is perceiving this relationship? What about yourself? Have you had an actual conversation with him about "where this all might be going?", and with yourself about the same thing?

For that matter, how serious is your friendship? I ask because, looking back, in hindsight it is really easy to see which friendships were really deep and meaningful, and which ones were a lot of fun but were more flashes-in-the-pan, intense but short-lived. In one sense that doesn't matter -- both are good things to have in your life. But if it comes to a choice between nurturing a relationship and nurturing a friendship, it is important to get a sense about which (or for that matter, either) is a more solid structure on which to work.
posted by Forktine at 6:39 AM on October 23, 2008

I agree that it's probably a fortuitous situation on which you should capitalize. I don't know how old you are, but it's pretty unusual for new relationships to start off by living together. Most couples wait months, years, to cohabit, and for good reason! Just be a normal couple, with separate domiciles, and enjoy both the fun of sleeping over and the mental privacy of having your own space when he's not around.

We know nothing about this guy. Have you guys said you love each other? Talked about which grandparents to name your kids after? No? Then if you explain yourself with the utmost compassion and foresight, I would bet he'll understand. "Look, honey, I'm nuts about you, but it just so happens that the lease is ending, my BFF needs a roommate, and we'll still live nearby." Really emphasize that you still like him, and that your current set-up is far more unorthodox than the one you're transitioning into.

To be honest, I think you guys will have a much better shot at a long-term relationship if you move out now. A lot of couples need time and space to iron out bumps, and it's significantly harder if you two have a teeny brawl and then have to run into each other on the way to bathroom. If you guys take it slowly, and all goes well, the next time you move in together you'll both be more equipped to anticipate each other's quirks and habits. And if things don't work out, you're looking at a super-awkward living situation down the road--and your BFF will probably have a roommate by then.

You two have already made it this far by dating and living together, so I'd wager that the ties are strong enough to withstand whatever minor misgivings that will come with this opportunity to normalize your relationship.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:00 AM on October 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Also, I'm kind of shocked that so many of us are quick to assume the guy would be offended. Really? I can't imagine living with a guy when we're still in the "Wait! I don't know your middle name!" and "I can't believe you hate Indian food!" phase. Seems like the fastest way to decarbonate the effervescence and go straight into, "Dude, did you use my razor?" and "Jesus Christ would you please put down the toilet seat" squabbles.

Also, think of your other roommates! I lived with roommates who started dating once, and if they weren't making out in front of the open refrigerator (right, you can pay the energy bill this months, kids) they were grousing to me about the other's annoying habits. It also meant that wall-banging sleepovers never took place out the apartment, and suddenly I felt like I was living in "their" apartment because they were a bigger unit than I was. There's a reason so many apartment ads on Craigslist specify "NO couples."
posted by zoomorphic at 7:16 AM on October 23, 2008

Hmm, I don't really know how he would feel, but one thing stood out to me:

I was just going to ask/tell him directly, but I'm worried it might be one of those sorts of situations where someone would say "Sure, do whatever you need to do" even if they didn't feel that way, and put a brave face on it.

If you are as 'aspie' as you describe yourself, you should absolutely stop this sort of thing before it becomes routine. Communication is really important, so maybe you should explain that you are not so good at reading subtle cues, so you really want him to be upfront about anything on his mind.

Basically, this doesn't sound like it should be too tricky of a problem. Just find out what he thinks. And getting him to express what he feels in clear verbal terms, even if that's not 'socially orthodox', could be a big win for your relationship.

Just an idea.
posted by losvedir at 7:31 AM on October 23, 2008

Hi. This happened to me. He wanted a chance to live with his best friend while they were both still in the same city. I wanted him to be happy, so I didn't put up a fight. But it still felt, in every way, like a rejection of the life we'd built and the dynamic we'd established in our home. Ultimately I was unable to treat it like anything other than a breakup.

In our case, he wound up feeling like he made a big mistake, and we managed to (just barely) stay together. As soon as the new lease was up, we got our own place again. I am shocked to this day that our relationship survived this, and I wouldn't recommend that anyone put someone through what I went through. If you have issues with your relationship that's one thing. Otherwise it's a big fat load of unnecessary suffering. 9 times out of 10, having your cake and eating it too just leaves you feeling nauseous.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 8:34 AM on October 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm a bit despairing of the communication in supposedly adult relationship, given we'd been FWB for nearly 2 years, and I had no idea he'd been interested in 'a relationship' for a year of that. o_O

Please. You fuck a guy for 2 years (during which he essentially moves in with you) and act surprised that he wanted a relationship? Then, when you actually start a relationship with this guy, you go quickly into full-stress mode over the possibility of moving away from him to be with your best gal pal? Not because it's a great pad, mind you, but because you'd rather hang out with her than with him.

What, exactly, do you consider different about your relationship with this fellow now that he's your boyfriend and not just your fuck buddy?

Move out. Break up with the guy. Grow up. You'll both be better off.
posted by mkultra at 8:37 AM on October 23, 2008

But it still felt, in every way, like a rejection of the life we'd built and the dynamic we'd established in our home.

I might be wrong, but this sounds like a different dynamic entirely from the OP's. If you start dating someone, then you two decide to move in together, then they move out again, that could seriously destabilize the relationship. That is implying that the decision to cohabit was a mistake, and now someone is backing out. These guys only started seriously dating after they were roommates, and they didn't decide to move in together knowing they'd wind up as boyfriend and girlfriend. It's different.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:07 AM on October 23, 2008

Aw, sorry for being all heteronormative. "Boyfriend and boyfriend," if that applies.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:24 AM on October 23, 2008

I think one thing to keep in mind, and guys correct me if I'm wrong, but I've always felt that men need to feel like things are moving forward in relationships and we don't handle it as well as we should when it isn't. I know I have in the past and looking back I regret reacting the way I did, but sometimes the all encapsulating blinders of love turn us into bumbling fools.
posted by mattsweaters at 10:25 AM on October 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

mkultra has it. A very strange thing happened here, which I skimmed over in my first reading of the question.

You were friends with benefits, and he went from being a casual friend to moving into your house. Friends with benefits who do not have designs on more do not work to get closer to you. That's the opposite of what usually happens.

He wants more than you do. He's arranged his whole living situation to be in your orbit. And now you want to move out?

Faux pas doesn't describe what you want to do. You've misjudged the seriousness of your relationship, and you should break up now to avoid hurting him further in the future.
posted by purpleclover at 10:39 AM on October 23, 2008

I think that gay or not, living with another guy is an awfully tricky thing. If this DOESN'T come off as a threat to your new beau, he is a truly understanding and mature individual - a rare, rare sort indeed.

And that kind of guy is worth keeping.

That said, don't test him. Don't push this. If you talk to him about it and get his honest opinion and he seems at ALL hesitant - don't do it. Your friend, assuming he is your BEST friend, will be there later. This may be your only shot at a meaningful relationship with your bf, something you may well regret later if you blow it now.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:41 AM on October 23, 2008

To clarify:
[ Elysum+Boyfriend. In same large house with other housemates.]

Elysum would like to move to --> [House with BestFriend + GoodFriends]

While still retaining: Elysum+Boyfriend

I clarified that BestFriend & GoodFriends were all gay males, in reply to Disillusioned's comment:
"And that's assuming the friend is a girl. If it's a guy, this will only end in fail."

To that and grapefruitmotion:
(*sigh* I'm bi, he's bi, the boy/girl thing is kind of irrelevant unless I move in with bunch of Nuns)

Why we're in the same house:
Two houses of housemates merged. It really was the best choice at the time.
The only other thing I could have done would have been to, after the move, move somewhere else at first opportunity. I probably should have, as this is yet another in the list of why screwing the crew is complicated.

Housemates on our relationship:
We went to each of the housemate's and asked if they'd feel ok about us going out, and if they had any problems with it, and got the basic all clear.

Lease -
Lease slightly different formats, but basically we've all paid bond, can get other housemates, and no one is or will get screwed over (incidentally, it would also be easier for current house to find housemate than friend's house).

On Friendship -
The relationship is too new to know if it will still be here in 10 years time, I'm willing to bet the friendship will be.

Zoomorphic -
Yes. What you said, especially second post. That's basically the issues I've been having, but didn't want to get too wordy on. I wouldn't have moved in with a new partner this early in a relationship, and yet, moving out of a house is not the same as having never lived together in the first place, so that's the issue I'm trying to navigate around.

Thank you so much for sharing.
That's the sort of thing I'm worried about.
(I hope Zoomorphic is right)

Mkultra -
thank you for taking the time to give me advice, even though so far, I appreciate it the least.

Yes, I was surprised.
I'm actually good with a bit of wham, bam, but my former partners have all tended to indicate their interest, by wanting to spend time with me.
Whereas, he didn't really much, and he usually declined my occasional invitations to watch a movie, or go to a party, etc. At a time when I could have gotten quite moony over him, I'd made a few offers, he didn't seem interested, told myself c'est la vie, and beat down the mush with a stick.
It turns out, he was feeling moony at the same time, but insecure at what he perceived as my lack of interest (I'm sorry, but if you tell me you want casual, you're happy with fuck buddy, I'm going to take you at your word - I was backing off because I felt I was taking it too seriously), and he didn't want to get too attached. That was quite a way off from what I'd assumed of his personality thus far. After having many years of relationships that seemed crystal clear compared to this one, I am, and was, a bit bemused.

But - everyone's got their fuckups.
After an explanation of why he'd been like he had, I thought he deserved a chance to get to know him as a friend, as someone I can actually talk to, and feel close too, spend time with - a boyfriend in other words.
It's still awkward, but, there's something there that so far I value, and really want to give a chance to grow.

I'm moving out. I'd prefer not to take your second option. I'm sure I will continue growing, and thanks for the well-wishes of our betterment.

On preview:
Purpleclover - see above for 'Why we're in the same house'. He didn't move in to be with me, or vice versa.
posted by Elysum at 11:04 AM on October 23, 2008

Based on your follow-ups, it can really go both ways. The miscommunication over the two years isn't as big a faux pas as you'd made it out to be initially (though it is unusual for it to go on this long, I think), but it just speaks to a clear need for communication in the future. Let him have the choice and make it clear you're undecided.
posted by Phire at 11:17 AM on October 23, 2008

(*sigh* I'm bi, he's bi, the boy/girl thing is kind of irrelevant unless I move in with bunch of Nuns)

Good point, but you didn't mention that or clarify it anywhere in any of the responses. I mean, you said your friend was gay, but you DIDN'T say "I'm bi, so it wouldn't matter if I was moving in with a guy or a girl in terms of possible jealousy issues."

To get accurate/appropriate responses, it helps to provide ALL the information :)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:24 AM on October 23, 2008

In the clouds of angst,
I was worried I'd deluge you all with a monsoon of trivial details. ;)

(Sorry I didn't mention the bi, didn't realise it was relevant I thought the factor there was just 'competition')

And I probably missed relevant details in the clouds in the fog.
It's why it's good to talk it out, and sorry to bend your ear meFi, but all my go-to people were unavailable or too involved.

Now of course, I can see all the ways my initial post could have been clearer. ;P

The best friend thing might have been a bit of a red herring.
It was my short form for 'a house that really has a lot going for it', as the people are more important than anything else.
I do really prefer the other house to live it.
If it wasn't for boyfriend, I'd be there already (well, in a few weeks anyway).
Others might see my current situation as better (closer, larger), but I like the accessibly greenery, the vibe, the housemates.
I've been stressed looking after the current house for too long, and I like my housemates, but our core group has been through 3 changes of house.
True esprit de corps in holding together through stern weather, but, I was already wanting a change or a new place before we moved here.

Anyway, it's done - I've talked with him now.
I realised, as much as I don't want to hurt him, (I can see disappointed, but I don't know how disappointed) I really do want to move.
I this will be the first real test of the relationship, seeing if we can handle this.
posted by Elysum at 12:00 PM on October 23, 2008

I would go ahead and move. People survive long-distance relationships, I think he'll be okay if you move down the road a ways.

Besides, you're not married, you don't have kids, it's not some kind of HUGE OH NO BETRAYAL to make decisions on your own. Rather, it's the way that adults do things.
posted by sondrialiac at 2:56 PM on October 23, 2008

This is a dealbreaker. If he says it's not a dealbreaker, then that should be a dealbreaker for you because he's willing to get walked all over without a fight. (Sound of flame-cannons firing.)

Also: if he's not your best friend, then you're just playing around with him. Seriously -- the person you should marry should be the person you'd most like to move the bodies with. If he's not that to you, then you're just sleeping with a buddy. Not everyone is looking to get married but you should keep that in mind. And if you're not going to marry him, then it shouldn't be THAT big a bummer if you two break up.
posted by MaxK at 5:45 PM on October 23, 2008

Drat it - I just realised from some posts that many of you might have had the impression we've been in the same room!
We're note - I didn't think to clarify that when I said we were housemates (not roommates - or is that not how those two terms are used?).

I've known my very good friend for many years - we've been there for each other through breakups, road trips, holy-shit-please-don't-die medical emergencies, books, movies, volunteering , met all of each other's families, and more.
A boyfriend of a few months (despite the confusing initial start), is not going to outweigh that... yet.

But I want to give this a reasonable chance that it could become that.

In practical terms - we are still at the getting to know you stage.
I don't think he has a middle name, haven't ever eaten Indian with him & don't know his disliked foods, favourite movies, or all the names of his high-school girlfriends, etc.

I may just have incompatible beliefs on relationships with you (mental note - let's not go out, ok?).

But still, thank you for your input. It is this range of opinions I wanted to get a handle on, in case it would be the sort of thing that might be widely considered to be offensive.

I'm hopeful about the situation, as I think the posters who've said it's a manageable issue, with better communication, are also the ones who seem to have a closer conception of where this particular relationship is at (new, we didn't deliberately move in together as such) - and any misconceptions are my failure to communicate.

And I do really appreciate the warnings, and personal experience with similar situations.
It's useful information for me, and might serve as a cautionary warnings for other people too.

There are a lot of good answers here, so I'll try and pick the ones that are more relevant to my situation, as well as ones that serve as good warnings for similar situations.
posted by Elysum at 6:39 PM on October 23, 2008

The only way I could see framing the idea, such that it wouldn't automatically lead to Drama, is that it is often a really, really bad idea to combine "starting a relationship" with "moving in together". You move into separate houses with a view to establishing a mutual living space, as a couple, at some point in the future, rather than by default.

(Also, where do I get my "break up" GreaseMonkey script, because some of you obviously have one, and I never know when I might want it.)
posted by rodgerd at 3:18 AM on October 24, 2008

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