Moving in too soon
March 2, 2009 10:41 PM   Subscribe

For the lack of a better choice we're moving in together. What problems can we expect from doing that so early? What advice do you have for us?

I started talking to this girl 3 months ago. We are both in our mid 20s. At first she was just someone to exchange cool ideas with, but not too long later I found myself having feelings for her. Our connection grew and within a couple weeks we were talking for hours on a daily basis.

It would be another normal story if it wasn't for the fact that she's also in a relationship for 4 years AND lives with the guy.

Obviously, this made me stop to review my feelings and spend a long vacation thinking about what to do next. And eventually I decided I was ready, so I opened myself and told her about my feelings. It felt like the only honest and feasible way to proceed talking to her.

And turns out she felt something too, but of course her relationship made things complicated. She was confused and had revealed that she hadn't been happy in her relationship for a long time; eventually she realized her feelings for me were an indicator that she should break up. We kissed the night she told me this and was pretty confident in her decision. This was one month ago and basically we've been having an affair since then - until she finds the right moment to end it with the other. She's worried because she doesn't want to hurt him and doesn't know how to tell him.

Now, it would be another more or less normal story, unless for the fact that she just recently lost her job.

Great. So I spent some more time thinking and decided I should try living with her. I know it's certainly a not so ideal way to begin a relationship - but it's the only way we have, considering she doesn't have any friends who can take her in for long. She was also very reluctant about it, but eventually accepted my proposal to live together.

I know for a fact I wouldn't bet a cent in this relationship if it was with anyone else, but on the other hand I've had nothing but stable relationships before and I'm definitely not the type that messes around with these things. Same for her, I believe. Plus I feel extremely confident it will work out (and yes I've been pessimistic about relationships before).

So this is the summary: we're about to live together, right after her break up. We've already spent ridiculous amounts of time thinking on what can go wrong and how we would deal with it, but now I'd like some honest outsider opinions. What are going to be our biggest problems and what advice would you give us?

For instance, a few of the ideas/measurements we came up with, in case you'd like to comment on:

* We haven't had sex yet (although close, if it matters) and she wants to keep it this way even after moving in, to continue going slow
* Since she's unemployed she will help more with household tasks. After getting a job she will either move to her own place or help paying rent, depending on how this plan goes
* Also because she's unemployed I made the compromise to not throw her out in case it doesn't work out. For anyone of us. She will still stay until she can afford to leave
* She wants to have her sister stay with us for 20-30 days to help her with moving on, and to ensure we don't go faster than we'd like with each other

posted by thegreatcokeolympics to Human Relations (47 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man is a terrible, terrible idea.

I've had nothing but stable relationships before...

Well, there's a first time for everything. The fact that you'll be immediately financially responsible for this girl is going to be a huge stressor. Plus she'll be moving right out of this guy's place to yours? What happens if she ends up having feelings for the guy again? How will you be able to trust her based on the fact that she basically fell for you while she was living with this other dude.

I know for a fact I wouldn't bet a cent in this relationship if it was with anyone else

Neither would anyone else!

The only way to make this work, IMO is to be roomates and "friends" not lovers or boyfriend/girlfriend. You shouldn't expect anything. On the other hand, anything is possible. Things might work, but I think the odds are against it.
posted by delmoi at 10:53 PM on March 2, 2009

How is this even in the realm of a good idea?

1) She is in a relationship already and hasn't ended it.
2) She isn't capable of providing for herself
3) She wants to bring in someone else to live with you in a 4 month old relationship where one of you was already involved with someone else?

You want to have a relationship with her, fine. Don't let her move in with you. Relationships are complex dynamic things and you're setting this one up to have one of the rockiest foundations you possibly can have, on top of that you're proposing to support someone and a family member for some undefined period ? It's never the right moment to end a long relationship, either she is done with him or you're being toyed with. If you insist on going through with this disastrous plan you should do the following:

Check with your current landlord, draw up a lease, make sure you have an out, because if she moves on from you. Get an understanding of household finances and who is responsible for what and what the recourse is for not following through with it.
posted by iamabot at 10:53 PM on March 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Can you afford separate rooms? That would be the single best thing you could do, in my opinion.

I moved in with my boyfriend (into a place he shared with two friends) because I couldn't afford rent. At first it was - omigod tiny room with somebody else in it all the time. We're both kind of stay-in-bedroom reading/gaming types, so it got a little claustrophobic. Sharing the room also makes it a lot harder to not synchronise habits - you have to be good at knowing each other for it to be ok not to go to bed at the same time, it can be a bit like 'oh you don't want to snuggle *sad face*?'

What does 'help with household tasks' mean? She's going to pick your clothes off the floor and do the laundry, or she is the one responsible for keeping the kitchen clean, or she will look after groceries and cooking? That's somewhere it's easy to build up resentment even between just roommates who are trying to share it equally, so when it's going to be uneven it's important that you both know you're expecting the same level of split. And you should have a theory of what the 'equal' level you will revert to is (for if she starts paying rent).

Aside from those two, I guess the rest is just general sharing stuff - you don't mention if you currently have housemates, or if you will have others when she moves in, so it's hard to tell what level of advice you need :)
posted by jacalata at 10:56 PM on March 2, 2009

Read those conditions. It sounds like she is not that interested in a long-term romantic relationship - she primarily wants a free place to stay for as long as she needs it. You sound like an honest and loving person. Your girlfriend is at best confused, and at worst taking advantage of you. Are you OK with that? At the very least, you should put a limit on how long she can stay if it doesn't work out. Something like 60 or even 90 days notice if you want her to move out.

Finally, in response to her statement that she has gone a full month having an affair with you because she doesn't want to hurt her boyfriend - that is garbage. You can't break up with anyone without taking the risk of that they will get hurt - now she is just making it worse since he will not only have to deal with the break-up but also the knowledge that she was cheating on him.
posted by metahawk at 11:02 PM on March 2, 2009 [10 favorites]

Don't do it, man. For your own sake. Pain this way lies. When she never leaves this guy and you've developed an awesome relationship with her despite, other relationships will be hard-pressed to live up to the dream you imagine things could've been. MAKE HER LEAVE HIM FIRST. You're acting like you're in a relationship when you're actually not - not until she decides, officially (with all the breaking up that that entails), that she doesn't want the other guy.

In the meantime, I dunno, I wouldn't live with her either if you want to keep the possibility of a relationship open. Setting up home with someone too early is an excellent way to kill the natural progression of a relationship.
posted by springbound at 11:03 PM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

3 months!? Oh man, this will NOT wendell. You will end up in a world of hurt. There is a little voice inside your head telling you not to do this. Listen to it.
posted by gnutron at 11:08 PM on March 2, 2009

Since she's unemployed she will help more with household tasks.

No matter what you eventually wind up doing, delete this from your plan. It's a recipe for two-way resentment, and job searching is a full-time job in its own right. Flip a coin, do scissors-paper-rock or ask the eight-ball, but find some other way to decide which of you cleans the toilet.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:10 PM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

This situation seems to harbor a confluence of weird possibilities - but not for the reasons you seem to be thinking. You refer to "problems" and "not going faster than you like", etc. Well guess what, living with your significant other will mean problems, and it will mean a lot of joy. And moving in together guarantees that you're already moving faster than expected. It's too late for slowing things down so the best thing you can do is set some limits to what you're willing to accept in the arrangement and communicate those clearly to your partner.

My opinions:
1) You've already determined that you want to live with this girl. Now follow through and determine what you want from the relationship and what you can give in return. Emphasis on the latter. Your whole post-move-in description seems predisposed to being wishy-washy. This is bad.
2) There's no earthly reason why her sister needs to move in with you for a month. You're both in your 20s. You're both adults. She's moved on from her relationship and decided to move in with you. Get her invested in this or the sister will just run interference.
3) Start thinking of these circumstances as the most ideal way to start the relationship. Mind set is important here. If you go into this thinking it's doomed then it will be. Get your head in the game and make this work - who cares if it doesn't follow the "normal" path.
posted by quadog at 11:11 PM on March 2, 2009

Things to consider: She will be bringing the baggage of her old relationship immediately into a new relationship with you. Speaking from some experience with rebounding seriously and immediately after the end of a long-term relationship, I think this means there is the potential that she will (unconsciously or not) expect this new relationship with YOU to "redeem" (for lack of a better term) the failed relationship with her (soon-to-be)-ex.

It also means that she has had NO chance to grieve the end of her relationship. And -- again, speaking from boatloads of experience here -- it doesn't matter, in the long run, how glad she is to get out of that relationship right now, and/or how much she might think she doesn't need to grieve its ending. It will almost certainly be an emotional thorn in her side, and therefore in the side of your relationship.

Beyond that: moving in together can be extremely stressful, even for couples who already have a history together. But you guys don't have that history. You don't really know -- yes, yes, I know you think you know it after a few giddy, illicit, sexy months together -- if you guys are compatible in the deeper ways that are required for relationships to work: you don't know how well you communicate (really, you don't, no matter how many hours and hours you spend talking right now). You don't know how you each deal with conflict. You don't know if you're compatible sexually. You have no idea if you have comparable expectations in terms of living space, chores, cleanliness, etc. You have no idea how much resentment or stress either or both of you are going to feel with a financial arrangement that creates this kind of imbalance from the start.

These factors are all challenging enough for couples who've been together for a year or more -- and yet you to are leapfrogging over a number of the normal relationship stages to go immediately to cohabitating. This may seem really, really romantic now but in reality, you are robbing yourselves of both the pleasure and the healthy necessity of taking things more slowly. Personally, I would lay odds on this being a recipe for disaster within about six months. Seriously: reconsider. This way madness lies.
posted by scody at 11:13 PM on March 2, 2009 [5 favorites]

* She wants to have her sister stay with us for 20-30 days to help her with moving on, and to ensure we don't go faster than we'd like with each other

Is there any reason why this sister can't take her in? I think it's a bad idea to start a new relationship with so much baggage. Good luck to you both.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:17 PM on March 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

Yeah, sorry, but this just sounds like a really bad idea to me. You don't want to be living with somebody else's girlfriend. What if he wants to come over? Won't that be weird? And her sister is also going to move in? Are you capable of supporting a family?
posted by number9dream at 11:18 PM on March 2, 2009

i have heard of stranger things working out, but the probability is not very high.

i let an ex move in with me last year because he was in a bad situation. we both had high hopes going in. we had lived together before, so we sort of knew what we were getting ourselves into. the real problem? he was unemployed. in the planning process, we did not anticipate five months of unemployment and the large amount of debt that would put me in. we started out great and even entertained the thought of dating again. most of this was ruined by the fact that he had no job, was stuck at the apartment all day, and was basically resentful of me because i was providing his livelihood and he didn't have a lot of say in what happened to him (i didn't tell him what he could and couldn't do, he just couldn't go out to eat or buy a new pair of pants or whatever on his own because he had none of his own money). after millions of fights later, a lot of money lost, and a hoopla of other factors, he moved out and we are barely friends. he is still unemployed and living with another friend of his.

my point: the best laid plans don't account for everything and high hopes don't always pan out. sometimes people say they will not use you and they do anyway. if you choose to do this, be very very careful. do not promise that you won't ask her to leave because there may be a time when you have no other choice for both your sakes. be mindful of the warning signs (i.e. she doesn't really try very hard to get a job) and give each other lots of space.
posted by itsacover at 11:21 PM on March 2, 2009

This is such a tremendously bad idea.

I've had nothing but stable relationships before and I'm definitely not the type that messes around with these things. Same for her, I believe.

She's cheating on her boyfriend of 4 years with you. That's not stable.

Assuming she's not stringing you along with the idea of eventually being able to have sex with her while she completely freeloads off of you, which it really seems she is, you're just setting yourself up for an awkward living situation that's almost certainly going to end poorly.

I'm not one for condemning a person to a life of shame for the mistakes they've made, and I honestly think someone who cheats on their partner can mature over time into an honest and trustworthy individual, but she's cheating on him right now. This should tell you something about the kind of person she currently is.
posted by Relic at 11:22 PM on March 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

I know for a fact I wouldn't bet a cent in this relationship if it was with anyone else, but on the other hand I've had nothing but stable relationships before and I'm definitely not the type that messes around with these things. Same for her, I believe. Plus I feel extremely confident it will work out (and yes I've been pessimistic about relationships before).

I see that you like to think of yourself as pretty level-headed and realistic about romantic relationships.

Here is the objective outsider opinion: This sounds like an absolutely ridiculous arrangement. She sounds like a manipulative leech, and you sound like a poor spineless sap being taken for a ride.

I have a feeling you're not liking this opinion so far. But obviously you felt something was off kilter, otherwise you wouldn't be here on Mefi asking for other perspectives, right? So hear me out.

She hasn't even broken up with the guy yet. She claims it's because she "doesn't want to hurt him," and yet she's been carrying on this affair with you behind his back. She can't leave him anyway without another guy to cover her ass since she's now unemployed. Oh, but you're here, knight in shining armor. How convenient.

Not only are you offering her a free place to stay, but the offer stands as long as she remains unemployed, even if the two of you break up. AND her sister gets to move in for free as well. She claims she "needs help moving on"... I guess having a new guy, YOU, in her life just isn't enough. Get it? YOU AREN'T ENOUGH.

Maybe she'll "need" her sister's support indefinitely. What if she never wants her sister to leave? Are you going to kick out the sister? AND WHY CAN'T SHE STAY WITH HER SISTER TEMPORARILY? WHERE DID THE SISTER COME FROM? I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY IT'S OKAY FOR HER SISTER TO STAY WITH HER, BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

Talk about bringing relationship baggage - Her boyfriend is actually still her boyfriend, and she needs her sister to move in with you guys in order to get over this boyfriend (who is still a boyfriend... do I need to remind you of this again? He's still her boyfriend).

And what if you do break up? What if she never makes any real effort to get a new job? What if she's not the delightful homemaker she claims to be? What if she decides she wants to start seeing a new guy, one who doesn't offer to let her move in with him? Are you still going to allow her to stay? Are you going to let her bring him over?

So this girl who still has a boyfriend that she is reluctant to break up with, despite claiming to be "pretty confident" about her feelings for you, who you've known only for three months and have only been having a furtive "relationship" with for a few weeks, is going to get free rent for herself indefinitely, AND demanded and got free rent for her sister as well, possibly indefinitely. And she gets all this without even having to put out. WOW.

Lastly, I really like how you say that you "made the compromise to not throw her out in case it doesn't work out." The fact that you even phrased it this way tells me that she's done a complete number on you and you're seeing the whole thing through blinders. If you can't see what's wrong with that, then you've got problems that Mefi can't help you with.

Seriously, I don't know how she managed to pull all this over on you, but she's good... REAL GOOD. If you were a friend of mine, my advice to you would be to run away screaming. This has bad news written all over it.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:26 PM on March 2, 2009 [19 favorites]

You know, there's no rea reason why this can't work. There are lots of factors that could cause fail and pain all around but, as long as all three of you go into this with your eyes open and your expectations low to start with, you may be able to make a go of it.

The biggest hurdle, in my opinion, is that you are starting off a relationship by moving in with someone who is cheating on her current boyfriend. Not only does this put a black mark against her character, it is likely to prey on your mind in the future - "if she cheated on him, how do I know she won't cheat on me?" will be a hard thought to put out of your mind when you have your first knock-down, drag-out argument and she won't talk to you for a week.

If it feels good, do it, but keep your eyes open and don't expect smooth sailing anytime soon.
posted by dg at 11:34 PM on March 2, 2009

Abort abort abort!

* Since she's unemployed she will help more with household tasks. After getting a job she will either move to her own place or help paying rent, depending on how this plan goes

Sounds like a squater to me.
posted by gramcracker at 11:37 PM on March 2, 2009

It seems to me that she is using you pretty hard. Now the real question is how much is it worth to you to be able to live with this girl. From what it sounds like she isn't looking for a real relationship else that whole "if it doesn't work out can I still stay here" agreement wouldn't have been discussed.

And since she is just jerking you and her boyfriend around right now doesn't really put her in the best light.

But I'm sure you've probably realized this so all that is left is to decide if being with her (not necessarily in a relationship) is worth paying for her living expenses. Since we are having a pretty bad recession right now her getting a job shouldn't be thought of as something definite.

If a relationship isn't developed between the two of you how long would you wait to get rid of her. Having to cut someone who is solely dependent on you off, for most people, isn't an easy thing to do. Would you be ready to do it. If you aren't then you probably shouldn't get into a situation that would require you to do it (like this one for example). Anyways, I hope you think this through before jumping in.
posted by Allan Gordon at 1:13 AM on March 3, 2009

By the way, I didn't want to get all judge-me in the first comment, but this girl sounds like TROUBLE in general. It really does sound like she's just trying to use you to get housing. I mean maybe not, but who knows? You've only known her for three months.
posted by delmoi at 1:14 AM on March 3, 2009

She wants her sister there as a chaperone? To make sure you two don't fuck? You say she's there to "to ensure we don't go faster than we'd like with each other". But moving in together is pretty much the definition of taking things fast, so I can only assume that she's there to stop you from fucking.

I give this thing a 10% chance of being a truly magical period in your life, and a 90% chance of being one enormous headache. But the magic will open happen if the two of you are allowed to be romantic and sexual as the mood dictates and not feel guilty about it. So you should consider getting rid of the sister. If the woman herself wants to 'go slow' (i.e. not fuck yet) what's to stop her from going slow? Why does she need outside assistance?

And just in case I haven't been clear enough on this: 'going slow' only means not fucking when you're 15. When you're in your mid-20s, 'going slow' means having separate social lives, possibly seeing other people, not sharing an apartment, not sharing money, etc. until you get to know each other better. 'Going slow' in the grown-up sense is a perfectly reasonable request that has absolutely nothing to do with your scenario. And I really have to wonder what kind of a hare-brained scheme it is to invite a relative into your house to watch over you and make sure you don't fuck. And this is what I am saying to you: if she moves in and it does turn in to this magical, wonderful time, then among other things it will involve the two of your exploring each other sexually, walking around the house naked, etc. and then the sister has to jet on the pronto.
posted by creasy boy at 1:20 AM on March 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

If she cares enough about you to live with you as a partner as well as a dependent, she cares enough about you to put the effort in to get a job, find her own place, dump her boyfriend, and start off your relationship by "going slowly" in a way that is actually meaningful.

If in the future one of you wants to mooch off the other, you can do it in a context of a long term committed relationship that you clearly don't have at the moment.

As it stands, it sounds like she's prepared to risk both your friendship and any relationship you might have, in order to get a free place to live out of you by playing on the fact that you are romantically interested. Even if that's not what she means to do - that's what she's doing. You putting in ALL the effort here and she is putting in none. If she doesn't like living with you, she can leave. If you don't like living with her and she turns into a shrieking harpy, you can't throw her out.

This is a situation that it might make sense to put yourself in as part of a serious long term commitment. For better, for worse, etc etc. Not for someone who hasn't even bothered to dump her boyfriend yet!
posted by emilyw at 1:48 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think I understand what you are hoping to do. Here's what I think you haven't thought of yet. You are using the wrong model for your arrangement.

She will live with you, help around the house, her sister will be there, nobody's having sex, and she moves out when she can support herself. What does that sound like? It sounds like, in that model, you are not her boyfriend, but her parent.

My guess is that this is not going to work, because most adults don't want a parent/child relationship with their significant other. You will become more parental (why haven't you washed the breakfast dishes!) and she will become more child-like (fine! I'll be in my room playing with my sister!), and your relationship as boyfriend/girlfriend will not progress as your relationship as parent/child progresses. But since you both started with the expectations of having a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, you will both start to resent each other.
posted by Houstonian at 2:23 AM on March 3, 2009 [9 favorites]

If she was serious about wanting to go slowly, she wouldn't move in with you. Wanting to go slowly, especially after you just got out of a relationship -- which she hasn't, yet -- means needing your own space and time to be with yourself and your feelings. Not having sex with anyone is only a very small part of that. Moving in with you pretty much kills that, no matter how respectful you are of her space.

I know it's probably irritating to hear all these people telling you she's using you, but it doesn't add up. It sounds like she's unhappy about her relationship, but she can't dump him yet because she's financially dependent on him. If she really cared about his feelings she wouldn't be cheating on him, and she sure as fuck wouldn't be ditching him and immediately moving in with another dude. That's completely insensitive. When you told her your feelings, she could have done the right thing and broken up with her boyfriend before going out with you.

What this sounds like to me is that she cares entirely for herself. All the terms of living together benefit her and screw you over. She doesn't seem to actually care about hurting her boyfriend, or if she does, she's completely immature and that's a red flag anyway. And if she even does break up with her boyfriend, do you really want to wonder if she never would have done it if you hadn't given her a place to stay once she lost the privilege of staying with him?

I wouldn't date her, much less move in with her. People can have really appealing qualities that you find attractive, and you may feel like you mesh on several levels, but none of those things can really help you if she's that immature about relationships, or if she doesn't have any qualms about stacking the terms against you.
posted by Nattie at 2:38 AM on March 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

Nthing all the above, and wishing you luck whatever you decide to go for... listen to the Mefites though - they speak the truth when a lovestruck heart cannot see it!
posted by greenish at 3:59 AM on March 3, 2009

it really sounds like this person does not have any respect for you, and is planning on taking advantage of you.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:10 AM on March 3, 2009

A friend of mine, in drunken rage and despair, once punched through a double-paned window, and used one of the larger shards to carve patterns in his upper arms that required a night's stay in the ER and intervention counseling.

This is a worse idea than that.
posted by Mayor West at 5:27 AM on March 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

   she's also in a relationship for 4 years AND lives with the guy
until she finds the right moment to end it with the other
We haven't had sex yet...and she wants to keep it this way even after moving in
I made the compromise to not throw her out in case it doesn't work out
She wants to have her sister stay with us
   She's going to keep fucking her boyfriend
posted by Rock Steady at 5:39 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think it's fairly obvious to everyone, including the OP, that this is a bad idea.

Which makes me think that the OP is asking the wrong question.

He should be asking something more along the lines of, 'What's going on with me, that I'm even willing to consider with such an obviously unhealthy arrangement? How did I come to this?"
posted by jon1270 at 6:12 AM on March 3, 2009


Obv. you like this girl, but you need to be pragmatic. Lets just think about the conditions.

* No sex yet.
* She's unemployed.
* Won't help with rent.
* Wants a guaranteed place if 'it doesn't work out'
* Her sister!!! WTF

Loan her enough money for a month's rent, and be prepared to say goodbye to it if it doesn't work out. Any one of these items should be setting off alarm bells.

Help her to stand on her own two legs before considering living with her. And best of luck to you.
posted by peteshaw at 6:30 AM on March 3, 2009

I know for a fact I wouldn't bet a cent in this relationship if it was with anyone else, but on the other hand I've had nothing but stable relationships before and I'm definitely not the type that messes around with these things. Same for her, I believe.

Really? Same for her? I'm pretty sure cheating on someone makes her current relationship pretty unstable...
posted by whitetigereyes at 6:33 AM on March 3, 2009

It sounds like she is not that interested in a long-term romantic relationship - she primarily wants a free place to stay for as long as she needs it. You sound like an honest and loving person. Your girlfriend is at best confused, and at worst taking advantage of you.

This is my take as well. You probably won't listen to the assembled wisdom here, because you're obviously smitten and we don't think to well in that condition, but for what it's worth, add one more vote to the DON'T DO IT column.
posted by languagehat at 6:40 AM on March 3, 2009

And another vote for DON'T DO IT, here. Not much to add to the cogent answers above, but here's one small point that struck me --

She wants to have her sister stay with us for 20-30 days to help her with moving on, and to ensure we don't go faster than we'd like with each other

If she's ready to leave the boyfriend for you, why does she anticipate needing help in "moving on"?

Really, this whole thing just sounds -- wrong. Obviously your instincts are conflicted, and some of them are warning you, while others are telling you she just feels RIGHT.

If she really is perfect for you, then she will understand when you listen to the cautious instincts, and say to her something along the lines of, "Baby, I really see something special developing between us. Let's not risk it by subjecting it to so many unusual stresses -- moving in together so quickly, putting someone who is a stranger to me in the mix, etc. etc."

And if she decides that she needs your help to get out of the tough position she's in -- well, if she can't handle this tough period without your help, then she hasn't become enough of an adult yet to build a stable relationship out of the multiple stresses you'd both be throwing at it if you enacted this plan.
posted by artemisia at 6:57 AM on March 3, 2009

Let's say, for the sake of fun hypothetical scenarios, that this girl isn't the malicious boyfriend-luring troll that most of us have painted. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt that she means and doesn't see you as a mercenary end.

We've all known people like this girl--they don't make big-time adult decisions like the rest of us, and they use other people as landing pads when they're in trouble. She's the kind of person who uses relationship like a cartoon character uses lily pads, jumping from one to the next rather than swimming in the scary water. In fact, she's so adept at this strategy that she's managed to create a boyfriend overlap so she won't, for one second, float adrift. She might have authentic feelings for you, she might genuinely care about the future of your relationship, but that's just the problem: this is a person who probably hasn't learned to be an independent adult, and you're taking her in as a roommate.

So now you're living with a needy girl who has only ever been attached, emotionally and, for the past four years, financially and domestically, to a guy. That's a hallmark of needy, irresponsible people, even though she's making weird little safety precautions like turning her sister into a third roommate-cum-babysitter. She can't trust her own adult abilities to just not sleep with you, so she foists it on someone else.

Even if this girl has golden intentions on the surface, look at everyone's points: she's a cheater, a mooch, baggage-laden, manipulative, and bizarrely prone to letting other people (you, her sister) make her grown-up decisions. So make this decision for her: she's not moving in.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:07 AM on March 3, 2009 [8 favorites]

And just to add: people like your girlfriend can very much feel and express all the genuine emotions of love and affection. A lot of times they actually confuse love with safety because they're so terrified of loneliness and responsibility. I don't think she's the snake-in-the-grass that a lot of posters have made her out to be, because lots of people are manipulative and exploitative without necessarily intending to hurt others, or knowing their true motives.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:15 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah this is a terrible idea, and doesn't sound like it has much of a chance of working. I would feel really bad for you if you weren't one half of an affair that you initiated.
posted by Who_Am_I at 8:15 AM on March 3, 2009

A lot of the above answers are saying some pretty mean things about this girl. So, I can imagine you're reading these answers and mentally going, "No, no! She's not like that at ALL! She'd NEVER knowingly take advantage of me like all of you are saying!" In case that is what your response to all of these comments is, then allow me to offer a different perspective.

There's this saying I've heard a couple of times: if someone cheats while in a relationship, it has more to do with the relationship than it does with whomever they cheated with. People cheat when there's something about their relationship that makes them unhappy. People cheat when and because their relationship has problems. What this means for you, then, is that her cheating with you has very little to do with you and all the more to do with her current relationship.

She's not emotionally there for you, and I don't think this is a situation in which she could be emotionally there for you. She may think she is, and she may perfectly believe that she cares about you and wants to be with you, and all those beautiful things... But, given that she's currently in a 4 year relationship with someone else, it is that 4-year relationship that is at the center of her mind and the main motivator for her behavior, not you. No one could become a good boy/girlfriend the way she wants to become your girlfriend. People just are not capable to bouncing from one four-year, intense relationship into living with someone else.

If you follow through with this plan, you'll end up living with someone who is still in the throws of a different relationship. You will live with someone who, just the day before, had awoken to see someone else beside her in bed, as she had for years, who ate breakfast with him, as they had for years, who shared little in-jokes with him, as they had cultivated for years, who chatted with about his family, which she has also been part of for years, and so on and so on and so on. And then, instantly, you expect her to be able to wake up next to you, to eat breakfast with you, to share little in-jokes with you, and to begin to be part of your family, to some extent, without this mostly being a reflection or commentary on the past four years of her life? Not going to happen.

She needs SPACE. She needs the time it takes to move on, from him and the life she led with him, before she will even have the ability to think of you as a genuine boyfriend. So, for her sake, don't let her move in with her. She needs to get her life in order, before you can even really enter the picture. She can't just skip past the healing and moving-on steps, the way you two are planning on.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:18 AM on March 3, 2009 [5 favorites]

Space, space, space, space, space. Rebound relationships are not a great idea under the best of circumstances, and this sounds like a poor confluence of circumstances, to put it mildly. You have feelings for this girl -- that's obvious, okay, etc. She, however, is in a really rocky point in her life and she probably doesn't know what she feels. What she feels is probably going to change as she moves away from her current, failing relationship, too. If you want to follow this thing to its logical conclusion without massive pain, I'd say take it slow. Do not let her move in with you. Hell, do not get serious with her until she's had some time to recover and rethink her life. I'm not saying don't feel for her, but give each other time to recover and reach a new equilibrium, at least.
posted by Alterscape at 8:29 AM on March 3, 2009

And just to add: people like your girlfriend can very much feel and express all the genuine emotions of love and affection. A lot of times they actually confuse love with safety because they're so terrified of loneliness and responsibility. I don't think she's the snake-in-the-grass that a lot of posters have made her out to be, because lots of people are manipulative and exploitative without necessarily intending to hurt others, or knowing their true motives.

Quoted for truth. I fear, OP, that you may take all these negative personal comments about your paramour and your immediate reaction will be to angrily reject those (hurtful, possibly untrue) characterizations of her along with rejecting all the (excellent, truthful) advice everyone's giving you. It's an understandable reaction, but it really would be a terrible error.

Thing is, zoomorphic is exactly right: your girlfriend doesn't have to be a terrible person for this to still be a terrible idea. She may indeed be the sweetest, funniest, cutest girl you've ever met AND SIMULTANEOUSLY be too immature, irresponsible, insecure, and needy for you to be in a healthy relationship with. She may indeed think you're fantastic/smart/great/attractive, but ultimately, you are functioning primarily as the vehicle (whether she is conscious of this or not) by which she gets out of her old relationship, not as a peer with whom she can create a healthy, equal, adult relationship.

There are other options for her besides moving in with you. You have to be the grownup here and insist that she exercise one of those other options. Then give her adequate time and space to be single before you decide whether or not you would like to pursue a relationship. (Hint: if you do this and she immediately gets a different brand-new boyfriend, you can take this as confirmation that your connection was really based more on her needing someone to act as an escape route, and less on any really special, unique feelings she might have had for you in particular. If, however, she really can find a new place, get a job, and stay single for awhile, she might be someone you really could have a relationship with -- further down the road.)
posted by scody at 9:02 AM on March 3, 2009 [10 favorites]

Oh, anonymous. I never know whether relationshipfilter askers like you are seeking "the course of true love never did run smooth, gather ye rosebuds"-style reassurance, or a resounding "oh HELL no RUN AWAY" wake-up slap. I think usually they know the answer is the latter, but they desperately want to hear the former. And despite all your bullet points and reason, these are really the only two answers.

Generally, I side with the hell-no camp, though I admit to being something of a cynic, and I have been proven wrong at times.

In your situation, I am firmly in the hell-no camp, just like pretty much everyone else here, and I would bet a month's rent that there is no way this would work out for you. Possibly for her (free rent! the attention of two dudes! oboy drama!), but certainly not for you. The only way this could possibly be any worse is if she suddenly adopts a tiny yappy dog and doesn't train it, or if she spends half your savings buying chain mail on eBay. And, to be honest, she sounds like the kind of person who would do something like that. She's not necessarily evil, but she's definitely not going to be healthy for you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:02 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

So she can't move in with her sister, but her sister is willing to come live with her for a month.

I wonder why that would be... could it be that the sister needs to find a place to live also?

I think you are going to end up with two new roommates who don't pay any rent, one of whom will be pretending to be your not-quite girlfriend to preserve their living situation.

You sound like a kind person, don't do this to yourself.
posted by yohko at 9:15 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

For the lack of a better choice we're moving in together. [...] it's the only way we have

Others have given good advice as to why this is a bad plan, but I wanted to point this out: you're insisting that this one course of action is the only possible way, but that's just not true. If she was laid off, she can collect unemployment, which gives her at least some financial flexibility. There are several options I can think of: she could move in with her sister; she could move in with another family member; she could find a cheap sublet or rented room (easier to find nowadays as people are trying to earn extra cash); she could look into long-term babysitting or nanny positions that would include room and board; she could even look into a babysitting gig that would "pay" in room and board in exchange for part-time babysitting so that she could continue to look for a full-time job.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:48 AM on March 3, 2009

Signs of a codependent relationship

Red Flag No. 1: Do you become obsessed with fixing and rescuing needy people?

Red Flag No. 2: Are you easily absorbed in the pain and problems of other people?

Red Flag No. 3: Are you trying to control someone? Is someone trying to control you?

Red Flag No. 4: Do you do more than your share -- all of the time?

Red Flag No. 5: Are you always seeking approval and recognition?

Red Flag No. 6: Would you do anything to hold on to a relationship? Do you fear being abandoned?

Google codependency.
posted by notned at 11:17 AM on March 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

What problems can we expect
Basically, you risk finding yourselves in an awkward and uncomfortable situation, possibly with no graceful way out. That's not assured, of course, but the likelihood seems higher than I'd be comfortable with. At the very least, talk about this now and how you'd expect to handle it if it happens. Assume, for discussion, that it would happen - if it does - in the least convenient circumstances (one or both has no job, have a lease but neither could carry the lease alone, etc.). Can you still see a graceful way out? Then go for it!
posted by TruncatedTiller at 11:38 AM on March 3, 2009

In general I agree with the doom and gloom crowd above. Why? Because you seem like a nice guy. And awful things happen to nice guys who don't know how to defend their boundaries.

Answer this one question: Are you capable of throwing her out if it comes to it?

If not then don't let her move in. If things go badly, and there is a better than 50/50 chance of that, you don't want to be tied to a dead relationship. (Search MeFi for "how do I get this deadbeat to move out" if you want to read tales of broken people at the end of their rope.)

If yes, then modify your arrangement so that you will throw her out if it doesn't work out and good luck to you both! (But keep in mind she's the kind of girl who will cheat on her boyfriend because she doesn't want to hurt him. Maybe she'll cheat on you because she likes the free rent, or can find some other way to kill you with kindness.)

I'd also make a condition of the move in that she break up with her boyfriend first. Because man, that's just no good for anyone. Would you want to be him? Gah, no! No one wants to be played for a sucker like that.

I know this doesn't answer your question, nor do most of the posts above, but I think you know what to expect, you laid it all out in your post.

You know I had come into this question trying to be optimistic and lay out some guidelines for successful living together, but as you can see it all fell apart when I started taking into account the situation. Just don't put her name on the lease.

Also strongly suggest reading No More Mr. Nice Guy and see if anything there resonates with you.

posted by Ookseer at 12:08 PM on March 3, 2009

"...but it's the only way we have"

This is not true. The posters above have given you great reasons why this is a terrible, terrible idea, but I want you to really examine this statement.

Here's how this would have gone if she was an emotionally stable, self-respecting, decent person.

Realised her 4 year relationship was troubled, took steps to end it, became self-supporting and found a place to live AND THEN started dating you.

Do you see how, when you start sneaking around with someone else's girlfriend, you get yourself into a spiral of caca? You've set the tone for her to follow - it's OK for her to live off guy #1 ("doesn't want to hurt him", my arse! If she truly gave that any consideration she wouldn't be seeing you - she's afraid he'll throw her out), lie to him, generally use him ....

She will use you. (Even to the point of requiring you to provide free room and board for her sister! Jeebus!)

Perhaps that is what you would deserve.

I would take another long vacation, if I were you, and instead of reviewing your "feelings", use your goddamn head.
posted by Catch at 1:30 PM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hahaha, oh trainwrecks! This is the MeFi version of "I'm gonna shoot myself in the foot. How can I make it not hurt?"

Okay, some things you might not have thought of:

she realized her feelings for me were an indicator that she should break up

She's unhappy in her relationship. You're new. You're unknown. She's got butterflies in her stomach because you're not him. Her feelings aren't an indicator that she should date you. They're just an indicator that she's looking for a way out of her relationship with him.

It's completely fucked up that she says she won't break up with him yet because she doesn't want to hurt him, but having an affair is a-okay. Plotting to move out as a surprise attack rather than telling him like a sane adult in a non-abusive relationship would, that's also a-okay in her books. Sponging off you instead of finding a job, ANY job, that's a-okay. Stop listening to your hormones and start looking at the facts. She isn't being kind to her boyfriend. She isn't being kind to you. Sure, she's in a desperate situations, but there ARE other ways to deal with this. EI? Welfare? Etc etc?? You are not the only social resource in the world!

Why not break up with the boyfriend and live there until she can find a place? It's not a great solution, but it's still better than what you've dreamed up. Why not live wherever the sister is living? Why not take a loan from the parents? Why not get a shitty telemarketing/retail/grocery/hotel job to make ends meet for a few months? Why not get on Craigslist and find a cheapo room to rent?

I've gone through break-ups and I've been unemployed. I went through a break-up while living with good friends, and I was not a good roommate for months and months. I was unemployed while living with my partner of a few years, and I was miserable and grumpy and not in the mood to clean the fucking house. And he'd come home and I would want to hang out because I hadn't seen anyone all day and he would want to unwind after a long day at work, and it was not good times! You don't want to sign up for that with someone you don't know well. SHE doesn't want to sign up for that with someone she doesn't know well.
posted by heatherann at 8:09 AM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Holy shit this is a horrible idea. I understand maybe you like this girl and think this is a good way to start a relationship with her, but it's not. Reading your question, it sounds like you're trying to be a nice guy and she's taking advantage of that. Of course, I don't know her or the actual situation.

That said, if things do work out, it'd make for an interesting story.
posted by chunking express at 11:06 AM on March 4, 2009

And yeah, why isn't she living with her sister? Why is the reasonable course of action that her sister also comes and lives with you?
posted by chunking express at 11:10 AM on March 4, 2009

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