Not the typical mutually beneficial relationship
March 18, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

A gentleman I've been seeing has proposed an unusual, temporary "mutually beneficial arrangement." I'd like some help figuring out whether or not I should go for it and whether he has a hidden agenda.

So, we're both in our late 30s. I'm female, and lately I've been having some financial issues. We've known each other about two months and have become friends. We see each other several times a week and have spent the night together twice. However, we haven't had sex because I like to take things slow. I've told him I'm not ready for a relationship because I just ended a very serious one a few months ago and he's never pressured me to have sex.

The core of our connection seems to be intellectual and creative. We seem to have complementary talents. He's got a lot of projects he wants to work on, and so do I. We're both disorganized ditzes when it comes to finishing projects, though.

He brought up the idea of moving in with me for a month, as a purely business-type agreement, and helping with my expenses in return for my help with his projects, and/or him helping me with my projects, and/or us collaborating. Some sort of contract would be involved.

I live alone in a small apartment and had planned on staying that way for a while. Although he says this isn't about a relationship, as I mentioned we've become physically affectionate. To me, a relationship is exactly what this sounds like.

I like this person, and have moments where I feel very attached to him as well as moments where I just feel confused. I love the idea of creative collaboration with him, but I'm not crazy about the living together part. As far as him trading money for my creative support and collaboration, I'm ambivalent. On the one hand, I could use the help. On the other hand, I pride myself on self-sufficiency, even while practically broke and in debt. And mixing business with friendship is really dicey to me. I'd rather not lose the friendship over creative differences.

Also, I feel it puts me in a one-down position. I'm not sure if he wants a live-in personal assistant or a truly mutual collaboration. He's never even seen my work.

If I do this, I'd like to have equal input into the contract. As it would be short-term and (ostensibly) non-relationshippy, I'd like to guard myself against getting too emotionally attached after my last hurtful relationship. I'd also like to make sure my entire life would not revolve around him -- which could happen, if he's got an idea in his head like "I'm paying her rent, she should be on call 24-7 for support and inspiration."

I've tried collaborating with friends and lovers before with varying success, and it hasn't been contractual, just informal. I've been disappointed with these ventures. Maybe a contract is a good idea.

Have any of you ever done this sort of thing? If so, how did it work? What kind of mindset should I have if I do this? It seems very cold and clinical to me but I'm the adventurous type and it appeals to my try-anything-once mentality. What say you, MeFites?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (50 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Look to tenancy laws in your jurisdiction. In some places, someone who lives in your place - even informally, without a lease or a contract - for longer than X amount of time may become, in the eyes of the law, a tenant, and therefore very hard to evict.

I'd feel less weird about this if it was a more straight-up swap: I give you Y dollars in exchange for Z number of hours of collaboration/work, minus the living together, which seems very odd (where's he going to put all his stuff? Sleep?). But that's me.
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2011

If you let him move in on these terms, or any similar, you will long for a time when your issues were only financial. Don't do this.
posted by BillBishop at 10:49 AM on March 18, 2011 [20 favorites]

I'm inclined to think that if it doesn't sound immediately like a fabulous idea (and maybe even if it does) that you should avoid it. There's just too much entanglement here, and too many really interesting ways for it to fail.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:49 AM on March 18, 2011

This seems like a horrible idea.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:50 AM on March 18, 2011 [23 favorites]

I think the fact that you're still feeling each other out personally as well as businesswise makes this a bad idea.

The fact that you'd already established relationships with your friends and/ or lovers before working with them made it easier to break things off when they didn't pan out. If you hadn't done that yet, then things would have been much harder to unpack. And cohabitating brings its own set of issues on top of all that -- so it'll be triply hard to detach one thread of the relations from the others if just that one doesn't pan out.

I'm not sure it's a good idea.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on March 18, 2011

He brought up the idea of moving in with me for a month...

That makes no damn sense. What are you supposed to do after the month is over, find another apartment and move out? Would all that moving be beneficial to you?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:51 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is there a reason he wants to move in for just a month? It sounds like the opening bid to me.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:52 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

This has bad idea written all over it. At best, I would suggest keeping your place and taking a two-week "vacation" where you stay at his place.

But seriously ... bad idea.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:52 AM on March 18, 2011

If he's never seen any of your work, how does he know he wants to collaborate with you enough to PAY you? Sounds fishy.

What is happening with his apartment while he moves in to yours for a month? Is it going to be tough for you when he moves back out after a month of living together? Are you going to look at it as a step backwards in your relationship? What if he doesn't move out in a month? Sure, you have a contract, but are you going to take legal action if you want him out?

I don't see why you guys can't collaborate (and even have sleepovers all the time, if it's necessary for your work to spend that much time together), but there is no need to for him to PAY you for that. Also, make sure that you're not convincing yourself that you guys need to spend more time together for work, and that you're not really attached and it's all for work, etc. Sounds like you have a concern about that.

2 months is not a long time to know someone and to trust someone to move in to your life like that. Do you know his friends? Is he a creepy dude who proposes this kind of thing to all girls he dates?
posted by at 10:54 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

You like to take things slow but you're considering moving in with him before you're willing to have sex?

Horrible, horrible idea.
posted by The World Famous at 10:54 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

So you like living alone and don't really need the help financially and want to take things slow with the relationship? That all points to not living together.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:55 AM on March 18, 2011

Every time I see "arrangement" and "mutually beneficent" is always an euphemism for money exchanged for sex. In this case is money in exchange for what exactly? Oh yeah, you living with him and helping him out with a project? Why don't you just skip the live-in portion and go straight the money and project part.
posted by The1andonly at 10:56 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

You haven't known him long enough.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Let's cut to the chase: he's offering you money to "live with" you and "collaborate creatively", but you have a budding romantic relationship and he hasn't seen your creative work. I think he's proposing that you become his mistress and his lackey. Do you desire a relationship of equals? Of mutual respect? This is not that relationship.
posted by milk white peacock at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2011 [14 favorites]

He may be trying to find a way to 'help' you without your feeling like a charity case, and just not thinking of it being awkward (or thinking of it being a good step towards determining if you should be in a real relationship). I'd definitely suggest counter-proposing money-for-project.
posted by Lady Li at 10:58 AM on March 18, 2011

Some people come up with perfectly sincerely meant yet highly wacky concepts, and it can be pretty cute and a sign of their creativity. But this makes my creep-o-meter go bleep. Consider something else.
posted by Namlit at 10:59 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I see this two ways.

He's either trying to help you out in a really misguided way or he's got ulterior motives.

Either way this can't go well. It isn't a good idea for any reason. (I know this probably sounds stupid, but I'm a total internet stranger and this gives me a real bad feeling. If you were my friend I'd be telling you to run.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:00 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

If he's never seen any of your work, how does he know he wants to collaborate with you enough to PAY you? Sounds fishy

This! And I agree he wants you for a "mistress and lackey"!
posted by jgirl at 11:00 AM on March 18, 2011

If he's never seen any of your work, how does he know he wants to collaborate with you enough to PAY you? Sounds fishy

I also agree with this. If he's never even seen your work then he can't know enough about you as an artist to think you could help him.
posted by Hoenikker at 11:16 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

The only proper response to this proposal is, "No, thank you."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm an adventurous try anything type.

And you know what? I've recently realized that many men take advantage of that to get what they want from me without much benefit to me. Like, they suck up my time. They suck up my space. They suck (up) my face. They be sucking.

This guy, he might not be intentionally malicious, but he be sucking. He is proposing to suck up your space. He is proposing to suck up your time. He is proposing to suck up your creative energy. He is proposing to suck up your independence (make you financially DEPENDENT even). He is proposing to suck (up) your face. You know it. Don't be denying that.

Please resolve, as I am trying to resolve, to not let such TAKERS take up any more of your energy and time and resources. You have your own projects to work on. You have your own life to live. If you're having financial difficulties and that is making you consider this more favorably than you otherwise would, do an askme for specifics on how to fix your financial problems. You've got problems, we've got answers.

Just please, please, please, PLEASE don't let this guy suck you up anymore.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2011 [51 favorites]

Your a woman and he's a man?

He definitely has a hidden agenda.
posted by freakazoid at 11:25 AM on March 18, 2011

So you would be only-sort-of-dating-partners, business (or at least "creative") partners, and roommates. Any combination of just two of those would have messy disaster potential.

Plus, since you tend to be informal and have trouble finishing projects, it sounds like you're at high risk for being unable to extricate yourself from the situation if things go pear-shaped or kick the guy out if he overstays his welcome.

And it sounds like you're just plain uncomfortable with the idea. That's always reason enough to say no.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:25 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mad sketch. You've known this person two months? And you're considering having them live with you? Let me just read that again to make sure

We've known each other about two months and have become friends.

So you met this guy in mid January? And you'd be living with him before March is over? No. DLWTMFA
posted by cashman at 11:26 AM on March 18, 2011

"You got business in my relationship!" "You got relationship in my business!"

Those are not two great tastes that taste great together. This will not likely lead to a new and delicious flavour combination for you two.

This doesn't answer any of your questions, but that's because even in my misspent youth I recognized such things as potential disasters and refused to indulge; and the mindset I had, to quote Fonzie, was that they're " ketchup and a banana split. Seperate? Aaaay. Together? Woah."

Sure, there are couples that love and live with and work together - but usually, one part is solid first. People in love may start a business together - people in business may fall in love. But you've got to give each thing space to become solid enough to build upon, each in its own time.
posted by peagood at 11:32 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

You don't sound in the least bit interested in doing this.

Tell him you really appreciate it (my guess is he's just trying to help and get closer to you), but you're too interested in having the friendship and relationship develop naturally to be able to take him up on it.
posted by ldthomps at 11:32 AM on March 18, 2011

I wouldn't do this, it feels rife with potential drama.
posted by squeak at 11:37 AM on March 18, 2011

yucks! Don't do it.
posted by jchaw at 11:40 AM on March 18, 2011

You know, I'm a pretty open-minded person. But one of the advantages of getting older is trusting your weird-meter. This is weird. Don't do it.
posted by yarly at 11:40 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sounds like a drama-bomb. You can collaborate without cohabiting. I'd go for that.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:45 AM on March 18, 2011

This might make some sense if you had a great big hose with extra room for someone else, but you don't.
posted by mareli at 11:47 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ridiculously creepy. It sounds to me like he's trying to get a foot in the door and is counting on inertia and proximity to gain leverage over you in what is, to him, already a relationship - just, maybe one that isn't moving as fast as he wants.

Don't do it.
posted by mrgoat at 11:51 AM on March 18, 2011

I'm another internet stranger whose creep-o-meter is bleeping at this guy.

Just say no.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:53 AM on March 18, 2011

Another vote for no here. There are men out there who will take advantage of you. This guy's red flag has frigging fireworks.
posted by p1nkdaisy at 11:59 AM on March 18, 2011

This seems like it's halfway between "Rent" and "Pretty Woman." Neither movie being a model for a safe and happy drama-free existence.

My first thought was "this is a wacky scheme designed to not make you think of prostitution, and yet somehow I'm still thinking about it." I can't imagine it actually being a good idea, starting out sounding like that.
posted by SMPA at 12:01 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would describe this as a hilariously bad idea.
posted by valkyryn at 12:12 PM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

Man who wants to move in together on short acquaintance? Classic red flag.
Man who wants to collaborate with you based on no knowledge of your work? Sounds weird, it's almost like he's trying to get into your... oh wait.

If you let him do this, he will have insinuated himself into your home life both physically and psychologically, your work, and your finances. If he's a raving abusive control freak (hypothetically) who needs sex? He'll have all he needs!

Moving in with you for a month? To help you financially? Or with your work? Or to get your help with his work? Leaving aside that the benefits to you are poorly defined, what circumstances could he possibly be in that there's anything in this for him? That is a genuine question, not a rhetorical one.

How is your work going to benefit from a vague partnership with someone who shares your failings? Wouldn't you be better off with some sort of hyper-organized project-completion ninja?

I just, like, eeeew. Where are all the old-fashioned guys who were only after sex? What the hell is it with all the wafting around and complications and trying to gain control of your mind and life and career and emotions? A decent guy would either try to get his leg over or accept having to wait. Unfortunately, it looks like this one is not just after your body. RUN AWAY.
posted by tel3path at 12:12 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Total eewww

And further, this: Moving in with you for a month? To help you financially?


Sounds like you'll be helping him financially!

Everytime I've met someone where they did the exchange for sex thing, girl moves to guy's space. The more stable/wealthy/rich person provides the housing. Are you SURE this guy actually has any money? Sounds like a creepy sponge to me!

Plus, inertia / tenant's law will ensure that he doesn't leave.

A BIG NO from me
posted by zia at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

What is this "project" yous plan to collaborate on? What type of work do you do?

Most importantly, does that project and work require living together? If not, then he doesn't move in. you could still consider writing up some sort of contract to do some freelance collaboration that he pays you for though.

I'm always skeptical of anonymous people that talk about their "work" and "projects". Really, what is it?
posted by WeekendJen at 12:25 PM on March 18, 2011

He can either loan you some money to help you out of your financial issue, or not. All the rest is unnecessary complications. If he is willing to help you out financially, great! Agree on a monthly payment plan. Done.

Creative projects rarely work when they 'forced.' If you want to work on each other's projects, then do it when you both have free time and feel like it.

I see no need to put everything in the same pot. What you two are cooking up is a recipe for disaster.

Keep things simple whenever possible. Just say no to this situation.
posted by archivist at 12:29 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

> Also, I feel it puts me in a one-down position. I'm not sure if he wants a live-in personal assistant or a truly mutual collaboration. He's never even seen my work.

No matter how messy this seems to you right now, realize that the AskMe question that would follow two or three months from now would likely be far, far messier.

And no matter how good his intentions, this proposal is both way too vague and way too extensive for its own good; the resulting scenario would be one with potentially zero boundaries and infinite complications.

Don't do it.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:39 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if he wants a live-in personal assistant or a truly mutual collaboration.

Assuming "live-in personal assistant" is a euphemism, yes, that's what he wants.
posted by The World Famous at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2011

- Once he lives with you for about 2 to 4 weeks, depending on your local laws, he will be considered a legal tenant.


- The rest of it should be setting off red flags for you in every way possible. Especially the fact that he has never seen your work.

- If he really wanted to help you, he would loan you money or outright give it to you - no strings attached.

Please stop being friends with this person. I am worried for you. There is nothing reasonable or "bohemian" and cool about his proposal. RUN.
posted by jbenben at 1:04 PM on March 18, 2011 [12 favorites]

If you'd known this guy for two years, maybe. Two MONTHS? Bad idea.
posted by Slinga at 2:28 PM on March 18, 2011

Do not do this.
posted by jnnla at 3:19 PM on March 18, 2011

No no no no no no no no no no no.

posted by clone boulevard at 7:12 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

I would want to EITHER work with him OR sleep with him OR live with him, or maybe in exceptional circumstances do two of the three.

All three at once sounds like a total recipe for very exciting future ask metafilter questions.
posted by lollusc at 10:00 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don't do it. The proposition is not at all clear, and the fact that you're asking about it on MetaFilter shows that you have real doubts yourself. Trust your instinct.
posted by Paris Elk at 11:54 PM on March 18, 2011

the only thing that needs considering here is how you are going to turn this creepiness down.
posted by violetk at 4:49 PM on March 19, 2011

Sorry to be repetitive, but ... an emphatic NO!
posted by Diag at 12:54 AM on March 20, 2011

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