Should I be okay with my gf's ex moving in?
July 26, 2011 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Relationshipfilter: Should I be okay with my girlfriend's ex move into her/her moms's house?

So, gf, we'll call her Jill, lives with her mother. And Jill's ex wants to go back to college. Jill's house is closer to the school he's going to, so Jill's mom is thinking about inviting him to live in the basement, as a thing of convenience. There is no time frame for how long, as it's 'just a maybe' thing right now.

Now, I have no problem with that boyfriend..mostly. I have no reason to distrust him, or their current friendship, or her faithfulness. I don't trust the guy, but that's just me having trust issues.

On the other hand. Why should I be okay with letting my girlfriend's ex live there? When I asked if she'd be okay with an ex living at my place she said it's different cause she lives with her mom. I think that's bull. Also, I'll be at her place sometimes obviously, and I don't want to have to deal with the group dynamics of her ex/new roomie.

I realize this isn't my call. I realize this may be a stupid question. But, what do you guys think?
posted by trogdole to Human Relations (55 answers total)
It's not your call. And it's not Jill inviting him to live with her, it's Jill's mom. Chill.
posted by Jairus at 6:00 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I probably wouldn't be okay with this, but I don't know what there is that you can do about it. Since it has only reached the "Jill's mother is thinking about inviting him", I would wait and see what happens. Maybe she won't ask him. Maybe even if she does, the ex won't take her up on it.
posted by orange swan at 6:02 PM on July 26, 2011

If it were me, I wouldn't like it. I would also realize that I'm in no position to change it. How were you thinking of preventing her mother from inviting anyone to live in her home?
posted by Houstonian at 6:03 PM on July 26, 2011 [10 favorites]

I think it's kind of a strange scenario, but like Jairus said, it's not your call. It may bother you and you may get jealous, but you're (probably) being irrational. If you can't stifle these feels then maybe you should breakup. If you can stifle them, then do so and continue to go about your life.

If, as a result of the situation, something happens that is a deal-breaker for you then deal with it at that time. But, don't assume that something will happen.
posted by asnider at 6:03 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Something weird is going on here. The ex boyfriend could get a room, dorm room, apartment, or whatever that's close to school. He doesn't have to live at your girlfriend's house.

I think her mom is allowing or maybe even encouraging the guy to come stay there. Or, he's pushing his way in. Or, your girlfriend wants it to happen. Whichever way it is, someone has some idea of your girlfriend and the ex getting back together.

Something smells here.

One solution is: your girlfriend could move out herself if this is really not her deal and she doesn't want to be with the ex boyfriend. She doesn't have to move in with you or anything, but she shouldn't be in that weird situation if he moves in.

You can do what you want and I don't know how much you like/love her, but this isn't something to be trifled with. I'd quit the relationship if the ex moved in and your girlfriend wouldn't stop it or move out.
posted by minx at 6:06 PM on July 26, 2011 [13 favorites]

I doubt I would be okay with it, although that could depend on the relationship dynamics (yours and hers, and his and hers). The idea that she wouldn't be cool with your ex living with you, but claiming this is different because her mom is also there...not buying it. No, I wouldn't be happy about it at all.

Like everyone said, though, what are you going to do about it? Ultimatum? Break up? Whine about it? Be unhappy but pretend you're cool? Your feelings are justified, but you need to decide on a course of action based on what you want to happen and what you're willing to deal with.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:09 PM on July 26, 2011

I would 100% not be okay with this, and the GF's mother is probably trying to break you guys up. This is a deal breaker.
posted by empath at 6:09 PM on July 26, 2011 [13 favorites]

But, what do you guys think?

Something is rotten in the state of Basementia.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:09 PM on July 26, 2011 [26 favorites]

Jill's mom likes him - not you.
The message seems pretty clear to me.
posted by Flood at 6:11 PM on July 26, 2011 [9 favorites]

Eeek. Whole thing feels odd. Either the family is exceptionally chill, more than average, and it didn't even enter into their mind that this would be awkward for you.... or they are aware of the awkwardness and are putting ex's needs ahead of yours, but why would they do this? A charitable interpretation is a little difficult for me. Especially since GF's reaction ("it's no big deal") is consistent with the latter and not the former (which would be "oh I'm sorry I didn't realize this would bother you"). Frankly, she should be standing up to her mom and quashing this; she MUST know this is going to cause you anxiety and she should have your interests in mind.
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:13 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

Thinking this over again, and reading some of the other answers, I've got to change my tune.

I would 100% not be okay with this, and the GF's mother is probably trying to break you guys up. This is a deal breaker.

This is pretty much how I feel. However, you have left out a lot of information here. How long have you and Jill been together? How long ago did she and the ex breakup? What is the state of their relationship now?

There are important questions that you seem to be leaving out.

Based on the information that you've provided, though, I'm going to have to agree with the folks saying: "I would not be OK with this; her mom is trying to break you guys up."
posted by asnider at 6:17 PM on July 26, 2011

Hang on. Did the ex and Jill's mom stay close after the breakup? (I've had close friendships with exes' parents.) Or, is mom close to ex's parents? Doing them a favor? This is key. If no-one is close, then yes, weird and unsettling offer from mom.

Second thought: you say you trust Jill. No problem there, then. Trust her.
posted by likeso at 6:18 PM on July 26, 2011

So as I'm discussing things with her, two new data points emerged.
*A river is flooded between his town and the college. (I recognize that this does change things) We are hearing it may be out til Dec. Still no timing on his move out, though.
*She says "Me and him aren't exactly cool with it either". But she wants him to go to school, so she's on mom's side.

Ex and mom are as still very friendly, as are ex and Jill. We've been together half a year. They were together for a few months, and broke up a month before we got together.

likeso: I do. I'm just looking for opinions.
posted by trogdole at 6:22 PM on July 26, 2011

you love the girl trust is part of the process, she said it is no big deal trust her and don't make it one.
posted by hortense at 6:24 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

FWIW, there's no indication by TROGDOLE that GF's mom likes the ex more than him. He didn't ask to move in and get turned down, she's not ignoring him and being friendly with the ex.

It's a little unusual, sure, but maybe mom is a friendly person and the breakup was on good terms. I've had a couple on-good-terms breakups (not "come live in my house" good, but good nonetheless) and it's conceivable that ex actually developed a friendship with mom that persisted through an on-good-terms breakup.

I'd say (especially given your last post just now), go with it. If problems develop because of it, deal with them when they come up. This in and of itself isn't insurmountable one unless one of the four of you makes it so.
posted by brentajones at 6:24 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's totally hanky except for the natural disaster factor - people get very altruistic towards folks in their communities when disasters occur.

If it's a real disaster, than be OK with it.
posted by jbenben at 6:29 PM on July 26, 2011

Thinking about this a little more, and talking to my husband, who met girls like this back in high school, I have this to add: if your girlfriend is okay with her ex living with her, but your ex living with you is not okay, then it's clear that she wants her ex living with her. You should break up with her now unless you love crazy drama for the rest of this relationship, because it's only going to get worse from here on out.

The correct response of a girlfriend in this situation would be something like: "I really don't like what my mom is doing, and I am way not okay with living in the same house with my ex, especially my mom's house. I'm going to tell her to stop it, and if that doesn't work, I'm moving out."
posted by minx at 6:39 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

maybe you can ease the weirdness of the situation by suggesting that they offer him a place to stay during the week, so he can easily get to school, but will not be hanging around with them all weekend. If your gf isn't thrilled about him being there, she might be all over this idea
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:40 PM on July 26, 2011

So there's no other place thus ex can stay? He can't get an apt, find a roommate, nothing? Will he be paying rent?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:47 PM on July 26, 2011

Also, why'd they break up?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:52 PM on July 26, 2011

They broke up apparently because she felt they were good as friends, and weren't meant to be dating. He dated someone else for a few months. Appears to be over her, as far as I can tell.
posted by trogdole at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2011

How does her mom feel about you? Any sign she likes him more, wishes they were still dating?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:04 PM on July 26, 2011

I really don't think that's it, no. She seems to like me just fine, and like him just fine. She's crazy, but I don't think she's trying to arrange anything.
posted by trogdole at 7:06 PM on July 26, 2011

I don't like this. Maybe it wasn't arranged with bad intentions. I really do find that most people mean well, even when they execute a terrible or possibly hurtful idea. The bottom line is though that this is weird.

How would your girlfriend feel if the shoe was on the other foot? What if you were living with your mom, and an ex gf came to live there? I don't know how serious you guys are, but if you're not tremendously serious, I sadly agree that it's time to break up now.

Why? Because she's moving in with her ex-boyfriend, that's friggin' why. Your feelings on the matter don't seem to mean much. I'm feeling angry on your behalf. OK, good luck for real.
posted by Buffaload at 7:13 PM on July 26, 2011

She initiated the breakup, you trust her, the situation is weird, the mom is crazy, your feelings are valid and you should voice them. Then let it go and trust the gf. If she wants to cheat, there are easier ways to do it.

You don't have to like the situation, but you do have to respect it. Encourage the gf to spend more time at your place. When at her mom's remember who she's dating, there's no need for you to feel awkward.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

You don't have to like the situation, but you do have to respect it.

No, he doesn't have to respect it. Whatever for? I respectfully, and strongly, disagree. Why are his feelings being discounted? Can anyone out there with a girlfriend imagine her being OK with a similar situation (ex GF is moving in with boyfriend and boyfriend's mom?) Totally weird, right? Apparently, I feel strongly about this. But I think everyone who is counseling you to trust your GF and that you 'must' be OK with this is maybe more trusting and possibly a better person than me. But that doesn't make me wrong. I still think this can only end badly. Alright, I've had the floor for too long.
posted by Buffaload at 7:29 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised by all the negativity here. It sounds like your girlfriend's mum is trying to do a nice thing to help a young man out.

If this was just a male friend of your girlfriend, rather than an ex, would that change your reaction? I feel like the ex thing is a bit of a red herring. Not every ex is secretly devising nefarious schemes to win their honey back, especially not ones that involve flooding a river.

(Though if I'm wrong, and flooding a river is indeed step one of his multi-point plan to win her back? Maybe he deserves her. What Act of God have you caused lately to show your love?)
posted by Georgina at 7:34 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this isn't cool. You can't control the Mom's actions, but why isn't your girlfriend fighting this? Also, the natural disaster angle really doesn't factor in to this. Your girlfriend's house isn't the only place he can stay.
posted by spaltavian at 7:36 PM on July 26, 2011

Why are his feelings being discounted?

His name isn't on the mortgage and it's not his friend.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:42 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mom sounds ooky for suggesting this, knowing that daughter has a current boyfriend. Is she that out of it to not realize it'd totally suck for TROGDOLE? Based on the info provided, how did this come between mom and ex to begin with? one more thing: mom inviting after Jill and ex only dated a few months?? hhmm....

well, maybe they've known each other a lot longer than before Jill and ex actually dated.

ok, that's all the drama i'm adding.
posted by foxhat10 at 8:05 PM on July 26, 2011

Also, if this comes to fruition, TROGDOLE, make sure you meet him ASAP. Ya know, Just Because.
posted by foxhat10 at 8:07 PM on July 26, 2011

Were they friends for a long while before briefly dating or was dating the whole of their relationship?
posted by troublewithwolves at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2011

Why are his feelings being discounted?

His name isn't on the mortgage and it's not his friend.

That's why he doesn't get to make the decision. That has nothing to do with how the girlfriend is discounting his feelings.
posted by spaltavian at 8:17 PM on July 26, 2011

My knee-jerk reaction would be that it sounds like BS. If the GF doesn't agree that it's awkward and maybe not a good idea, I'd be playing the field again. But that's just me.
posted by brownrd at 8:40 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is no answer to the question "how should I feel?"

How do you feel?

How do you want to feel?

Are those answers the same?

No? Then Your question is probably "how do I get to a place where I feel ______ and _______?"

If the answer, For you might be therapy, I highly suggest Dialectical Behavior Therapy because it has strong mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal skills, and distress tolerance sections, and because it offers skills for dealing with all kinds of situations. How you might approach the mother of your lover inviting a former beau to live in the basement is an almost infinite array of choices. And you don't have to choose just one emotion. And your emotions about the circumstances can change.
posted by bilabial at 8:41 PM on July 26, 2011

"A river is flooded between his town and the college."

Do you live in the 18th century?

This is a horrible idea all around and it sounds very fishy.

But ultimately it's mom's house and her decision.

Why can't you and your gf just rent an apartment together?
posted by bardic at 9:02 PM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

Yeah, my daughter´s ex is straight up *family* and I like and approve of her current guy. But this would be way too awkward even for us. Proceed with caution.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:21 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm family with my ex's family, I'm sure they would be happy if I were to ask to move into their basement for a time, but I would never want to if my ex who I am still friends with were living there, boyfriend or no. Her parents would probably be ok with us getting back together, but not us living under the same roof while she dated someone else, that is just not cool all around.

This sets off weirdness alarms.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:12 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

They went out a few months? In mom-time, that could be nothing. How old are you guys? (16 = one thing, 26 = another.) They dated for a few months, broke up to be friends, she wasn't devastated by the breakup, and both people have begun dating others? It kinda sounds like no big deal, yesterday's news, to me. Maybe her mom sees it the same way?

It kinda sucks the mom isn't listening to her daughter's "aren't exactly cool with it." But if she really values helping people, she might think his need for housing and the importance of his education should take priority.
posted by salvia at 10:14 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Umm, just as a counter balance, I don't think this is at all fishy. I'd be fine with it.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:14 PM on July 26, 2011

My point above is mainly that I don't think it's anything nefarious and likely just her mom's desire to be helpful overriding her ability to be sensitive to her daughter's feelings.

I do think it could be super-awkward for all involved. And it is possibly a disaster waiting to happen. But that really depends on the people, their character and motivations, and their relationship. "Were better as friends," the short duration, and the fact that neither are excited make me think that a disaster is not super-likely.
posted by salvia at 10:31 PM on July 26, 2011

I don't think there's anything behind this except the mom just wanting to help out a friend. You mentioned that the mom is crazy - well this exactly the kind of thing my crazy mom would have done with no ulterior motive.

Since there's not a lot you can do here you might as well just work on accepting it. The fact that your girlfriend broke up with him rather than vice versa and the fact that she sees him just as a friend, i.e. isn't sexually attracted to him, are both in your favor.
posted by hazyjane at 10:52 PM on July 26, 2011

This isn't a question of whether your girlfriend is to be trusted or not. It is more a question of the sorts of boundaries you both set and how compatible they are. It sounds like you would not consider living in that situation, but she would. You really have to decide for yourself whether you are OK with this, and if not, what you want to do about it. Obviously, you can't insist that your girlfriend's mom not board this guy, but you could discuss how it makes you feel.

I don't think that this situation necessarily means something horrible is likely to happen, but I think it definitely raises the potential for drama. Me, I try to reduce drama and avoid people who increase drama.
posted by grouse at 11:37 PM on July 26, 2011 [7 favorites]

There's a bit of avoidance in your question, mate. Ex is not only moving in with Jill's mom but also moving in with Jill. Which I see as the primary problem.

If Ex was moving in with mom and Jill resided elsewhere, would you be bothered in the same way?

The way it appears is the following -- take it as you will.
1) you've been dating Jill for six months. Long enough to feel possessive over the relationship and to be emotionally invested, however not quite long enough to have a de facto say in matters such as this.

2) As mentioned, he is moving in with her and the mother happens to be there as well.

3) It doesn't sound like there are future plans plotted for either of them to move out. Meaning, she is not planning on making a move anytime soon. He will be there for an undetermined amount of time.

4) You are on the outside -- the new boyfriend -- of what appears to be a viable relationship and potential couple -- Jill, the ex, and the mom.

No shiz you're a bit neurotic about the entire thing.

I'd do some thinking about boundaries here and keep in mind the following: You can do your best to create an inclusive solution for all involved, however at some point, you must assert your priorities. If you tell Jill that this situation makes you uncomfortable and you feel it violates your boundaries, it is then on her to act on that statement.

Conversely, if you accept the situation and tell her that you are cool with it, then you must proceed accordingly and be cool with it.

Overall, I wouldn't worry about it too much. It's a tough economy and people are doing what they can to help each other out. If he moves into the basement and he and Jill happen to reach for the milk at the same time at midnight and rekindle old feelings, there's really nothing you can do about that.

In the larger sense, I would do a lot of thinking about to what degree I trust my partner. I cannot fence Jill off from every man in the world -- at some point I must trust her to be true both to me and to herself.

Thus, I would allow these things to proceed and maintain control of the situation by continuing to treat her well (which I assume you do) and by bringing him into the fold and being a part of this new living situation. That would illustrate that I am confident in myself, am not bothered by the situation, and willing to extend my umbrella to include the weaker members of the tribe. The latter is attractive as it shows me to be a bit paternal and self-soverign.

If there comes a day where I feel that untoward things are occurring, I would address it gently and if I needed to move on, I would move on. Because in reality, you have two adults living under a mother's roof. And on the outside chance that they were to choose a life together, I would move forward with the confidence that I do not live in my mother's house and probably have a life of great option and opportunity.

In the meantime, chill out a bit, find some empathy for the cat, and be open with Jill about your feelings that he is not only moving in with her mother, but also her.
posted by nickrussell at 12:27 AM on July 27, 2011

2) As mentioned, he is moving in with her and the mother happens to be there as well.

I think this is a fundamentally flawed re-casting of the situation as described and a major issue in the framing.

It is the mother's house. The ex is moving into a basement apartment at the invitation of the mother. He is not "moving in with the girlfriend" in the normal way where they have selected each other as roomies or housemates or whatever. Otherwise, I concur with the rest of your post.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:58 AM on July 27, 2011

If he moves into the basement and he and Jill happen to reach for the milk at the same time at midnight and rekindle old feelings, there's really nothing you can do about that.

This is really the point though isn't it? People telling you to be cool with it and trust her all have valid wider points about healthy relationships I'm sure, but the fact of the matter is this new living scenario makes it hundreds if not thousands of times more likely that something like the above could happen. You can't control your SO and keep her in some box and if you do truly trust her, you should be cool with this...yet this situation is going to put them into contact way more than they otherwise would have been and possibly more than she is with you on a daily basis. More opportunities for conversations, more opportunities for inside jokes, more opportunities to eat meals together or go grocery shopping together. Just looking at from a sort of cold-blooded, pseudo-statistical POV, I don't like it.

The other thing you have to weigh in your own psychology. is this going to make you insane, no matter what occurs in reality? When you call her on the phone and he happens to be upstairs talking to her mom and you hear his voice in the background...? What effect will that have on you? I would talk about ground rules before this happens to save you both mental stress.
posted by the foreground at 7:38 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's not like they've been dating for years or anything, that would change the calculus.

Cut your losses and move on. Sooner the better, imo. There's no reason to deal with bullshit like this so early in a relationship.
posted by empath at 7:46 AM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Is this GF worth this grief? There are other women out there not introducing this level of drama into relationships.

I'd find myself one of those.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:07 AM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

The real solution is obvious - you should move in too! It'll make for a great reality TV show :)

Honestly, I would not be OK with this, to the point if it happened I would break up with the girl. I know there's lots of pressure for people to be reasonable and trusting, but this is a situation that is being manufactured in such a way that it is extremely likely for drama to occur. I try to steer clear of people that manufacture those kinds of situations.

I know in this case it's not specifically Jill that's creating the situation, but it sounds like she could put a stop to it, and isn't going to.
posted by festivus at 3:11 PM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Wow, so, many folks here are advocating a pre-emptive breakup with the innocent girl he says he trusts, because her mother has invited the girl's ex, who is a friend, to stay in her home and you feel the girl, who is not the owner of the house and probably financially dependant on her mother, has not issued her mother with some sort of ultimatum?

Just checking.
posted by likeso at 4:55 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Sometimes a relationship doesn't exist within a good context. Even if everyone involved is blameless, that doesn't mean that the relationship should be maintained. Only TROGDOLE can decide whether this relationship is worth dealing with the extra drama. He's not a bad person if he decides that it isn't.
posted by grouse at 5:03 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just find it interesting that everyone is assuming there will be drama, and therefore advising the OP to ditch in order to avoid it. I am unwilling to make that assumption; it really depends too much on the individual constitutions of each party involved, all of which are unknown.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:39 PM on July 27, 2011

I just find it interesting that everyone is assuming there will be drama, and therefore advising the OP to ditch in order to avoid it.

There already is drama. This situation is drama.
posted by empath at 9:00 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I just find it interesting that everyone is assuming there will be drama

I'm with DarlingBri. I can definitely imagine some people who would feel a bit awkward but get through this without it becoming dramatic. Especially since:

We've been together half a year.

They were together for [only] a few months, and broke up a month before we got together.

...because she felt they were good as friends, and weren't meant to be dating.

He dated someone else for a few months. Appears to be over her, as far as I can tell.

She says "Me and him aren't exactly cool with it either"

It sounds like a low-chemistry thing that just fizzled out quickly, leaving both parties to move on, with little desire to rekindle, and a bit of awkwardness but little drama.

But if her boyfriend pre-emptively broke up with her? Wow, now that would be dramatic.
posted by salvia at 2:03 AM on July 28, 2011

You know, when you are in a committed relationship, you sign up for risk. You care so much for another person that you entrust a good part of your happiness to another human being. Your peace of mind is now partly dependent on their actions.

And inevitably, they will sometimes fall short. Put you in awkward positions. Piss you off. Have friendships that you would not have chosen. Forget to put the lid down late at night. And you will fall short. Flirt a bit too much with someone else. Hurt their feelings. Start time-consuming hobbies they don't care for. Forget to empty the cat box on trash night.

And the shortfalls can be serious, and will be, as time goes on. There might be an infatuation with a co-worker. One of you could could develop depression. Lose a job and not be able to find another one quickly. Have an accident or get an illness. Or someone in the family could actually create a real drama, upending the entire family.

Thing is, trust doesn't just mean that you don't think he or she will have an affair and dump you. It means you trust the other person to not intentionally hurt you. And when they do hurt you - they will - you trust that they will want to make it better. You accept the challenges to your ego, your security and your confidence. Because you love them. They are worth it. And they trust you to know it.
posted by likeso at 3:22 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

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