He moving back, but as a roommate.
August 30, 2011 8:40 AM   Subscribe

SO moved out over a year ago and we made attempts to resolve issues needs and wants during that time. Admittedly, I could've put forth more effort in being a better partner. Now he is moving back in, although I'm glad about that, he's coming back as a "roommate". Oh, and I work for him.

Sorry if this is long. Two guys here in our 15th year together. He is a very successful doctor and I am part of a group that manages his practices. Pretty sure the job is safe. We are domestic partners, have property, intermingled finances, cats, etc.

We are much alike in many ways except in our Briggs-Meyers where I am a Thinker and he is a Feeling type and this is a big problem. I hate talking about my feelings and of course he feels hurt that I don't ask about his. We don't fight because frankly, I shut down and internalize whatever is bothering me until that feeling goes away.

Because we are so hard wired in our personalities, he has given up on the relationship but wants to be friends and live as roommates. Ultimately, one or both of us will start dating and we touched lightly about boundaries and respect for the other and we expect to discuss more how this will operate. I am not thrilled now because I thought we'd get back as a couple. Part of it finances for me because he makes considerably more than I and now it will be 50/50 for shared things. He says that we need to be open with co-workers, families and friends that we are roommates. I have been looking for another job, but it's tough out there and I hate to force the sale of the house in a down market. He can afford to live anywhere, I can't. Anyone else ever had to deal with this? Did it work out?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Abort! Abort! Abort!

For the love of god, do not do this. Any convenience this might afford you will not be worth the resulting drama and tangled emotional problems. If you want to be a couple and he doesn't there is nothing in this but heartache and complications for you. Get renters instead.
posted by Kimberly at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2011 [31 favorites]

there isn't a way to remain co-dependent and move on, especially if you're roommates.
posted by nadawi at 8:48 AM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Did it work out?

Let me just go ahead and answer for everyone: no, it didn't.

You claim that he can live anywhere and you can't, which is a problem. But it's also a problem that everything will be 50/50 now, and having to pay for your half of his standard of living is going to drown you slowly instead of all at once. You need to separate your finances and adjust your lifestyle to one you can maintain on your own. That will also help when you start dating someone, because you'll be able to present an honest impression of who you are and where you're at in life, as opposed to them recoiling in horror when they realize that your entire world is propped up by an ex with boundary issues.
posted by hermitosis at 8:54 AM on August 30, 2011 [15 favorites]

I suspect the reason he wants to live together as roomates is to avoid the asset split and/or alimony he should very likely be paying you. Please consult a divorce attorney with specialised experience in domestic partnership in your jurisdiction. You cannot make sound decisions without data. Go get some from someone paid to give it to you.

In addition to that, if you are also interested in possibly preserving the relationship, make marriage therapy a priority. "I am this way and he is that way" is not a helpful mindset. It's also a sort of lame excuse for lazy relationship management.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:00 AM on August 30, 2011 [13 favorites]

do not do this.

He is a very successful doctor and I am part of a group that manages his practices....I am not thrilled now because I thought we'd get back as a couple. Part of it finances for me because he makes considerably more than I and now it will be 50/50 for shared things.

Does not compute. He makes considerably more money than you, can live anywhere he wants and now wants to move back in with you and split finances 50/50? Why move back in with you at all? It sounds like he wants to keep the best parts of his relationship with you, without putting in any effort or making any sort of emotional, social or financial committment to you, all while dating other people.
posted by inertia at 9:02 AM on August 30, 2011 [6 favorites]

I am not thrilled now because I thought we'd get back as a couple.

Wait, what? You still want to be a couple, and he's moving in as a roommate? Did you think you were getting back together as a couple when you agreed to move in together again?

This strikes me as a hideous bait and switch. I think he may be taking advantage of your difficulty talking about feelings. Have you told him how you feel?

I know it's a down market, but your sanity has hard cash value too.

Don't do this.
posted by endless_forms at 9:04 AM on August 30, 2011 [6 favorites]

Honey-bun, please don't do this. Do ANYthing other than this. Become a juggler in the circus, drive a motorcycle across Mongolia, adopt twenty cats and tell ex-boyfriend they need his bedroom for their playscapes. This will hurt you.

I suspect the reason he wants to live together as roomates is to avoid the asset split and/or alimony he should very likely be paying you. Please consult a divorce attorney with specialised experience in domestic partnership in your jurisdiction.

You should definitely consider this aspect of his motivation.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:10 AM on August 30, 2011 [9 favorites]

I've got nothing to say about the emotional parts of it. But the practical, mercenary aspects of it, I've got some advice. and DarlingBri said it first, more succinctly, and probably better.

Assuming you own the house together and are both on the mortgage, (whether or not you have a significant income disparity, but income disparity does make it more urgent): you need to put in writing how much each of you will contribute to the monthly mortgage, utilities, insurance and how much each of you will contribute to any major repairs that happen. You need to put into writing how you will split the proceeds or split the losses when you sell. If one of you wants to sell, must the other person have six months to put together financing to buy before you can put the house on the market? You need to put into writing whether or not that changes if one of you moves out. You need to put into writing what happens if one party want to buy the other out of the mortgage. You don't need a lawyer, necessarily, to write it down for you, but need to write it down, sign it, have it witnessed and keep it in a safe place.

You need to take one another off shared checking/savings accounts, credit cards, netflix accounts. You may need to designate new beneficiaries on life insurance and investments--you need to discuss if either of you remains entitled to that. 15 years is a long life of co-mingled assets. This is hard and I'm sorry for the loss of your relationship, but continuing to share your finances will make everything harder and ultimately will be unfair.

All of the above is what a divorce does and it protects both of you. It sounds like you two are divorcing, even if you're still living in the house together, and you deserve the protections of written negotiated divisions of assets and written negotiated divisions of remaining liabilities. See if you can find a domestic relations mediator or an attorney who can facilitate the agreements, it will really help your sanity and be more fair.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:10 AM on August 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

I like my boss and my co-workers, even love a couple of them. But at the end of the day, they go home and I go home and they're not the same home. When we come back in the next day we don't bring that argument over who's turn it was to wash the dishes or take out the trash because we don't live together.

But your situation isn't something simple like an argument over chores and you're in a situation where you won't be able to escape being in the middle of it because it follows you to work every day. You need a place to be that isn't work. That place won't be your home if he moves back.

Your relationship is complicated and unresolved. Unresolved because you and him have very different ideas over what your relationship is and it sure looks like he's taking advantage of you right now. You shouldn't hesitate to ask him to hold off moving in until you both understand each other's feelings with the understanding that it may mean he never moves back in at all. You can find another roommate if expenses are a problem. But don't make your entire life miserable just to make a mortgage payment.
posted by tommasz at 9:14 AM on August 30, 2011

My ex and I discussed doing this, and it only took a few minutes' discussion of dating issues and finance issues to realize it would have been the world's worst idea. Very glad we didn't try. It would have turned a friendly parting into something terribly hostile and painful. The very idea seems either unrealistically "mature" or astonishingly naive.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 9:19 AM on August 30, 2011

I live with my former romantic partner as a roommate, an arrangement that's lasted about five years (after living about the same amount of time as a couple). For us, it has worked very well and I expect we'll continue like this until one of us dies.

One caveat: we had an open relationship when we were a couple and never considered ourselves as married or monogamous partners. That may have made the shift to a relationship that preserved our valuable emotional connection while disengaging sexually less complicated. I think this pattern is actually fairly common among gay men of my generation and the one previous to mine and has often been successful for both partners.
posted by layceepee at 9:25 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is a first classm express ticket to Crazy town. Cancel the trip, take the hit on the cancellation fees and find yourself a nice seat in coach on a plane ride NotSoObviouslyInsaneTown,
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:57 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're already unhappy about this, and it sounds like you already know the chances of this being a pleasant situation are slim to none. Please don't assume you can tough this out.

Talk to a divorce lawyer. If your money is tight enough and your house is big enough for a roommate, find a nice quiet boring person instead.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:04 AM on August 30, 2011

Oh, man, just came in here to make sure everyone else is telling you DO NOT DO THIS!
My advice? DO NOT DO THIS!
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 10:06 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why would you do this? Goodness, don't do this. Also, doing this would be bad. I am having a hard time considering how this would be anything other than bad. I think you get the idea here.
posted by davejay at 10:13 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine did this once. I don't think I've ever seen someone so miserable. Do not, under any circumstances, do this.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:19 AM on August 30, 2011

Okay -- in one of my jobs, I work with an ex. We started working together only 18 hours after he broke up with me. It's actually been working out very well, for about 10 years now and counting.

But one of the reasons I think it worked so well is that I did NOT also live with him on TOP of that, so during the first year or so, when I needed to process the occasional "omigod we get along so well why doesn't he luuuuvv meeeee" tremors I got now and then, I had a place to run off to so he wouldn't have to put up with that shit. (Plus, I'd have also killed him from the mess.)

It is possible to be friends with an ex, it's possible to work with an ex. It may even be possible to be roommates with an ex for a while. But doing all three is a prescription for clear shrieking madness.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 AM on August 30, 2011

I see advantages for him, but not for you in this situation, accept that you can't afford to live alone. But there is no reason why you need to live with your ex just because of finances! Seek a different roommate and share expenses with that person. And if you and your ex are split for good, you need to legally determine, as others have mentioned, how to split your assets.

Okay, so that's the living situation.

I would recommend couples therapy, if you haven't already (if you've been together fo 15 years, and you want this relationship again, why would you not do this?!).

Despite what Myers-Biggs personality type you are, no one is hard-wired to be unable to change behavior. That's the value in learning the types, so you know what you need to work on to get along with other types! And not just you. You and your partner can BOTH learn the skills to communicate within the relationship just as you learned the skills you need to do your job. Him saying you don't ask enough about his feelings is only one side of it--he needs to communicate his needs to you in a way that you can respond to, as well.

I'm sorry to bring this up, but the fact that he first moved out entirely and now wants to move back in but make it very clear to everyone that you are just roommates makes me wonder if maybe there is someone else he is seeing/wants to be involved with right now.

You are not over him. If he started up with someone new right now, you would be crushed. Moving in together as roommates is a BAD idea!
posted by misha at 10:30 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know that bit in the horror movie where the call is coming from inside the building?

Yeah, so. The call is coming from inside the building. Get out.
posted by mhoye at 10:39 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I speculate. Even if he doesn't realize he's doing this, perhaps his ego likes the idea of living with someone who is pining away for him. I can't think of another reason someone would put you through this. The only benefits here are for him.
posted by Lieber Frau at 10:42 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I had a friend who did this for years after he and the guy broke up. I would not recommend this. Last I heard he was grumbling that he'd have to move out while the ex and his new boyfriend were in the apartment.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:50 AM on August 30, 2011

There is no upside in this for you. There is a mountain of upside for him.

I'm about to make a huge major assumption, but he knows you dig him, he knows you love him. In addition to all of the additional stress - money, work, etc there is also the sex question. Living with someone you pine for makes it really hard to keep it in your pants. He is possibly expecting to get laid on the regular.

Please, don't live with this guy. As others have said, get in touch with (HIRE) an attorney who specializes in this in your jurisdiction. You are breaking up, and you deserve to know about the potential for asset distribution. Which I suspect he is hoping to avoid.
posted by bilabial at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2011

I hate to join the pile on, because I'm a big believer than adults who communicate can make any kind of relationship work, even if it doesn't seem like something that anybody else would be able to do it and even if it seems "wrong" to anybody else's standards, but since you asked for examples if anyone has done this...

About 9 years ago, my partner at the time and I had been together for 8 years (all of our 20s up until that point). We'd gotten together in college and though we very much loved each other, we were still forming our identities as we grew up together and we'd grown very much apart. But we also owned property and had everything (furniture, friends, family) completely entwined. So we kept living together. We told some people, not others, but tried to do just what you plan on doing doing.

And it wasn't great, but it wasn't really that bad. But after a few years, it got bad. Really bad. We weren't facing facts that even though we'd gone through a lot of the motions, we really weren't really broken up. And it got messy and really ugly -- because in not dealing with the breakup for real, we just let it simmer until it exploded. (This involved lots of things, including the point when I was trying to move on socially/sexually/romantically but not just that.)

Seven years ago this month, I ended up moving out after a total breakdown that, rather than giving us the solid, drama free split up that we'd hoped for, turned into a huge mess that felt like it involved all of the friends and family we were trying to avoid getting involved.

We wanted so badly to remain friends that we didn't realize we had to really break up before that happened. Even though whenever we talked about it, we were 'not together' -- both of us, in separate ways, kept depending on the other. Though we didn't belong together, we didn't stop loving each other (how can you after that long together?), so the co-dependence continued, no matter what we were saying to each other.

So that's my story. If you do this, and obviously I'm not suggesting you should, please follow crush-onastick's advice about getting some stuff in writing. Because if things go further south, you'll want the greater separation to be as easy as possible. And to expand on that, please be sure that you look out for your own interests before anything else in almost any decision you make. After being part of a partnership for so long, it is really easy to forget to do this -- so easy that you may not realize you are. But if the two of you are ever going to be real friends after this break-up, you have to start looking out for yourself. Only then will you be strong enough individually to deal with the emotional weirdness that comes with being friends with a long term ex.

All of that doomsaying aside, it IS possible to be great friends with an ex eventually. After the aforementioned explosion forced us to separate, we were able to really forgive each other because the other truly asked for it and each saw why things didn't work out from the other's perspective. Seven years later, he's one of my closest friends and visa/versa, and I'm happily heading to his wedding to another great guy next week. Don't let anybody else tell you how to live your life because it's 'not healthy' -- their experience isn't yours; just be sure to be aware of what you need to be healthy FOR YOU
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:07 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

My friends did this. Two guys, almost the same dynamic and financial situation as you guys except they weren't married or legal partners.

Did. Not. End. Well.

See a lawyer.
posted by jbenben at 11:09 AM on August 30, 2011

Yeah, this sounds awkward and terrible in several different ways.

And I bet you can tell that already.

If I were you, no matter what, I would find a way to (very gracefully) back out of this whole situation unless you want to feel like you're living surrounded by landmines for however long it is until one of them explodes.
posted by Fister Roboto at 11:15 AM on August 30, 2011

Oh god. I lived with an ex as a roomate. It was horrible. It was so horrible. And it was so horribly stupid to do it in the first place, so I got to feel immensely stupid on top of horrible.
posted by xmutex at 11:52 AM on August 30, 2011

Yeah this can't end well. The only question is whether it ends badly or spectacularly badly. Don't put yourself through the drama.
posted by Justinian at 1:08 PM on August 30, 2011

No. Just don't.

You are so going to get screwed--emotionally, financially, every which way you can think of.

Please don't.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:43 PM on August 30, 2011

If you financially HAD to do this, you wouldn't be asking the question, I suspect.

Don't do this.

Spoiler alert: it ends badly.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:51 PM on August 30, 2011

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