Devolve into sexless partnership, or get brave and be broke?
August 10, 2012 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Should I be brave or pragmatic? My partner is not a lover anymore, and after acting like an antagonist, acts more like an assistant than a friend. It's very scary to make a decision to separate, when he's broke and I'd have trouble making the rent without him.

We've been together for six years and lived together for four. We're in our forties. We're both students, and neither has worked in over a year. I think his mother pays his rent (he maintains it’s none of my business where his rent comes from) while he studies engineering at a junior college. I'm living off savings while I earn a B.A. We have no children and aren't married. We share, with a roommate, a one-bedroom rent-controlled apartment that I moved into nine years ago.

When he's not in school, which has been often in the past eighteen months, he sits in front of Netflix and watches tv shows. I've had to repeatedly ask him to do things around the house, like dishes, or clean the bathroom, or take out the trash. He won’t drive, so I do all the driving. Generally I’m the one who cooks, does laundry, changes the sheets, cleans our bedroom and study room, tends the car, finds roommates, and deals with the landlords about repairs, of which there have been a lot lately. He’s not on the lease - which has been month-to-month since 2003 - but the landlords consider him of sufficient standing to call and say, yeah, the toilet’s not flushing, please come by. Still, he thinks I should deal.

Last week, when he was giggling at Netflix and saying for the third time that he'd clean the kitchen eventually, which he’d left dirty since the night before when he made food he knows I don’t particularly care for (I always check with him before starting a big cooking project), I cleaned the dang kitchen. I can’t stand trying to work in a dirty kitchen and I needed to make a lunch and was sick of him saying, yeah, yeah, I’ll do it. I lost my temper while cleaning around him, and threw the last inch of water in his glass at him, while accusing him of being a parasite on whomever is paying his rent. I lost my temper, I lost my words, and I lost some of my self-respect. I apologized to him almost immediately but was aghast at myself. He was aghast and didn’t talk to me for days. At couples therapy, I said I was done with the relationship. He said he couldn’t wait to see the last of me, but was too broke to move. I offered to give him money to make it easy for him to move. He refused, saying that he was sure I didn’t mean it. I reframed it as reimbursement for rent. He was hysterical, saying that I’d sue him for any money I offered. I offered to sign a paper saying he wouldn’t owe me a thing. One of my volunteer jobs is working for a non-profit advocacy law firm; he started volunteering with me a year or so ago, so he knows the attorneys. I offered to have one of the lawyers there verify that I was offering money with no strings. Our therapist urged him to consider this. He wouldn’t consider it. He was staying put. I reframed it again, asking why he’d want to stay when we were doing so much damage to each other. I offered to move (which sounds like a bluff, but I like moving and am ready to do so). He wouldn‘t hear of any of it.

So we went back home, together, where he wouldn’t talk to me and wouldn’t touch me.

But since then, he’s been the perfect housekeeper. The kitchen, bathroom, dishes, trash, recycling, etc, have been taken care of daily. He’s tended to the dogs. I cajoled him into laughing at something the other night, and we’ve been cordial ever since.

But I want him to go. Why is he trying to stay? I don’t know what his feelings are – I ask, but he evades – but I know that he stopped being my sexual partner years ago, in spite of my interest (I’m fit, clean, true, available and happy for sex, while able to leave it to his initiative) and now won’t touch me at all, even for cuddling.

Denial of cuddling is sort of the last straw.

It will be hard to make the rent without him. We’ll both suffer economically by splitting. And obviously he’s trying hard to be a great. . . something. Assistant?

Should I be pragmatic and continue to live with him because we're both broke and times are really hard? Or leave a relationship that seems broken, and struggle with rent?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: please talk to us about the seven day question-asking limit. -- jessamyn

A month from now when you meet a nice guy who respects you and treats you well which decision will you wish you had made?
posted by munchingzombie at 7:19 AM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

struggle with the rent.

he's got a good thing going here: no rent to pay, apparently doesn't have to do a damn thing until you get hysterical and freak out....this won't last long.

i went through a similar thing. give him the boot.

get the paper drawn up without his permission if you want to give him money with no string attached and make damn sure to keep a copy yourself.

perhaps someone else can address how to get someone out of your living space when they are not on the lease.
posted by sio42 at 7:20 AM on August 10, 2012

Why is he trying to stay?

Because in a few weeks, when he gets comfortable again, it'll be you back to cooking, cleaning, and so on and so forth. And then when you try to get him to do shit again, he'll bring up how you threw a thing, or how he did clean that one time or whatever. If you were in your 20s, I'd say "well, the guy has room to grow." This is a 40-year-old man -- he's not going to change.

When you say "struggle with rent" does that mean you'll have to forego some stuff, or does that mean you run the risk of ending up homeless? If it's the former, get the fuck out of Dodge, and quick. If it's the latter, work as hard as you can to get enough financial security that your situation becomes the former.
posted by griphus at 7:21 AM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

He said he couldn’t wait to see the last of me, but was too broke to move.

This is the end of your relationship. I would move out, take three other roommates, do whatever I had to do rather than continue to be with someone who would say something like this to me. You may have to move out, but make the break.

You're not responsible for how broke he is. If he has that much time for Netflix, he can get a damn job, or his mom can give him more money for rent. Whatever his situation, it's not yours to deal with anymore.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 7:22 AM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

Bring someone else home to cuddle.
posted by saucysault at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can find another roommate to replace this person. If he won't move voluntarily, initiate eviction proceedings against him. Use your helpful lawyers for this.

He's scared to death and he doesn't believe that you mean that you want him to go.

He has his own issues, but you sound very done with the relationship, and while for the most part you feel friendly towards him, he's not your partner anymore.

Find out what your rights are as far as getting him to go. Call the landlords and tell them that you're trying to evict him, and if you don't have standing, see if you can get them on board.

Another option is to give notice and move yourself. If the rent-controlled apartment isn't all that rare or all that cheap, I'd do that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

You know the answer. Get out of there. You are wasting time by not moving on.
posted by something something at 7:24 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he won't go then leave. You'll make ends meet somehow, sharing with someone else would solve most of your rent problems and leaves you free to find someone else to have cuddle times with.
posted by purplemonkeydishwasher at 7:25 AM on August 10, 2012

Should I be brave or pragmatic?

Staying with him is not pragmatic! It is a waste of valuable time that you could be spending on yourself or on a better guy, and it makes you feel bad. Ditching this massive pile of dead weight is the most pragmatic decision you could possibly make.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:27 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

It sounds like he's depressed. You might be, too.

It doesn't sound like you are in immediate danger, which means you have options and time to sort through them. So don't do anything that will worsen your situation until you are clear on what you want.

Frankly there is a lot of built-up resentment and bad feeling on both sides which neither of you are especially dealing with. He doesn't want to cuddle. You threw water in his face and called him a parasite. I don't think I'd want to cuddle either, even with an apology. Not for a while. You assaulted him, and you hit him someplace where he's vulnerable. He probably feels like he's a parasite. He probably feels like you think he's a parasite.

Him not wanting to leave probably comes out of his depression. It's not great where he is, but he's safe there and he might not be able to imagine being safe anywhere else.

I think you want to leave, but you're posting this, and you're going to get a lot of permission from a lot of people to leave. It's hard. It might be easier with someone else. It might be easier alone. But. It seems like there's a but that you're not talking about with us. And that's fine: you don't have to. But maybe you should think about it. Explore it. It might be hollow and crumble when you push it, or it might be solid enough to build something on. I don't know what the but is: you've really only given us the reasons to leave. But I think you should think about the but. Roll it around in your mind. Make peace with it, one way or another. Then you'll know what to do.
posted by gauche at 7:30 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

It sounds like the tenancy contract is your name. Does he have a formal agreement as a sub-tenant or whatever? If so, end it. Invite new people round to look the place over as prospective co-tenants.

He is unlikely to do anything anything to improve your situation so you must act.
posted by epo at 7:30 AM on August 10, 2012


Why is he trying to stay? I don’t know what his feelings are – I ask, but he evades – but I know that he stopped being my sexual partner years ago, in spite of my interest (I’m fit, clean, true, available and happy for sex, while able to leave it to his initiative) and now won’t touch me at all, even for cuddling.

He sounds horrifically depressed. Doesn't drive, doesn't want to have sex, doesn't want to clean or do anything but sit in his room and watch television? Yeah, that's more than just lazy.

His depression doesn't mean that you're obligated to stay with him, but it would be kinder for both of you to just move out. You're not going to force him into action, and your account of him drips with contempt over things that are really, in a healthy relationship, Not a Big Deal (he made food you didn't like? Who cares?). And you're now throwing things and calling him a parasite. This is a dangerous, toxic situation, and you don't need his permission to move out. MOVE OUT. It's the only solution.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Tell him he has to leave by the end of the month or you'll look into taking legal measures. Unless you want the hassle of moving yourself he should be the one to go. Recruit friends to help him pack and move his things out. You don't have to live in misery.
posted by idest at 7:34 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

He said he... was too broke to move. I offered to give... He refused... He was hysterical, ... I offered. I offered... I offerered ... I was offering money... He wouldn’t consider it. He was staying put. I ... asking why... I offered to move (which sounds like a bluff, but I like moving and am ready to do so). ... He wouldn‘t hear of any of it.

Why are you letting him be in charge? Say it with me: "I'm in charge."

Make a plan and make it happen. Get on with it.
posted by jon1270 at 7:42 AM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

He has to go. If you decide to let him stay, which I so think is a bad idea, he becomes a formal room mate, all 3 of you sit down work out a formal house mate arrangement, he gets kicked out of the bedroom and you draw up a roster for chores. Honestly though I think making him leave is the best thing you can do for him, it could snap him out of the current apathetic state he is in and maybe he will get help, but if he doesn't he is no longer your problem. At the moment he is a man child with mummy paying the rent and you doing all the "mum" stuff around the house, he is not your partner in any way, shape or form and he's a lousy room mate kick him out.

Speaking of room mates, think of the one you have now, stuck in the middle of this in a one bedroom apartment, you might want to sit down and have a talk with them so they know what to expect when you kick the guy out. You will want them to feel secure and stick around if you are going to need their help making rent, heck they might be willing to chip in more to have a quieter, less crowded apartment. If not, depending on the sleeping arrangements, you say you have a study room, so can you take in another roommate to help with the rent?
posted by wwax at 7:53 AM on August 10, 2012

One of my old boyfriends was also "too broke" to work, and his efforts to "start a home-based business" consisted chiefly of sitting around and playing with Beavis and Butthead sound effects in his computer. After supporting us both for a year on a receptionist's salary I put my foot down and kicked him out, worrying the whole time that I was exiling him to living in a cardboard box on the street.

My kicking him out is what finally got him to shape up and get his Master's, and then get a graphic design job, and then get married.

It may be that taking away all his other options may be what finally convinces him to shift for himself. Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:54 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Brave and Pragmatic are the same thing in this case: Kicking him out.

Fearful and Irrational would be staying in this situation.
posted by French Fry at 7:55 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


If he can watch Netflix, he can flip fries at McDonald's. He's contributing nothing, he's inconsiderate, and waiting around for him to leave, well, that isn't going to happen.

Do yourself a favour and get out, as scary as that prospect might be.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:07 AM on August 10, 2012

I think you should make him move or move yourself. However (and forgive me if I am misreading your timeline), if I were him I'd find it both confusing and somewhat abusive for someone to break up with, scream at me, and find me contemptible and still expect sex and cuddling. This does not excuse his lack of action around the house, but perhaps you might think about what signals you are sending there.

In any case, he can't stop you moving or giving notice. You should out of politeness and consideration forwarn your other roommate as much as you can, though.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:12 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

The relationship is already over. You need to move or to make him leave somehow - preferably the former. Roommates with a recent ex never works out well.

You'll be amazed at how happy you'll be when you don't have to see him every day, even if you are more broke.
posted by randomnity at 8:12 AM on August 10, 2012

(he maintains it’s none of my business where his rent comes from)
I was all ready to tell you to dump this guy at this point, and then it just got worse.. and worse.. and worse.

He wants to stay because he has it pretty good right now. Neither of you wants to jump into the scary unknown, but you have nothing to lose here. Get yourself some roommates. You'll feel so much better.
posted by bleep at 8:14 AM on August 10, 2012

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