Is this breakup necessary, and if so, how can I survive it.
August 27, 2013 12:37 PM   Subscribe

After 20 months, we're still passionately in love, but he "wants to make a life with me" and I am not sure either way whether that is what I want. But breaking up is really hard because we are really in love.

Is this the right thing to do, or am I making a huge mistake.

I am 25 and he's 30.
I feel that us living together is not working, and I want to move in with a female roommate. I would be perfectly happy to continue being in a relationship with him but not live together. But for him, if I do this, then it's over. So really, it's up to me to decide whether I can continue living with him, or whether this is important enough for me to move out over.

I don't know if I want to settle down right now, but over the weekend I finally heard him say "I want a life with you." I had suspected this was his feeling but had never been able to get him to discuss it. to be honest, I find it incredibly touching to hear someone say that. Honestly I never expected that someone would love me enough to say that.

I love him very deeply and I can feel his love for me as well. After we had the talk where he told me that if I move out, then it's over for him, I couldn't help but kiss him. I simply adore him and he is wonderful, loving and caring.

The issue is just that I never consciously went into this looking for a relationship where we settle down together. I didn't have much relationship experience before, but I've never really known what I want out of a relationship. Before I dated him I was very much a quirky alone type who is happy being single. I've noticed that I tend to live in the moment and interpret things afterwards. One of the things about me, which on bad days I see as a serious failing, is that I am not really good at keeping my eyes on a faraway longterm goal. I don't find it easy to have faith in my own choices. For this reason, I've never really thought seriously about my romantic future, because the hope is too painful.

But the experience of being loved by him has changed me for the better, and I know this is not something you just throw away for some stupid reason.

My reasons for moving out have been building up over the past year. The both of us tend towards laziness and slobbiness. He's quite a bit worse than me.It bothers me though, but it doesn't bother him. Since he's 30, I don't see these habits changing. And I haven't been able to stop the voice in my head saying "How can you live like this?." In my head, if I moved out a lot of this disgust would be minimized, and I wouldn't have to criticise him.

For some reason I feel that his laziness towards life is rubbing off on me. He's a homebody, and nerdy and an introvert. He loves TV, movies, politics and the internet. I love going out to concerts, festivals, out for dinner, or even just making dinner together at home. His interests are more teenager-like. He's happy to eat microwave rice every night and seems to think it's a nuisance to prepare a full meal for dinner every night.

He has a bunch of high level degrees including a law degree but, in his view, he doesn't buy into careerism. this means he works for a little above minimum wage at a job with terrible hours and no benefits. He also does volunteer work once a week.

He's extremely thrifty, and all his clothes are old. He doesn't own a car and bikes everywhere Now, in my ideal view of myself I am the last person who would reject someone for not having a traditional way of life, or for being less money-grubbing and greedy than the general population. But I find his habits make my life a lot more difficult than I necessarily want it to be.

Now I've been considering what I'll do at the end of the lease for several months now. The other day an old friend mentioned that she was moving out and her roommate needed to sublet that room. I visited the place, and it's about a 5 minutes walk from where I work, in a super nice neighborhood. It just seems perfect and instinctively I just started to feel like it was a great idea. Maybe I didn't think it all the way through though.

To sum up, boyfriend who I love very much said he "wants to make a life with me." I never consciously went into this relationship looking for lifelong commitment, but I find my love for him to be very deep. However, I find living with him tests my patience because of his slobbiness and lazy attitude towards life. I think us dating but not living together would be a perfect solution, but to him, this relationship can only go in one direction and if it's not going in that direction, it's over.
posted by winterportage to Human Relations (52 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can love someone, but not like the life you're living with him. Sure, he may want to make a life with you, but you don't like the life he's living, so what's the point?

You will have to break it off though, unless he agrees to "forever-dating." The sad fact is that once out, you may find that you'd rather be free anyway.

You are pretty young and you've discovered that while you may love someone deeply, sometimes there's only so far a relationship can go.

It's only fair to tell your boyfriend, "I love you, but I don't see us having a viable life together." Because that is the truth.

So do the kind, fair and honest thing and break up with him.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:47 PM on August 27, 2013 [24 favorites]

I think you answered your own question with your last sentence. You both have different paths and want different things at this stage in life. That is a perfectly valid reason to break up with someone, if it is not possible for you to stay together but live apart.

Also, a lot of people in your age range find themselves in these situations, get married too young, and realize in their 30s that these paths and desires differ even more than when they were in their 20s. The things that bug you now may seem like petty superficial differences but it is likely they will only become more frustrating as you get older. And you're right - your partner is in his 30s so it's not like his habits are likely to change. If you don't like the way things are now, what makes you think you will later?

In short, your 20s are for figuring out what you want, trying out new things, and NOT settling for something when you know it's not the right fit.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:47 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am A, unsure why he is so instant that moving out but not breaking up is such a terrible thing, and B, what you think will change in one or five years. Seriously, if you plan on marrying (*or whatever your equivalent is) are you going to live together? Some people don't, and that's fine. But two years is a pretty good point to sit down and go: Is this what I want? Is this my future?

He kinda sounds like his ambitions and life goals are not matching yours. Does he have any personal growth wants? Just paying his bills and some volunteer work is ok, if that's ok with you too.

Also, I dislike the.... stay with me or its over.. ultimatum? Temper tantrum? demand? petulance? In what I define as a good relationship, partners are a lot more flexible and supportive.
posted by Jacen at 12:48 PM on August 27, 2013

This just sounds like incompatibility, which does mean breaking up. It's not always DTMFA, sometimes it's we're-both-great-people-who-just-aren't-overlapping-enough-in-important-ways. Less catchy and in some ways harder because there isn't a real antagonist, but nonetheless true.
posted by vegartanipla at 12:50 PM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

Now I've been considering what I'll do at the end of the lease for several months now. The other day an old friend mentioned that she was moving out and her roommate needed to sublet that room. I visited the place, and it's about a 5 minutes walk from where I work, in a super nice neighborhood. It just seems perfect and instinctively I just started to feel like it was a great idea.

You've been thinking this over for several months, and now you've begun to make concrete plans towards making it happen. Yes, you have thought this through.

It's okay to break up with him because the life he wants is not the life you want.
posted by snorkmaiden at 12:53 PM on August 27, 2013 [9 favorites]

It sounds like he's ready to settle down with a life partner and you love him but don't see making "a life" with him. It hurts because there is love, but it takes more than love sometimes (lots of times). It's probably time to end this relationship -- you want different things and are not growing in the same direction.
posted by Lescha at 12:54 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: There's a lot to address here and I just want to focus on this particular line:

He has a bunch of high level degrees including a law degree but, in his view, he doesn't buy into careerism. this means he works for a little above minimum wage at a job with terrible hours and no benefits.

How did he pay for all those degrees, especially the law degree? He's clearly not independently wealthy, so was he on scholarship? Full scholarship? Because otherwise, he's probably sitting on a mountain of debt and "I don't subscribe to careerism" doesn't at all jive with wanting to build a future. Does he expect you to be the breadwinner, provide insurance and all that other stuff? Have you talked about kids, and what happens when you have to take maternity leave?

He's proven that a man can live (possibly) in debt, with a shitty job and survive. Being together and being a family -- even if it is a family of two -- requires a lot more than that. From what you've said, it sounds like he is less interested in building a life with you than he is having you build a life for the both of you.
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on August 27, 2013 [17 favorites]

It sounds like you guys just have different interests and values. And that's ok, but it probably means that you are not suited for each long term, despite the fact that you love each other. This is something that can be painful to learn, but it's necessary to recognize: love itself is not enough. I was quite slow to learn this in my twenties and it caused me a lot of heartache.

I do agree that it's hard to go back from living together to dating while living apart. Would you see yourself moving back in together at some time in the future? Would you want to get married?

I've found that two years is often the point where you have to decide what the future of the relationship is. He's 30, and it sounds like he is wanting to settle down. If that's not what you want, or if you want to settle down but not with him, then it's only fair to him to let him know that now.
posted by number9dream at 12:54 PM on August 27, 2013

Have you talked to him about the areas where you are less compatible?

It's absolutely his right to say that he wants to commit to you long-term, and that he'd view your moving out as a deal-breaker. But it's also your right to say that you want to live in a (relatively) clean house, eat (relatively) healthy food, make (relatively) similar contributions to the family finances, etc. And those things may seem small and/or petty compared to deep love, but they're the things that will wear down your relationship over time.

I don't doubt that he loves you, or that you love him. But I think you should consider exactly what he means by "make a life" with you. It sounds like he wants to make a particular kind of life with you--the kind of life he'd prefer to live. He'll work minimum wage jobs, bike everywhere, eat like a teenager, stay home, etc., with you as his partner. Except, that doesn't sound like the life you want.

It may be that the two of you can compromise--but that means he'll have to give and expand beyond his comfort zone (it sounds like up until now, you've been mostly accommodating his preferences). It's also fine to break up rather than try to make these difficult compromises.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:57 PM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

Ok, I just realized that I misread part of your question and thought you were a woman so if you're not, you can just sort of ignore the maternity leave part of my reply.
posted by griphus at 12:58 PM on August 27, 2013

Response by poster: @ griphus: I am a woman.
posted by winterportage at 1:08 PM on August 27, 2013

I married that guy. And here we are, 20 years and $100K in student lonas later and I am spending my afternoon emailing divorce lawyers.

It's ok to want different things out of life. It's not ok to give up what you want for someone else's idea of life.
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:12 PM on August 27, 2013 [23 favorites]

It sounds to me like you do want to move out and live differently and likely on some level you do want to break up with him. But I think you should ask yourself if he wasn't a slob, and he liked going out, and he had a car, and he had a good job... would you want to make a life with him then? If so, then I think it's fair to tell him that these things are important to you and see if he is willing to try to make big changes so that you both like your life together. If the answer is still 'no' then you should break it off as kindly and expeditiously as possible.
posted by semacd at 1:14 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Now, in my ideal view of myself I am the last person who would reject someone for not having a traditional way of life, or for being less money-grubbing and greedy than the general population.

Yet here we are. A lot of what you describe sounds like "I'd like him more if he was just a different person," which, you know, means you should find a different person.
posted by rhizome at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

My wife married your boyfriend. 15 years, three children, two cats and a house later we are as in love as we have ever been and our marriage is pretty solid.

Yes, I'm lazy and something of a slob. Yes, there are things about her which irritate me (the specifics of which are irrelevant).

Making a life with someone isn't about finding a person with whom you are perfectly compatible. Making a life with someone is about finding someone with whom you share a love that is worth tolerating the things that irritate you.

Best of luck with your decision; this must be very painful.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:23 PM on August 27, 2013 [10 favorites]

You sound a bit disrespectful of him and that is always, or at least always should be, a real death knell for a relationship. It also sounds like you're not finding any good 'balancing out' in habits -- a good partnership should enhance both lives; you know, 'I'm a bit sloppier with him but I've learned to relax my standards about some things, and that's meant good stuff like letting go of perfection and that gives me time to volunteer as well, etc,' or whatever. But this is just: slob, don't even want to live with him, sucks but. It's a negative for you that he's 'rubbing off on' you.
posted by kmennie at 1:26 PM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I was 28, I was deeply in love with my boyfriend, we were living together and I had just moved to NYC. He was working a job that kept him out late many nights a week, and I was struggling to find a job, friends, fulfillment here. He tried to be there for me, but he had his own ambitions, and we were drifting apart. I knew it was over when I wrote out what my own apartment would look like, actually listing which things I would decorate it. It sounds like you've reached that place. Time to move on.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:35 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You have a disparity that is impossible to repair. It's really the hardest type of break-up, the break-up where you both love each other dearly, but want different things.

You can't both keep him and move out, but you need to move out to be yourself. You as a couple aren't working because you're losing yourself and because you both desire different things that are incompatible and dimetrically opposed to each other.

On another level, it does kind of sound like you're over him... maybe even disrespect or resent him. The words you choose to describe him (slobby, lazy) really indicate to me that you are just ready to go.

So, go. It'll hurt. But it won't hurt more in the long run than staying with someone you do not want to live with, but who very much wants to live with you. So respect him one iota and set him free to find someone who actually likes him.

I mean, the biggest lesson to learn here is that you can love someone and not like them very much and, when that's the case, you can't remain together until something's fixed or you sever the relationship completely.
posted by inturnaround at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I feel like I misrepresented what I think of him in an attempt to describe what's bothering me. Maybe I don't like his slobbiness and laziness because I am fighting a losing battle against these qualities in myself. I have a lot of self loathing.
posted by winterportage at 1:43 PM on August 27, 2013

Well, I think you first have to decide whether you want to try and make a life with him or move out. That's something only you can decide. However, if you decide you want to try and make a life with him, I don't think it means you have to accept the way things are. If you are in a committed relationship, you compromise and find a way to work things out. You have honest talks about what is bothering you and then you work together to try and fix things. You go to couple's counseling if necessary.

It doesn't sound like you've told him why you are unhappy and given both of you a chance to fix it. If I were you, I would want to try that before giving up on the relationship.
posted by bananafish at 1:46 PM on August 27, 2013

Best answer: It really doesn't matter too much whether you dislike his slobbiness or whether you dislike your own slobbiness and see it intensified around him. Do you want to become less slobby while he continues to slob everywhere, and eventually end up cooking and cleaning for him because you want to eat something besides microwave food? Even if you love him, does that sound compatible in terms of a life together? (Probably not, especially if he's "not careerist," and you are. Then you are the person trying to better herself and he will be treading water.)

I've been there, done that. Was in love with a man (quite a bit older than me, actually), but he was an introverted homebody, slobby and cranky, and didn't really have a plan for his life (he had an OK job with a salary much lower than it should have been, bought a house he hated, and was always a bit strange with money). This is a pretty traditional older guy/younger woman set up!

The point being that I was actually in love with him, but realized that our lifestyles (or in my case, my desired lifestyle, since I was just starting to figure myself out) were very different. Also, he was too old for me, so I couldn't really see a picture of our future forming clearly.

Fast forward two years, I have a great boyfriend my own age who works hard to make sure that we can both live a comfortable life together, and we're super in love. You gotta be real about what you want out of life!
posted by stoneandstar at 2:00 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

He has given you a "my way or the highway" ultimatum. Is that OK with you. Shouldn't you have the deciding vote in how you live your life? It does sound like he is dragging you down to his level. Shouldn't lovers make the beloved better?
posted by Cranberry at 2:05 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't like what he reflects back to you. That's ok. You are in control of you. So be more of what you want to be. Don't need his permission or buy-in. Clean up if you want to. Drive a car if you want to. Go to festivals if you want to. Maybe ask him to go halfers on a cleaning service, if that would help. You also need to talk to him about your concerns of course.

Don't expect him to change. Sure it's "better" if he's cleaner and has job ambitions. But he has to want that, otherwise it won't happen and will be a point of contention.

Maybe your low self esteem is leading you to bend yourself around him. And sometimes introverts can pull extroverts in, which is like strangulation to an extrovert. You of course will resent it - you already do.

One of the best quotes I heard on ask-me-fi was be the person you want to be, and pick the partner who supports you in that. So be yourself. The relationship will adjust, or it won't. I think if you move out, it is over. And that's ok.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:11 PM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

I can see how he would feel that if you move out, the relationship is moving backwards. Nothing you wrote made me think that even if he was less of a slob, less "lazy," that you would move back in. Just because you love him, even very much, doesn't mean that he's the one. I think that's something you would know after 20 months, including cohabitation.

You don't want the same things. You don't seem to have the same values. It also, honestly, sounds like you look down on this guy. I don't think that is going to change whether you live together or not. Nor does it sound like you are expecting him or asking him to change.

It really all just sounds like the beginning of a painful breakup.
posted by sm1tten at 2:15 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am not a huge Dan Savage fan, I like some of the points he makes, but I think this might be of interest to you and help you look at things another way.

Price of Admission.

I suspect by starting to look at apartments and think about moving out you have already made your mind up. Remember you've had time to think about this, your boyfriend put his heart out there and you said I want to move out and get some space, so I can see from his POV how he feels he's kind of left in a place where he has to say if you do it's over.

Other options, if you are still seriously considering staying is to look into couples counselling. They can do a lot of good, and if nothing else might help you clarify if you do want to stay or not.
posted by wwax at 2:30 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't respect him and he deserves someone that does. Move on.
posted by kcm at 2:31 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't seem to be at a point where you want a settling down kind of relationship. Your goals do not match. Also doesn't seem like your future goals match either. You may love someone but may be on entirely different path. Sad but true.
posted by ladoo at 2:46 PM on August 27, 2013

Making a life with someone isn't about finding a person with whom you are perfectly compatible. Making a life with someone is about finding someone with whom you share a love that is worth tolerating the things that irritate you.

Nailed it.

I guarantee you that one day you won't think 'Gee I should settle down now, I guess I'll look for my lifemate', and then you'll find them, and you'll get married and have tons of little babies, etc. Life happens largely outside the sphere of your influence.

My point is not that you should marry this guy -- my point is that you shouldn't break up with someone because they think they might want to spend forever with you and you're not sure. You should probably break up if you're unhappy, and probably not break up if you are happy.
posted by wrok at 2:53 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This man is not the one. No need to analyze the pros and cons, just end it and do not regret it. Your love for him will be inside of you the rest of your life and it's a wonderful feeling. He should feel the same. Good luck!
posted by oh posey at 2:54 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I feel like I misrepresented what I think of him in an attempt to describe what's bothering me.

Nah, I think you were honest and what bothers you is what you think of him. In addition to "him," in general, that is. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but apparently you dislike underachieving manchild slobs (or however you characterize him in your mind).
posted by rhizome at 3:25 PM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'll break with the crowd and say, keep an open mind.

I see this characterization fairly often on Metafilter and it's often relative to a breakup story: He's 30 so he's not going to change. This is a myth. 30 or 40 or 60 -- all capable of change if self-aware and willing to work at it. Including rising above laziness, fear of career, eating like an undergrad, etc. In fact, in the olden days, losing the girl or boy was a prime motivator for growing up.

This is a perfect time-off scenario. He might need to deal with losing you in order to re-set his priorities. Happens all the time. Stick to your plan, stick to your guns and meet up in a year.

Check out the Lucy Knisely story on the blue. Sometimes love does save the day.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:57 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have an opinion of what you should do with regard to breaking it off or not breaking it off, but really, my opinion doesn't matter. So I'll offer this advice instead - why don't you take a vacation? Sure, absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it's upon the return where you really see how you feel about the person. If you walk in and think "ugh, this slovenly mess again", you'll have an answer. If not, you have a different answer.

Stay with your friend who will have the room, or with another friend. You don't have to tell your boyfriend that you're taking a break to figure things out. You can tell him that you're staying with your parents, or your favorite aunt who is sick, or whatever. Better yet, tell him you're going on a cruise - cruises have limited internet access and no cell service, so you can have a clean break for a few days, rather than "schmoopie, I miss you" guilt-inducing calls every night.
posted by vignettist at 4:37 PM on August 27, 2013

Best answer: People are writing things like "you don't respect him" "let him go so he can fid someone who does" etc and I hope you aren't getting defensive about that because honey it's OK that you don't respect him, it's OK that you don't hold his choices or his behaviors in high esteem - you don't have to be the good girl who isn't bothered by these things. You just... shouldn't stay with him then.

Just wanted to mention that because I think you sound like a sensitive thoughtful person who doesn't want to have the wrong values ("greedy" etc) and I wouldn't want you to willfully insist to us and more importantly yourself "no I really do respect him" or "no I'm just self-loathing" "i shouldnt have used such strong words like slob that was mean" and talk yourself into staying longer with someone who is dear to you but, increasingly, not right for what you want out of life and a relationship.
posted by sestaaak at 5:03 PM on August 27, 2013 [10 favorites]

I never expected that someone would love me enough to say that.
I have a lot of self loathing.

Don't stay in a relationship just because it bolsters a very low self esteem. Stay in a relationship because you not only love the other person but you love yourself when you are with them.

I am sure you know the tired saying about needing to love yourself before you can love someone else. I believe in that 100%. At least I believe that if you don't love yourself first, loving someone else is a lot more likely to result in disaster and heartbreak.... because you're willing to throw in your lot with anyone who tosses a kind word your way instead of looking for a truly worthy partner.

You definitely need to leave this guy and work on your self esteem issues before you start dating again.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:33 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you are more mature than him at this point. This isn't going to work long term and you already know this.

(And as to him saying it's over if you move out? That is emotional blackmail in my opinion. I'd call the bluff.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:36 PM on August 27, 2013

Not being able to stay in a relationship with you if you're not living together is simply a trust thing. For whatever reason, he doesn't trust that you'll be able to live on your own/with somebody else without having temptations that you might succumb to. So either he doesn't have a lot of trust for women, or possibly you might have potentially given him a reason for him to not trust you, but either way it's moot because a relationship without trust is a dead one. Let him go.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:58 PM on August 27, 2013

i think it would be to your benefit to go ahead and take that other apartment. if your bf isn't bringing out the best in you but rather dragging you down then this isn't really the right guy for you in the long term. i know you love him. he's probably very sweet but his lifestyle isn't compatible with yours. even as an introvert his lifestyle doesn't sound very appealing to be honest. i actually wonder if he is depressed as that is how a depressed person might live.

i just realized you haven't mentioned if you have discussed all this with your bf. have you? does he know how much his habits are affecting you in a negative way? has he tried to meet you halfway on all this? if you haven't then that is a different story.
posted by wildflower at 6:02 PM on August 27, 2013

Best answer: You’re at different places in life. He’s ready to settle down, you probably aren’t for a couple more years.

He’s right, by the way, that if you move out it’s basically over. I was once really in love with a guy, moved out, and wanted to keep dating him. But he knew, and I eventually admitted, that there’s just no real way to pretend you’re actually moving closer to a future together after moving out.

I’m at a very similar place in life to you- not consciously looking to settle down, etc. The thing is, after observing many relationships of friends and family, etc. - I have come to realize over time that there are two ways people generally go about getting married. The first way is that they hit 30-ish (or whatever) and decide they want to seriously settle down, and start “interviewing candidates” for that position. This may sound kind of unromantic, but in my experience, these relationships actually tend to last longer and turn out better. The other way is that you “fall into” a relationship because it just sort of happens, and hey this guy wants to marry you, so maybe you’ll marry him. This is almost always a bad idea, IME. Generally, you simply cannot build a relationship on his devotion alone. What if, in one year, or five years, he actually loses that sense of devotion to you? You will have built this marriage on him loving you, and it will have eroded like the proverbial house built on sand. If you felt ready for marriage, felt strongly about him, did a very careful inventory and painstakingly decided that you really believed this man, regardless of how he felt about you and aside from romance, was “great on paper” and would make a great dad, and whatever, then I might say; well, okay, do it. But as it is, life is long, too long to enter relationships based mostly on whimsy, and clearly this guy is not “good on paper” for you.
posted by quincunx at 7:01 PM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

The thing that troubles me is that he issued a nasty ultimatum. What does he mean, if you move out, it's over? Is he not open to negotiation and discussion? To me, that is more troubling than any laziness or anti-careerism.
posted by htid at 8:05 PM on August 27, 2013

Doesn't seem like it's headed anywhere good. Breaking up is probably an idea to consider.
posted by Miko at 8:40 PM on August 27, 2013

You ooze contempt for your boyfriend. Some people are homebodies, and that might not be compatible with your way of life. Some people don't chase corporate careers and volunteer too often, and that might not be compatible with your way of life. It might shock you that some amazing humans in this world live on little but rice and water each day... But your point is probably that you want a mate who lives a more material life and will eventually provide that to you, too.

People can change after 30, but are you expecting your boyfriend to change his essential values for you? You're a 25 year old materialist who wants a career-oriented boyfriend. Are you going to change your values for him? Probably not on all fronts. Get out and start your own life already.
posted by SakuraK at 12:12 AM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds to me like one of the things you dislike about your relationship, is that his bad habits reinforce your bad habits, which makes it hard to change. You'd also like a relationship which encourages changing your bad habits/improving yourself.

I'd also agree with your partner in that if someone I was living with and dating wanted to move out, it was over. This isn't really a nasty ultimatum, to me - he'd probably be quite hurt and upset by this.
posted by Ashlyth at 2:01 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh for the love of Christ, you're not "a materialist 25-year-old" for wanting a clean apartment and an enthusiasm for things like cooking and music, not to mention health insurance, hours that allow you to spend time together, and the enthusiasm to go out. I find that actually reprehensible; live your life indoors as an "introvert" if you want, but don't pretend that staying in your comfort zone is more virtuous than seeing and experiencing things in the world.

(And if you are American, not being careerist is essentially to be downwardly mobile, and in a country where the safety net is being torn to pieces day by day, it's okay to not be okay with that. I say that sitting here with an English degree, a part-time job, and no health insurance whatsoever.)

Truthfully, though, "introverts"/"extroverts" (I hate these terms) can argue all day about whether it's better to stay indoors with a book or go to an outdoor music festival. By all the evidence, I am an introvert-- I am nervous about meeting people, get overwhelmed in crowds, love staying in, and am a little more brooding and thoughtful than zippy and fun. But, because there's a whole world out there and I don't want to limit myself to... myself, I've learned to cope with the things that scare me about the world and enjoy myself in ways I never thought I would. And this is unabashedly a good thing, IMO. Now I like eating new food, going to outdoor (free, btw) dances, going to film festivals, &c. If enjoying food and art are too materialistic, let's all just shoot ourselves and be done with it. You are allowed to have your own values; you don't have to envy his way of life.

I think you should move out-- it's the right time, you found the right place, and you've got momentum. He talks a big talk about breaking up now when you're living with him, but you don't know what will happen. If you two are really in love and you're really right for each other, there's no guarantee he won't come around and maybe change his lifestyle somewhat (as you clearly have for him up until this point). I have seen time and time again that sometimes-- always?-- the right thing to do in a relationship is to be firm about what you need as an individual, even when you meet resistance. That's the only way to have a life with someone that isn't choked with resentment. And oftentimes, people do wake up and change, or the truth comes out, and things are always better for it. Communication is always better than not.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:47 AM on August 28, 2013 [13 favorites]

It sounds like you simply aren't compatible right now, possibly ever. While that may hurt, it's also okay to love someone who isn't going to be the person you commit to forever.

I also don't think him saying your relationship is over if you move is some sort of emotional blackmail. You may be a quirkyalone type, but if he is not, that isn't going to work. Right now you are looking for ways to quite literally distance yourself from him and the life you've had together. That would send red up the flagpole for anyone who is paying attention. Not because it means you're untrustworthy and may pick up other dudes, but because it means you want something he does not--more time apart.

Also, really take stock of your relationship and figure out if you want to keep one foot in so you can keep feeling loved by someone. That's tempting when you don't like yourself, but it is also really unfair to try to hold on to someone devoted to you when you don't feel the same devotion toward them.
posted by OompaLoompa at 6:35 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sakura, I think you take way too much offense from my description, and I really do not "ooze contempt for him." When did I say I had contempt for homebodies or introverts? I was just describing one person with whom I have a relationship.Also, I never said I was trying to get him to change his essential values. I have a lot of the same values as him.

I know I'm not supposed to reply to specific comments, but jeez!
posted by winterportage at 6:50 AM on August 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the help everyone!

I just want to clarify, for anyone that is still reading, that I do not view what he said as a temper tantrum or an ultimatum, and through the whole thing, he's been extremely kind and reasonable about this. He even went so far as to say that we could be friends if we broke up.
If I have any disrespect or contempt for him (Which I don't think is true), it is because living with him pushes me too far. This is why I tried to make it work by getting my own apartment. But it just doesn't work that way. Also, I wish Sakura's comment could be deleted, because it's little more than an insult.
posted by winterportage at 6:57 AM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I should have mentioned, I am a cyclist too and I don't want to own a car. I am also nerdy and the nerdiness is something that I love about him. I also volunteer a lot. In case it sounded like I was hatin' on nerds, cyclists, and volunteers, i wasn't!!!
posted by winterportage at 7:24 AM on August 28, 2013

Move out.

Let him break up with you over it if he's really that committed to it. See if you are still so madly in love with each other once you are leading the life you want to lead.
posted by 256 at 9:46 AM on August 28, 2013

Best answer: he's been extremely kind and reasonable about this.

So... when you tell him that your ideal would be to cook dinner together every night, does he say something like:

"How about we start by cooking together twice a week--one ambitious meal on Sunday nights so we can eat leftovers during the week, and one quick and easy meal, like pasta and salad, during the week?"


"I really dislike cooking, but I know this is important to you. What if you cook dinners and I set and clear the table, and wash the dishes?"

And when you tell him that you're concerned about his work situation, does he say something like:

"I can understand why you're concerned about my not having health insurance and regular hours. I've been thinking about trying to get into nonprofit administration so that I can stay true to my values but have better job options. What do you think?"


"I know this matters a lot to you. I've been trying to think about a better way to match my qualifications and degrees with an industry or field that I morally support. I'm a little stuck, but I've made an appointment with [my grad school/law school/college]'s career services office to talk about my options."

And so on. Because that's extremely kind and reasonable. Kind and reasonable responses take into account both personalities, and both sets of preferences, and they look for ways to give each person some of what they want. It is neither kind nor reasonable to have an attitude of, "I know that my habits bother you, but having these habits is part of who I am." You're not asking him to reject his values and abandon his interests, but rather to build a life that reflects both of your values and interests.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:28 AM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm in my 40's, but I learned this the hard way, back when I was 20: Living together = married.

I don't think it's totally unreasonable for your BF to say that you moving out will be taken as a breakup. I don't see that as an ultimatum. It would probably be an assumption that most outsiders will make, in fact.

However, based on what you've written, I'm thinking that you should do it anyway and let the chips fall where they may. Roommate compatibility is an important part of a relationship, and you've already got serious fractures there. Plus, you sound kind of excited about this move. And you are still so young!

You are thinking about this correctly: you can move out AND continue dating him. It doesn't have to be a forever thing. If he breaks up over it, then that's on him. But don't be surprised if he doesn't follow through on this threat. Good luck!
posted by see_change at 11:13 AM on August 28, 2013

I'm in my 40's, but I learned this the hard way, back when I was 20: Living together = married.

Haha! see_change, I could say, with complete confidence:

I'm in my 50s, but I learned this the hard way, five years ago: Living together does not equal married.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:49 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're 25 years old. You're not compatible. Move on. It's pain now, or more pain later. I sense that you're feeling suffocated by the thought of staying with him, and hopeful and excited at the thought of getting away for a fresh start.

Move, start living the lifestyle you want to live, and you can each decide if staying together while living apart is working for you.

Don't get talked into staying with him, when your inner voice is telling you it's not right for you.
posted by ravioli at 10:27 AM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

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