I have. He has not. What to do?
January 17, 2016 7:27 PM   Subscribe

I own my own home outright. My boyfriend owns little, save for an older vehicle, and some heirloom furniture and general stuff. He has a pre-teen son, bad credit, and student loan debt. He's even still married, but they haven't been together for 10 years, and his ex has been with her partner the entire time. He's had a gf in between that break-up and even that relationship was over years before we met. He's done a lot of soul-searching and soul-work since then. We've been together for almost a year and a half, and he's a good man. I'm just still... leery about moving in together. He's a slob, and, 'like father, like son'... so I'd really be taking on a huge project. Snowflakes inside:

He's made great progress this year: financially (went from shared living accommodations to an autonomous living space), and emotionally (some depression mixed with grief, anxiety, and the occasional panic attack), but he's only managed to save enough to possibly not worry about his next month's rent. His sole focus is doing right for his son, and I have never been on top of that list... which is how it should be... right?

As far as the tidiness issue goes, he says that he is fine with me organizing things and getting things up to a 'my standard' (as he puts it - I just call it being organized so that living takes less work - in other words, I'm lazy that way but clean and tidy) - and then doing his best to keep with the system. It's just getting that system organized with his limited time and energy has been too overwhelming for him, and I've seen it as 'his job' to figure out. I have tried really, really hard to be helpful, but not his saviour. I've had to set some strict boundaries about what I'm willing to give of myself financially, and the decision to NOT worry about his domestic issues came easy... when I'm not there all the time.

He finally said to me, "I just don't know what I need to do - please tell me what I need to do," when I stated for the umpteenth time that there simply was "no room" for me because he hadn't made any for me in his space. I have pointed things out before, but he never did anything about them. This time, I specifically stated that he needed to not just move all of the papers and other 'stuff' off of every piece of living room furniture and deal with them - not just place them on another surface. This is just one step to the possibility of me bringing in just one piece of furniture. This time, he actually seems to be doing just that. Even shredding and filing stuff.

After actually only a year and 3 months (now that I think about it), he wants our relationship to move forward, and he even talked about our "impending living together" arrangement at dinner last night. I was speechless. I've been living all of this time thinking that we could work well together, but thinking that it would never happen - and kind-of being thankful that I wouldn't be jumping into the responsibility too soon. We've even had brief moments when either one of us felt like running in the opposite direction.

Yes, I want to sell my condo. It bothers me that I hadn't sold it years ago, and it seems to be the right time. I like the idea of having a partnership and a family to raise, but we have never lived together before. I know that it would be a lot of work, but I'm almost ok with that. My concerns are mostly financial. We get along well. His son likes me. But we haven't tried to make it work as a family in the same household. I'm not going in to this thinking that it's all going to be roses, but I think it could be, nice.

We talk about buying a house together, but that will never happen if he doesn't fix his credit, or divorce his wife. ... and then, there's my savings... if I don't buy something right away, we/I could get priced out of the market - but I can't afford a house without his help in this area. I don't mind keeping the money for a while, but I'm afraid that I could be persuaded to spend more in rent if the situation changes... and then, where would I be? What if I feel like I've jumped in too deep? What if I realize that I don't want that domesticity, and he's not capable of keeping up his end in so many ways?

I have never, and will not consider renting my condo out. I'd rather sell it and be rid of it. The time is right. I could move in (I will definitely be storing some stuff) with my parents, but that doesn't usually work unless there is a definite plan for when I plan to leave (possibly as much for me, as for them). That would have to be temporary. Once the condo is sold, I could also rent a place of my own and have less restriction as to location and price, as my bf refuses to move his son from the school district unless he ends up forced to make that decision due to finances. ~ Or I could choose to be accepted into a family and become a part of it... with all of the frustrations and joys and work that will entail.

Please help me see things with new eyes!
posted by itsflyable to Human Relations (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You honestly sound like someone who is, against your better judgement, trying to sell yourself on this guy and failing. Nothing you say sounds loving or enthusiastic about the future, just one compromise after another.
posted by 4ster at 7:32 PM on January 17, 2016 [116 favorites]

Are there things you do like about this guy? Are there good reasons to move in together? This sounds like a lot of shit to take on.
posted by k8t at 7:34 PM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't make any sudden moves about selling your own paid-up place. I agree with the others that you have a lot of reservations here, with reason. You could sell up and the proceeds could vanish into the black hole of his disorganization.
posted by zadcat at 7:41 PM on January 17, 2016 [11 favorites]

It's one thing to not feel like #1--because he is a father, it is the right thing for him to put his child before anyone else.

But it sounds like he doesn't really put you.... anywhere on the list. Like, there's literally no place for you to sit and he can't get himself to make one for you by moving stuff around?

There must be good qualities about this man (though they sure don't come across in your writing) and from the way you describe him, it seems like he's just incredibly disorganized and disempowered, and that spills over into how he engages with you, or at least the practicalities of involving you in his life.

I think it's perfectly legitimate to think someone is a wonderful person on some levels but to be completely and totally unwilling to partner up with them seriously, if it means having to be the one to deal with all the shit they can't seem to handle as mature adults. In this case it sounds like, well, pretty much every adult responsibility.

What exactly would you be getting out of this arrangement?
posted by Sublimity at 7:41 PM on January 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

Naw. Get a house and get a roommate. If you want to be part of his family, I would suggest three things:

1. Read up on the relationship escalator. You don't have to move in to be emotionally close with someone.

2. I would not make it about him changing anymore. He's not going to change. It's not healthy for you to be constantly in the position of arbiter of him being Good Enough. Just decide that you're not interested, be firm about it, and reassure him that you care about him and will be an ongoing part of his life. And..

3. Spend more time over there. Have dinner with him and his son. Do it all without the pressure of "will I move in or won't I?" Maybe have one night a week you always spend there. You can be a nice part of his and his son's life without the stress of living together.

As someone who has experienced blending families, it's really stressful. It'll be hard on you, him, and his son. That would possibly be worth it if you were really enthusiastic about it, but you're not. And honestly, I think it's great that you have these people to spend time with! You don't have to move in to be warm, loving, and caring with each other.

It'll also be just so much easier on his son not to have a difficult and stressful family blending until you're all really ready.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:43 PM on January 17, 2016 [36 favorites]

You sound frazzled- overwhelmed by the work of being in a relationship, maintaining a home, owning real estate, all of it. What is your ultimate goal? What do you dream of? You need to do what you need to do to build the life you want. If you truly want a life with this guy, you can figure out details like bad credit and home organization. But you don't have to if you don't want to. You have to figure out what you want, and act accordingly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:46 PM on January 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, I mean...I don't want to be a jerk, but no one should be rushing to make a new family when there's a child involved. If it goes wrong, he's going to be really disrupted.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:50 PM on January 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

It would be one thing if he was "the tidy one" while you were "the financial planner." But you can't be the one who manages all the things without growing resentful. You don't mention anything like "but it will be such a relief to let him take on house repairs." Without a few areas where his competence will complement yours, it doesn't seem like you could avoid growing resentful and feeling like "I knew this would happen."
posted by salvia at 7:51 PM on January 17, 2016 [36 favorites]

What you say he is doing is what seems to me to be pretty minimal, and he hasn't been doing it all that long. He sounds like a big project. There's no way I'd take that on. You may want a family, but this sounds like raising two kids, one just bigger than the other. What I feel like you're describing is a guy who wants you to take over all the work rather than doing the hard stuff himself.

Go ahead and sell your condo. That's a completely different thing than moving in together. If you really like the guy, give him some more time* and the space (and a little encouragement) to get his act completely together.

*Time as in no less than 18 months. And some pretty significant changes!
posted by BlueHorse at 7:51 PM on January 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Dear god, draw the line at divorce. As in, he doesn't divorce his wife, you never move in together. Ever.

This is just common sense and if he balks at it, he's totaly unreasonable. Everything else is so far down the priority list as to be almost immaterial- divorce takes a while in most states anyway.
posted by quincunx at 7:56 PM on January 17, 2016 [60 favorites]

I would not move in with someone who was married to someone else. Not because it sounds like there's any reason to be jealous or think the marriage isn't really over. But you're talking about sharing your life with someone who clearly doesn't have his own life together as an adult in the way that makes you feel comfortable. And for me, the fact that he hasn't been able to get it together enough to file divorce papers for a decade would be example #1 of not having it together. Do not move in with him until you believe that he is ready to be an equal partner to you. That means that he doesn't ask you what he needs to do; he figures it out himself, like an adult.

It may be that you're simply incompatible, that you have different values around money and tidyness and family structure and communication. But it sounds like, right now, he doesn't really know what his values are, because he hasn't figured out what he wants his life to look like. He's not ready to work with you to figure out whether and how to form a family together, because he hasn't worked on himself enough to figure out his own life. No matter what he says, he's not ready. The fact that he's messy, or that he doesn't have savings, or that he's still married, or that he's trying to make decisions about your future without consulting you, are all just symptoms of the bigger problem.

(And yeah, 18 months of dating is way too soon for you to become a stepmother. Which is what you would be if you moved in. No matter how much his son likes you (and maybe even especially if his son likes you and would be hurt to lose you), that's too soon.)
posted by decathecting at 7:58 PM on January 17, 2016 [23 favorites]

Oh, also, do not share finances with a man who is married to someone else, because you have no way of knowing without consulting a lawyer whether you may accidentally be comingling your personal funds with marital funds in a way that could be really problematic and put your assets at risk. IAAL, IANYL, IANAdivorceL, TINLA. So in addition to not moving in, that means no joint bank accounts or joint purchases of any kind.
posted by decathecting at 8:00 PM on January 17, 2016 [65 favorites]

For me the no-divorce thing would be a big deal, but you don't sound worried about it. You should talk to a lawyer/financial person first, though, to make sure one or the other of you doesn't inadvertently create a much more complicated situation that could have been prevented with a little planning.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:02 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think you have to separate out the condo question from the relationship question, for now.

Because right now, this guy is not going to be an equal partner and I strongly suggest you do not plan a life shared with someone who doesn't take care of his own adult business. That includes divorce papers and everything else. If he is not running as fast as he can towards that because he wants to marry you, then...ehn.

I agree his child needs to be his top priority and maybe that's what he can handle right now.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:03 PM on January 17, 2016 [13 favorites]

I don't see anything in your whole question that makes this seem like a good idea. He might be a nice man, but why would you want to take the work of running his household?? It will be SO MUCH work and especially with a kid involved, it will be thankless. It's right for his kid to be his priority, but this won't feel good when you're living together under one roof (and you're going to be the only one doing the work of making it decent...) I don't see the upside.

(I see a big upside for HIM, that is, but not for you.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:05 PM on January 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

Nope. This sends up all kinds of red flags to me. You sound like a grown up, and he sounds like a teenager. I'm glad he's doing right by his kid, but you're right to be leery. Yes, his kid should come first, but if you had real standing, there would be fewer moments where it was a choice between the two: he would be finding ways to show up for both of you.

It sounds to me like you do all the showing up, and he's kind of floating along with the current. You have your life together. Do you want to bring your life together with someone who will only make room for you when you're frustrated and only knows how to do it if you tell him how? Imagine that dynamic in 5 years, or 10. How does that feel?

Peace out of there, friend.
posted by spindrifter at 8:05 PM on January 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I just want to echo what some other folks have mentioned about this seeming like a situation where you aren't very happy. You haven't really mentioned what draws you to this person or what makes you love him despite the difficulties your relationship poses. That, to me, is a little bit of an indication of where your head is at. Are you maybe trying to convince yourself that you don't really have to do this? Because if you need permission, well, let me tell you: You don't really need to do this. Not even if you really deeply love this man and his son. In fact, it will be a lot worse if you do it and then realize you've made a mistake, particularly for the son.

All relationships take work, but the kind of work where you feel like you are constantly "the responsible adult" is the kind that will having you feeling resentful before long. I don't think tangling your finances and living space up with this (albeit surely wonderful and nice person in many other respects) is really what you want in your heart. He just doesn't have it "together" in a way that you can respect. You are probably going to generally be the one pushing for changes, improvements, and personal growth. It's okay to not really want to. Wanting not to is a good enough reason.
posted by araisingirl at 8:09 PM on January 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Hi. I was that guy a couple of years ago. I was a single parent, had really bad credit (and tax problems) and was in a nasty divorce. My girlfriend had her own condo, a career and was pretty on the spot financially. The things I did to resolve issues was to: declare bankruptcy to clear my bad debt, deal with the IRS regarding my taxes and wait a couple of more years to make sure the whole shebang would work. When I got around to proposing (because I wasn't married anymore) I was at least stable enough to keep a clean apartment and take care of my kid. I offered to pony up some cash to buy the house we would live in--even though I borrowed it.

My girlfriend didn't ask me to do those things--I just did them because it was right. I wasn't going to get married with a bunch of debt and I wasn't going to allow her to foot the total bill for the housing even though I couldn't get a mortgage. I took the steps--on my own--to make the situation as right as possible. I certainly wouldn't have talked about it until I was ready to make sure I was getting the fresh start that was required to start a new life with someone.

Don't let the talk distract you, though. For a year or so we talked about her getting a two flat and renting the other place to me. It sounded romantic and it might have been a good idea but ultimately we didn't go that route.

If he isn't willing to do those steps on his own then no--cut him loose. Doesn't want to go through the hassle (and expense) of divorce? no. Doesn't want to get a handle on his finances without you telling him to do so? no. Doesn't want to pay for cleaning up his messes on his own? no.

"His sole focus is doing right for his son, and I have never been on top of that list... which is how it should be... right?"

Um, no. Yeah raising a kid is a lot of work and very important but if he's not including you in the plan then it's a major red flag. Sooner or later the kid will be old enough to be on their own and will leave him. You, on the other hand, are a lifetime partner. If he doesn't see it that way then ... no.
posted by lester at 8:25 PM on January 17, 2016 [25 favorites]

Wow, this guy has it made if you move in. A live in maid, mummy, financial planner, provider, life coach. And for all of this, you'll hit the jackpot too! You'll get a massive pile of...resentment. You'll be financially, emotionally and physically depleted having to be his everything. I could think of very few things that sound like a worse idea, unless you count that at the end of this, when it all falls apart, he takes half of your stuff as well. All of this for a man child who considers you so little that he has to be cajoled into moving a pile of his crap so you have somewhere to sit, much less anything else. No. Just no. Find a grownup. And figure out why you're attracted to someone who so clearly isn't.
posted by Jubey at 10:15 PM on January 17, 2016 [20 favorites]

I just want to thank everyone who took the time to respond this evening. It has been food for thought. Most things, I have thought of before, but to hear them reiterated from others in kind gives them more weight again. Lester, thank you so much for your side of things. It's nice to hear that it's possible that he could be ready, in his own time and way, at some point.

Thank you decathecting, for stating that "No matter what he says, he's not ready." That's so true. He oscillates between decisions quite a bit, so I've found... but when the time is right, things just seem to fall together. They aren't quite falling together yet, and very likely, I'm not ready yet, either - but this is a process that will likely take all year anyway. I haven't yet put my place on the market, and I would really like to spend more time with the two of them first, to see how that goes.

As for everyone who said to wait for the divorce, well, that is exactly what I have stated in the past in regards to living together. He does seem to have it in mind to do that, along with using his extra funds to fix his credit. He's getting closer to being able to have that semi-diposable income to do so. I am not going to finance it. I have also not been a stickler for insisting that he do it, because again, I felt that was 'up to him' - and I knew that I would one day either decide to quit hanging around, or he would have changed a few things on his own - because he is capable, and he wanted to do it. -and I'm only saying changing the legal things, like marital status, credit, and loans. I never expected him to change his messiness. I do, however, expect him to go through his own papers and decide what stays and what goes. I think it is a cleansing process and helps a person to re-focus.
I suppose I got a little soft on the divorce point, though, and changed that to "we aren't going to buy anything together" until he's divorced. Maybe I should bring back that harder boundary, and not even live together... hm... thinking about that one... probably a good idea. ~ Yes, I had been waiting for a clear sign that he wants to move forward, and I've got that sign, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen right away. We will just have to have a few more conversations and see how things go first. It could still be an oscillation - but now starting to lean in a particular direction.

Thank you, internet fraud detective squad, station number 9, I've been doing #2 and #3, but I hadn't heard of the "relationship escalator". Mind you, since I have already been divorced, and then later widowed by the person I felt was the 'One', I feel like I've lived my life completely backwards. I had resigned myself to living independently - which isn't such a bad thing! :) I think this is partly why I am hesitant, too... not because I don't think this man is a good match for me, but because I would miss my independence so much!
posted by itsflyable at 10:37 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

A duplex. And maybe not one that you purchase, but rather one that either of you rents side by side -- if you purchase it, and this guy hasn't yet got his feet planted, it'd be oh so easy for him to say "Oh Sugar Bear, I just don't have my part of the mortgage this month, and I know you're sitting on bags of dough so's how 'bout you picking up my slack just this one time?" Rinse, repeat; rinse, repeat, ad nauseam.

A duplex would be nice, in that it has a common wall. I'd not rent it unless a door could be installed in that common wall, a door with a lock on both sides, maybe a window set into the door but curtains on both sides of the window (or damn sure on your side anyways), plus maybe a pet door that'd allow the dogs and/or cats freedom to wander side to side. I just think that it'd be so great to compete for the dog or cat or both, compete for their attention I mean, and their loyalty, and which side of the duplex were they most comfortable, with both you and your sweetie upping the ante day by day -- nicer treats, belly rubs, ear scratching, on and on. Then, as you see how that works out, you could set to giving each other nicer treats, and belly rubs, and ear scratching, etc and etc.

In a duplex, you can keep order and sanity, and he can continue to be something of a mess, until he learns not to be a mess, if he ever does. Myself, I have a fair idea of where my postage stamps are, and a general feel as to how many stamps I might have; I've dated women who knew exactly where her stamps are, and how many she has, and where her favorite pen is, on and on. Frightening people. I show up late sometimes, and then I notice I've got mustard on my tie, I'm walking around not knowing that I've got a streamer of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe....
posted by dancestoblue at 12:46 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I know this is sort of a pile-on here, but trust your gut. Presumably the reason you are leery of moving in is that it's a terrible deal for you. Living with a teenager is trying at best, and living with another adult who doesn't take on their share of adult responsibilities without prompting can be beyond infuriating. I especially wouldn't do any mixing of finances whatsoever (including living together) until he is 100% actually divorced and you are MUCH more confident in your future together.
posted by ktkt at 2:05 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Listen to what he's saying. He wants you to fix him. Still married after ten years? Can't manage to clean and organize his living space? Has a child that's for following in dad's steps???? Honey, he can be a nice guy, probably is, but he's never going to be able to contribute to the relationship in the ways you want and need him to. Please do not tie yourself to this guy in any way. And for pity's sake, do not let him move in with you!!! You will never get him out, and the situation will spiral downward in ways you can not even imagine. You've made a valient effort to help him, and in small ways, had some success, but the reality is that you will end up carrying the weight of the financial and care giving aspects of the relationship, and that sucks.

Get your house, make your plans, but keep your own best interests at the top of your priorities. Suggest to your guy that he get some therapy. He needs to get a grip on his life and learn to be a real grownup.
posted by LaBellaStella at 3:22 AM on January 18, 2016 [12 favorites]

Approaching this from an odd slant, because you wanted fresh eyes, maybe your boyfriend needs a platonic roommate to help with the rent, but not you.
posted by puddledork at 6:17 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Do you want to bring your life together with someone who will only make room for you when you're frustrated and only knows how to do it if you tell him how?

OMG yes. A person who doesn't look around at the two of you and say, "Hey, we both have king size beds, they won't both fit in my house, do you want to sell your mattress or should I?" . . . is not an adult. A person who needs to be told that they must be legally free from another person before you will join together legally with them (in a lease or mortgage) . . . is not an adult.

That's all it comes down to really. Do you want to move in with another adult with a teenage child, or two teenagers?
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:45 AM on January 18, 2016 [11 favorites]

Give him a copy of Clean Like a Man, wish him well, and say goodbye!
posted by jgirl at 7:26 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

You deserve to have standards, and you owe it to yourself to keep those standards! If you had 'the one' before, accept nothing less. You know what you need!
posted by wwartorff at 7:54 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm in a long term relationship with a guy who started out like your guy and it works for me but with certain notable differences. We don't live together. We don't share finances. We're very committed and we live a few hours away from each other. This works for both of us but it might not work for you.

So, the big deal for me was that he was still involved (not like sleeping together but basically still entangled financially, think sharing a car and finances) with his son's mother when we met. Same story as you, they'd been in other relationships and were not intimates but he still somewhat supported her because it had always been that way. His credit was bad. He was a mess about money. His house was a mess. My line in the sand was until they financially disentangled I would not be willing to make the relationship any more committed and stuck to that. Any other "Oh we should really do blablabla" talk (and one of the things I love about this guy is his optimism) would be met with "There is some other stuff that needs to happen first" and part of it was really that I'm an anxious type and wanted everything to happen NOW. And some of it was always that he was sort of passive and I got a lot of the "Just tell me what to do" stuff which was a non-starter.

So it took a while and the main thing I want to tell you is that

1. this guy better be WORTH IT. I think my guy is. We've both done a lot of work on the relationship and on ourselves but mine was a lot of working on anxiety and his was a lot more "getting out of bad debt" sorts of things

2. When he really broke off all the entanglements from his son's mom (they weren't married and had an unofficial arrangement which I made him make official) she started acting like they were breaking up even though they'd been split up for a decade or more. Man that was unpleasant and somewhat unexpected. But I wouldn't not expect it again.

3. Progress that is not caused/created by you need to be visible on his end, whatever that means. Over time my guy worked on his credit, did smarter things with his discretionary income, took a hard look at his finances and has really turned that ship around. He's still not great in the savings department but he has managed a lot of it and has a lifestyle where it works for him and for me.

The big deal for me is that we have the same "squad goals" for the most part. Life threw him some curveballs that were sort of choices and sort of not (his son still lives at home and is managing a mental illness and that's been challenging on top of everything) and we've been able to rise to those challenges because there is more "free space" in our relationship (and free money and free time) to work on that. When you're always in triage mentality you never get to work on higher level concerns. A guy who doesn't even have enough money to get a divorce needs to really work on some shit, imo (and the divorce may make his money situation worse... or possibly better!) and so you're putting off dealing with other things (again, in my opinion) because you keep having to bail water, you don't get to enjoy the ride in the boat.
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 AM on January 18, 2016 [8 favorites]

The 'keeping his son a number one priority' thing is a bit of a red herring, in my experience. My husband was a lot like your guy---no furniture or belongings to speak of, divorce still in process and young child. But there are a few things to understand about situations like this:

1) The divorce might never be 'done.' I think people who have never been through this don't understand what a complex process this is. His divorce actually was final before I moved in, but then he had an informal custody arrangement that he wanted to make more formal, and then he got an interim order for that, and that had to be adjusted etc. And each step involved trying to negotiate with the ex, unsuccessfully, then filing a motion, then getting a date for a case conference etc. Five years later, he has only just gotten a deal worked out (at last!) for a longer-term plan.

2) One of the child's needs is for a family. This is a tough one for many men to wrap their heads around. His child is a boy too. My husband is his male role model. He is going to base the template for his future relationships in life on how he sees his father behave toward me (in other words, how he should treat his romantic partner) and how I behave toward his father (how he should expect a partner to treat him). Therefore, the most important thing my husband should do to outnhis child first is to do the necessary maintaince work on his relationship with ME. We are the family he is going to base his own family on!

So, some food for thought. But making his kid a priority does not mean treating you like dirt. Just FYI :-)
posted by JoannaC at 10:17 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Frankly, living alone after a divorce is extremely pleasurable, and I happen to love it! There's nothing that says that as you get older you need to live with another adult. Rather, I think one of the best things about getting older is that I am secure enough and able to manage my own affairs enough to live alone. Frankly, I'm going to have an extremely difficult time moving back in with someone else. It's not because I can't live with other people, because I can, it's that I simply enjoy living alone. There's nothing wrong with that at all.

To some extent, life is about enjoying ourselves while trying to avoid hurting other people, is it not? You living alone hurts no one, and you enjoy it. Why feel guilty?

If this man tries to frame it as though it is hurting him, I would seriously question whether there is some underlying mental health issue that is causing him to put so much pressure on you and make you responsible for his happiness and well-being.

On that note, I might be off base, but given the issues that he seems to have with discarding personal possessions, you should consider looking into reading about hoarders, and see if anything rings a bell.

Hoarding can both be a behavior, and a disorder. So sometimes someone with an issue like ADHD or depression can have an apartment that is full of things that they need to get rid of. Since it's overwhelming, they never do it, and things just get worse. But with some help and some structure, they can typically clean things out and improve. Obviously, there would still be a lot of work and a huge burden on you to maintain things, but if it is something like ADHD that is causing his issues, he might in fact benefit from an outside organizational structure. That said, you need to not be the person who is doing all of this on his behalf. You already sound resentful, and that's not a good situation for anyone.

However, hoarding, the disorder, if he is dealing with it, is a very serious and very difficult to deal with disorder that would not likely get better any time soon. The fact that he is pushing you to move in despite it not being a great idea for you, and the fact that he is seemingly already heading towards blaming you for the lack of organization and structure in his life, points to hoarding (the disorder). Hoarding, the disorder, is essentially an issue like a gambling addiction. It leads to a lot of compulsive behavior, a lot of blame of others, a lot of manipulative behavior to keep the addiction going, a lot of denial of the negative effects the addiction has on others, and a very difficult experience for anyone who is living with the person who hoards.

Anyway, if you suspected that hoarding or similar might be an issue, and I think that it might because so much of this question revolves around his stuff, I would do some research on the topic, and continue to resist his attempts to move you in. Interestingly enough, hoarders sometimes feel a psychological compulsion to add people to their physical space, not just things. That might account for some of the pressure you're getting.

Again, could be totally off base, just something to consider.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:50 AM on January 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Unfortunately it sounds like this guy wants a mom, not an equal partner. I would hold out for someone who can meet you where you are and who brings as much to the table as you do. Honestly, relationships don't have to be THIS much work and struggle.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

This guy's inability to adult probably had a lot to do with why he's divorced now. His (not yet) ex-wife probably got tired of being his mother, and I wouldn't be in a big hurry to step into that role either. The fact that he can't even find the motivation to file divorce paperwork after a DECADE says this is a long-term ground-in character trait of being helpless and waiting for someone else to fix things for him. In no way would that be something I'd want to entangle my finances with.
posted by MsMolly at 12:21 PM on January 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well, again, "Thank You!" :) for all of your responses.

I just told him that I'm not ready to move in together, that I'm not even sure that I'm ready to sell my condo, and that I still need my own space to be able to live in a healthy way for me.

He understood, and agreed.

Phew! That's a weight off my shoulders. He hadn't been pressuring me. He had just been more open to the possibility, if I were to sell. I know that I could still sell, but although the market timing might be right, I'm just not ready.
posted by itsflyable at 10:56 AM on January 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

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