Boyfriend and I want to move in together, but...
August 2, 2017 4:42 PM   Subscribe

We are both 24 and have been dating since around April, though we have a history together. I live in my own apartment and am struggling about financially, and he just moved to the city I'm in (our hometown) to live with his parents and go back to school. He has debt and isn't very respknaible, but I do love him and want to live with him. What should be my stipulations about moving in together?

We are both 24. Basically we met at 14 and dated for 9 months when we were 14-15. I broke up with him due to probably just being too young, though I regretted it deeply. Anyway, we both got into long term relationships after each other for about 4 years, and went separate ways after high school and didn't talk at all. He went away to school 2 hours from our home town while I stayed at home and went to community college. I got my associates in general studies, not sure what I want to transfer that into, but got an office job and just in April finally moved into my own apartment by myself. He ended up being very unsure what to pursue in school, changed majors many times, eventually flunked out, and over the winter decided to move back to our hometown after being gone for 6 years. His plan was to move back in with his parents to save money and then go to culinary school at the community college for 1.5 years.

He Facebook messaged me in March, asking how I was. After a week and a half of messaging, he came up for a school appointment and we met up. Basically, it went amazingly, we got along really well, and he came up the next weekend to spend the day with me. Long story short we are back together, it was official in May, he has lived 2 hours away but came up at least a couple times a week over these past months and I've also gone down to visit him. Things are going really well, and feel really right between us. We are just natural together.

Anyways, yesterday he finally moved up here and into his parents basement. He starts school in 3 weeks and is looking for a job. We have talked about moving in together at some point. I actually am looking for a second job as I can't handle all these bills like I thought I could. And it does seem a bit early for us to move in together and I don't want to move too fast, and neither does he, but he also is depressed about moving into a really tiny room at his parents with his 3 siblings when he used to share a house with a roommate. He also isn't very responsible with his money which is the big thing... he is "behind on bills" he says and still needs to pay off stuff. He owes a couple hundred for a pocket watch he bought and never paid off. I don't know how many bills he owes on, but his phone is constantly ringing from collectors calling him. I on the other hand am extremely responsible with my money, I budget on my mint app and keep track of all expenses and bills on a spreadsheet, and am never late on a bill. He also is extremely messy, like I don't think he ever swept at him house or hardly cleaned, while I am really neat and organized. I like cleaning. I just forsee some issues...

Anyway I saw him last night after his first night at his parents, and he seemed really unhappy. Him room is tiny, he's missing all his friends back at his college town and his old job... I hope he can be happy here. I love him in so many other ways but I just wish he was more responsible. We talked a little more about moving in together someday and when it might happen, and I just said I thought he needed to pay off his debt first and that I wanted us to both contribute equally ideally. I felt like he kinda hinted or wanted me to say it would be okay if he moved in rent free for a while until he could contribute. But he will be going to school full time in the fall and probably won't make very much serving.

I don't know. I do really care about and love this guy, and we are right in so many levels except for this. I just think we were raised differently, as I come from a family with not a lot of money, mom in pretty and dad very cheap, and have to pay for my own schooling while he comes from a family of 2 pharmacists whom pay for his schooling and just have a lot. What do you guys think?
posted by anon1129 to Human Relations (65 answers total)
Of course it works for him to move in with your rent-free but it does nothing for you (in terms of taking the relationship at your own speed or dealing with your financial stress) to have him move i with you. Don't do it now - stick your position that he should be financially stable and able to contribute to rent before you move in together. (You can bend this later if he shows that he is otherwise financially responsible but don't tell him that - wait for him to prove it.)

Love is great but at this early stage you need the freedom to do what is right for you emotionally without the complication of having the guy living with you rent-free (and thus hard to evict if you do need to break up and preventing you from explore other ways to share the cost of the apartment if needed.)
posted by metahawk at 4:49 PM on August 2, 2017 [43 favorites]

This is a nightmare waiting to happen. You haven't even moved in together and he's already hinting at wanting to mooch off you. If it starts like this, how bad do you think it's going to be when it ends? This guy will ruin your credit rating and lord knows what else. It will get so, so ugly and there's a huge backlog of AskMe questions of people who have not listened to their gut on this issue and paid the price. If you want a reality check, have a read of a few.

If your boyfriend needs a room mate, it can be one whose legally able to boot him out for non payment of rent and who won't be expected to pay for his food and lodging. Let him find one of those. He needs to grow up but that doesn't mean you have to be his mother to get him there. Say no and don't feel even a bit bad about it.
posted by Jubey at 4:51 PM on August 2, 2017 [65 favorites]

I don't know. I do really care about and love this guy, and we are right in so many levels except for this.

But you do know! You know very well. You know this won't be a good situation for you and you're correct. You're doubting yourself because it's nice to have a boyfriend and this guy is a known quantity who's right here. But you know that's not enough. Trust your instincts.
posted by bleep at 4:56 PM on August 2, 2017 [25 favorites]

Oh dear. The only way this is going to end is in a future Ask about how to get him to clean up after himself and help with the bills and then another future Ask about how to get rid of him.

The only thing you are going to get out of this is more bills and more housework.

Do not do this. Full Stop.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 5:00 PM on August 2, 2017 [33 favorites]

Kudos to you for noticing every red flag that this guy is sending up! It seems that the one issue you have in your life—not being able to handle your bills as well as you thought you could—would be worsened by having him move in, not helped. There's no upside in you moving in together now. If he one day turns things around, you can reassess the situation.
posted by ejs at 5:04 PM on August 2, 2017 [16 favorites]

Don't do this. Assuming the best, you should wait for him to get a job, get serious about school and build some history with you. Being messy and irresponsible with money when you're young (especially when you're poor in a difficult economy) doesn't mean that you'll always be that way, but if he's going to grow, let him grow some before he moves in with you.
posted by Frowner at 5:07 PM on August 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

oh my God, no.

I'm so glad you asked this because it shows you know it is a bad idea. And everyone here (particularly people who have gone down this road) will agree: no, don't do this.

Good for you for being a hard and careful saver and worker. You can care about him and even be his girlfriend without living with him and most certainly without taking him on as an unpaid tenant. Maybe he'll get better about saving, planning and paying! Then you can think about moving in. And if he doesn't, boy will you have dodged a bullet.

And by the way, it's NOT normal to have collectors calling you when you're only 24 and it's not something that can be explained away by a class difference. My teen and college years were spent as a privileged daughter of an upper middle class family, and I never ever had such a thing happen. Neither did any of my friends.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:14 PM on August 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

And by the way, it's NOT normal to have collectors calling you when you're only 24 and it's not something that can be explained away by a class difference.

I had lots of collectors calling me when I was 24. Not having any money when you're a kid means you don't understand how things like credit work.

But yeah, don't move in together. Moving in is only a solution when the problem is two people both living in (and paying for) apartments or houses that are too big for one person. And, just reiterating what's been said already, but adding a combined financial responsibility to your relationship can only make things worse and lead to resentment.
posted by runcibleshaw at 5:24 PM on August 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

I've never regretted NOT having my ex who was not good with money move in with me. I would have regretted the shit out of it if I had. I would have been drained dry and been his money nanny. You can date him and boink him, but for the love of god don't live with or marry him unless he has drastic improvements in this area.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:25 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

You have not listed a single upside to him moving in with you.
His being unhappy because his room is tiny is NOT a good reason to move in, ever. And moving in with you will not make him stop missing his friends, old house, city, etc.

Moving in would be a surefire way to derail this relationship. Please don't do it.
posted by Neekee at 5:26 PM on August 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Financial skills and cleanliness are both legitimate potential dealbreakers. Living within his means is a good skill that shows maturity and sense.

Let him reap what he sowed for a while. A year or more. If you want to help teach him how to budget, ok. If you want to keep dating him while he grows, ok.

But don't let him move in till he can pay his half! And not just once or twice, but permanently. Since he is demonstrated repeatedly that he is bad with money, adding his problems to yours will only drag you down. Ask him to show bank account balances and be honest about debts before you even consider letting him move in. Practically and protecting yourself vastly outweighs romance here.

Of course he wants to live rent and responsibilities free! But you don't want to and shouldn't be his mommy, maid, shelter, and girlfriend. This is not a partnership at that point, but a parasite.

Hopefully he will learn and grow, but as of right now, yall are really different in terms of life skills.
posted by Jacen at 5:45 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I do have a question - in what way has he hinted that he wants to live with you rent-free? I ask because I see this so often (and have these tendencies myself) - this tendency to want to anticipate desires (even unreasonable ones) and fulfill them because I want them to be happy (and happy with me) and stay. Even if it's unhealthy/not sustainable for me.

Totally possible I'm reading too much into this/projecting. But I wanted to offer that my happiest relationships have been the ones where the giving is a bit more balanced.
posted by superlibby at 5:46 PM on August 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nope nope nope. He'll bankrupt you and your credit will be screwed for years after he's gone. If he pays off his debt, gets a job, and earns 3x his share of the rent, then you can move in with him. In the meantime sounds like you can't afford your place either.... living with a mooch will make it much worse. Leave that place and get a cheaper place with a nice responsible housemate who pays their rent in full and knows how to clean.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:48 PM on August 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

From your brief description, in some ways he's like I was at that age - I'd hesitate to call him a moocher, but he definitely needs to learn something about doing his own adulting.

That includes working through, dealing with, & getting over stuff by himself without continual outside support (except when absolutely needed - or, if you like, understanding the difference between a "hand up" and a "hand out", and how living together is neither). Stuff like handling debts, living within his income (and dealing with the compromises that forces on you), or even simple things like the connection between not cleaning or picking up after himself and being surrounded by mess…

Moving back home, while maybe necessary for him in the short-term, is in many ways avoiding all that. Moving in with you as his 'substitute adult' would be the same.

Frowner's comment is spot-on.
posted by Pinback at 5:55 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hell to the no.

You should start looking for a roommate ASAP -- if not for your current apartment then to get a 2BR as soon as your lease allows. Living alone is expensive, but the solution is not to add someone who doesn't seem able to meaningfully contribute to the household.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:59 PM on August 2, 2017 [10 favorites]

I was recently asked for advice I would give my twentysomething self, and it was "stop moving in with boys because ehhhh it seems convenient; get a really good roommate with boundaries and BE a really good roommate with boundaries and let your feckless boyfriends do the same (or whatever the hell they want to do because it's not your problem)."
posted by Lyn Never at 6:02 PM on August 2, 2017 [16 favorites]

He should get himself together at his parents' house. You should get a roommate who isn't him. The both of you can keep dating without living together. All problems solved.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:04 PM on August 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

I think your ideas of "what needs to happen before you move in together" are really good ones. I would add one more, specifically about cleaning:
1) All personal debts are paid off (ie, car payments and school loans don't count against him)
2) He has a reliable steady job that allows him to pay for 50% of all shared expenses on time
3) He agrees to share household duties equally - that likely means that needs to commit to cleaning up regularly, either of his own volition or by paying for a maid service (if that would work for you)

He sounds like a good guy, but he also sounds like he's not yet on a stable path. I love my husband, but we chose not to live together when we were 24. (We were dating at the time, but waited until we were 29 to live together.) For us, this was great - it gave us time to grow up and mature, without stepping all over each other's personal space. We were in a very serious from 23-29, but we each still had our own personal lives and just dated each other. Living apart didn't limit how much we saw each other - we still saw each other tons. And now we're 31 and married! So if it's meant to be, you will live with him for many, many years - why not let him work through his messy irresponsible years while living apart?
posted by samthemander at 6:11 PM on August 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

In addition to a lot of things other folks have said, here's a question: when he comes over to your place, does he tidy up after himself and after you, or cook, or generally do sweet things that better your non-shared living environment without being asked/hinted to do so?
posted by tapir-whorf at 6:17 PM on August 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

Aside from what everyone has said about all the flags (I'd call them yellow; at 24, there's a lot of room for him to grow and mature in the next few years. He just needs to do that on his own, not living together with you), I'd add that I would pretty much never think it was a great idea moving in together after four months as a couple, even if you've known each other for a long time. That's still a really early stage in a romantic relationship, and moving in is a commitment, even if you don't intend it as a romantic promise.

Don't move in now. Keep dating, figure out how to solve your budget gaps on your own, and let him solve his dissatisfaction with his situation himself. You still have a lot to learn about each other as partners before you move in.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:50 PM on August 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Look into Scott Stanley's work in sliding vs deciding. The link is to the google search for YouTube videos of him talking about it. Pick one and watch. I promise it'll be worth an hour of your time.

The very real costs of moving in with a partner (any partner) before mutual long term commitment are generally much greater than the benefits. And the risks have the potential to be even greater. Clearly, this will cost you much more in the short term than it will cost him. But the long term costs to you will be enormous.

You're giving this careful thought already and if sounds like you're asking permission to say no. I give you that permission. I know how hard it can be, for young women especially, to disappoint people we care about. Sometimes when we tell people "no" they respond with "don't you care about me?" You can honestly answer "yes, and the depth of my caring is not the conversation were having. The conversation is whether we are moving in together. And we are not moving in together because I'm not comfortable with it. You don't owe him any explanation and you don't have to set any goal posts for when you will move in together.
posted by bilabial at 7:44 PM on August 2, 2017 [14 favorites]

This is a hard pass from me. Love doesn't pay the bills! And your bills are going to increase with another person living with you who isn't contributing money. Ask me how I know. Sigh.

Him moving back home with his parents is an opportunity for him to reset, reassess, and plan for his future. He should take advantage of that... not you.
posted by sm1tten at 8:13 PM on August 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Please don't do this. It'll ruin your relationship and it'll also be a terrible financial blow for you and you don't have his wealthy family to fall back on. Also, do not let him de-facto move in with you by being at your place all the time, sleeping over and mooching off you. If he really cares for you, he won't take advatage of you just to make his own life easier. He has to learn to be responsible and totally self-sufficient before you consider moving in together.
posted by quince at 8:25 PM on August 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

There's no rush. It's normal and loving to feel sympathetic about his disappointment in his living quarters, but it's not in your job description to fix that.

One problem with living with someone is it makes it much harder to break up if you decide you want to. Don't move in together and hope he won't be so messy, that he'll get his finances together, that he'll become more responsible. The right time to live together is when you both feel like you want to stay together forever, even if neither one will ever change their flaws and bad habits.

One thing I noticed is that yesterday you two talked about living together in the future, and you were honest about wanting him to be an equal contributor, and it still seemed like he wanted to move in rent free. If it comes up again, repeat your answer and really see that he's not accepting your needs.

He only moved back to town this week. Slow it way down in your mind. Do what's best for you. If he makes the best of his situation and tries to appreciate how lucky he is for his parents' help and for being in the same town as you, see that as a great sign.
posted by wryly at 9:07 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just came back to say, there are people out there that need unhappiness to motivate them and I think your boyfriend might be one of them. Not only is it not your job to solve his financial and cleanliness situation, by doing so you'll actually rob him of the chance to grow up and learn to take care of himself.

He hates living in a tiny basement at his parent's house with his Mummy asking what time he's coming home and his siblings borrowing his stuff? Great! That's the motivation he needs to get a job, save some money and move out. He hates living knee deep in squalor and cockroaches? Wonderful, maybe he'll learn what a garbage bin and washing machine looks like. Tanked his credit and can't afford to buy a car? Fantastic! Now he'll be forced to work, save and make restitution.

Misery is a powerful motivator. It shouldn't be YOUR motivation to take him in though and protect him from the consequences of his actions. And if he keeps pushing after you've said no, your original assessment of breaking up way back when because you were too young was bang on; he's still too young.
posted by Jubey at 9:26 PM on August 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

"Don't do it" has already been well covered.

Please hear this - Don't "lend" him money, especially while you are working so hard to be financially responsible. A. You will most likely never see any "lent" money again. B. If he's in a financial bind and his parents won't help him out you should remind yourself that they know him better than you do and they have reasons and goals for what they're doing (ie to teach him responsibility, the tough-love way) , REGARDLESS of the story/ explanation that HE gives you.

Take heart in knowing that so many comments are harsh on this topic because we've all dated that guy and clearly we feel we had to learn the lesson the hard way, and we're trying to save another sister from going down that path. He may be a lovely guy and no one is saying DTMFA, just take things slow and keep it on a fun, dating level, and let him get used to being responsible for himself. He will think his living situation sucks because yeah, it kinda does suck. But it's a situation he created; don't let him make it your problem. In the end he will feel better and more confident if he solves his problems himself, and that will ultimately be better for your relationship.
posted by vignettist at 10:18 PM on August 2, 2017 [9 favorites]

No. I think it is very early days to be moving in with him as it is, and this has the potential to be even more of a disaster because of his debt. If you're both serious about the relationship, moving in together can wait. I feel that moving in together should be an exciting milestone, not something you feel forced into because of money troubles.

Let him know that you would love to move in together in the future, but that you want both of you to be in a more stable position before this happens. Getting regular calls from debt collectors is a bad sign.

Do not loan him money, do not let him live with you rent free. Consider whether he's a compatible partner for you.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 12:00 AM on August 3, 2017

Definitely don't let him officially move in, but don't let him sneakily move in by default, either, spending more and more nights at your place until he's an unofficial housemate.

He can move in when:
1) A job
2) No debts

Debt collectors at 24 are not unheard of - my brother had a tonne. And he was a total deadbeat hitting up and dad up for money well into his thirties. Don't do it!
posted by smoke at 3:33 AM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

How about this - he can move in when he's paid all his debts and can prove it to you. This will teach him to be responsible with money, will give you the confidence that you're going to get the rent on time, and will also give your relationship some time to mature to make sure you're compatible as people who are going to live together. I moved in with someone at 23 after a few months and it was a trainwreck because it turns out living with someone every day is very different than them being around a lot.

Alternatively, if he isn't able to show progress on his debts, it will be valuable information to have before getting heavily invested in the relationship.
posted by notorious medium at 5:54 AM on August 3, 2017

Your boyfriend has a problem: he doesn't like living with his parents, and he has no money. While on the one hand, a solution for many people might be, "get a job to afford to move out and pay down my debts," on the other hand, there's the solution of, "move in with my girlfriend."

I want to mention another thing which is the class differences between the two of you. On their face, they're not a problem. However, look at them in combination with his fianancial problems: someone raised poor might have instincts to spend any money they have because saving isn't worthwhile or other bad money management habits because of maladaptive survival instincts they had growing up. Your boyfriend, however, grew up with plenty of opportunities to learn how to save and manage money responsibly and didn't do so. That points to a failure to learn in a situation where he had opportunities to learn.

We aren't saying DTMFA or for you to give him some "tough love" to teach him responsibility. What I am going to say is that you shouldn't be his escape hatch. He has a problem, and right now he sees you as the solution. You need to give him the chance to dig himself out of this hole all by himself. He may decide to get a job and be more responsible paying his bills. Or he may decide the solution is to find someone else to move in with to escape living with his parents.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 7:04 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Personally, I'm going to go a step further and say don't move in with him and actually break up with him. You've been together less than six months and he already wants to move in with you and take advantage of your better financial stability. You can find a better guy. You're only 24.
posted by possibilityleft at 7:24 AM on August 3, 2017 [8 favorites]

I mean, definitely do not move in with this person. That has been well covered above.

In particular, you mentioned a potential "plus" on your end would be that you're having trouble covering your current bills yourself. The solution to this is clearly not to take on a boyfriend/roommate who isn't going to contribute to rent/expenses and will expect you to become his mom/maid. BUT, I definitely think you should get a different roommate -- someone responsible, who is employed and can really contribute. I lived in a high cost-of-living place in my 20s, and always lived with roommates. It can come with its own set of challenges, but I think it's a way better option than a very new romantic partner who isn't even going to equally contribute to things.

Your boyfriend can also get roommates if he wants to move out of his parents house.

I would say the first 2-3 years of dating my husband, we lived in separate places with roommates. It's a good way to really get to know someone without needing to make serious financial/lease commitments to them. And we both still saved money through not having our own place during that time.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:35 AM on August 3, 2017

You guys are so great, thanks for all the great responses as I feel I have a lot more clarity now. I am definitely going to make it very clear to him next time this conversation comes up that I will only move things forward with us in terms of living together if he pays off all his debts (he doesn't have major debts like a car or school as his parents gave him both) and he has a job where he can pay half of everything with me, and he agrees to do his share of housework. I do kind of want him to reap what he has sown. I don't think his parents ever taught him too much about money and their house isn't well kept, though I don't really mind it because it's not dirty but just messy, as my boyfriends house was really dirty.

I have told him before that I could help him budget and that the only reason I am good at it is that my sister taught me, but I don't think he seems too interested. He does not like being told what to do. I went over to his house yesterday and helped him fold up his laundry, and he really didn't want to help me do it (I offered to help him). I guess he just needs to prove it to me that he can be responsible.

Also, in response to superlibby, I feel that he has hinted for a few reasons. He actually used to talk about how he used to be interested in one of his friends, but that she started dating one of his other friends and they are all still friends together and I personally think she likes the attention from him. He said that the guy is going back to school and that she will be the one working and paying all the bills, and has mentioned it to me a couple times. I really hate when she comes up but he says there is nothing between them anyone but I felt that was a hint to me and it actually makes me angry... also the other night during our moving in conversation he just seemed really unhappy and said yeah I don't want you paying for my broke @$$... but he did also say the whole reason he was moving up was to save money. Idk, I feel that he would be happy if I offered him to live with me, but he has also said that he does think it's kind of early...

This is hard to handle for me, I just wish he wasn't so lazy. We'll see if he can change but I don't want to waste too much time and don't know how direct I should be about how I see these as deal breakers if they don't change.
posted by anon1129 at 8:13 AM on August 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

He said that the guy is going back to school and that she will be the one working and paying all the bills, and has mentioned it to me a couple times.

You know what? Watch out. There is a big difference between "I am taking care of myself, I'm just kind of bad at it and a bit immature" and someone who thinks "wouldn't it be great if a woman paid all my bills while I did nothing much". An adult who is capable of working should not expect another adult to cover all their expenses just because. People have various arrangements between themselves, disability can come into play, unemployment can happen, but "we have a relatively new relationship and I'm cool with you picking up all the expenses" is not okay.

Historically, women have gotten totally screwed by supporting men through their training. I mean, it's a real classic - he goes to med school or college or law school, you work in some kind of unfulfilling job on the theory that it's an investment in your joint future, he ditches you for someone younger/richer/fancier as soon as he's got his career going.

It is very easy for women to undervalue themselves, IMO, and to think that taking care of everyone at their own expense is a virtue. You're young, the economy is uncertain - value yourself enough to prioritize your own financial security.
posted by Frowner at 8:38 AM on August 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

Just chiming in to add the biggest red flag in the whole fluttering field: he bought a pocket watch, a completely useless item to a 21st century person with a cell phone, and didn't pay for it.

Some people are telling you that you can safely date a financially irresponsible and lazy person as long as you don't live with them, but I disagree. It's exhausting and crazy-making to be emotionally entangled with someone who constantly makes selfish choices and leaves other people holding the bag. Add to that the risk of getting pregnant and being tied to them for 18+ years? Date someone who shares your values instead.
posted by Scram at 8:44 AM on August 3, 2017 [11 favorites]

Put the lease, utilities, internet, TV, etc in his name.
posted by at at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2017

Wait what, you folded his laundry and he refused to help? Never mind red flags, that is a huge air siren. Forget money for a moment; you will be doing everything in terms of cleaning up. He is a big baby and his parents have spoiled him. He may be redeemable but you will be enabling his shitty behavior if you allow this. Don't start cleaning for him (especially when you don't even live there!!!). He will just expect it. If his place is too messy, hang out somewhere else.
posted by AFABulous at 9:12 AM on August 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Whoa, red flags galore in your follow up! He's repeatedly brought up how wonderful that chick is who is working and paying all the bills for her boyfriend AND he's playing the victim/martyr by claiming he doesn't want you paying for his broke ass.... No. Just no. That's manipulation as its finest.
I'd run.
I hope you find someone more worthy of you.
posted by Neekee at 9:19 AM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Well, now I am starting to feel angry because I feel like I might be being manipulated. I am not sure though. He seems like an honest and sweet and caring guy, we've had amazing times and he is very affectionate and says sweet things all the time, constantly compliments me, says how amazing I am. Which I know seems like sweet nothings, but it feels like he's not lying, maybe he is... he has mentioned other women I felt in an effort to make me feel jealous and lucky to have him, which I've told him multiple times to not randomly have to mention previous love interests. Idk. I really want to have a frank discussion with him but not sure if that's best. He did come up to my city to see me multiple times a week when he wasn't working, and I would paid for most food we had but not all, but he was driving four hours each visit, which was only 1-2 nights with me.

And to clarify on the laundry thing, he said he had laundry to do yesterday and I asked if he needed help maybe folding, he said sure, and while I was helping fold laundry he was messing with his stereo and getting it set up. Then he just sat down and I asked if he could help and he said "but I don't wannnaa" and then I said just impress me. Help. He said I wouldn't be very impressed. And then he did help.

Is it possible that I am misreading some things and mistaking it for him trying to manipulate me? He did buy me dinner the last 2 nights we've seen eachother. Idk. How can I find out for sure, I guess I can test him? Or wait and see?
posted by anon1129 at 9:39 AM on August 3, 2017

I think that people can be immature and do thoughtless stuff without being manipulative - we learn patterns from culture and culture "manipulates" us, so to speak. "Manipulative" seems like a problem word to me, because it relies on the idea that the person knows what they're doing on a conscious level, and is thinking "aha, I will get anon1129 to do all this stuff for me just by saying nice things". You can love someone and care about them and still act thoughtless - unfortunately, loving someone doesn't always translate into treating them well. Someone can even be a truly kind, generous, delightful person and still have large character flaws. (Just like you can be good with money and responsibilities but have no empathy or sense of humor, etc.)

The test of a person is their actions - if you ask him to do something and he starts doing it with less and less prompting (we all require little reminders now and then), he's passing the test. If he gets his act together and improves his financial situation, he's passing the test. It's not that people need to change overnight - people mostly can't change overnight! - but if you're seeing positive changes, that is what shows positive things about a person's character.

Basically, if you really click with this guy, let the relationship grow for a while and see what things look like. He's in a situation where he needs to get serious about his life pretty soon - a lot of people rise to that challenge, but you have to be aware that some people don't.

But also, don't do chores for him. It's tempting, especially when you watch someone else do a bad job or set themselves up for wrinkly shirts and a sock drawer full of odd socks, but let him deal with that.
posted by Frowner at 9:53 AM on August 3, 2017

Honestly, if you are at the point of "testing" someone, the relationship is over. Have an honest conversation with your boyfriend about where your relationship is now, where you both ideally see things going in the future, and your specific concerns (as well as opening things up for any concerns he has about you and the relationship overall). If he's not willing to talk about these things with you, then it's probably not worth continuing to invest in the relationship.
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:58 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

He just sounds really immature, anon. And some people don't take the opportunity to grow until it is forced upon them.

I think the only decision you need to make right now is whether to have him move in (don't). Other than that? Keep dating, by all means. Let him demonstrate who he is. Just don't shackle yourself to him or his decisions. It's okay to date someone who turns out, in the end, to not be a good fit for you, or who is a bit of a jerk, or kind of a loser. I have a long list of such gentleman callers in my past.

I had a similar situation with a guy who I dated briefly in high school, then we reconnected when I was in my later college years and started dating again. He was very sweet, he clearly was very in love with me and demonstrated it in many ways, but he had no ambition. And I don't mean that I needed him to be a hedge fund manager or anything, but it was eventually a real drag to be with someone who didn't want anything. I need to know that the person I am with is their own autonomous adult person because otherwise you do eventually wind up with a barnacle. Which is what happened. His only ambition in life was to be with me and so that's what he did and it was smothering. And the break-up was awful because I was all he had that was really "his own" (which: no).

So, with this guy, let him find his own way, so that you don't wind up being literally the only good thing in his life.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:58 AM on August 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

says how amazing I am

if you're there folding his laundry while he's dicking around with the stereo, then yes that feels quite amazing. It also feels amazing to me to come back to my house after the cleaning ladies have been there and scrubbed my kitchen. But I pay them.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:13 AM on August 3, 2017 [10 favorites]

Nthing the NOOOOOOOPE. Baby birds gotta hatch on their own or they don't have the strength to survive. He's not in a place right now to be an equal partner to you in a household, full stop. Hopefully he is one day and this'll work out for both of you.

However, if he keeps bringing up the other ladies who are allegedly interested in him, even after you have asked him repeatedly not to do that, you have this internet stranger's permission to fire back with "Well, go date one of them, then, because maybe THEY'LL enable your man-boy nonsense, but I am not the one, sir" and kick his ass to the curb. Even if he's doing it unintentionally or from a place of insecurity (which seems likely), that's a really shitty, manipulative thing to do, and you should only have to ask him once to not do something that so evidently bothers you.
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:55 AM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wait, he talks about folding his own laundry in the context of helping you?

It sounds as if he's figured out a strategy where he drops compliments and acts very sweet to get you to do things for him... but what happens when you can't or just don't want to do those things anymore?

Instead of working on himself, getting a job, paying down his debt, he's hinting at you that wouldn't it be great if you just let him move in and folded his laundry and paid for everything, while he just did... whatever.

I'd run for the hills.
posted by dancing_angel at 11:14 AM on August 3, 2017 [13 favorites]

PS Did you notice that as soon as you touched his laundry became your responsibility, and he was reduced to "helping?" I'm wondering if he now will have the expectation that you "own" the laundry. Or any other chores you offer to do occasionally?

Just an interesting data point.
posted by dancing_angel at 11:16 AM on August 3, 2017 [14 favorites]

He seems like an honest and sweet and caring guy, we've had amazing times and he is very affectionate and says sweet things all the time, constantly compliments me, says how amazing I am.

This can all be true about someone who is also a bit of a manipulative jerk, someone who is really disastrously bad with money, someone who is immature or someone who is just plain not right for you. Lovely people who sometimes make you feel awesome can also be a really bad idea. It stinks because you think there's going to be some kind of TEST or SIGN or LABEL or MESSAGE FROM ON HIGH, but sometimes it's just that realization that you don't want to end up being someone's parent instead of partner.

I on the other hand am extremely responsible with my money, I budget on my mint app and keep track of all expenses and bills on a spreadsheet, and am never late on a bill.

This is one of the most valuable life skills you will have. Please lean into it. Do not allow yourself to compromise your financial security without a large amount of thought and consideration. This does not necessarily mean that you won't date people in tough financial situations or support a partner in the future. When dating, I did not care how much money or debt someone had, I cared how they approached it. I encountered entitled wealthy people that scared the crap out of me (what happens when the money runs out?) or who didn't understand how to kindly and sensitively negotiate financial disparity. I dated a guy who was in debt, but had a clear plan for getting himself on stable footing again. That plan did not involve my money or other resources.

How can I find out for sure, I guess I can test him? Or wait and see?

The best test is to live your life independently and with an eye on your personal goals. But until he grows into someone that can stand on his own two feet and treat you with respect, there are other fish in the sea.
posted by annaramma at 11:17 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Everyone is right, this is a terrible financial disaster waiting to happen and you absolutely shouldn't do it. However, I am going to come at this from a different angle- the "relationship angle." This other angle should help because it reinforces the "money angle" and gives you even more motivation not to move in together!

It also gives you more of a platform to stand on in an argument, should you get any push back from this guy over the "money angle" (which is sounds like you're already getting a bit) IE "but my friend is supported by his girlfriend", "but see I'm more responsible than I was last week" "but I'll pay you back" "but don't you trust me?" blah blah blah, etc etc etc.

"The relationship angle" means considering that moving in together is not always a good step in a romantic relationship. This is because human nature makes things seem a lot less exciting when you move in together. Even with the BEST, MOST FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE guy in the world, this would still be true!! In the "not living together" phase, you are virtually guaranteed to get more:

-Actual dates, wherein you both go out of the house and do an activity/eat
-Effort in planning those dates, buying you flowers, cards, gifts, etc.
-Excitement when you do see each other/less feeling of routine
-Excitement over sleeping together because it feels more rare and spontaneous depending on each person's schedule

Don't get me wrong, living together has many perks and benefits (honestly though, I still maintain that it's better overall for hetero men, because they generally get a better deal- more and easier sex and less housework) and I do live with my husband and really enjoy it. But that's after living all of my 20s alone or with roommates and REALLY REALLY loving it and still missing many aspects of it.

I realize this may be considered very "old fashioned" but I did not move in with my husband officially until we were engaged. I honestly think this is a good way to go (especially for women, see above reasons) and not enough people do it. In my case it had absolutely nothing to do with squeamishness about sex or being religious or old-fashioned. I just really enjoyed having my own place and being "wooed" and "taken out on the town" and indeed, I did end up being less wooed/having to do more housework (as virtually all hetero women do) when we did move in together.

I highly, highly recommend not living with boyfriends. I lived with one of my long term boyfriends in my early 20s and after that lesson learned the hard way, this is why I was so stuck on "engagement before combining households" with all other boyfriends. If my life experience can save you a hard lesson, so much the better.
posted by stockpuppet at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

You have made several definitive statements about your relationship that all seem perfectly reasonable, such as:

- "I said I thought he needed to pay off his debt first and that I wanted us to both contribute equally ideally"
- "it does seem a bit early for us to move in together and I don't want to move too fast"
- "He also isn't very responsible with his money which is the big thing"
- "I on the other hand am extremely responsible with my money [...] He also is extremely messy, like I don't think he ever swept at him house or hardly cleaned, while I am really neat and organized. I like cleaning. I just forsee some issues."

But then you second-guess yourself by saying things like, "I don't know" and "I guess I can test him." You point out little things he has done that are good but don't nearly outweigh the bad, such as finally helping with laundry after being asked a couple times, paying for food a few times, and making the long drive to see you before he moved. All of which are things that any reasonable person in a healthy relationship would do for their partner.

I think you already know what to do, but need to trust your feelings better. It's ok to have confidence in your decision and feel doubt, too. Don't let him talk you into this. You seem to know that your values on money, responsibility, and housework are totally not in sync. That is not a good place to start a living-together situation with anyone, let alone a boyfriend. And it is ok to love his personality and love spending time with him but not want to live with him right now.
posted by daisies at 11:33 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh wow. Your follow ups. No... I've moved from don't move in with him to dump him. This guy is a dead weight. He's been raised to expect things to be handed to him with no effort on his part. Can he change? Sure. But it is going to take a LOT of work and emotional labor on your part and would only really work if he wanted to change. Please focus your energy on *you*. You deserve someone as driven and responsible as you are.

PS, I'm curious what happened with his cats?
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 12:13 PM on August 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

Another vote for dump his lazy ass. He won't ever change, I promise you. He'll do the absolute minimum when he doesn't have anyone around to do it for him, and sweet fuck all as soon as he does. Don't be his cleaner, life manager, money lender, and god knows what else. Eeugh.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:20 PM on August 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

@coffeehikenapwine He left his cats with his old roommate who is staying in the house they lived in. He changed the litterbox and they had a fullish bag of food but I'm not sure/ don't think that he'll be paying for their food and litter from now on.
posted by anon1129 at 12:52 PM on August 3, 2017

Do you think the room mate feels really grateful for the opportunity to feed, house and look after the medical expenses of someone else's responsibilities? Does he even get what's just been dumped on him? Those cats are a metaphor for what's going to happen to you. He'll just take advantage of you and suck you dry.

I'm so angry at this leech of a man on your behalf. He's a manipulative vampire who is so clearly just looking for an easy mark to support him. I wonder how long your relationship will last after you tell him that moving in isn't an option. I'm pretty sure he'll have moved on within a few months to some other girl who has blinkers on and will just hand over her apartment, cleaning services and finances to him. Please, report back after you DTMFA.
posted by Jubey at 2:18 PM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Ugh, no. Best case he's a child. Worst case hes a manipulate leach. Most likely he is in the middle ground somewhere- a child who can avoid painful stuff because others keep doing them for him.

Its ok to set boundaries and enforce them. You have to be willing to confront him about the stuff that isn't working. Stand up for yourself. You don't have to be abrasive, accusing or loud or shrill, just "i need this." and if he doesn't man up and meet those boundaries, dump him. I bet you he won't though. I was this guy and it took having no helping hands to shake me out of it.

This is almost certainly something you cant help him with... And ironically any help actually delays his growth
posted by Jacen at 4:55 PM on August 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

This guy is using you.

Reading your history, he reconnected with you right after you announced on FB that you were getting a place, and within 2 months tried to dump his cats on you, instead dumped them on someone else, and within 4 months is trying to move from one rent-free home to yours. The very first time you reconnected he made plans with you last-minute (showing little care) and you had to meditate to be calm (showing too much care and also, in my opinion, a gut blazing with red flag signals that you were trying to ignore).

Get out, he's a mooch, get over him, he's trouble. Re-read your questions about him, and all the answers, and you'll see you're in love with a sweet-talking memory from eighth grade, and you don't actually like the things he actually does as an adult (unhealthy lifestyle, tries to make you jealous, dumps responsibility, messy, broke, lazy, childish). You don't admire him, you just like him. That's a red flag. Date someone worthy of your respect because they work hard and share your values.

He's not giving you anything except attention, which costs him nothing. Bad imbalance here. You sound so lovely. Please find someone who values you, and gives to you, instead of taking taking taking.

I have 2 cats. I would never ever ever give them away. He is showing you exactly who he is. Believe him. Give him 10 years and this is a guy who'd probably leave his kid and wife too. Ugh. Get out.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:53 PM on August 3, 2017 [19 favorites]

The dumping the cats thing makes me really uneasy. I agree with Jubey that it's a good metaphor for how he might treat partners/kids. There's a reason they call first pets as adult a "starter dog/cat/etc" - it's a good indicator of how well you care for others in your life.

PS: often times (not always) manipulators don't even realize they are being manipulative. It's just how they function because it's the method they've used to get what they want. Like any other method, the more successful it is, the more likely the person is to repeat it.
He's gotta learn the consequences of bad credit, adult responsibilities, etc, or else he'll just keep making the same mistakes.
posted by Neekee at 10:54 AM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I didn't read everything here but I dated two guys when I was in my early 20s and paid for everything and/or lent them money that I never saw again. One guy I dated for years and paid for everything for a while. We talked after I dumped him and he said that he was looking forward to dating again because he wanted free coffee because he was so used to me paying for everything that he just assumed that in relationships, women pay for everything. That was some solid validation that dumping him was the right move.
posted by kat518 at 11:04 AM on August 5, 2017

This post reminded me of a very memorable and profoundly depressing AskMe from 2006, where a woman was desperately trying to get her manipulative live-in boyfriend to get a job. So I went searching for it and discovered an even more depressing follow-up from 2012, where the woman, now crippled by debt herself, and having married the boyfriend, was trying to find an affordable way to get divorced, having been abandoned by the now-husband. I won't link the questions here because it turns out they were both deleted at the poster's request, but I'll send them via email if you're interested.

I guess this comment has ended up being fairly pointless, but please, don't wind up like that woman. This guy is definitely being manipulative. You can and will do much better.
posted by equalpants at 4:07 PM on August 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Okay, so I feel that may be piecing things together and can definitely see a narrative that he is using me. But I am not 100% sure it is true. I spent time with him this weekend and I just felt down and just really wanted things to feel like they had been, but couldn't really fully enjoy myself with him. I really feel like I just want to frankly talk to him and be like, what were your intentions in initially contracting me and would you really be okay with me paying all the bills while you lived with me?

There's also another detail I left out, which could point to him manipulating me. A week or two before he moved, he said he was feeling depressed over text. I asked why, and he said he'd tell me in person. I asked him in person and he said it was because after spending some time with his family on a trip they went on, he remembered why he went away to college and it was partly because he was very unhappy there. Apparently for 2 years his parents expected him to cook dinner and babysit his brothers for a few hours after school, and he was with a manipulative girlfriend who didn't want him to have other friends, and he had no social life. So basically he was telling me he thinks he might be very unhappy living at home and home and later on that night asked what I thought about living together.

I just don't know. This relationship shouldn't be messing me up this much. I don't think I can just wait and see if he gets his act together, I want to see what he'll say if I frankly explain what's been going on in my head and see if he looks guilty. Thank you all for your advice.
posted by anon1129 at 9:58 AM on August 7, 2017

Look, he isn't a Bond villain, whereupon you confront him and he says, yes, you guessed my secret plot to move in with you all along and gives you a blow by blow of how he was going to pull it off and take over your money, home and security. He's basically laying out the breadcrumbs (his unhappiness) then hoping you follow it to asking him to move in and when you haven't, he's explicitly stated it. Multiple times. I mean, what more do you want, the words I'M USING YOU written in blood?

I get that it's a blow to think that it's not true love at all and this relationship was only orchestrated based on what he thought he could get out of it but please don't compound your emotional distress by actually following through and having him move in. Because right now, this is just a sting to your ego. But this guy is planning a sting on your entire life.
posted by Jubey at 7:16 PM on August 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

I agree with Jubey that there's nothing for him to confess. He probably doesn't consciously know he's using you. He certainly won't say "YES I AM USING YOU" because nobody would ever say that about themselves. He may not look very guilty because he probably doesn't know he's being a colossal shit.

Actually if you do tell him what every single adult on metafilter said, he will very likely get all pouty and hurt and pick a fight and end up making you feel guilty for doubting him.

None of that matters. What he thinks is going on does not matter. What matters is:

You have different values than this person
This person is not behaving like a responsible adult (job, rent, cats)
This person is not behaving like an equal partner (not "helping" you fold HIS laundry)
You are stressed, anxious, and full of doubt about the relationship
You do not feel comfortable communicating with him about important things

No matter what he thinks he's doing, his behaviour is affecting you badly.
That's all that matters.

His beliefs about himself are separate from what YOUR experience is like.
Your experience of him is negative. Pay attention to that.
You don't need to care what he thinks he's doing.
You do need to care how it affects your day-to-day life and internal peace and security.

He has already caused way too much anxiety and your self esteem is falling apart. Just get away from him and move on towards finding a great loving partner who will add security and peace to your life.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:29 AM on August 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Pseudostrabismus is so right. This guy isn't deliberately, consciously evil: he's just lazy and moochy, and one of the hallmarks of this kind of person is that they don't really do self-examination. They always take the path of least effort, in everything. I mean, what's he going to say, that he doesn't really care about you? He DOES like you - he told you so - you fold his laundry! So what?

What he thinks about his own values and behavior is not the point here, at all.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:06 AM on August 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Completely agree with the three answers before mine, and I would also add that if part of his unhappiness with his previous time at home came from being expected to "cook dinner and babysit his brother for a few hours," that's another bad sign. Basically it sounds like he thinks it's reasonable that he's upset that he had to contribute to the household in which he was living. This, plus everything else you've already told us (especially the bit about him not liking being told what to do - ugh), just speaks to someone who sees nothing wrong with you doing everything - paying the bills, upkeeping the house, cleaning up after him, everything - with no sense of the sheer imbalance.

Like the three respondents before me, I also agree this is something you're going to have to recognize on your own. I don't necessarily think he's intentionally using or manipulating you, but he sounds like the quintessential manbaby who believes it's perfectly normal for others to take care of him (and his cats, and his bills, etc) without reciprocity. Laying out your concerns is just going to give him a chance to convince you not to trust your instincts, not to trust the evidence of his actual behavior over the time you've known him.

What he says and what he promises you is not important - what he does is important. Based on what you've written, he's done nothing to demonstrate that living together would be good for you at all.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:29 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

So update:

We are still dating, though I am more uncertain of our future as the initial excitement and fantasy wears off... he has made a little improvement maybe. He does have a job, but they are not giving him many hours, like usually 2-3 nights a week while he is in school part time. He works every Friday and Saturday night which are my weekend nights. He also paid off his pocket watch bill, which was only $150 which he didn’t know he owed so little. BUT, there are worse things. I’ve learned how addicted he seems to be to pot, like he always wants to smoke. The tv bill from his old home with his roommate is still in his name, and his roommate hasn’t paid the bill so collectors are calling him and his credit is still being trashed, but he didn’t seem too worried about it at all. They couldn’t put it in his roommate s name because he lost his license after drinking and driving. He also apparently owes his roommate $400 still, but said his old roommate is “being cool about it” and not asking for it. Which really ticks me off. And his room at his parents is still very messy although he claims it’s too small to keep clean. And he has cooked for me at my apartment a total of 1 time, while I cook for him alll the time.

He now wants to move in together when my lease is up, and I did too, before all this reality started setting in. I realize I kinda do deserve someone who is as responsible and driven as I am. I’m going back to school soon for business emph supply chain to further my career. It seems if we stay together I really want feel like I have an equal partner with the same goals and outlook, which would be really nice to have. I already find myself resenting his qualities. I don’t want to parent another adult or wait for them to get it together. I figured adult life out this much, I don’t want to help someone else with the basics, I wants someone who I admire and respect and helps me too.....
posted by anon1129 at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2017

And you can have those things. Don't settle.
posted by smoke at 12:55 PM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

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