Walking that thin tightrope
March 7, 2006 7:00 AM   Subscribe

RelationshipFilter: Am I wrong for being frustrated because I pay rent for one apartment, but virtually live at my girlfriend's place?

* My girlfriend and I live in a big city. She is a student and lives in apartment style student housing which doesn't permit non-student residents, otherwise we would be living together. I was lucky enough to find a sweet apartment with really nice people who I get along with really well. Unfortunately, our two apartments are about 45 min. apart traveling by public transportation. I work very close to where her place is though, so we usually have dinner ever night and I spend the weekends with her, and occasionally week nights.

Recently she has been wanting me to stay over more and more on week nights. I love spending time with her and plus it means a much shorter commute in the morning. The drawbacks are that while I keep toiletries at her place, I don't exactly keep my entire wardrobe there, so it seems like I'm always transporting clothes up and back. On top of that, I feel like I'm neglecting my roommates and letting food go bad in the fridge (many of the sleepovers at my gf's are impromptu, as in I come over for dinner and she ends up pleading with me to stay). Overall, I'm frustrated that I'm spending a majority of my income on an apartment that I'm almost never at. Are my feelings validated? How do I explain this to my girlfriend without making it sound like I don't want to be with her?
posted by Smarson to Human Relations (24 answers total)
i think you don't have much of a clue about communal resources. look at the askme front page. maybe that says something about your issue, too (i'm not sure it does, but that seemed like a smart thing to say; more on topic - i think you're crazy).
posted by andrew cooke at 7:03 AM on March 7, 2006

(though, lord knows, i am not innocent)
posted by andrew cooke at 7:06 AM on March 7, 2006

Umm... are you asking if it's ok to not want to stay at your girlfriend's place as much? If so, then you basically have to say to your gf "Listen, let's stay at my place sometimes. I know it sucks for commuting, but frankly I feel like I'm paying all this rent for an apartment, when I could save way more money by just keeping a storage locker for my stuff and sleeping here all the time"
posted by antifuse at 7:10 AM on March 7, 2006

Well, think of it this way: it's like you have two places for the price of one.

Is it possible that what's bothering you isn't paying rent for a place that don't use much, but something else? Like a need for more personal time?
posted by justkevin at 7:10 AM on March 7, 2006

It sounds to me like you just want a little time to yourself. That's normal. I don't think you're that concerned with the money, or "neglecting" your roommates. Just tell her that it's too much of a clothes-hassle spending every weeknight, and you want to cut it back a bit. Offer her the opportunity to take PT with you to your place. After she has to deal with the hassle of it all, she'll probably ease up.
posted by MrZero at 7:11 AM on March 7, 2006

What? You want to stay in your apartment more because you're paying for it, even though you'd rather be with your girlfriend? I think that's called "honoring sunk costs". Seems like the solution would be to look at getting a place together, or just to wait it out.

And why the bold?
posted by crabintheocean at 7:14 AM on March 7, 2006

My situation is somewhat similar in few ways. My solution is I found the cheapest possible (crap) apartment i can find. But she is more understanding, it sounds, as she doesn't nag to come more than I feel is resonable. Usually once during the week and the whole weekend.

Sounds like you two aren't communicating how each of you feel (god i sound like dr phil)
posted by joshgray at 7:18 AM on March 7, 2006

if it's only about money, you're worried about SUNK COSTS. you're going to be spending money on your apartment no matter what, and if hanging out at your girlfriend's is just some fun deal, who cares!

if it's about how you want to stop hanging out at your girlfriend's place so much, who cares! just leave, she'll want you more! if there's one thing askme has taught all of us, it's chicks love guys who don't give them what want.
posted by soma lkzx at 7:20 AM on March 7, 2006

err.. i guess the main question was "are you wrong to be frustrated", of course not! You're being torn in different directions by different needs (social, relationship, work..). Trick is finding the balance between them...
posted by joshgray at 7:20 AM on March 7, 2006

Best answer: Yes, your feelings are valid. Living out of a backpack is stressful. Is there a reason why you two spend the weekends at her place instead of your place? I'm assuming that you don't work weekends, and she doesn't have classes on the weekends, so this shouldn't be a problem. At least once in a while!

You may be neglecting more than just your roommates. When I was in this situation, I neglected:

- my hobbies;
- organizing my room, because I was only there to sleep occasionally;
- my time, since 2+ extra hours on public transit is a major drain on the available hours in a day;
- relationships with my roommates;
- my parents (was never there when they called);
- respect for the fact that I'm an introvert and need me-time or I get increasingly grumpy;
- etc.

Relationships take balance. Balance between who gives and takes, balance between time alone/with other people and time together. I'm sure there was more going on in your life before you guys got so close, and you probably want to keep those aspects of your life going (friendships, hobbies, projects, etc.). Explain that it's not that you don't want to be with her, it's that you want to be relaxed and well-rounded so that you can be a happy boyfriend, and that requires actually going home and having your own life at least half of the time.

Oh, and once you've talked about it, actually stick to it. Sure, you're in love, you want to hang out all the time... Balance, my friend. Actually go home and see your roommates and have some guys-only time, even when she's being awfully cute.
posted by heatherann at 7:23 AM on March 7, 2006

Imagine your girlfriend didn't want you staying over all the time and you had to stay at the apartment that you paid for the vast majority of the time. Would this make you better off? Probably not. I get that your annoyed to be paying for something that you don't really use much but you need to recognize that the problem is not in the lack of use but in the paying. Maybe you should get a really cheap shitty apartment and keep your stuff there, or get a locker and a cot at the Y. But really if every other single situation you could reasonably find yourself in is worse than the situation you are in you're being stupid for bitching.
posted by I Foody at 7:24 AM on March 7, 2006

Neglecting your roommates? Unless you're having sex with one of them, I'd say that spoiled food seems like a pretty small price to pay for a good relationship with a girl you care about.

Saying, "I need to spend less time with you and more time at my apartment, because otherwise I'm wasting money" is not going to go over well. And you'll be paying rent no matter what, so it's not wasted money.

You say the two of you would live together, so why don't you? Find someplace close to campus that allows non-students. Then you get to be together, your stuff is in one place, and you don't have a shorter commute to work. This seems like a no-brainer.
posted by Gamblor at 7:31 AM on March 7, 2006

Incidentally, if your problem is that you feel you don't have enough time to yourself (which others are implying here), living with someone doesn't preclude you from have hobbies/interests/a life of your own. That's just part of a healthy relationship.
posted by Gamblor at 7:34 AM on March 7, 2006

what heatherann said
posted by matteo at 7:35 AM on March 7, 2006

...and you don't have a shorter commute to work.
posted by Gamblor at 7:38 AM on March 7, 2006

Response by poster: As always, the wisdom of the masses has made me see the light. It is indeed a case of perspectives. The rent I pay for my apartment is indeed a sunk cost and thus I should not shed so many tears over it. The alternative to my situation is sobering, if my girlfriend had no apartment for us to hang out in (or if I had no girlfriend at all) then my apartment would indeed be used more...but hers is so much nicer. So yes, I am indeed getting two apartments for the price of one. Most importantly, she's worth every minute of subway frustration and wrinkled clothing agony.

As for why the bold....perhaps I am a bold fellow? Or perhaps I just think I'm clever with my little html tags. Neither of them really excuses my childish posting habits. =)
posted by Smarson at 7:40 AM on March 7, 2006

Are you PHYSICALLY UNABLE to say "Listen, I think I'm going to head home, I'd like a night in my own room for a change"?
posted by elisabeth r at 7:55 AM on March 7, 2006

Most importantly, she's worth every minute of subway frustration and wrinkled clothing agony.

Then why ask the question?
posted by elisabeth r at 7:56 AM on March 7, 2006

Best answer: I've been through exactly this situation, twice. I don't think its all that uncommon. It got to the point last time, where I even felt uncomfortable going back the house where I was renting a room, because the people I was living with for almost a year were basically strangers. I hadn't even really gotten around to unpacking my stuff at home, it was all in sitting in open suitcases, basically.

Just be patient, and when the time is right, get a new place together to share. It's so much nicer than living with room-mates, and having a place that feels like "home" is wonderful.

It's incredibly un-nerving to not have a place that feels 'yours' for any length of time, and for your own emotional health, you really need to settle somewhere. Until you do get a place together, I suggest staying 'home' for at a minimum for 2 or 3 nights a week. Believe me, you'll manage to survive, and maybe she'll actually come out there with you if she desperately needs to spend all hours of the day with you.
posted by empath at 7:58 AM on March 7, 2006

The short of it is this: you've discovered how the relationship living situation balance works. Take advantage of not sharing a residence. Plan at least one night a week where you hang out with other friends, your roommates, or even stay home and clean.

You're fixating on the fact that you're neglecting duties, lacking resources, and probably being run ragged sometimes due to shuffling between places. The solution is to plan for the reality -- you've already started by leaving toiletries at her place. Leave one set of clothes at her place just in case, and try to plan which nights you'll "normally" stay over. In the case that you end up staying out late or she's had a bad day, you're fine because you have the extra set. Have her do the same occasionally -- she might be able to study at your place or at least drop by for the weekend. It'll be like a little vacation. Try to buy any food that will spoil quickly close to the weekend and cook at your place with your girlfriend if the kitchen is large enough.

It's easy to fall into a sort of routine with relationships, you just have to make sure the routine doesn't suck or tire you out because it'll pull down your relationship.
posted by mikeh at 8:26 AM on March 7, 2006

Well, the rent you've already paid is a sunk cost. The rent you are about to pay is a cost that you have to factor in.

/nothing else to contribute
posted by alidarbac at 8:26 AM on March 7, 2006

Neglecting your roommates? Unless you're having sex with one of them,

Look, sex can be an overwhelmingly good experience, but this is coming close to the idea that having a sexual relationship negates the need to pay attention to other relationships, and as heatherann astutely pointed out, there's other things to life -- other connections that need some time, other business that requires attention. Great roomates are nothing to be scoffed at, especially so if they're good and/or longtime friends.

At some point, of course, really good sexual relationships that have enough other healthy components tend to become roomate relationships too.

But until that happens -- until you really jointly own a place together, a place that is as much yours as theirs when you say "ours" -- the cultivation of ones own space and life is pretty essential.
posted by namespan at 10:56 AM on March 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

You need to ask your girlfriend to move in with you, into a new place in her area (near your work). That's surely the ideal solution, and I'm sure she'd be thrilled at the idea too.
posted by reklaw at 11:50 AM on March 7, 2006

I agree with what some others have said: why doesn't she spend some of the nights (like weekend nights) at your place? It seems only fair.

I think you may also need some personal time to make yourself feel 'at home' at your place. I may be a bit pessemistic, but if you neglect your roommates, your alone time, and your own place, if something happens to the relationship (like a break up), you'd only feel more awkward because you're so used to being at her place. By establishing your own space, you have something to fall back on when you're alone.
posted by nakedsushi at 6:45 PM on March 7, 2006

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