An Update on Cohabitation

April 21, 2011 at 7:30 am | Posted in Relationship Woes | 2 Comments
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When my boyfriend moved in with me last summer, I promised lots of updates on what it was like living with a boy.  But I didn’t deliver for a very simple reason — there weren’t any great surprises or lessons learned.  Beyond the drama surrounding the decision to move in together, the actual act of living together hasn’t been so dramatic.

Sure, we have our disagreements, mainly around the definition of clean,and I may threaten to kick him out in a fit of anger, but really, we adjusted to each other really well.  We have very different schedules — I have my 9-5 and he has a schedule that’s all over the place, so each night he tucks me in and stays up for a while, and every morning, I kiss him goodbye and start my day.   We see each other plenty but are not on top of each other. We both do household chores, though there always seems like there’s more to do than we have the energy for. He takes care of the dog when I get home late, and I leave him dinner when he gets home late.  All in all, we take good care of each other.

He did move in with a lot of stuff, and I had been living alone for a while so I already had everything I needed, but we made as much room as we could.   So we have a lot of unmatched furniture that is just for storage purposes.

So that’s really the main thing.  I had already outgrown this apartment when he moved in.  I never expected to be here this long, and now that we’ve been living together for almost a year, this place just keeps getting smaller and smaller.  We aren’t on lease anymore, so we can move whenever we want, if we could find a place.

We’ve been casually looking at apartments for months, after deciding on a compromise on location that would allow him to drive to work and me to take the subway to work.  We’ve seen some okay places, but nothing that made me want to go through the process of uprooting my life.

Because I want something better than what I have now.  I want to be happy with my home.  I can afford more than I could when I first moved into this apartment, both because of having a roommate and because of an increase in salary.  I don’t want to settle.  But it’s really hard to find an apartment that allows large dogs.  It’s crazy to be how hard it is!   I mean, I’ve seen small dogs and cats that cause more damage than my lab.  It’s just not fair.  It’s not like landlords ask how much their tenants weigh.  Would they turn me down for an apartment if I was 300 pounds?  I don’t think so.

So I don’t know what the next step is.  Should we be looking to rent? Should we try to buy?  She would save money for other things, like the new car we really need?  Should we suck it up and stay here a little longer?

I don’t know how this sequence of events is going to unfold, but I do know this.  Something is going to happen soon.

Should I Change My Status to Domestic Partnership?

February 22, 2011 at 7:32 am | Posted in Relationship Woes | 11 Comments
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I was out to dinner recently with a couple girlfriends, catching up. We talked like girls do about our boyfriends — each of us at different but overlapping points in our relationships.  One of the girls was saying how her and her boyfriend have been fighting a lot lately.  We started to comfort her, saying it’s probably just a phase. Couples fight.  We’ve all been there. To which she of course asks the question, “you guys still fight over stupid stuff? Like what?”

The other girl and I start ranting about how our boyfriends are messy, or clean, except for that one thing they do that doesn’t make any sense.  That they go to bed too late or wake up too early, and in both instances, we wake up with them.  We argue about who is going to take out the garbage, maybe we’ll argue about the bills or who is going to walk the dog.

And when we took a second to breathe we realized that nothing we argued about had anything to do with our relationships.  The difference between our relationships and our friend’s was that we lived with our boyfriends.  It’s a blessing, my friend said, because it makes things easier, which I agreed with, but it doesn’t make everything easier.

Because we are no longer just “in a relationship.”  We have unknowingly entered into a domestic partnership.

So when I saw in the news that Facebook was adding two new options to their relationship status, I was intrigued.  I know that this decision was made to accommodate our LGBTQ friends, but doesn’t this status pertain to me too?  Yes, I am straight, but I am living with my partner, just the same as a same-sex couple would.

But the problem with the phrase “domestic partnership” is that it takes away from the intimacy of the relationship.  A domestic partnership to me sounds more like two people getting together for convenience, like Hillary and Bill Clinton. You can’t tell me there’s love in that relationship.  And our LGBTQ friends have just as much love in their relationships. But right now they don’t have the same rights to declare their love as straight people do, so we gotta do what we can to help them describe their relationships while our country catches up to our social reality.

So what does this all mean for straight people?  It means we shouldn’t forget that we have the right to express our love the way we want to.  That we shouldn’t forsake our relationships once they reach the level of domestic partnership.  That we should continue to love and not mistake domestic disagreements for relationship problems.

And hopefully, in the lifetime of a 20 something, we will see that we don’t really need all of these classifications related to sexual orientation.  That love is love — not some box you check off on a form.

Dating: Gen X & Gen Y Sitting in a Tree…

September 30, 2010 at 7:35 am | Posted in Relationship Woes | 10 Comments
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I’m pleased to present my first guest blog post from my friend Dez from Dezolutions.  Check out her blog for a fun, motivational account of the trials and successes of reaching your goals.

“You’re acting like a CHILD! Stop it! What do you know about life!?”

“Stop telling me what to do! God, you’re not my boss.  I know MORE than enough about life!!”

Sounds like the typical fight between parent and child right?

Wrong.

These were the types of fights I had with my boyfriend. Like any normal healthy couple, we argued. The difference? We are 10yrs apart. These arguments just came with the territory of dating someone older.

I was 20 and he was 30 when we met at work. We didn’t start dating till I was 21, and we haven’t stopped. Almost 6yrs later and many milestones crossed together, we have certainly grown to respect our different generations.

Boyfriend had traveled the country, and other countries, worked hard on his career as a successful artist, seen his share of all sorts of lifestyles and cultures and had a beautiful daughter.

While he was building his foundation, my biggest concern in 1999 was finishing my chemistry homework and making sure I washed my softball uniform. Our brains were clearly not on the same page.

When we met, we both had concerns about the age difference. Is 10yrs really that bad? We have a completely different letter for our Generations! But, we decided to give it a try, and we learned a LOT about each other over the years.

When he would try to explain something to me, it was hard for me to empathize. I’d only ever lived with college roommates before, never a boyfriend, so not only was he my first live-in boyfriend, but he was also my first real roommate (in terms of splitting the bills, paying rent, buying food, respecting space).  He had roommates for years before me. It wasn’t that I was inconsiderate and messy, it was because I was naive and clueless. “You mean, I can’t just eat peanut butter out of the jar and move his stuff around without asking? “ Totally foreign to me. It took many YEARS of practice till I finally realized how to properly live with another adult. It’s all about respect, from both ends. He realized I was a newbie, and I realized I had to smarten up quick if I didn’t want to annoy him anymore.

We also had a dog together. A WHOLE other set of confusions. I’d never had a dog, ever. My family were cat people. But I LOVE dogs. I had zero clue how to take care of one. “You mean I have to get up and take her out 4x a day!!? AND feed her!!??” Oh man, cats were so simple. Just give’m a box to pee in and box to eat from, done. So, first time roommate, first time live-in boyfriend AND first time caring for something that relied on you 100% to live. Talk about a boat-load of responsibility thrown onto your lap. I tried to master these 3 new areas of my life AND work 40+ hours a week AND go to school full-time.

I must say, I think I did a very good job. With a patient Boyfriend, who sometimes…wasn’t always patient… made it worth trying hard for. He wasn’t the only teacher in the relationship. I brought  a lot to the table as well. I was book smart, I knew a lot about finance and business management. I knew how to communicate, network and make friends quickly. I know how to plan for the future and put strategy into motion to reach our goals. He didn’t need any help on keeping himself young, but I’m sure I helped a little bit 🙂 And he has since traded in his cargo shorts and band T’s for some well-fitting jeans and button downs. I’d like to think I had a little influence, but he is one snazzy gentleman.

There were lots of disagreements, but also, lots of communication. We may not always agree, but we respect each others opinions.  It was important to know, that we wanted to make things work. With any long term relationship, that’s what it takes… work. Not all the time, but its a key factor. Most of my family members have large age differences in their relationships, I guess I was just used to that. Even previous relationships, I always dated 6 or 7 yrs older.

So where are we now? I’m 27, he’s 37 and the 10yr difference now, is almost non-exsistent. I’ve done a lot in these past 6yrs. I’ve traveled a bit around the country (went to Italy right before i met him), worked hard on my career, finished school, challenged myself, learned SO many new things, and became a better roommate. His daughter is now 15, and as beautiful as ever. I love her so much, and we have such a great time together. I love his entire family and vice versa, they tell me all the time 🙂  Sadly, our first dog passed, and grieving over a huge loss, definitely brought us closer. We have a new doggy-addition, her name is Gabby, she’s 4 now and sharing the responsibility of a living creature is one of the best ways to form a strong bond.

Even though he has a 10yr head-start, we may not be on the same page all the time, but we’re definitely in the same chapter. We had a variable that not too many couples had. But we work well together, we’re happy, and without all that bickering and head-butting we’d never be as close as we are now.

So as I approach 30…he approaches 40, I’m proud to say, his birthday cake candles, will always burn down the house before mine 🙂

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