Is living together a good idea?

My immigrant parents are asking, "Where's the ring?"

Published February 19, 2003 8:41PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I have been dating a sweet 30-something redhead for a year and a half. We started our fling assuming it would never stand a chance. I am almost 10 years younger than he is, African-American and working-class. He is Ivy-educated with money enough not to pinch every penny (as I do). But we are both journalists. Read the same magazines, cook amazing meals and have great debates on everything from the merits of the rabbit pearl vibrator to the motivations of Condoleezza Rice.

Things are great, and now the issue of moving in together has come up. Am I naive in thinking that living with a lover is highly overrated? Most of my friends have horrible stories of being abandoned and crying on their bathroom floors with angry partners pacing the living room. We live in the Northeast where high rents make such arrangements appealing. But my immigrant parents are not receptive to the idea and are of the "Where's the ring?" variety (we are nowhere near that stage).

I have only recently moved into my own place and am at the start of a career that could take me out of state. He has applied for jobs overseas. Our careers are the most important part of our lives.

His last relationship lasted more than four years and didn't end well. I've had a few relationships, each running two years before I bolted or sabotaged them. I would think that he would shrink away from this. But here we are. How do you decide whether living with a lover is a good idea?

Old-Fashioned in Boston

Dear Old-Fashioned,

You are not naive in thinking that living with a lover is highly overrated. I think, on the contrary, having your own place is highly underrated. I think you should keep your own place and concentrate on the things that matter to you: your career.

As far as how you decide, I would say in this case you could do a sort of risk/benefit analysis. As it is now, you have a good career, a place to live and a boyfriend. That's three out of three. If you move in with him, you stand to lose two out of the three at the same time: your place to live and your boyfriend. Why place your apartment in jeopardy along with your emotional life? Why not instead arrange your life so that your living situation is independent of your emotional life?

Particularly in this case, where he is older, richer and of a higher social class, in a class-conscious city like Boston, I think you ought to carefully maintain your financial independence.

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By Cary Tennis

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