I'm almost 19 and want to live with my boyfriend

My parents said I could move out if I lived at my grandparents' place, but now I want to move on

Published September 2, 2010 12:31AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I'm 18, almost 19, and am now renting a house from my grandparents. However, the house is directly underneath their home so I feel like I am basically living with my grandparents.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost four years now and would love to move in together. He has been staying at my place an awful lot lately and I'm worried that this is upsetting my grandparents because they do not want him living there with me. I have only been renting from them for three months now and want to start looking at other apartments around town so I can move in with my boyfriend.

I didn't sign a lease so how do I tell them I am moving out and moving in with my boyfriend?

Also, the only reason my parents let me move out was because I would basically be living with my grandparents. They refused to even let me look at other apartments. They do not like my boyfriend but I love him and am ready to take this next step with him after four years. How do I do this without ruining the relationship between my family and me? 

Confused Mover

Dear Confused Mover,

How old did you say you are? Almost 19? OK, well, unless you live in Alabama, Nebraska, Mississippi or the territory of Puerto Rico, you reached your age of majority at 18 and your parents can't legally prevent you from moving out and living with your boyfriend.

But they can still make your life a living hell.

You are basically in transition. You are moving from being a powerless serf, i.e., a minor under the control of your parents, to being an independent person with the right to vote and live where you want.This happens in stages. For instance, you can't legally buy alcohol yet. So there's that. But you can vote. And you can live on your own.

So you want to show respect for your family's feelings while at the same time asserting your new power as an independent person. It's tricky.

Knowing that in the end it's your choice what to do, perhaps you can talk to your parents and grandparents honestly about what you are going through -- that you don't what to hurt your grandparents' feelings or go against your family's wishes, but that it's time for you to grow up and take on adult roles and responsibilities.

Tell your family members that you love them and do not want to disappoint them but that you also are ready to live a life of your own as an adult.

All the while, keep in mind that they really can't stop you.

You say your parents would only let you move out if you moved into this place at your grandparents'. So that sounds like this was a condition.

Agreements usually have conditions and expiration dates. Surely your parents did not intend for you to live at your grandparents' place until you're 60. So think about what your agreement with them really is. Would living at your grandparents for six months, or a year, seem reasonable? And are they completely opposed, forever, to your living with your boyfriend? Or are there certain conditions he needs to meet? Maybe they haven't said exactly what they expect of him. (Or maybe, OK, they just don't like him.) You need to know more.

That's why I suggest having a heart-to-heart talk with your parents before you do anything else. You have to get some things clarified.

Moving in with your boyfriend sounds like it's the big issue. If I were you, aside from hearing them out on what they think of him,  I'd sort of play down that aspect of your plans. In fact, if you can, you might be wise to first find a place that you can afford on your own. See how you like living on your own. Learn the ins and outs of dealing with landlords and maintaining a household. That's how I would do it. In stages.

Here's why: Things might not work out with you and your boyfriend. It's great that you've been together for four years but you're both still pretty young. If you get a place together and then break up, your life is going to suck for a while. You may have to move again, or get a roommate, and that's chaos and trouble that you don't need, especially while you're getting over your first big breakup.

I'm not saying it's bound to happen. I'm just thinking of you. Why make trouble for yourself?

Also, if you get your own place, your grandparents will feel better about your leaving their place.

Good luck!

Write Your Truth.

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By Cary Tennis

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