Dear Dr. Wes & Miranda: I’ll be 18 in March and my boyfriend is already 18. We want to leave home and move in together after we graduate (or before if we can). We’ll both be going to college next fall at KU and we have to have roommates anyhow. What’s the problem with living together and sharing expenses?
Dr. Wes: The problem is very simple. You’re increasing the probability of taking your wonderful relationship and blowing it to pieces. As I’m compiling a book of Double Take columns for publication later this year, I’m amazed at how often this question came up right about this time of year. At least you’re planning ahead.
Living together is one of the most difficult tasks humans perform, whether we’re talking about marriage, cohabitation or simple roommate contracts. If I had a buck for every set of best friends I’ve seen who decided to room together in college and ended not speaking to each other for years thereafter, I could buy coffee for half our readers. So there’s a lot riding on your decision.
The odds get longer considering your age. I know every 17-year-old hates hearing it, especially when she’s in love, but you’re not developmentally ready to do this. Living with an intimate partner is especially difficult because it’s 5 percent romance and 95 percent roommates, which requires life experience, problem-solving skills and maturity.
And what happens if you break up while living together? If you think it’s awkward seeing an ex in the hall at school every day, think how bad it will be seeing him in the hall of the apartment you share or meeting the new girl who stayed over.
I know you don’t want to think that way; you’re sure your love will last. But that’s why I’m bringing it up: to get you thinking.
Why not date your guy and enjoy the freedom of college life without adding the complications of cohabitation?
And reconsider the residence halls, at least for your first year. College freshmen do best when they have the little things (like food) taken care of for them.
Miranda: When you make the choice to move in with roommates, you’re choosing to share the many responsibilities you will face — together. Do you want to throw a dating relationship into that mix? You and your boyfriend may be great together, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that right out of high school is the best time to move in with him.
One of the best things about college is that it’s a time for figuring out who you want to be. That’s not to say you can’t do that and be in a relationship, but being part of a unit during those college years can be tough.
Making new friends, doing tons of homework and learning to live without your parents are just a few of the things that will be thrown your way when August comes around. Look at all those new experiences and ask yourself if “living with my boyfriend” belongs on that list as well.
Wes is right; your guy may be your best friend, but those close to us don’t necessarily make the best roommates. Going from high-school dating to college dating is a big step in and of itself. Living together now is like skipping to the end of the adventure.
What’s the rush? Making it through your freshman year should be your short-term goal. Then you two could focus on moving in together. Piling lots of life changes on yourself at the same time causes unneeded stress. If you slow down now, you can focus on making both of your college experiences great together.
Next week: Thinking about career selection. Tools for future paychecks.