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Cohabitation? Tempting but risky

Wed., March 21, 2012

Hey, Carolyn: I’m a gainfully employed graduate in my early 20s, and my parents and I have a pretty open and trusting relationship – almost daily contact, despite the 3,000-mile gap between us.

I’m hoping to soon move into a new place with my boyfriend of four months, and I’m not sure how to tell them. How do I bring this up? I guess I should just live with the resulting awkwardness? – Awkward

Awkwardness with your new boyfriend, when it dawns on you that you shacked up too soon?

You’re not sure how to tell your parents because you’re afraid to, because you know they’re going to react the same way I did.

But they will feel too invested in their relationship to blurt out, “FOR THE LOVE OF GRATUITOUS COMMINGLING, DON’T DO IT!!” – instead going … silent for a beat while they form tactful questions, like, “Oh, ah, how did this all come about?”

I have no such investment. So, for the love of gratuitous commingling, don’t do it. Your instincts might be absolutely right about this guy, and a long and satisfying union might be under way. However, the pragmatic answer still is to postpone making any choices that fit these two parameters: (1) tempting now; (2) painful to reverse later.

Before you move in, inertia keeps you apart. After you move in, inertia keeps you together. Too many people feel inclined to break up but don’t because the thought of it all is too daunting.

There are also the much less abstract reasons that at four months you’re just getting to know each other, and that in your mid-20s you’re just getting to know yourself. If you think you’re an exception, remember, most do – and few are.

Go ahead, start building your life, even one with this guy, but pre-empt regrets by leaving ample room to grow. Or rather, rooms – separate ones.


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