Make us your home page

Breaking news to parents about a live-in beau

An adult's independence is more than financial

Q: My boyfriend and I (both 24, college grads, employed full time) have been together 2 1/2 years. I invited him to move into my condo a year ago; our lifestyles have meshed well and our relationship has grown. The problem is, I haven't told my parents we live together.

They have met my boyfriend on more than one occasion, but treat him with indifference (read: don't like him). I need a pep talk on breaking the news because I realize this cannot go on forever. My parents will not approve of our living together, but I am more concerned they will use their financial contributions to guilt me into doing what they want. (They contributed the down payment for my condo.)

My parents are "traditional" and see a woman getting married as an equivalent to being cared for financially. In their eyes, a guy moving into MY place is a moocher. I don't plan on NOT living with bf, so as a last resort bf and I would move and rent somewhere. As my parents are really good at emotional manipulation and threats, do you have any great talking points I can use?

Kid-ish Adult or Adult-like Kid

A: This disinterested bystander is happy you're happy, sympathizes with kid-adult transitions, and applauds your impulse toward financial independence.

But I'm not your audience. Your audience:

(1) Dislikes your boyfriend, and now has justification.

(2) Controls you with money, and now has grounds to call you ungrateful.

(3) Espouses rigid views of right and wrong, and in your deceit now has validation.

These aren't just PR failures you can overcome with clever talking points. They're failures to apply your values — the ones you've consciously chosen over your parents' — toward living your life in a coherent, principled way. That's forgivable, maybe even expected, when you're on the seam between childhood and adulthood.

But when you lined your love nest with parental cash, you left the seam for full-on adult culpability. Your attempt to break free of your parents has so far been conducted in the safety of their ignorance. Now, it's showtime.

So, what are your values? Do you believe in freedom, equality, love, learning from experience, living and letting live, assimilation, tolerance, one's inalienable right to screw up? It's time to identify your motivation for past actions, and form a guiding principle for future ones. You can offer your parents an ego shield — "You raised me, please trust that you did a good job" — but, ultimately, clarity and courage in your convictions are the best vehicles for the truth.

Will your parents like that truth? Doubtful. Even their grudging respect is a long shot.

But theirs isn't the respect you need to earn. It's your own. The good that comes from this won't rest on a happy outcome — who knows, maybe your parents are right about the boyfriend — but instead rests on your willingness to face your fears and own your beliefs.

By the way — you should be prepared to move out. (I would also suggest making monthly payments to reimburse them, starting now.) However, I think the mistake in direst need of a remedy is your setting your boyfriend up as a scapegoat. If you haven't given him fair warning and an abject apology, please do that before anything else.

Breaking news to parents about a live-in beau 09/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 4:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours