Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My 48-Year-Old Boyfriend Won’t Move Out of His Mother’s House”

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I am a 48-year-old independent woman who has thrown caution to the wind and lived in different locations and had different careers in the past 20 years. Well, a year and a half ago, I finally had some clarity about where my life was going and where I was meant to be. I moved back to my home state and in with my dad to pursue a stable career and spend time with family and close friends. No regrets, it’s been the best decision of my life so far.

Now comes my dilemma. Upon my moving home, an old boyfriend whom I dated 20 years ago started pursuing me. We have been together ever since. It was so much fun and his family loves me and I love them. They are really great people. Now the kicker: my boyfriend, who is 48 also, still lives with his mom. His mother has a boyfriend whom she spends four days a week with and then they spend every winter together in Florida. You say, “What’s the problem?” Well, my boyfriend tells me that he can’t have a home with me because he has to keep this childhood home, that his mom is going to gift it to him so that she can enjoy her retirement and have a good life. Yes, it’s admirable, but where does this leave me? When his mom goes to her boyfriend’s house, I go to her place where my boyfriend lives, and the place is set up for her comfort with Lazy boy chairs in the TV room. My boyfriend never invites friends to his house or even thinks about entertaining. I feel like we have fast forwarded our relationship into retirement status and I’m starting to feel resentful.

Every time I try to have a conversation with him regarding my feelings he gets so frustrated and angry and he tells me that he can’t afford to give me my own place. Note: my boyfriend has never had a mortgage or children. He owns a new boat, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, an Explorer, his work car, a Nissan, and the garage is his work space with every tool imaginable. When I said that his mother should sell the house and everybody could have their own lives, the look of shock on his face was all I needed to see. I do love him and I know he loves me, but it’s not enough.

My biggest frustration is my boyfriend’s lack of understanding of my feelings and how this is affecting me. He chooses to live in a state of denial. He thinks if he buys me clothes and pretends that his boat is mine too that it makes everything perfect. It’s perfect for him but not for me. I would love to go to counseling, but he is too private a person to do that. I feel like every time I talk about my needs as a woman in a mature relationship that I am being selfish and greedy.

This whole thing has fueled me to stay focused on my current career path, and my plan is to get my own place after this winter passes. Even though I currently live at my father’s farm in a room upstairs, my relationship with my dad is polar opposite my boyfriend’s arrangement with his mom. I often wonder and have asked him if his mother asks him where or how our relationship is progressing. He tells me,” We don’t talk about that stuff.” Really? What is this girl to do, I ask???? — Still Waiting for Perfect

You said that you’d love to go to counseling, which is great because that’s exactly what you should do. Not with your boyfriend though; you should just go on your own. You’re 48 years old, have had a string of jobs, and have made some big lifestyle changes in the last year and a half. By this point in your life you probably have some baggage that a professional can help unpack, which might be especially enlightening as you embark on this new career path and also toward your goal of getting your own place in the next few months. Honestly, focusing on yourself sounds fantastic and probably the best and quickest way to get the life you want — one where you are living in a home that is designed with YOU in mind and not the home of a retiree.

So, what about your boyfriend? Well, at 48, if he’s never been married or had kids and he’s content living in his mother’s home and waiting around for her to gift it to him, I bet there’s not a lot you can do to change him. You either need to accept who and what he is or move on. If you really want to share a home with him and doing so is contingent on his leaving a place where he gets to live for free, I doubt that’s going to happen any time soon. He likes spending his money on his toys. And, really, there’s nothing wrong with that. He sounds happy. YOU are the one who doesn’t happy. So change your life, not his. If the relationship you share with your boyfriend isn’t enough for you, it may be time to move on, because it sounds like it’s enough for him. But if you want to know for sure, you could, you know, ask him directly (instead of asking him what he’s told his mother about where and how your relationship is progressing).

In the meantime, I’d be careful about passing judgment or even getting frustrated with your boyfriend for being 48 and still living with his mother. You’re 48, too, and live with your father. Both of you are where you are because of choices you’ve made in your life, for better or worse. You say your choice to move back home was the best decision you’ve ever made. Well, now it’s time for another good decision. Which will it be? Stay in a relationship that isn’t enough for you, hoping the other party will change? Or, leave behind what doesn’t work or make you happy and start relying on yourself for the life you want?

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

32 comments… add one
  • mrmidtwenties

    mrmidtwenties October 28, 2014, 8:25 am

    Wendy’s advice is 100% spot on, it sounds like he’s pretty happy with his setup, to be honest it sounds pretty awesome.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes October 28, 2014, 8:47 am

    LW, Wendy’s advice is absolutely perfect for your situation.
    *
    When I read your letter, I was stuck on the last few sentences about his mother and the fact that they dont discuss his and your relationship- and Wendy is right- wtf does it matter if they discuss YOUR relationship? That is for the two of YOU to talk about AMONGST YOURSELVES. Or maybe you were hoping she would back you up in that the two of you need a separate place? I dont know. While a year and a half is a chunk of time, it is a blink of the eye to the two of them, who have lived together for 48 frikkin’ years! And they are happy and satisfied with their living situation- so you either take it or leave it. Your BF has expressed that the situation isnt changing – so you either deal with it or MOA. Just like you, he is allowed to have some non-negotiables in the relationship.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes October 28, 2014, 9:19 am

    Also, Wendy- looooove the Peter Pan pic for this. And I think it was last week where you used the Pinocchio-as-his-nose-extends one? I seriously laughed aloud when I saw it. Nice

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 28, 2014, 9:34 am

      I guess it’s something about living with a 3-year-old that draws me to these images…

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      • Moneypenny

        Moneypenny October 28, 2014, 2:54 pm

        I think Peter Pan is the most appropriate pic for this letter! Good choice. 🙂

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  • avatar

    csp October 28, 2014, 9:21 am

    So, I think inheritance is such a weird thing. This guy is saying that one day the house will be his, but that could be 20 years from now. My husband’s grandmother is still alive at 98. We are lucky that she hasn’t outlived her money and my FIL will get his inheritance at 70. I mean, I am sure that is great, but when people bank on that kind of stuff, I find it odd because you can wait a LONG time for that to happen.

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    • FireStar

      FireStar October 28, 2014, 10:37 am

      It irritates me when people speak about assets their parents have and their stake in them. YOU DON’T HAVE A STAKE IN THEM. They aren’t yours. If your family leaves you some thing in a will – then wow! that’s amazing! what a windfall! Not “of course it is coming to me”. And when that doesn’t happen all of a sudden people are mad…over things that were never theirs.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki October 28, 2014, 12:37 pm

        I know what I’m “getting” if/when something happens to my mom… but I don’t care. All I want is my mom. Nothing in the world could ever make up the loss I would feel if I didn’t have her. The fact that people focus so much on inheritances really confuses me. The only reason I know anything is because it is important to my mom to discuss things like that in advance (including her living will and wishes).

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      • avatar

        csp October 28, 2014, 12:52 pm

        Right, my parents had the will talk with me. I had to sign a few things. but if I waited until they kicked it to move out, it would be weird.

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      • avatar

        csp October 28, 2014, 12:50 pm

        Right, your parents could give it all to charity or blow through all of it in retirement. But mostly, I feel like it is a scapegoat for not working hard in the present. Plus, most of the time, it doesn’t come when you are young and it could make a difference

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      • Moneypenny

        Moneypenny October 28, 2014, 2:57 pm

        It’s so sad when, after someone dies, the family starts fighting over their stuff. This happened to my family after my grandmother died. My mom’s outlook was (and is) that it wasn’t hers to begin with, so she shouldn’t feel entitled to it. (My uncles on the other hand? Different story.) And I try to remember that as well. An inheritance is a gift, not a right. And counting your chickens before they hatch can backfire on you too!!

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    • sobriquet

      sobriquet October 28, 2014, 1:59 pm

      The idea of inheritance makes my skin crawl, as I’ve seen the horrible things it does to people. When my grandma’s 2nd husband passed away a few years ago, an already difficult time was made so much worse by his grown kids fighting over his money. Even thinking about it now makes my stomach turn.

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    • sobriquet

      sobriquet October 28, 2014, 2:20 pm

      What do you guys think about this situation? I realize my thoughts may be clouded by my very negative view of inheritance.
      .
      My husband’s grandparents are financially well off and loaned him some money for college tuition several years ago. He has been consistently paying it off every month over the past few years at a rate that his grandparents are happy with, but he probably won’t pay it off entirely by the time they pass away. Unless of course they live longer than expected, which would be great and then there would be no problem!
      .
      Well, I recently found out that my MIL will expect us to continue paying off the loan to HER once her parents pass away. This really rubs me the wrong way. What is the point of that, other than pure greed? My MIL has been known to be a bit greedy/selfish so this doesn’t *completely* surprise me. Is this normal?

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      • avatar

        cleopatra jones October 28, 2014, 2:58 pm

        Your boyfriend should have a discussion with his grandparents about the terms of the loan. He could ask them what they want to do about the repayment of the loan, if it’s not paid when they both pass away. IMO, if one person is alive, he should continue to pay on the loan.
        Since his mother is intent on receiving money that isn’t hers, then there should probably be something in writing from the grandparents about the terms. Please notarize the document or have a lawyer make it all legal. 🙂
        That way he is protected and their wishes are honored. Honestly, there is nothing as wretched as seeing someone make a play for money/assets before the body of the loved one is cold.

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      • Moneypenny

        Moneypenny October 28, 2014, 3:03 pm

        I dunno, that situation does seem greedy to me at first. But… My parents loaned me some money awhile ago, and I am slowly paying them back. My sister also has an “IOU” to my parents as well. I’ve discussed it with my mom, and we have agreed that if anything happened to them before the IOU is paid off (god forbid), it would come out of what we would inherit. And I’m totally on board with that. Also, when my grandmother passed, my mom (as executor) made sure any money my uncles owed my grandparents, as well as back child support to their kids, got taken out of their inheritance.
        .
        So, I do see her point. But, my immediate feeling is, ugh, greedy!

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      • Moneypenny

        Moneypenny October 28, 2014, 3:04 pm

        And yes to what Cleopatra said. He should make sure he discusses exactly what will happen with his grandparents and get something in writing.

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  • lynn

    lynn October 28, 2014, 9:22 am

    Dude. You live at home, too. Are you for real right now? Besides your boyfriend has a pretty nice set up. And it’s still his mom’s house, so obviously it’s going to be decorated the way she wants. I just don’t understand how you can complain about his lifestyle and what he’s doing when you’re still living at home too. Doesn’t matter if you pay rent or not or whatever, it’s still your dad’s place.

    And wtf does “can’t afford to give me my own place” mean?? Are you asking him to buy you a place…?

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    • FireStar

      FireStar October 28, 2014, 9:51 am

      That line stuck out to me too. And the line about the mother’s house being set up for the mother’s comfort…and that somehow being a bad thing? Whose comfort should the woman’s house be set up for?
      This is a little pot meet kettle given their current situations aren’t really that different. What’s different is the boyfriend has been living like this since time and makes no bones about it. He isn’t lying about who he is – he has told the LW plainly that this is the deal with him. Either she accepts it or moves on.

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    • avatar

      eelliinnss October 28, 2014, 9:52 am

      Seriously, the first thing I thought was WAIT they BOTH live with their parents at 48?!? And then on top of it she wants to control what her boyfriend does with his mother’s house and/or expects him to provide a place she’s happy with?!
      OY VEY.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 October 28, 2014, 10:17 am

      She is living at home, but they are two different situations, it seems like she is mad though, because she was expecting him to get her out of her fathers house, but now that he can’t provide that for her, she has to go get a small apartment off her own money, instead of having another free place to move into herself.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal October 28, 2014, 9:34 am

    “This whole thing has fueled me to stay focused on my current career path, and my plan is to get my own place after this winter passes.”
    *
    You answered your own question.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 October 28, 2014, 10:12 am

    If you are going to be getting your own place, I don’t see what the problems is. Can’t he just stay there when you want a lone time? Can’t you guys entertain at your place? Do you for some reason feel the need to have this guy provide for you so you don’t have to provide for yourself? You are pretty hung up on all the nice things he has bought for himself over the years when you weren’t around. Quick question though, is this guys inheritance contingent on him actually staying there? Or could he move in with you at some point and still get the house.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. October 28, 2014, 10:30 am

      Yeah, are those the terms? If they are, he’s accepted them.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. October 28, 2014, 10:38 am

    LW, you say you are an independent woman, yet you seem to be extremely reliant on other people. You live with your dad, and you seem to expect your boyfriend to provide for you. A truly independent woman relies on herself and chooses to share her life with someone. She does not expect that person to provide her with her life. Sure, there may be circumstances, particularly in today’s economy, which would cause a 48-year-old to live at home with her dad. But, you don’t mention any of those things. In any event, your boyfriend clearly does not intend to move any time soon, so you should just continue on your merry way without him. I think you’ll be happier.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo October 28, 2014, 10:46 am

    It’s hard to imagine the allure of a 48 year old boy living with his Mom. He may well be happy with his situation. He has all his toys and his room and his Mom may even still do his laundry for all we know. It’s pretty clear that this isn’t good enough for the LW, and I can certainly understand why it wouldn’t be. Sorry, what was the question here?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom October 28, 2014, 11:48 am

      But she’s the same age and living with her dad so they are the same.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo October 28, 2014, 12:17 pm

        A lot of people have made that comment, but I do think there is a difference between someone who has been independent for 20 years and moves back home temporarily versus someone who has never been out of his or her parents’ house. A BIG difference in fact. That being said, there are many questions we could ask the LW. If the BF wrote in asking what to do, i might ask why he was so interested in a 48 yo woman who has moved back into her dad’s house. But i’m responding to her question and giving her the benefit of the doubt as to her description of the scenario. She makes a point that she has been out there for two decades. Doesn’t that count?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 28, 2014, 12:40 pm

        She has been independent, at least we assume it but since she hasn’t said much about her past for all we know, she may have lived with and been supported by a series of men. We do know that for all the time away she has nothing to show for it. She has no money of her own, not even enough to rent an apartment. No matter how they got there, they are both equal at this moment, except that he owns more.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo October 28, 2014, 4:54 pm

        When i was 21 and my dad was 43, we had the same amount of money. I was a dirt poor student and his businesses had gone under, and he lost his house. We had the same, but we were not equal. I was a kid, young man, maybe, just barely out of the house, and he had raised a family and gone through success and failure and kept soldiering on. I am now 48, and I doubt I have more material possessions than the BF. But he is not my equal. I learned hard lessons, lost everything a number of times, knew failure and loss and earned my own success. I am nothing like some dude who’s never been out of his mom’s house.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 28, 2014, 11:47 am

    You call yourself and independent woman and yet you are living with your dad, dependent on him, because you can’t afford a place of your own. You aren’t an independent woman. You are also complaining that your boyfriend isn’t providing a place for you, yet another thing that an independent woman doesn’t need or seek.

    Your boyfriend has spent his money on expensive toys but what have you got to show for your years away from home? You didn’t come back with a nest egg and able to buy a place of your own. You didn’t even come back with enough in savings to go out and rent your own place. So you make him sound immature but he’s still got more to show for his years of working than you do.

    So continue on your career path, save your money and become the independent woman that you claim to be.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. October 28, 2014, 4:47 pm

      I don’t know that I would use the word “independent” to describe the LW. “Free spirit” perhaps, or “flighty”. Without knowing how she spent those years it’s hard to say. But, I did wonder how she could have had “different careers” and not much money to her name.

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  • avatar

    d2 October 28, 2014, 9:07 pm

    LW, you said in your letter that your boyfriend is living in a state of denial. However, it seems to me that you are the one in denial. Your boyfriend has made it very clear who he has been, who he is, and who he will be. He is completely content with where his life is and where it is going. You are the one that is not content.

    You think that it is unfair for your boyfriend to ask you to adjust your expectations. However, it is equally unfair for you to ask your boyfriend to change his life to meet your expectations.

    There is a significant incompatibility in your relationship expectations. Because your boyfriend has indicated that he has no interest in changing, you must decide whether or not you can accept the current status. If that is unacceptable, then you should consider leaving your boyfriend and pursuing a relationship with someone else with whom you share the same expectations.

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