I’m a senior, semi-retired with a good income. I’m active, and I feel great physically and mentally. I have a great family, kids and grandkids. Last year, my apartment lease was ending, and my long-term boyfriend, “Scott,” offered me the opportunity to stay with him for $800 a month. I had recently lost my mom after a long illness and was ready for someone to take care of me, so I said yes.
Shortly after the that, my daughter said that Scott told her husband that my grandsons were little monsters and he’d like to choke them. Then Scott told me my grandkids would not be allowed over – too much they could break! I tried to get my apartment back, but it was already rented to someone else. Scott seems happy to have me at his place, but I’ve been resentful about my grandkids and there are other issues. For one thing, he’s a bit of a hoarder. He also said he would expand the upstairs suite for me, but he has yet to do it after 17 months. He has a mud room space we could’ve renovated and I’ve offered to pay, but he refuses.
Additionally, Scott recently became involved with a local group of politicians, and the two people in charge are females and very bossy. Scott is constantly getting texts, emails, and direction from these ladies. He seems to enjoy the attention. I’ve felt awkward and unwelcome when he takes me along, like I’m staking my claim. Both these woman are well-off, married, and kind of snobby. I doubted they would be personally interested in Scott, but he recently had shoulder surgery and received a card from one of the ladies, signed “Love, Virginia.” This didn’t seem appropriate to me, and I’m not sure if I should let this drop or inquire about it. He’s likely to get pissed off and accuse me of being jealous.
Maybe none of this even matters, because I’m ready to move to a southern state, near my son. I have medical conditions affected by the cold here. Scott said he’d like to move south also but not for three years! I don’t want to wait that long, but I feel bad leaving him. He’s getting older and doesn’t really have anyone else. At the same time, he’s very inflexible and difficult. He has stopped traveling and doing anything fun. Of course, I love him, but I’m tired of everything being on his terms. I want to fully retire and get a small home of my own where my kids and grandkids can visit. I have no problem with a long-distance relationship or doing a snowbird kind of thing. What do you advise? — Ready to be a Snowbird
You already know what you want to do! And you should do it. Move down south, near your son. Fully retire and buy that small home where you can host your family – and Scott, should you both choose to continue this relationship. It sounds like the issues you have with Scott didn’t begin until you moved in together, so maybe living apart – far apart – could be the missing ingredient for a happy relationship between you two. Maybe not. It’s worth a shot though, and it could be the best of both worlds.
Think about it: a home of your own where the only person you have to worry about is yourself. No sick, aging parent to care for, no hoarding boyfriend who doesn’t like to have fun, no kids you can’t send back to their parents when you’re ready to be alone. Just sweet, sweet solitude, the comfort of your own company, visits with your grandkids whenever you want, and maybe – just maybe – extended visits from Scott in YOUR home, where YOUR rules apply. Sounds pretty fuckin’ good to me.
But here’s the key: Manage your expectations. The paragraph above is a pretty realistic view of a best-case scenario, but it doesn’t speak to the loneliness you might feel or the desire you may still harbor to be taken care of. No one is going to be taking care of you on a full-time basis. You will be financially, physically, and emotionally responsible for yourself. Your kids have their own families and demands. Though they will hopefully be available in emergencies and may be around to provide periodic companionship, that’s not the same as someone really taking care of you, so don’t expect that.
What I hope the past 17 months living with Scott have given you is some perspective. Maybe living with a partner right now isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe you have under-appreciated the glory of independence. Maybe Scott is more fun at a distance, when you aren’t sharing a mud room, you know? Most of all: Maybe the change you were seeking after your mother’s death wasn’t for someone else to prioritize your care; maybe it was for YOU to prioritize your care. And you can absolutely, 100% do that, and it sounds like you already have some ideas how.
As for how Scott will fare on his own, he’ll be ok. True, getting older alone has disadvantages, but this is the life Scott has fostered for himself. If having someone by his side was the most important thing for him, he’d have made living with him more enticing. Instead, he charges you rent without giving you any agency in the home. It’s very much his space and his rules. He literally has not made space for you. It’s ok – it’s more than ok – for you to want more than this for yourself, to prioritize YOUR well-being.
If you start packing now, you can be down south before the snow starts falling up north.