Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Won’t Sell His House and Buy a New Place with Me”

My boyfriend, “Hank,” and I have been dating for over a year and a half, but we’ve known each other for over 20 years. I’m 42, he’s 49. We are so perfect for each other, and at our age I feel like we each know what we want in a partner. The problem is we aren’t moving forward, but it’s not that either of us doesn’t want to go the next step. He purchased his parents’ home about 10 years ago and has asked me and my son to move in. The home is in my childhood neighborhood, which is not a safe area and doesn’t have good schools, either. It’s definitely not a place I’d ever choose to live. Plus, it’s HIS home. It’ll never be OURS. I’ve suggested purchasing a place together – somewhere we could both feel comfortable with, but he refuses. He says it’s ridiculous for someone his age to purchase a new home, pay a mortgage for 30 years, and have to work until he’s 80. The house he owns now is also sentimental to him since it was his family home (although his seven siblings had no problem selling it prior to his wanting to buy it), and I understand his point of view. But he’s financially struggling in his current situation. Every year he’s late on his house taxes, and he even has to have a roommate just to afford the minimal extras in life. I’ve explained how moving into our own place would benefit him financially. I have a decent paying job with a pension, and I could take on that burden, for the both of us if I needed to.

My heart is breaking, thinking that I should leave him, because it’s not fair to me to continue with this relationship if there’s no end game. Am I right to feel this way? Is there a middle ground I’m not seeing? Should I give up everything I’ve been searching for in a relationship for my “wanting to build a future” together? — Don’t Want to Lose Him

I think what you aren’t seeing is potentially that you aren’t as well-matched with Hank as you think you are. You say that at your age you know what you want in a partner. I would imagine that you want someone who is financially responsible, right? After all, you’re 42, you’re a mom, and you sound responsible yourself. Hank does not sound financially responsible. He’s late paying bills and, at 49, he can’t afford living in his home without the financial contribution of a roommate. Rather than move somewhere more affordable, he stays in his financially insecure situation. That doesn’t sound very responsible. I would also imagine that, as a single mom, something that you would look for in a partner is an interest and commitment in being a strong father-figure to your son. Part of being a parent – or a parental figure – is to prioritize one’s kid’s safety and education. Maintaining residence in an unsafe area with bad schools when other options are readily available – and would be affordable with the support of a partner – doesn’t sound very responsible. In these ways, Hank doesn’t sound like a perfect match for you, even if everything else in your relationship is wonderful. These are big issues on which to be mis-matched.

Now you might decide that maybe these aren’t issues that are deal-breakers for you. Maybe you can convince yourself that living in an unsafe area with bad schools will work for you. Maybe you can, in fact, finally convince Hank to sell his house and move somewhere else with you. You still have the issue of his financial irresponsibility. You say you would be willing to “take on the [financial] burden” for both of you should you need to. The only way that moving in together would work is if you accept the financial burden from the beginning as otherwise you are setting yourself up for disappointment. You cannot expect that Hank is going to move in with you and suddenly become financially responsible. History has shown that he isn’t, and that is not going to magically change if you were to move in together. Are you prepared to financially support him? To pay the mortgage and taxes on a new home together, and to cover most of the bills (since he has a history of being late with them)? If you are – like, really, truly, genuinely and you’re not going to resent him for only contributing when he feels like it – then the only obstacle is getting him to sell his house (or at least move out), which may be far easier to do if he knows you’ll be footing the bill of his new living environment. If you are not prepared to foot the bill, it’s time to MOA, because, as you said, there’s no end game here – not when you’re with someone who isn’t a match for you.

My boyfriend, “Mike,” who is 20, is living with me so he can go to college (which he picked just to”be with me”). Well, now he’s wanting to look at apartments together. I’m in high school and I want to live in a dorm for a year, but he keeps trying to persuade me to get an apartment instead because “it’s cheaper.” I also don’t really want to live with him right now. I feel like I’m raising a child. If I wake him up because he’s running late, he yells and calls me names and goes back to sleep, he refuses to clean (I have to throw a fit for him to even pick up his clothing that he threw on the floor an inch from the hamper), and I pretty much have to turn off the wifi so he’ll stop playing on his phone and get his college work done. I can’t really text anyone because he gets mad and says I’m on my phone all the time, and then he wants to look through my phone when I’ve never looked through his, and he watches tik tok or Youtube almost every second he’s awake. — Playing Mom

MOA. This guy is bad for you in all kinds of ways. He sounds controlling, manipulative, lazy, neglectful, and irresponsible. And he doesn’t respect your wishes or the goals you’ve set for yourself. Give yourself a powerful lesson now, while you’re young, that the freedom and relief of leaving a bad boyfriend is worth whatever it is you think you’ll be giving up when you give him up. Choosing yourself is always the best course. And staying with a bad match never works – not when you’re in high school and not when you’re in your 40s.

***************Follow along on Facebook,  and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

18 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl October 29, 2020, 10:12 am

    Both these LWs are in relationships with children and not functioning adults.
    LW1 – Hank is likely not going to change. I am sure he is aware of all the logical reasons why you both should move, but has decided to prioritize sentimentality and inertia over your relationship. There is no way to force him to give up his house and likely he will resent you if you do give him an ultimatum. I think your two choices are to either accept the status quo until your son is out of school in eight years or to dump Hank and move on.

    LW2 – I have so many questions. Why in the ever loving hell are you already living with your BF as a high school student? Are you both living with your parents? Are you in your senior year? If so, are you planning on going to the same college as him or is he planning on transferring to where ever you end up? Finally, why are you babying an adult man – kick him out now. His statement that he picked this college in order to be close to you is full on manipulation and he is using it as a way to keep you from dumping him. If you are in your senior year, look for schools that appeal to you – not just the one that your free loading, asshole boyfriend is currently attending. You do not owe him anything, in fact he has been benefiting greatly from your relationship while you are taking on stress and the emotional labor while going to school full time. You deserve better.

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    • avatar

      bondgirl October 29, 2020, 12:01 pm

      I agree, both LW’s are involved with adults functioning with immature mindsets.

      One concern to keep in mind with LW1 is not just the whole “he doesn’t wanna move” issue; he’s frequently late on paying taxes for his house, and needs a roommate to help supplement other costs. He may have bad credit as a result of all this. If you marry him and combine finances….that can also bring down YOUR credit history. Maybe it’s just me but that’d be enough for some to move on.

      and for LW2, some people won’t change until a metaphorical fire is lit under their ass. I know a few people who gave up on hoping a lazy spouse would change and just left them….and even though they never got back together, it was only at these times which their exes decided to finally make the desired changes in their lives — get that new job, lose weight, eat healthier, whatever. The point is, it’s not up to you to make them change their lives for the better; it IS up to you to decide you deserve better and move on.

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  • avatar

    Pheebers October 29, 2020, 12:50 pm

    Somehow I just want to hug (from 6 feet away, of course) that high school student in the second letter and tell her she’s amazing for everything she’s done so far, and make sure she knows she needs to kick him the heck out, like, yesterday.

    So: Dump his sorry butt and move on to someone who deserves you. Right now you’re Mike’s mother with benefits. If he asks why, it’s easy. You don’t want or need to be with someone who throws a tantrum when asked to behave like an adult. And even if he apologizes and says he’ll change, he won’t. It’s not that hard to put your clothes in the hamper, and if he isn’t when you’re asking now, he won’t later.

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  • avatar

    Karebear1813 October 29, 2020, 1:16 pm

    LW1
    It is a calculated risk to purchase a home with someone that you are not legally married too! He is already struggling financially. You both have to come to a compromise if you want this relationship to work. Do you have your own home currently or want to be buying one with him?
    I think one option that hasn’t been mentioned is he could always rent out his childhood home to renters while residing with you in your home and of course help pay some bills. That way if it doesn’t work out he could return back to his home and you could live in a more safe neighborhood with a better school district.

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    • avatar

      Bittergaymark October 29, 2020, 1:34 pm

      Yeah, frankly, I think he’d be fucking nuts to buy a home with this LW. To suggest he is somehow wrong to resist this is just plain fucking nuts. Especially after a YEAR and a 1/2 of dating… This letter is like, “Help! I am dating somebody fiscally irresponsible! Why won’t he be EVEN MORE irresponsible with me?!”

      🤷

      PS — EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING is about to crash. Now is NOT the time to buy a house. Period.

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    • avatar

      ron October 30, 2020, 8:48 am

      It’s hard to tell what is most important to LW. She talks about wanting a safer neighborhood and better schools for her child, which is certainly legit, but… she also really stresses that HIS home can never be an OUR home, that this can only happen if they buy a new home together. This simply isn’t true. A house is just a building that the family living there personalizes and turns into a home. Unless he insists upon keeping the house unchanged as a monument to his youth and birth family, that house can certainly be an OUR home.

      What BGM says is exactly right. We live in perilous times and taking on a lot of new debt is foolish. So is owning a house with someone you aren’t married to. And yes, a year and a half isn’t that long that you should be desperate to kick the relationship ahead to your version of the next step. He also wants to move forward, but you disagree on the next step. The house is his financial security. It would be a bigger risk for him than for you to buy a new house together — he’s older, you earn more, and the shared financial responsibility for your child is new for him.

      You and he aren’t perfect for each other. You have a major, likely insurmountable, deal-breaker staring you in the face. He does sound stuck in his ways and lacking in significant relationship experience.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie November 2, 2020, 8:17 am

        @ron – I agree with your comments overall, but to make a house a home it needs to reflect all of the people who live there. If he’s resistant to changing the decor or layout or making improvements to the house, then it will always feel like his house and not their home.

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  • avatar

    FYI October 29, 2020, 2:01 pm

    I am actually scared for the second LW. You’re in high school!??! Who is supporting you??!!? Who allowed this guy to move in? Absolutely no normal 20-year-old guy wants to move in with a high-schooler. Christ on a cracker.

    You have to kick him out, but you NEED SUPPORT for that, because he will not react well. Talk to a guidance counselor at your school or call the domestic violence hotline at 800-799-SAFE. You need a PLAN to extricate yourself from this situation, and you likely need some therapy after that so that you don’t ever open the door to someone like this again.

    You think I’m over-reacting. I’m not. You in danger, girl.

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    • avatar

      Sea Witch November 1, 2020, 7:18 pm

      Where the heck are her parents?? Why have they allowed a 20 year old man to move in with their (presumably) teenage daughter?

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  • avatar

    Redgirl October 29, 2020, 8:13 pm

    I don’t get the same “financially irresponsible” vibe from the first letter that everyone else seems to. It sounds like Hank’s house is paid off, since the LW only mentions him paying taxes on it and says the roommate is for “minimal extra expenses,” not a mortgage payment. If Hank is having trouble paying his existing expenses (and we don’t know why–not everyone who struggles financially is simply irresponsible), it would be truly irresponsible to take on a new mortgage! Maybe he could get enough for his current house to cover his half of a mortgage, but since it’s in a bad neighborhood, he may not be able to sell it for enough to move somewhere nicer. It’s not good that he pays bills late, but besides that, staying put in a house that’s paid off and getting a roommate to help with expenses sounds like a completely responsible course of action.

    Also, it’s completely legitimate to have reservations about raising a kid in a neighborhood that is unsafe and has bad schools, and that should certainly factor into the LW’s decisions. However, this notion of “it’s HIS house and I want OUR house” struck me as immature and unrealistic. It’s not actually standard practice for people to sell their existing home and buy a new one every time they move in with a new partner! Wanting to keep a house you already own is not automatically a value statement about your love and commitment to someone. You feel it’s important to “build a life together” in a completely new home. Hank would rather share his family home with you, inviting you to be part of that family. Neither one of those is necessarily wrong, although they may be irreconcilable.

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  • avatar

    CanadianGal October 29, 2020, 10:27 pm

    LW1 – As you are aware, women make 80 cents to the dollar of your male counterpart and so you will have to work longer hours and more years to have the same amount of pension as your male counterpart. You will also have to work harder to than your male counterparts in order to get promoted and recognized in your workplace. As a woman, you are also more likely to take years out of your career for childcare and for care of elderly parents. Women also live longer than men, so your pension and savings have to last longer than your male counterparts. As a woman, you are also more likely to financially support your child through post-secondary education, and more like to have your child boomerang back home in tough times as a young adult. With all this in mind, there is no reason that you should be taking on the financial responsibility of another adult who chooses to be under employed, who chooses not to take care of his financial responsibilities. Someone who disregards their financial responsibilities, I will guarantee you they tend to disregard many other responsibilities. LW1 you have one financial obligation, and that is to your child. For every dollar you spend supporting someone who chooses not to support themselves, that is one less dollar for your retirement, one less dollar you can spend on your needs later in life when you outlive your partner, one less dollar out of your child’s education fund, one less dollar out of you and your child’s future. Please put your self first here, and if you cannot do that, then at least put your child first, and do not financially support an abled body person who chooses not to support himself.

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  • avatar

    brise October 30, 2020, 5:00 am

    He can’t afford to buy a house with you. Just give up. Purchase your own property for you and your son, but don’t push him to help you get a bigger place. Date in a distance or just move on.
    Your plan is wholly unrealistic. I can’t understand people who hardly manage their everyday budget and who consider getting in more debts. To me, this guy seems relatively reasonable, in not wanting to get deep in debts and depending financially on you when he does have a house and is already very short in money. You dream, LW, really! Just land on earth and go on with your own property purchase, if YOU can afford it. I doubt a bit your financial capacity, I must say, this picture of yourself as so good at a budget. Anybody can see that your calculation is false.

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  • avatar

    Shane October 30, 2020, 8:26 am

    I can’t understand people who hardly manage their everyday budget and who consider getting in more debts. To me, this guy seems relatively reasonable, in not wanting to get deep in debts and depending financially on you when he does have a house and is already very short in money.

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  • avatar

    Betty October 30, 2020, 12:02 pm

    LW2: where are your parents? I am so sorry that they have let you down, you should not be dealing with this in addition to everything else in high school. Also, stop waking up your boyfriend–he is 20, he can wake himself up. If he yells at you for “letting” him sleep in, that says more about him than about you. He needs to learn to be an adult, and if that means he struggles or is late to class, that is on him.

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  • avatar

    Sea Witch November 1, 2020, 7:13 pm

    LW1: my guess is that Hank is reluctant to buy a house with you because he’d have to sell it split the proceeds with you if you broke up. Even though he is having trouble keeping his present house, he feels it’s more secure keeping a property that’s all his. I must confess, I can see his point.

    If you want to move out, then move out. Find your own place in a neighbourhood that you like. Get roommates of your own if you have trouble affording it on your own.

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  • avatar

    Sea Witch November 1, 2020, 7:17 pm

    LW2: What the heck are you getting from this relationship? I can see what he gets from it – sex, housekeeping and someone to keep him in line – but what do you get from it? You seem to be younger chronologically, yet older in emotional maturity.

    I don’t see what the problem is. Just tell him you don’t want to live with him any more. Is he in your parent’s house with you right now?

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  • avatar

    Ankat November 2, 2020, 10:24 am

    LW1 – it’s been 20 years. The dude’s not going to make it official – ever. The house thing is just an excuse.

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  • avatar

    ron November 2, 2020, 2:24 pm

    Not 20 years. They’ve dated for a year and a half. 20 years is how long they’ve known each other.

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