Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Scrappy Advice Tuesday

We're short an advice column today because [something that sounds smart and has nothing to do with the fact that they're hard to gather sometimes — it's like picking blueberries, and occasionally the bushes aren't covered in fruit, and other times the blueberry picker just sits down on a log and stares into the middle distance], and so we have a couple options. One is that Dear Prudence has a doozy today:

I met my fiancé at a house party. I was there with my best friend, who happens to be gorgeous. He began talking to us and kept talking to me after my best friend left. We made plans to hang out later, and over the next three months our friendship evolved into a wonderful relationship. Recently my fiancé and his good friend had a falling out, and in an act of spite his friend forwarded me a series of emails from around the time we first met. By reading them I learned that, initially, my fiancé only spent time with me because he wanted to have a shot with my best friend. He called me plain, repetitive, and mildly annoying. I know those aren't harsh criticisms, and that they come from the first few days of our friendship. But I'm still upset, because those are my worst fears about myself, and it hurts to know that the person I'm marrying thought those things about me too.

Her advice is brilliant as always. Another option is to do an "Ask Everyone" situation for the following question.

In what situations is it feasible for a couple to stop living together but still stay together?

I’ve looked at this from as many angles and sources as are available to me, and acknowledged the good points and bad points of my own relationship as it stands now — there are plenty of each. I feel no need to give much information about the nature of our particular situation, except to say that this idea wasn’t mine, I’m obviously shaken by it and worried but I don’t especially rule it out as a terrible idea, and that it has the potential to be a slow process because of where we live.

What I’d like from you, and the Hairpin community, are examples. Please tell me stories about yourself or people you know that have stopped living together but have maintained successful monogamous relationships. Whose idea it was to move out and why, what they had to do to get through it without hurt feelings, what kind of situation it was and turned out to be ... the more details the better. Thanks in advance!

Let's solve this.

209 Comments / Post A Comment


Dear Edith:

I have always said that if you need another A Lady, I would be super great at it. I'm super good giving advice, I already write for a living, and how else will I ever get the chance to be an advice columnist??

Ahem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ike_fZ1N64

Just saying.


@special_boots Oooh. Playing Who Are The A Ladies Among Us is one of my favorite past times. More A Ladies= More Speculative Fun For Meeee!

(because of course, it is all about me)

Porn Peddler

@special_boots I was not going to be the one to start the "I COULD WRITE A COLUMN" cacophony but....now that it has begun...

Faintly Macabre

@special_boots I've considered proposing "Ask a Misanthropic Lady With No Life Experience," but I don't want to be responsible for ruining people's lives.


@Faintly Macabre Preface all your answers with, "Here's what you don't want to do..." and you're in the clear!


@Faintly Macabre "Ask A Dumb Chick Who Will Ramble On About Herself Instead of Addressing Your Question At All"


@redheaded&crazie @Faintly Macabre these are my favourite advice columns of alllllll

jamie schuh

@special_boots Dibs on "ASK A CAT LADY WITH A DRINKING PROBLEM" if, you know, anyone ever needs advice like that.

Chesty LaRue

@special_boots We must be related


@Hellcat One of my friends used to ask me for advice ALL the time, and I was totally flattered until the day I told him I was totally flattered and he said, completely seriously, "Yeah, I generally do the exact opposite of what you say and everything works out perfectly."


@Xanthophyllippa D:


@Chesty LaRue Can't be. No one Chesty in my family *heavy sigh.*


@jamie schuh I already live with two of those, but I'm down for other people to ask you! I mean... your friend... I mean... what?


@redheaded&crazie @Faintly Macabre @jamie schuh I WOULD READ THE CRAP OUT OF ALL THESE COLUMNS.


@Jade I could do Ask A SCIENCE Grad Student. Although all my advice tends to be something like, "Quick, have a drink!" But at least I could tell you how the alcohol is being metabolized...


@D.@twitter Ahem: http://www.gradhacker.org/about/write-for-us/

Disco Sheets

@Jade SO WOULD I. Even if they just gave their own spin on previous A Lady for-serious-advice. ALSO LWs, I would love to read updates about what happened!!!! "I didn't follow A Lady's sage advice but I did inadvertently follow what A Cat Lady with a Drinking Problem suggested, so my partner left me and I took up my own drinking problem but now I also have a cat so it seems to be going great."


@special_boots Dibs on Ask a Slightly Paranoid Person for the Worst Case Scenario.

LW: Your boyfriend wants you to move out because he is an assassin who wants to work from home. Soundproofing is expensive and he needs advance notice to get the bloodstains out of the couch.

Dear Prudence Lady: Your fiancee and your best friend are having a torrid affair. Your only hope is to emulate her exactly, a la single white female. Good luck!

Roxanne Rholes

I'm really excited to read the answers to this! I have recently realized that knowing my boyfriend is waiting for me at home makes me do fewer things. Why go to the gym or get the shopping done or read a book when I could drink beers and play cards with a smokin' hot dude who is already in my house? But I can't see suggesting we move apart, because I was the one who was like "let's live together, it'll be a blast!"

It IS a blast, but I need to get it together, you know?

Roxanne Rholes

@Roxanne Rholes As an example, as soon as I posted this, he texted me saying "basketball game tonight, let's walk to the bar next door and watch!"

Which sounds great, except I was going to write letters to all my friends who live far away! I just always, always give in...


@Roxanne Rholes Take your stationery to the bar! That way you can drink beer and write letters. Seriously!


@Roxanne Rholes Yeah, living together can mean lots of inadvertent peer pressure. Let's go to the bar! Or, in my case, let's sit on the couch, watch two more shows on Netflix and be incredibly lazy together! It's like permission to slack off if someone else is doing it with you.

Roxanne Rholes

@remargaret I don't know if he'll think that's super rude of me? But maybe I'll do it anyway! Haha.

@kmc So true. I feel like I might have pressured him into living with me but now I feel like...I'm 26! I have my whole life to live with you...I'm spending all my time on the couch!


@remargaret and drunken letters to your friends?!?!?! i would be so pleasantly surprised if i got a drunken letter.

@Roxanne Rhodes how long have you and your dude been living together? because remembering to do what you love despite having a hot piece of man meat at home can be a habit you have to develop, we don't come out of the womb knowing how to do it.


@kmc and DESSERT. I almost never ate dessert at home when I lived alone.


@Roxanne Rholes Nahhh, not rude at all. Now bringing hand-sewing to a bar to hang out with his co-workers like I did once, THAT is probably rude. Oops. I had a lot of sewing to do, though!


@Roxanne Rholes This is my exact fear of moving in with my dude. I won't want to do anything! There'll be a person at the house that I can hang out with all the time, so sitting around the house won't even feel like "god, all I'm doing is SITTING AROUND THE FUCKING HOUSE."


@Roxanne Rholes I'm moving in with my boyfriend on monday and this is for realz my biggest fear. Luckily he has a million hobbies and has lived in the same city all his life and thus has a rich social life, which I hope will encourage me to have/do the same, but I work from home also, so I'm gonna reeeeally have to try and have my own life... but like, when he's been at work and I've been in the apartment working all day, I am genuinely EXCITED when its time for him to come home. Sigh.

Hot Doom

@remargaret Definitely done homework in a bar, on my own, or with buddies, even of the man sort. It's cool.

Also, for those with Pin Pals, I am sure there are some Pals out there who would be happy to have an enthusiastically written bar letter. I'm sayin'.

H.E. Ladypants

@kmc Exactly! My issue is also that my social life has caved a bit since moving in together. Organize a night out? That's so much work! I could just go home and hang out with the awesome some person there.

Boyfriends can really be the sweatpants of the social world sometimes. So comfy! So tempting! (But real talk: sometimes you really do need to put on some real pants/a dress.)

fondue with cheddar

@Roxanne Rholes @kmc @bb YES. All of that is me. It's way too easy to just hang out with him because we have such a good time doing anything or nothing. Is there such a thing as a relationship being too good? ;)


@bb Ha! Yes, I would definitely have less ice cream in the fridge living alone. On the plus side, I have an incentive to actually eat proper meals when cooking with another person.

@teenie Truth. It's actually a very good thing to still get off the couch/out of the house and go do your things on your own. But it's something still I have to remind myself to do. And I've been cohabitating through 2 apartments and a house now.

Roxanne Rholes

@teenie Last fall he moved in to the house I share with a bunch of other roommates, and we just signed a lease on a place for the two of us next year. Now I'm feeling regret, and kind of like a terrible person.


@teenie That is so well-said. My boyfriend and I have tried to work on this balance. A year and a half in, it is still a work-in-progress, but hanging out with each other is always more fun if we're taking care of our lives outside our relationship as well.


@Roxanne Rholes To be fair, I do this with my roommate a lot. We'll both end up home around the same time watching TV and doing very little. Sometimes I think about going into my room and doing something productive, but I feel bad leaving her watching TV alone? So yeah, that sort of thing isn't relationship-exclusive? I think it just takes lots of motivation to do your own thing sometimes.


@Roxanne Rholes nooo! don't feel bad/regret! I've been living with Mr. Teenie for over two years now, and the last 6-10 months has been my time for trying to figure it out... it's not easy! I've got a two prong approach: do things that I like to do, independent of him, at least a couple times a week; and do more active things outside the house together. And never be afraid to say no to a suggested plan if you've got other things you want or need to do! it's ok! you're probably starting to experience the fog of new love clearing your mind, so it's just a new phase of your relationship, that will likely grow into a more grounded love with the right guidance. It's all good!

sarah girl

@Roxanne Rholes I'm working on this balance with my boyfriend (we don't live together so it's a little different, but wanting to hang out together every evening and such), and it's tough. After some work, we've started just being kindly but brutally honest with each other (and ourselves!) about our needs/desires for alone time and whatnot.

For example, I had a really fun but exhausting weekend visiting with family (I am an introvert) and got hardly any sleep last night; my boyfriend asked if I wanted to do dinner and a movie tonight or something similar. I was able to tell him "I think I'm going to explode if I don't get at least like six uninterrupted hours of sitting silently in my apartment with my cat; I love you and love spending time with you, but can we postpone the movie?" And he was okay with that! It helps that we're both introverts and understand the need to recharge alone; it just took swallowing our fears of both rejection and hurting someone else through rejection, and things are much better now. In fact, we've started valuing that time spent apart, since we know we'll both be less cranky and more energized in our time together.


@ohmy I think it just takes lots of motivation to do your own thing sometimes.

I have an extremely lazy friend who claims that things are measurably six times harder to do by yourself. I tend to agree with him. I have a lot of wingman-style friendships for that reason. If I can bully someone else into doing (insert whatever thing here) with me, I'm more likely to go.


@kmc Ack! My boyfriend is moving in soon, and I worry that I will never leave the house/couch/Netflix. On the flipside, I think that I might get more after-work/before-home stuff done, since I won't be rushing to meet up with him on our designated hangout days (which is what I do now). And that's my courageous story.


@Roxanne Rholes Everybody else has given great advice. I just wanted to add: sometimes living with your boyfriend is also a great incentive to go out and do things. Automatic partner for a concert/road trip/museum/bike ride/whatever. Automatic person to help you do a good job at hosting a party. There are definitely ways to turn the dynamic to your advantage!


@Roxanne Rholes No ruder (and way more interesting and efficient, I might add) than people poking away at Facebook, etc., on their iPhones while you're sitting right there because you made a point to meet up with said people!


@Roxanne Rholes I am exactly like your friend and am completely mystified by these comments (except I don't think I am extremely lazy, I'm just extremely externally motivated). If I don't live with someone I am a disgusting mess. No really. I eat worse, leave food and empty bottles everywhere, pile laundry on the floor, don't go to the gym etc. Even though I'm much happier when I'm getting things done and taking care of business, apparently I have little motivation if someone I care about is not around to witness.


@Roxanne Rholes Yeah, when I live with someone or hang out with them often I find myself caring more about how I look and how my home looks, as well as cooking meals more often and going out to do fun things more often. When I'm alone I spend most of my time in the bath reading books and I learn how to "not see"' that pile of dirty clothes on my floor or dishes in my sink. Other people are so much more motivating than the insides of my head.


@Hellcat I now bring a book when I hang out with one of Those People. Then when they look up from their phones and are surprised that I'm reading, I just shrug and say, "Well, you were busy with Facebook, so..."

fondue with cheddar

@Roxanne Rholes My last boyfriend (who lived with me) was a slob, so living with him made me less motivated to clean. Because why bother? I did eat better, though.

Generally, I'm cleaner when I live alone because I'm more bored. When I live with someone there's always somebody to hang out with, and I get less done. When I was young I got less done when I lived alone because I was always out, but I don't have the psychological energy to be social that much anymore.


@Xanthophyllippa Considering the books I like to read, this would be so funny! I mean, can you picture someone in a bar whipping a copy of Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives out of a messenger bag? Because I can... and now I want to.


@Hellcat I wanted to write, "Even better if you're with someone of the opposite sex and can glare at them menacingly," but then it occurred to me how heterosexist that is even though I was trying to capture other people's heterosexism in assuming that the opposite-sex person would be the target of said sexual homicide for their greater interest in their electronics than in you, and then I got so tangled that I mentally threw up my hands and went back to bed.


@Xanthophyllippa There is a Law & Order: SUV episode just begging to be written in homage to your post.


"I feel no need to give much information about the nature of our particular situation, except to say that this idea wasn’t mine."

I'm kind of curious about why you feel there's no need to give much information about the nature of the situation. If the situation entailed, for example, that you had caught him cheating multiple times and he told you he needed space and that you had to move out but you could still be together, that would obviously alter the advice.

I wish I could give you my reserves of happy monogamous separated couple stories, but I don't have any. And I think the information you did give, that it wasn't your idea, proves to a large degree that no matter the wonderful stories people will comment with, that you probably won't be happy. And I'm sorry about that.

However, the world is very big and very round and you might consider sticking it out for someone who could give you mostly good points for your relationship, and who wants the same things as you do, because as far as things that divide couples, one partner wanting to live together and one partner not wanting to is a pretty big one.


@roughe Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter lived together, then opted to live next door to one another, and seem blissfully coupled.


@MoonBat I think this kind of things work best with long marriages that possibly including artistic or business partnership, where there are a really big number of factors to keep you together despite whatever obstacles arise.

My favorite example, incarnated in architecture: Frieda Kahlo & Diego Rivera, who moved into a set of separate studios connected by a narrow little bridge in between:


@harebell Kahlo and Rivera did not have the happiest marriage, though it was certainly creatively fruitful.


@harebell Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer don't live together, and they are madly in love. Gaiman is quoted as saying he doesn't think they would ever live together, but if they did, they would need seperate wings of the home, and especially seperate kitchens.


@LooseBaggyMonster Yeah. Kahlo and Rivera had the most insane marriage ever, I swear.


This asker is on a slow train to breakupville. I've taken that ride-best to get off at the next stop of your own volition.

evil melis

all aboard the train to breakupville


excuse the slow and unenthusiastic train whistle ladies and gentlemen
the conductor is sobbing in time with the pulses of her shattered and broken heart
which throws off the whistle

next stop
that time when you were happy

evil melis

sorry folks
quick announcement

we will not be making our scheduled stop at that time when you were happy
that station has closed

also we are out of pretzels

Cat named Virtute

@evil melis Melissssss stooooooop :-(((((


@evil melis

all passengers be aware that the train to breakupville is approaching the station.

Alight here for transfers to:

Camp Pathetic Inability To Let Go

The Breakup Bunker (temporarily located in The Convent of Our Lady of Despair)

Eventual Resignation

Please check you have all your baggage before leaving the train. Do not lay it on unsuspecting strangers.


@PistolPackinMama Also for transfers to I Guess I Can Settle For You, on the north side of town next to Holy Mother of Consolation*.

* Actual church name not far from here.


re: separate living:
About a year or two ago my husband and I were invited to a potluck party a friend was throwing at the really nice apartment of her aunt, for whom she was housesitting. After gushing and oohing and awing about how really spectacularly lovely and warm and perfect the apartment was, it was revealed to us that her husband resided in the apartment next door. They had had enough of each other's different living styles being a thorn in their sides and took up as neighbors. They shared meals together almost every night, and would I'm assuming have sleepovers, too, but the autonomy and personal space were protected and maintained.
I think there are ALL SORTS of reasons and ways for couples to be happier separately - different work schedules, different standards of minimum domestic order. And also, some people really love to sleep separately (not me, but I know of these people!) I love the Rilke quotation about True Love being Two Solitudes - what does it mean for two people to be solitudes? I would imagine for some, this might mean having separate homes. I think it's easy to get wrapped up into believing a relationship has to "look" a certain way - but whatever feels right for the couple, no matter how non-status-quo must be right, right?

BUT I feel like we don't have some critical pieces of information?? Like, the fact that this seems like it was sprung upon you and maybe you don't have a lot of say? Power-imbalances like that in a relationship are Not Ideal, although we don't know why your partner is advocating for this? Good Luck!

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@liverwortlaura Seconded, all of it. I've always thought I'd do better in some sort of non-traditional long-term thing (either not living together or not monogamous, or both) and I know a few people who feel the same way. So I totally agree that a relationship CAN look like whatever you and your partner want it to look like, as long as it makes you both happy and fulfilled. But yeah, power imbalances are no good if they last beyond an initial period of adjusting to new information and being kind of bewildered. I do think the partner's reasons for wanting this new arrangement are pretty key to whether this can or will work out. *hugs*

Lily Rowan

@liverwortlaura I love the idea of next-door-apartments SO VERY MUCH.

But this does sound like a different vibe....I mean, if the LW is "shaken," clearly she hasn't been sitting around secretly wishing she could... I don't know, do something ridiculous and solitary in the apartment, if only it weren't shared.


@liverwortlaura Yeah. I don't have specific stories LW. But not living together is great for some couples, so long as it works for both parties. I am not saying that if you have hesitation then it is THE END OF EVERYTHING FOR YOU, but if you are someone to whom cohabitation is important and vital, then living apart would not be for the best, just as if your dude is someone to whom that separate solitude is very important, cohabitation is not for the best. I hope that you two come to a compromise that works (Adjacent apartments? Two bedrooms? Share a duplex? Find a wizard and become ladyhawke so that yeah, there is one space, but only one of you is human at a time?)for both of you. There is no shame in needing what you need.


@liverwortlaura Agree. My parents have had separate bedrooms for as long as I can remember, probably over 25 years of their 30 year marriage. And they are rock solid. It was a happy, mutual decision. I'm all sorts of 'different strokes for different folks' as long as BOTH folks geniuenly want those strokes. Not that one wants it and leaves the other 'shaken'. Not that one does it solely to make the other happy. Those types of situations might work for a while, but I don't think they can last.

But here's hoping for the LW. I so hope it's not the beginning of a slow decline, but that is the vibe I get.


@lil_bobbytables ACTUALLY I am a dummy. When I was lilerbobbytables, my dad was transferred out of state and for reasons still unknown to me, he did not look or was unable to find a job in-state. They decided, again for reasons unknown to me, that mothertables, myself, and sistertables would remain in our home state and he would live in new state and come back once a month or so. Obviously it was not ideal, and it was a situation that was not willingly sought out, but my parents stayed together while he was away and are still together (he moved back after a year I think. I was little, though, so it all blends together to a weird time). Anyhoo, he was also living in an apartment with a bunch of other transports and it sounded kind of weird, and also he grew out his hair and kindof turned into Jerry Garcia. So there is that.


@lil_bobbytables Weird! A very very similar situation happened when I was little - my dad was laid-off and found a job in the state my mom was originally from and where a lot of her family still was, so we were going to move there, but it took forever to sell our house. Luckily, the commute for my dad was about 3 hours, but for 6 years, he drove up on Friday and back on Sunday every week. Kinda crazy. But anyway, after an adjustment period after we were all living together full-time again (which, I won't lie, was pretty rocky at times), we managed to pretty much pull it together as a family - my parents are having their 32nd anniversary this month and their relationship is probably better now than it ever was.


Since I'm posting images now, I wanted to share this gem I stumbled across yesterday:


@nyikin yes, yes that's exactly what I meant


@liverwortlaura AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. You need to keep posting images, because you are boss at it.


My bro had to go to Europe the year after he was married, and my SIL had to stay home for work. So it was a case of "not really an option." But. I think one thing that made it work out was, they knew the long term plan. "I am coming back from Europe, and when I am back, we are going to live together."

What are your expectations? What do you want in the long run? Aside from the intimacy of being together, what do you need from your partner, and will you have those things if you stay together forever, but never live together?

They had a plan that included more than "we will not live together after having lived together after having had a 7yr LDR." I think more than anything, knowing as well as you can what each of you expects to happen in the long term is the most important thing. If that vision isn't compatible, then why are you maintaining at all?

Personally, I would never, ever consider this move unless I knew what the 6-12-18-month plans were. And, for me, I would never do it if there was no expectation we would move back in together. (And the chances I will live with a dude without being married to him because Fear of Abandonment.)


I think these are the questions that really need to be asked....

I have a friend who recently asked his girlfriend to move out and then ended the relationship.
His whole point was - She needs to work on some personal things that I can't help her with and she probably needs a professional - and he ended saying that he could see it working if she had helped herself but she didn't, so he ended it.

I think knowing that maybe the time apart can be used for something to work towards an individual goal that will eventually help the relationship is possibly the only way to save it?

But it's all about expectations and end goals.
Where does the letter writer eventually want to end up? Living separately forever? Getting Married?

When she has that the conversation with the partner can begin with more purpose?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I feel like a shorter version of this question is, "I don't want to talk about it, just tell me it will be OK."

And I get that, I really do. Without the specifics of your sitch (why does your partner want to move out? There been infidelity in the past? etc..) it's tough to know if this would be similar to any life examples I would know.

Best of luck, gal pal. All I can advise is honest communication.


i think we need context. for example, my boyfriend is going away to school this fall, which was totally his decision, and as a result we won't be living together. We aren't planning to break up, and I know a bunch of couples who went from full-time living together to only some summers of living together (mostly because of graduate school). a heartening percentage of them are still together.

Jane Marie

A friend of mine's mother came to live near him when he started having kids, leaving her husband to his job as a professor about a 3 hour flight away. she visits her husband every other weekend, and he does the same. they love it. (granted they are old enough and have the income and freedom to fly every weekend, but still...)

H.E. Ladypants

@Jane Marie One of my mother's friend's moved to another city several hours away to live near her daughter. She comes back to the town my mother lives in for a week a month and one week a month her husband goes up to the city she lives in for one week a month. This works really well for them!

I feel like this is a thing that might work really well for older, very established couples (couple in point has been married 40 years) and might be a bit nerve wracking for younger couples? But I'm also in a younger couple so what do I know. It's probably just the individuals involved.


@Jane Marie My parents have always said that one day they won't live together all the time. They still love each other, but they're two very different people and have different plans for parts of their futures...which means different houses in different places or eventually a house with two separate wings for them to each have their own work/play/relax space. I think the key is that they're both on board with this and both see the need for doing so.


I have done this!

And there is honestly nothing more fun in the world than dating one's spouse, trading sleepovers, and gradually merging again on better terms.

(I still need the separate studio space I used to have, but that will have to wait.)


@atipofthehat My parents did this! Twenty+ years of marriage, then my mother moved into her own place and their relationship got better x100. It gave them an impetus to ditch the ways they took each other for granted and not have to be around each other when, for instance, my father was working on the computer all night. And the dates and sleepovers are pretty adorable.


@tales For time reference, my parents have been living separately for about 6 years now.


Yes, Prudie definitely nailed it with the "crazy frenemy sending a lady some emails from her dude" situation. that's like the anti-snooping advice question. like "I didn't want to know! wtf!!"


you could run that old Ask a Lady of mine you never accepted, Edith

it would be so easy

just to run it



That was no Lady. That was @melis!


@melis or she could run my "How to Eat a Grapefruit" piece, because that's sort-of advice.
...on how to eat a grapefruit
which matters.

evil melis

yes yes edith

you could do this thing

you could

evil melis

is my evil goatee visible, i tried to make the picture bigger but i dunno if you can see the goatee i drew on this


@whizz_dumb Wait, is there more to it than just "peel, pull off a segment, eat, repeat"?

Lily Rowan

@evil melis Ha ha ha!

...I mean, eek, scary! Please don't hurt me, evil melis!

evil melis

@Lily Rowan i m taking u to my castle pretty black and white lady


it will take a while because i cant kidnap you very fast
hold onto my shell

here we go



@Lily Rowan

Evil melis....

- Burns it with COLD
- Will make YOU a ghost
- Eats whatever hot meal she wants, right in the next cubicle


@Lily Rowan

She'll be taking you HERE


@boyofdestiny That's an orange! Eating grapefruit is meticulous and messy and there's a particular spoon and oh, never mind no one cares and there's no hijacking a melis thread let alone an evil melis one.



Only ONE PERSON ALIVE can defeat evil melis

Lily Rowan

@evil melis ::scared::


I... wish I had examples, but I really don't. I've had friends try this, but I have to say it always came with this feeling of "last ditch attempt at maybe not breaking up quite yet" around it, and not so much "this is going to work."

However, I can see if it's just a matter of "our living styles are not compatible but we love each other very much" that finding a way to do it could work. Like... two hyper-introverted people who cannot relax in the presence of ANY OTHER HUMAN BEINGS might need such a thing to live long and happy lives. I've known people like that.

ALSO, HOW CUTE IS THE LAST QUESTION IN THAT COLUMN? That puppy just wants to have a bath! Awww!


I know this doesn't help much and may not be what the LW(latter) wants to hear but: it's way way better to break up after you move out than to break up when you're both still sharing a bed. Don't worry about it just try hard to make it work, which it can. I'm staying vague because you don't give much information anonymously yet you want all of our details. No fair (jus' joshin').


@whizz_dumb Adding to this, if you have a hunch you might want to split, moving out amiably does indeed seem like a way better route (for both of you).


@whizz_dumb THIS. It's also easier to breakup while still living together if you have a guest bedroom that one of you can move into. Speaking from experience here.


I would probably be OK with living separately from my partner, but I know it would really hurt him, so it's not going to happen (I'm just naturally a more solo person). So I would say both partners would have to be really enthused about living separately. So if it is beyond your control (either for a logistical or more emotional reason), I would suggest you try to consider advantages to living alone?

Echoing others, I know lots of couples who have two houses for professional/commute reasons... but I am at pains to imagine any who wouldn't get rid of the extra place if they could.

Lily Rowan

Re: Blueberries




miss olsen



@Lily Rowan I want to thumbs up this again and again and again.


@Lily Rowan YES YES YES 100 TIMES THIS. Oh I love you. Just referenced this to my workwife, who is from Palo Alto and thus never went blueberry picking in Maine, and she was not as transported by hearing about it as I was by telling it.


@Lily Rowan

You're not Little Sal!

And there were blueberries for winter?

Lily Rowan

<3 to all you people. Just watch out for bears!


@Lily Rowan I think they'll only eat you if you're already dead? In an old Jetta?

Faintly Macabre

@Lily Rowan I think that book gave me a bizarre fixation with sparkplugs.


@Faintly Macabre It was canning equipment for me!


Hey, I was in this exact position in February. We'd lived together in a house for one year. He moved to be with me in a new city and for many reasons (mainly financial) it was our best option.

The decision to move out was very stressful on both of us, like in your situation, it was his choice. I was scared his leaving was tantamount to break-up, but it wasn't. He was being honest when he said he needed his own space.

He made the decision to move out and yeah, it was a long drawn out process which really sucked. Everyday it felt like I was losing him and it was infuriating to come home and see his tv gone or all of his clothes missing. Communication was incredibly important for us at this point, be calm and express how you feel and listen to what he has to say.

If you are willing to go through this tough period, talk honestly with each other, and most importantly trust - this can work.

My bf and I both got new living arrangements and we are very happy with this decision and we became stronger as a couple. So, I'm living proof a relationship can survive and get stronger after moving separately.

dracula's ghost

I think in the vast majority of cases, the whole "oh we'll move into separate places but keep dating" thing is just a way of warding off the inevitable breakup. I know of two success stories--one is a couple I'm friends with and one is the person who commented just before me. So it CAN work but I think the odds are against it.

CAVEAT: unless it is the adorable next-door move-out where you basically live together but have your own kitchens, because that I think sounds awesome. But I think that kind of move-out is usually more about "I'm sick of your dirty dishes," which is a fairly innocuous issue, whereas the more common move-out reason is more like "something's wrong and I'm full of angst and boredom, I need a change," which equals you are breaking up, sorry.

I echo the above statement about how you should go ahead and get into it, because if you do end up breaking up it will be SO MUCH BETTER that you live apart. You'll be so glad you moved into your own place before it all went down!


@dracula's ghost "whereas the more common move-out reason is more like "something's wrong and I'm full of angst and boredom, I need a change," which equals you are breaking up, sorry"

I think this is the most succinct description of my break up this month and it actually really helps to read it. I moved out for pretty much exactly those reasons - I wasn't doing anyone any favors trying to prolong things. Thanks. :)

Making a clean break of things makes it so much easier to stay on decent terms and hopefully be friends again someday.


I don't have any stories to share with you, but I do think it could work. I know of a married couple that have his and hers houses because they can't agree on parenting styles (both have children from previous relationships). I wouldn't advocate this esp. as I don't think they're a good role model couple (got married waaaay too soon, are planning to have children together despite aforementioned differences, etc).
But I have long maintained that I think separate bedrooms can be excellent for a relationship, or at least separate, sancrosanct spaces. My parents sleep in the same room but they each have an office. And I know other marriages where partners sleep in separate rooms because they cannot share the same bed (snoring, different schedules, whatever). People need space, regardless of how much they like to be together. Additionally, I know people who much prefer to live alone, so despite the fact that they really like their partners, they don't want to live with them. And polyamorous relationships where they don't all live together or they all live independently.

So, basically, it CAN work, but shifting from living together to living apart might also be a step on the road away from each other. It depends on the motivations (e.g. if you have radically different housekeeping standards, maybe you shouldn't live together) and the amount of work you're willing to put in. I'd have to know more about why you're considering separate quarters and the kind of people you are to really be able to provide sound advice.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Blushing Flower@twitter Yes I was thinking this too! If it is actually an issue of needing one's own space (as opposed to, say, every time you do one of those Things You Do I sort of want to strangle you), then it may be preferable (and more cost effective!) to just move into a larger space. I live with my dude in a one bedroom apartment, and it requires a lot of patience and work and time outside away from each other. If we could afford it, having a two (or three! dreams...) bedroom apartment would make things a lot easier on us. 3 would be ideal because we could each have an "office"/sacred space while still sharing a sleeping/sexing room.


The living-apart-but-staying-together situation recently played out with a friend of mine, and I have to admit that I was dubious about the prospect of their actually staying together once she moved out. However, it turns out that she and her boyfriend love each other and sincerely want to be together (and are now having a baby) but just couldn't make it work in a co-habitating situation. Since she moved out, she's happier, he's more relaxed, and their relationship has been strengthened.

One of the major reasons they had trouble living together is that she moved into his house, and she hates the house itself. She hates the style, she hates the location, she hates having his clutter everywhere. I don't know if the situation would be different if they found a neutral place in a different neighborhood and each contributed equal shares of furniture and stuff.

How this will play out now that she's pregnant, I'm not too sure. They're still not planning to live together.

Emma Peel

Re: Living separately, I have a friend in a great relationship who nearly did this, but it involved a potential cross-country move for grad school and a dude who couldn't leave his job for another year. And I was seriously dubious that it was going to work in the first place. (She ended up going to grad school locally.)

I think it depends on why you moved in together in the first place -- if it was purely for kicks and financial reasons, or as a step toward marriage. I also think the rationale for living separately is really important. (Is she a doctor doing 24-hour shifts for residency and just wants to sleep in perfect quiet when she gets home? Does he hate your cats? Etc.)

But honestly, if you see this relationship as something that might want to be a long-term partnership (marriage or otherwise), and if you see a long-term partnership involving living together, I do think you have to ask yourself why you'd be OK with anything less.


I am obsessed with being in a relationship that never progresses to living together. I am really selfish with my space and time and I am also a very tidy, particular housekeeper. I have had many roommates and lived with romantic partners and I think I am better being in relationship with people I don't live with. Anyway, this is a "thing": Google "living apart together". There's even a Wikipedia article!


Eeeeeedith!!! Do not sit motionless in the woods, lest you be eated by a well-meaning, fastidious BEAR, who will then be euthanized by RCMP!


This is probably more like the adjacent apartment story shared above, but here's a cute NYTimes article on this topic (... may have been linked to on the Hairpin? I lose track):


I'm not sure how relevant this will be in this situation, but it is pretty darned adorable.


@dorkmuffin "Ms. Jacobs, 52, is an artist who uses smashed safety glass, seashells, broken plates, mirrors and forks, among other objects, to make sculptures that look like animated foundation garments[.]"



I have no helpful information regarding the Ask An Everyone question, but I'm enjoying the Dear Prudence. Boyfran and I insult each other frequently, if not all the time--I mean, obviously it's not the same as being insulted behind one's back, but at least I KNOW that he finds me annoying! I mean, I'm annoying, and he's whiny, but we still like each other enough that we've been together four and a half years, and it's nice that we're not laboring under the illusion that the sun shines out of either of our asses, such as it were.

Cat named Virtute

@frigwiggin Most surefire way for me to lose interest in someone romantically is for them to start treating me like the sun shines out my ass, for real.


@Cat named Virtute Most surefire way for me to lose interest in someone is for them to expect me to treat them like the sun shines out of their ass.

Take being the constant object of my sense of humor mostly because you're in range or move along, gentlemen!


@frigwiggin My husband and I have been together for over 20 years. One of the reasons for this is that, while we adore each other, we make fun of each other - and ourselves - pretty much all the time. It's a strength, not a weakness, when you can be yourself with your partner, letting all your flaws and less glamorous bits hang out.


My housemate used to live with his girlfriend back in the day. Then they were separated (in adjacent cities) for economic/school-related reasons. She recently moved to our city, but didn't move in together, and as far as I know they're perfectly happy -- just not quite ready to live together for the long haul at the moment.


Dear blueberries,

I never buy you at the store because you're always too expensive. Could you just, like, show up in my fridge once in a while? Feel free to pass this on to the other berries, too.


A (Cheap) Berry Lover


@frigwiggin They're a little cheaper frozen! And they last longer, too.


@angelinha Yes, and they are delightful to just eat out of the bag, but even when thawed lack the...springiness that fresh blueberries have. I don't mind mushy thawed berries of any type, just, they aren't quite the same.


On the Prudie question, she may have gotten this one, but does anyone else have the problem where she just *fails* at anything having to do with sex? And then, it's just impossible to read anything else without a defensive posture? And yet... you just... keep reading them all?


@ThatWench Yes! Or alcohol. Anytime she gets any question about anyone who is drunk ever she jumps straight to "they are an alcoholic and need help." But I keep reading 'em.


Um, that Dear Prudence letter is insane and that guy that forwarded that email is a gigantic asshole. I hope that she's able to overcome that - to me the emails even sounds like elementary school "What? I don't like her! She's mildly annoying and plain! I totally like that other chick, bro!" when really he was just trying to talk himself out of liking his future wife. And even if that wasn't what was happening, it sucks that he's having to own up to off-the-cuff comments from when he barely knew the girl.

Lily Rowan

@HeyThatsMyBike Seriously, god forbid anyone ever find out what I think of them on first meeting.


@HeyThatsMyBike - Haha. One time in college, we were hanging out on campus and these two ladies in our circle of friends were like "Yo, Leon and Cleon (Not our real names) come play pool with us tonight."

So, we went out and played pool. Cleon ended up hooking up w/ one of the ladies that night, and I ended up holding back the other's hair while she was ill. Cleon went on to marry the girl he hooked up w/ that night, and they just had their first child, the one who got ill and I started dating shortly thereafter, and it only lasted for six months before I moved 2000 miles away at the end of college, but we remain dear friends this day.

Oh, and when the ladies made the plans to invite us to play pool? The one I dated for years had wanted to hook up with Cleon for the night, and Cleon's now-wife was lookin' for some Leon. This fact has never caused any one of us anything but amusement, because who knows? Life is weird. First impressions are frequently wrong, and if you're happy and fun-loving there's no reason life can't be like a Romantic Comedy.

Reginal T. Squirge


"Only 6 months"? I'm assuming the "only" applies to the comparison of Cleon's relationship. 6 months is a lifetime in my dating world.


@leon.saintjean See this is a very cute story, and it coulda turned out that way for Prudence's gal, too! But both you and Creon are presumably very good guys (the 'pin provides rock-solid evidence that you are, and we'll give Creon the benefit of the doubt), and both girls were getting some lovin' - even initially - in this scenario. It would have been a lot less cute if you and Creon had decided to stop being friends and you had forwarded the lady he became engaged to a bunch of emails where Creon talks about her being annoying and the fact that he was super into your ex. It's all well and good to joke about it, but having to read the actual commentary is just a straight up nasty move!


@leon.saintjean Over 20 years my husband and I broke off entanglements with other people to be together. And then...his ex-lovah and my ex-lovah (wait for it) started dating. Each other. And we would go out on double dates.

This has been an episode of Small Liberal Arts College. Tune in next time for Embarrassing Thursday Night Keg Stories and Barfing in the Music Library.

Nicole Cliffe

You should break up with him. I think a non-mutual decision like this isn't something you can get past. Maybe he just needs more space, fine. That means you need different amounts of space. Find someone who wants a compatible amount of space.

It is so crummy, and I'm so sorry, and I have so much empathy for you, but I think you will feel better and stronger in two years if you call it now.

sarah girl

@Nicole Cliffe This is the most important part, I think, and what differentiates this situation from the ones where living separately has worked out - it wasn't a decision that they reached together.


@Nicole Cliffe Yeah, I was pretty much getting at that, without getting at that. But this.


Echoing what a lot of commenters have said: this really depends on your situation.

I was in a terrible relationship and at some point I thought about how nice it would be to just move out and date each other... Eventually I moved far away (after graduation) and we broke up super soon afterwards. Granted, there was some crazypants lying and cheating situations going on there (on his part), but the distance made it crystal clear that we needed to break up.

But as some people have mentioned in this thread, I do believe that there are working examples of this. People need their space, yo. That's a real thing.

Somewhat off-topic, but something bursting out of me: My husband and I have been apartment searching for a place with a bedroom that can fit two queen or full beds. Yes. I love my husband a million forever, and it's not that we don't enjoy our bed activities, but I honestly cannot think of anything better than having my own bed to roll around in. People have suggested a king size, but it's not gonna fly for me. To tell the truth, this relationship started out long distance, and I trained myself to sleep in the middle of the bed as an assertion of my independence (some misguided thinking after reading a Cosmo article about How You Sleep and What That Means). And now when he comes to bed after me, I have to force myself not to fall asleep in the middle. Also, we are majorly not on the same page about how many blankets there should be in the bed (many thousands) and how the overall bed-space temperature should be (extremely warm.) So this is happening (we found such a place, and I am product researching what kind of Tempur-Pedic I'm going to buy myself) and I'm basically the happiest person ever. (He is also happy.)

He at some point mentioned this idea, and I said yes, provided it didn't mean separate bedrooms. I like the guy and want to be in the same room, but I also like to sleep diagonally across All The Space.

So yeah, some space in a relationship, not a bad thing. But not for everyone, necessarily.


@mczz I am also a solo sleeper and highly approve of this idea. I sleep in the middle of the bed, in what is basically a pillow fort, under a ton of blankets. A setup not unlike what I would imagine in which a bear could happily hibernate. This is surprisingly doesn't work very well with another person in the bed.


@mczz Not going to lie, that sounds AMAZING.


@mczz This sounds fantastic! Like college roomies, only with bigger beds and more sex and love.


@tessamae YES! Hibernation is key!


@mczz I just moved into a small bachelor and have to get a new bed (ex kept the bed) so I am thinking more about bed sizes than I usually do. I used to share a queen, and it always felt too small, and now have a twin sized air mattress (yeah yeah, I will get a real bed soon-ish). and anyway, when you have the bed all to yourself even a smaller bed feels huge. And a friend of mine has a double bed and it always seems huge to me when I see it.
So maybe the secret is 2 doubles instead of queens? I don't know, feel free to ignore my unasked for advice.

Mr. Kitty

@mczz Solo sleeping! I read an article awhile back that discussed the different sleeping patterns between sexes. It's actually quite informative! "Using one blanket for two people just isn't conductive to sleep" is a quote that I live by.



@tessamae PILLOW FORT. I sleep with four pillows.


@Mr. Kitty Yes! To almost all of that article!


@MaladyDee Not unasked for! I have been thinking about this a lot! I think either a queen or a full would work in our case... We have a queen now, and to keep costs down, he'll probably just keep sleeping in that. I'll probably get a full because it's cheaper. I did consider a twin, cause like you said, the space is amplified when you're on your own, but I do have to share with the cat, most likely, and a full is more conducive to sprawling all over everything. Plus it needs to fit my blanket-cocoon-fort-nest.


@Mr. Kitty Oh, man. My broad-shouldered, bulky boyfriend and I (and I "ain't tiny," as my dad so eloquently put it) share a twin bed because our college furnishes our apartments with twin beds... Now I'm dreaming of how wonderful it would be if that weren't the case.


@Llllauren That is me! My boyfriend is a BIG guy, I'm a slim but tall woman and my handme down twin mattress makes for some "cozy" sleeping. It's surprisingly doable but rarely necessary because need for space in our relationship, namely his space from my (lack) of house keeping. Meaning that we spend most of our sleepovers at his place. Which is fine with me because I can only make one person happy with my house work (me) and at his place he cooks breakfast.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

Adorable couples who live next door/in the same building but are technically in separate homes. Discuss.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

I have only come across one couple like this. They were in their 60s, I think, and were still "boyfriend/girlfriend" as opposed to legally bound to one another. They lived in a duplex; he had the downstairs unit and she had the upstairs. They each had a front door facing the street, but they also had a little staircase in the back going between their kitchens. Each end had a door that could be locked, so it really could be separate rather than his and hers wings of the house.

I saw this as an 18 year old and it blew my tiny teenaged mind.


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me Dream arrangement!


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me This is the exact habitation situation my significant other and I currently enjoy. Yes, it really is as nice as you'd imagine.


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me - Did you see this recent NYT article about a couple that have their own tiny adorable cottages on the same piece of property? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/garden/living-together-with-one-condition-his-and-hers-houses.html . It might be mostly the paint jobs, but I LOVE THEM.

Queen of Pickles

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me

Frieda Kahlo and Diego whatsisname!

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

I have only come across one couple like this. They were in their 60s, I think, and were still "boyfriend/girlfriend" as opposed to legally bound to one another. They lived in a duplex; he had the downstairs unit and she had the upstairs. They each had a front door facing the street, but they also had a little staircase in the back going between their kitchens. Each end had a door that could be locked, so it really could be separate rather than his and hers wings of the house.

I saw this as an 18 year old and it blew my tiny teenaged mind.


I stayed/lived with my now-husband for a month, less than a year after we'd started dating. (I had gone home for the summer after my freshman year of college, and we missed each other so I returned to my college's city early to hang out with him.) It went so, so badly. For a few months afterwards we were very close to breaking up because the stress of living together was too much. We thought maybe we weren't right for each other, but it turned out to be that we just weren't ready to live together yet. There's nothing wrong with that. After those few bad months, we went back to our normal routine of me living with him Friday night through Monday morning, and we were fine. Twoish years later I graduated and moved in with him, and we have been perfectly happy ever since. So I definitely believe you can stop living together and continue to date, as long as both parties are being very communicative and neither of you are too wounded by your failed experiment.


I know three couples who have lived separately successfully for years after living together.

B&J are in their 70s now, but when they were working their home was in a small town where she worked, and during the week he lived in an apartment in a bigger city about 130 miles away closer to his job. They had a long period of adjustment when B retired and moved back home permanently, but they're doing great now.

S&E lived a few miles away from each other for years while they were dating, and neither of them had the room for the other to move in after they were married, so they kept living separately with sleepovers. They moved cross country for his job and spent a few years living in the same house. Now they live separately again - he's in their house in a small college town where he teaches, she has an apartment 90 miles away in a different, bigger college town where she's working on her PhD.

M&E Are another couple split by work. She's a park ranger, he's an engineer. At the moment they live together because the park she's currently working at is close to home, but she has lived 100-300 miles from home for months at a time on different jobs.

I think the key for all of them is that this was never a "trial separation" - this was a practical solution to keep everyone happy in their careers and intellectual pursuits.

S has said that her ideal living situation with E would be to share a duplex where they each keep a half. I could see that working really well.

erin interrobang

Whoo hoo, possibly the only advice-column-ish question on which I can ever provide an answer from personal experience! Here is how I did this thing:

After three years of dating my partner and two years of living together, I moved out for a year. We're still together and back to cohabitation, and basically everything about the relationship is vastly improved. I can't honestly say that it's vastly improved *because* I took a year off of cohabbing, but I can't imagine not having made that choice.

I wanted to live on my own because I thought I'd regret it if I never tried it. I moved to Chicago straight out of college and lived with roommates for a year (during which I was already dating the guy in question here), then moved in with him. I never had the money to live by myself until the year I moved out. I also wanted to be more assertive about what I needed out of the relationship: part of my moving out was just to illustrate (to my partner, to our mutual friends, to myself) that he and I aren't the same person - he's got a very forward personality, and I felt like I was getting overshadowed as "___'s girlfriend" and not my wonderful, charming, yet more introverted self. Having the physical space between our places - even though it only wound up being about two blocks - helped me feel more wholly myself, more confident in going out on my own with my own friends and not just tagging along with him and his friends. I have no idea if any of these things are applicable to anyone else making this kind of choice, but that's where I was.

Understandably, my partner had a tough time believing that my reasons were actually what I said they were and not smoke-screens for wanting to break up with him. It didn't help that I first sprung the idea on him during a fight. Before I moved out (and actually as a way to address the ongoing fight about my moving out), we made a list of problems we wanted to address in the relationship and resolved to have a meeting where we soberly assess "The List" every week. That shit works! Apparently we accidentally hit on a thing my therapist would have told us to do anyway if I'd had the good fortune of knowing my awesome therapist at that time. (An awesome therapist probably helps with this stuff too, obvs.) But yeah, I pretty much credit The List with building the level of honesty that we have with each other now and getting us on the same page about living in separate places, along with a lot of other things. We still review The List every week even now that we live together again, although it's evolved to reflect different concerns as they arise.

I could go on about this, but it'd probably be of diminishing value to someone else's situation. Basically my Cool Big Insight is that if you can really be honest with each other about why you're living separately, and use your experience going through it to improve how you live together again sometime in the future, it'll work out well. Good luck! Take care of yourself! Et cetera!


@erin interrobang So Chicago you say? And you have an excellent therapist? Would you be opposed to sharing the name of this excellent therapist? For a friend (for me!)...


My boyfriend and I lived together for a bit before separating again. We were together for about six months when his landlord decided to sell his apartment. Around the same time, my roommate announced she was moving out. We discussed moving in together at length and decided it was maybe too early in our relationship to do so.

The sale of the boyfriend's apartment went way faster than expected, resulting in him needing to move out before he had a new place lined up. He moved in with me for about a month while we figured out what our next living situations/roommates would be.

No one believed that he was actually going to move out. (I even found out recently my friends had a pool going.) He eventually did--and it was sort of weird at first. We still spend every night together. I want him to be in my life forever. I expect at some point we will live together. We see each other just as much and probably love each other even more. For now, we're happy with our own space; living with our own roommates; sharing a bed but not a closet. Plus, it's fun to change up whose place you stay at. Both of our neighborhoods are super neat and very different. It's fun to be able to explore both of them.

So, to the letter writer I say, follow your heart. Living together is not what makes your relationship strong. Moving out may test it's strength, probably more if you've lived together for a good while. If you love each other and make an effort to continue to spend time together and treat each other nicely, what's it matter if you keep your stuff in different places?


Dear Blueberries,
You are delicious. I would like to eat all of you. That's not bad for me, is it? (Please say no.)

Also, you made the most luscious jam last summer. I hope several hundred of you are looking forward to this summer's canning!



@stonefruit We-ell, too many blueberries = too much iron. You'll be shittin' steel is what I'm saying.


This exact thing just happened to my friends. They've been living together for four years. I think she needed some space...she's quite a bit younger, and has never lived on her own. I think she wants to date other people too, but...they don't talk to me about such specifics. ANYWAY! At first, I thought this was the beginning of the end, that she wanted it to be over and just didn't know how to say it. He took it hard at first and had to learn to just kind of let go, not obsess over whether she was coming back, if it was going to work out. They went back to dating, sleeping over three times a week, etc.
He's kind of a planner, so it's been a lesson for him in letting things be.
But it's been about six months now and they're going strong and seem to be happy! Will it work out in the end? I don't know, but I do know that both of them are better people for it.


A friend of mine is going through the same process with her boyfriend of eight years. She describes herself as not being the person she wants to be in her interactions with him and feels she needs some more space and independence in order to work on her individual issues and ultimately make the relationship stronger.

I think living apart after living together sounds totally reasonable in instances like this in which the problems may have stemmed from moving in too quickly and/or moving into a tiny apartment and losing yourself and your goals in the process. Like RuPaul says, "if you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?"

And I highly recommend getting a two bedroom apartment when moving in with a partner. Think of the extra money spent as relationship insurance and really, it is the same amount of money you would spend with a room mate.


Not that this LW should pin her hopes to and measure her relationship on what could easily be an exception to the rule (especially as her sitch doesn't sound to be a mutual decision which I believe is key) buuuuut...



May they ever dance together under their new cupola! Which is probably made of bones or something creepy.


Oh man, if I hadn't lived with my ex, I probably would still like him a lot better. The thing about not living together though is -- do you hate it? Do you like having your own space? Or does he? It is possible to love someone very much but having to live with them just sucks the joy right out of your relationship, for whatever reason. There are far more people doing it than you think though. And I think if you were in the same neighbourhood or building it could be quite awesome. It's not necessarily a death knell.


Example-wise, my friend made a wonderful little documentary about a married couple that lived apart for 4 years, and it was awesome, but then they had to move in together for financial reasons. Please enjoy the trailer, which seems like a collaboration between Christopher Guest and Woody Allen. http://www.gloamingpictures.com/crowd.htm

all the bacon and eggs

@LinaLamont Hmmm...speaking of Woody Allen, didn't he and Mia Farrow live in separate apartments facing each other and overlooking Central Park? And we all know how that turned out.


The closest I think I'll come to living with someone again would be to just live on the same street. Just a simple walk home in the morning, my own tv to watch my programs, and my own fridge where the pickles are always in the same damn spot.


AHHHH! This is the very reason that I often find myself wondering about buying a duplex for me and the BF! Some people think it's a silly and pessimistic idea, but would that it could be...


My situation was kind of different because we were living his parents' basement (we moved in there because of financial issues and because we needed to get out of a crappy apartment). I spent a year there and felt pretty miserable and I needed to get out.

I moved out and around the corner and it was so much better. We still saw each other a lot and still did many things together. However, we did break up about a year and a half after I moved out (I wouldn't necessarily said moving out was the cause of that, though).

I think, honestly, it does depend on the circumstances. In my case, I just felt really stifled where we were and that wasn't about him. I would've been just as happy to have moved somewhere else with him (the reasons as to why he didn't move out to is another issue entirely).

Everyone's different. For some, it is absolutely the first step in a prolonged breakup. For others -- like me -- it was a decision they made to be good to themselves. But it will change your relationship. Whether or not it changes it for good or bad depends on what else is going on.


Usually people look for stories when they want evidence or hope that their current venture will succeed. Either that, or they want to believe what is happening is normal.

Here is what I think: first, of course your situation is normal, in the sense that it is a thing that happens in real life. Second, believe you will succeed and you will. I can't stress this enough. If your trust and security in the relationship breaks because of this, then it probably wasn't worth it. But you seem worried that this move will automatically break the trust and security of the relationship. I believe that it will succeed, though, as long as you just let yourself trust that it will. Good luck!

sudden but inevitable betrayal

This is something I'm so, so curious about. I love my boyfriend, I mostly love living with him, but I've ALWAYS lived with people - my parents, then roommates, now him. I feel like I missed out on that being alone, doing my own thing, part of life. Not like it's financially feasible because I make such shitty money, but...I wonder. :/


I have a friend who moved several states away to be with her boyfriend while he went to grad school on the west coast. They lived together (in a studio!!) for about 8 months while she was looking for work. Then they lived together a little longer, because when do you see your grad school significant other if you don't live with them? (this is a legitimate question, I have been dating a grad student for over a year now and we live in separate abodes, I see him about once a week)

But this month she moved into her own place for two very distinct reasons: 1. her boyfriend is a slob and a studio apartment was too small of a space for their different cleanliness standards 2. she desperately wants to get a dog now that she has income generating employment and her boyfriend's studio doesn't allow pets.

She swears that they have no intention of breaking up. It makes sense to me, because they never intended to live together in a studio apartment. So I'm echoing the sentiment that details seem VERY important?


I just want to ask, are there people who don't think they would enjoy living alone? Personally, if I have my own bedroom, I would much prefer living with someone. For a brief time in my second year in college, my roommate just stayed in her parents' apartment because it was closer to school, so I was by myself a ridiculous amount of time. I...hated it. It didn't help that my work situation was very high stress, and I had a full load of credits that semester.

Though I guess I've also been lucky that I have very close friendships with all the people I've lived with....


My roommate had a kid, dropped out of school, and moved back in with her parents but still pays rent. I feel like most people would enjoy this but I HATE it.
If I didn't have my dog, I would be bat-shit crazy.
I think part of it is that my family is the type that eats dinner together every night, and catches up, and I miss that desperately.
Also, my ex and I moved in, he started doing drugs, and I saw him maybe five hours a week. So I've been alone far too long. I JUST WANT SOMEONE TO FUCKING HANG OUT WITH WITHOUT HAVING TO CHANGE OUT OF MY PAJAMAS!

apples and oranges

@mystique I have friends who prefer roommates. Not just a housemate or apartment mates but a ROOMMATE. They feel lonely when they're the only one sleeping in a space.

H.E. Ladypants

@mystique I lived by myself and that was right for a time. And then I needed other people around and so I got roommates. And then I had a few years to myself. And then things started getting empty again, so I found a nice boy and we shacked up pretty quickly. I think wanting to alone and with folks are both totally valid modes of being and can even both be the preferred mode of living for the same person at different times.

The Lovecats

@mystique I love living alone. I forgot about how much I love living alone until Sunday night. (my bf
+ cat) moved out on Saturday and Saturday night was the worst! But Sunday night was awesome). I daresay I might never live with anyone again.


@SurpriseEnding It's all because of the clothing optional and the handstands, right?

The Lovecats

@Xanthophyllippa Exactly. I'm perfecting the art of naked handstands.

linds @twitter

Unfortunately I can only give an example of the opposite :(
I was living with my boyfriend and took a job for a few months as an au pair in Italy. The end of the position coincided with the end of his semester at school. When I asked if we were going to remain living together when I came back to start at the same school, he said that he wanted to live separately (saying that he just wanted more physical space). From there we began to grow farther and farther apart until I ended the relationship because I felt that he just wasn't interested anymore. I feel like once you start to backpedal in the 'seriousness' of your relationship, it only really continues in that direction. But, for your sake fellow 'Pinner, I hope I am wrong.
Good luck <3

Koko Goldstein

This is a breakup. I've recently watched two very close couples breakup in the slowest manner possible by moving apart but still "dating". Moving out after living together is a breakup, and it's probably better to leave now.

That is, unless you are those people who get connected apartments or condos and can do it that way! Because that would be freaking awesome.

Lue-dog inside the van

Yo! Letter writer here.... although this thread is probably dead now since I am on the other side of the world as most 'pinners.

So I kept things fairly context-free with this question because I'd read many other columns and articles about the issue and none really matched mine? So I figured I'd find SOME comparable stories in a forum of other twenty-something ladies, and hoped that maybe leaving it open would help future 'pinners do the same.

Being in the same frame of mind is indeed everything. We’re both anti-marriage and “whatever happens happens” about kids. Our relationship has pretty much from the onset been either distance or living together—we’ve lived in 3 different countries in the last two years and visa statuses sometimes prevented one or the other from working and establishing our own lives. It’s never been like, “LET’S MOVE IN TOGETHER OMG I’M SO EXCITED TO LIVE WITH YOU!”—It’s always just been the way we could be near each other. I’ve been fine living together because I’ve always liked having roommates, and boyfriends make fun roommates! But he prefers coming home to solitude. We live in a 3 bedroom, but paper-doored (literally! GUESS WHERE WE LIVE), apartment, so there’s no real way to get total privacy. We’ve talked about having our own places before, but not in a long time. It’s never really been an option before now.

But because we haven’t discussed it in a while, when it came out the other morning, we both flipped out. We’re trying to keep the lines of communication open, but it’s hard to avoid bad feelings when the current living situation has been established verbally as non-ideal. Who knows.... it could be a move towards the end, and if that’s the case, then yeah, things will go down easier. But our best shot at this is going into it with hope for the best, and with our personal lack of experience in the matter, that means hearing other people’s stories.

Thanks, y’all. I heard what I needed to.


@Lue-dog inside the van Well for what it's worth, it seems to me that if you can get past the hurt feelings, then this might work in your situation! Best of luck!


@Lue-dog inside the van I'm usually not this optimistic, so please forgive the cheeriness. Now that you've given us a bit of context, I'm thinking things could work out well here! As you admit, the current living situation is "non-ideal". You (finally!) have an opportunity to try something new on for size. What you have the potential to gain here is far more significant than what you might lose.

Lue-dog inside the van

@Lue-dog inside the van
Thanks for the support. If there's much of a story to tell in a few months, I certainly will.




@sniffadee She is tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me.




@anachronistique I would as soon call her mother a wit!

I mean, her fiance's comments sound COMPLIMENTARY compared to Darcy's!


I'm sorry, because this is not a tale of it working out. This is a tale of that happened to me, and BASICALLY what it meant was "I'm too much of a free spirit to be tethered to a living situation with you, I'm going to move back to Maine (we lived in MA) but you stay here and take care of my cat and all my stuff until I find a place up there. We're still together though!" And then he rarely answered my calls but when he did he was all I LOVE YOU STILL. And then I told him to stop lying, to just end it already, and he did. And then he dated someone else, and now he lives in New Mexico.

What I'm saying is: sometimes people are afraid of letting go because it's fucking scary, but someone eventually has to be the brave one. See how it goes, but you're going to have many questions that he doesn't have answers for, and it's going to hurt and be confusing and eventually you will probably just not want it anymore.


De-lurking (hi!) because I have been in this situation and it's worked out really well for us. My gentleman and I have been together for a looong time and lived together for a couple of years, but he planned to go abroad for a year last year, so I signed a lease with a friend. He ended up staying home for a bunch of reasons, so now we live separately and it's actually working out really well! After a few initial adjustments, we see each other several times a week but I also get some evenings to myself/to hang out with my roommate with no pressure. There are bumps and miscommunications every now and then, of course, but overall, I think we're both pretty happy with our situation. I hope this helps!


@abelle Hahah, I also de-lurked to answer this question. Successful separate mover-outer couples unite!


Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera. Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir. Allen Sheinman & Collette Stallone (http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/twos-a-crowd-separate-lives-same-apartment).

After almost two years of living together, I decided I didn't want to live with my boyfriend anymore because 1) we moved in too early, just trying to save money 2)it was killing our relationship. We had just moved to NYC from college and moved in with college friends. It didn't give us room to change and grow, focus on ourselves, drink a bottle of wine in our underwear and guilt-free watch HIMYM. When we first moved out, I travelled for a month and am now back. I miss him a lot but he's only two miles away. We make more of an effort to see each other, do more things, make the most of the time we have together. We don't want marriage or babies so why not keep our autonomy?


My father and his girlfriend of many, many years used to live together, but now they live in two separate states. I think it works pretty well for them. She calls him every day at 4pm. She mails him letters and cards. Once in awhile, she will fly over here (Texas) or he will drive up to New York to see her.
Personally, I think it works because they are both loner types and don't like people in their space for very long.
He would like her to live closer (but not with him!) so he can look after her (they are both in their mid-70s now), but she isn't in a hurry to leave New York.


My story (hopefully the reader's digest version): In a relationship of 3.5 years. Lived together for two, boyfriend up and moved out all of a sudden at 2.5 years and swore we would stay together, he just needed time to think. After he moved out, he reverted back to his frat boy days at 29 years old but every time I implied that we needed to assess the relationship and possibly end it, I got the (like the commenters above said) "But I LOVE you, I WANT to stay together". 1 year, almost to the DAY after he moved out of the apartment, he up and moved out of the city and it was over.

I think the general rule of thumb is: if moving out and living separately after cohabitating is something you've rationally and maturely discussed with your partner and you go into it with the appropriate mindset, then it can work out. If you write in a letter to an advice column where you indicate that you don't want to discuss any details, you basically want someone to tell you it's going to be ok...well...it's going to be ok, I promise, but he probably won't be involved.

On the plus side, three months out from this nightmare, I actually feel a lot better because without all the worrying and being paranoid and thinking about whether things would work out with him, I'm way less stressed out.


I have read the advices written by Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence and I liked them a lot, this woman knows a lot of things and her advices will surely help people to get their life in order. I learned a lot of things from many people, Bill Lauder`s ideas helped me to overcome difficult situations at work, now I got promoted and I'm eager to start the new project I`ve been working on for several years.


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