I love my girlfriend of four years; she\’s awesome. We\’re in our 30s, both divorced. Neither of us wants to remarry, and she doesn\’t need my money. Yet, she\’s given me an ultimatum: Move in with her or it\’s over. I\’m completely committed but want to live separately. Beyond preferring living alone, I feel I value her more that way. She argues we\’re not \”moving forward\” and feels \”humiliated in front of (her) friends.\” She accuses me of being selfish and wanting everything my way. The last time she brought this up, I said I can\’t give her what she wants and she should find someone who can. Nevertheless, she\’s stayed with me and is \”waiting\” for me to change my mind.


Maybe you and your girlfriend should have a practice run at how living together can play out over time. Invite her over, but forget dashing around cleaning the house and putting out nice wine, fresh flowers, and those little cheese puffy things. Instead, brighten up the place by tossing around shiny beer cans and colorful Cheetos bags. Don\’t bother dressing up — let her get to know the real you, beached on the couch for days in boxer shorts and a pair of unmatching tube socks. When the doorbell rings, put on your party manners — just long enough to grunt \”it\’s open\” — then go back to your near-catatonic stare at the game.

People who argue in favor of couples living together often see it as a sort of petty issues Olympics — like, you don\’t have a \”real relationship\” until you\’ve put in long hours hammering out an agreement about the correct position of the toothpaste cap, and you\’ve caught some minimum number of glimpses of your partner straining on the toilet. Thanks, but like you, I\’ll take the unreal relationship — meaning, when my boyfriend comes over, I always look nice, smell nice, and show interest in him beyond his ability to lift heavy objects and open jars. I understand cohabitation works just groovy for some, but the way I see it, a little absence not only makes the heart, but a few lower organs, grow fonder.

Where your girlfriend goes wrong — besides bowing to peer pressure like a seventh-grader on a hunger strike \’til her mom buys her $260 jeans — is in her passive-aggressive \”waiting\” for you to change your mind. (Maybe give her a bunch of those thick ladies\’ magazines and stick her in the lobby?) The woman does get points for shamelessness for calling you selfish because you won\’t bend to her will: \”So what if you\’re unhappy, as long as you meet my needs!\” Ah, love — in her eyes, not so much an act of giving as an act of wearing you down until you give in.

In other words, if you\’re looking for love, maybe keep looking? Or, if your gut tells you this is just some girls\’-night-out-induced attack of the needies, you might help your girlfriend think her position through by posing a few questions: How would getting you to do what makes you unhappy be \”moving forward,\” and besides not living under the same set of shingles, how are you not giving her what she needs? Frankly, if anyone should be humiliated, or at least insulted, it\’s you. It\’s not enough that you\’re the man of her dreams, the love of her life, her honeypookiedear — you also have to be the deer tied across the front of her station wagon.

How Cheap Is Your Love?

I\’ve been dating a charming man for four months. He\’s on unemployment and doesn\’t have a car, so I drive and pay for a little more than half our entertainment. No big deal. However, when he borrows my car, we agree he\’ll fill it up, but he doesn\’t. He always says, \”I forgot.\” When I confronted him, he got furious and said money wasn\’t important to him. If he realizes he\’s been a jerk, should I give him another chance?

—Running On Empty

The best things in life are free. Especially when they cost money but you can get somebody else to pay for them. You clearly don\’t think this way, but you\’re working hard to convince yourself your boyfriend doesn\’t either. He \”forgot\” to get gas? And forgot, and forgot, and forgot? (Luckily, what he lacks in accountability he makes up for with hostility.) If money isn\’t important to him, why doesn\’t he cough up some? He could at least give back by washing your car. Or … is soap and water not important to him, either? What is important isn\’t that he realizes he\’s a jerk, but that you do, and that you figure out why you kept making excuses for him. They are developing gas/electric hybrids, but as of yet, cars don\’t run on \”charm.\”