Living Together Didn't Work, And It's Not His Fault - Relationship Advice

Dear Veronica,

 

My girlfriend and I have been living together for a year and things have gotten really bad between us. I’m hoping you can give me some of your insightful advice. I don’t even know what went wrong, maybe we just aren’t meant to be together. When I first met her she was so much fun to be around. She liked to go out and have a few drinks and party. She wasn’t a nag. She seemed happy. She made me want to be around her because she was always so easy to be with and fun. We were dating for about a year when she started saying she wanted to move in together. I said sure, that’s cool.  I am 24 and she is 26 (I know you like to know ages.) Neither of us went to college but we have both managed to hold decent jobs. I’m in security and she works at a store. Before we were living together she never argued about money. She would see things I bought and never say anything bad. Now she picks on every purchase I make and complains all the time. The instant I come home from work she starts ragging on me about things. She is upset because I ate lunch out or because I stopped at a store and bought sunglasses on the way home. We pay all our bills so I don’t even understand where she’s coming from. She says she wants to save money because what if anything happened. I say, if anything happened I’d just move home. She’s ragging because I didn’t do the breakfast dishes and she’s mad because I tell her I’m going out with my friends tonight. I don’t know what she wants from me. I’m doing all the things I was doing 2 years ago when we were not living together. She saw it all though she would stay over and see the way I live and she saw the way I am. She makes plans without asking me first and then gets mad if I can’t do what she wants. It has gotten to where I don’t want to come home anymore because she isn’t ever fun or happy or anymore.

 

I am miserable. I just want out of this. I don’t know what happened. Is this my fault? What should I do?

 

Josh

Everything you’re saying about the way you live is completely age appropriate. At 24 you want to go out and have fun, splurge on some meals, buy some stuff you don’t need, and not worry about tomorrow too much. It’s awesome that you have a safety net in; being able to move back home is not a luxury everyone has.

I’m sure you’re right that she saw you exactly the way you are. So of course it is a shock to you that she expects something different now that you live together.

Part of the reason I chose your email to answer is because of the lesson this serves to people who contemplate living together. Before moving in together, two people have a list of things they have to discuss and agree upon. Things like the cleaning, the way finances will be handled, and meals are just part of it. Talking about where the relationship is going is also important.

I’m sure you two didn’t have that kind of precursor to your moving in together. You shouldn’t have moved in together without really talking through your expectations and future ideas. This falls more on her in your situation since you didn’t have any expectations or future ideas. You really didn’t know. She, on the other hand, brought up moving in, she clearly had a plan in mind for your relationship. She just assumed you would change and be on the same page with her. That is never healthy or good. I warn the ladies about this all the time: being with someone that has to change in order to please you is not good. If you can’t accept who the person is right now, then it’s the wrong relationship for you.

I advise the ladies on this aspect of relationships often as well: he’ll want to be with you when being with you is fun and enjoyable. Josh the fact that you stated several ways that she used to be someone you liked to be around, she used to be someone fun. She used to make you feel good about yourself and bout your relationship. Now, she doesn’t. She’s changed. And she’s so upset that she unsuccessful in her demand that you change, that she’s mad and nagging, and no fun. You’ve gone from wanting to be around her, to dreading coming home to her.  

The thing is many people would look at this and say she is more mature, or more ready to be in a committed relationship. But the truth is she is the one demonstrating the poorer relationship skills. She is the one that is being less of a partner, and she is the one that put herself into this situation that isn’t your fault.

It’s definitely true you’re not quite ready to grow all-the-way up yet. And that’s fine, that’s your right at any age. You’re allowed to be yourself, you’re allowed to want what you want and live your life the way you choose to. And at age 24 you’re really absolutely on target. You work, you pay your bills, you were enjoying a relationship with a girl the way it was, and you were happy and excited about your life. You were having fun, and enjoying it. All of this is fine, all of this is allowed.

Clearly your girlfriend thinks she wants to grow all-the-way up now. She thinks she wants a more committed and responsible relationship. Yet she’s not demonstrating any of the skills or thoughts required to have that kind of relationship. Having that kind of relationship requires being a partner. Partners listen to each other, they discuss living arrangements, growth steps, wants and needs. A good partner does not just expect someone to behave a certain way and then become upset when they don’t get what they want. What about what you want?

Demanding that you completely change from the person she knew you to be, and then being mad at you for not changing, sounds like the behavior of 4 year old, not someone who’s attempting to embark on a real commitment.

Obviously what she’s doing isn’t working. No one can just decide you should change or grow up or be ready for something that you aren’t. Additionally, her making you feel miserable has had a very repelling result. You no longer want to be around her.

Josh I guarantee you if you start doing things you aren’t ready to do just because an angry girlfriend is demanding you change, it will only escalate from here. You’d be doing nothing but reinforcing that she doesn’t have to consider your feelings and thoughts, she doesn’t have to include them in her agenda, and that she doesn’t have to learn how to be a partner. You think you’re miserable now, wait and see how much worse it will be.

No where in your note do you say anything like that you love her or that you want to figure out how to fix this. You’re just stating pretty clearly that you’re miserable and you want out. As you should. No, Josh, this wasn’t your fault. Yeah, you could have been more careful about becoming cohabitational, but no it’s not your “fault” that you’re 24, acting like you’re 24, and wanting to enjoy yourself.

I have received advice requests from guys in living-together situations where it didn't work, and it is their fault. You might want to check out one of those hubs, that may help you see the difference.

I know this is going to suck, but you should remove yourself from this situation. Just do it like yanking off a bandaid, fast and to the point. And then exercise responsibility in the split; who’s moving out, what money will be exchanged, etc. Good luck.

Have you ever moved in with a partner without first discussing marriage and the future?

  • Yes, and it turns out we wanted different things.
  • Yes, and it worked out fine, I got exactly what I wanted.
  • I've never lived with anyone.
  • No, I made sure we were on the same page before taking such a big step.
  • None of the above 4 choices explains my situation.
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1 comment

benjorz 4 years ago

Hi Veronica,

This isn't completely applicable to this hub, but I have found your advice uniquely insightful and well thought out so I sincerely hope you are able to help me understand my situation.

I have been with my girlfriend for 2 years and due to our circumstances at the time we have been living together pretty much since we met. I am 25, she is 27. I have recently begun to struggle with what I believe is the early stages of depression and it is tipping our relationship to crisis point. The problem is that it is a bit of a 'chicken or the egg' situation. I don't know whether I am depressed because the realationship is failing, or whether the relationship is failing as a result of my depression. Either way, I think the two may be intrinsically linked.

We have been planning to move to another city for a while now but the last few months have been plagued by a deepening anxiety and fear about the future. I am a pretty bad communicator at the best of times and my response has been to withdraw, paper over the cracks and soldier on. My girlfriend is no fool though and can see straight through it. We have spoken several times about this and while she is sympathetic to me and willing to help me through it, she accuses me of not being present or committed in the relationship and laments the fact that things have to deteriorate before I acknowledge that anything is wrong. I love her for this; she hits the nail on the head time and time again but for some reason I find it near impossible to respond accordingly. I feel like I am at a critical point of my development as a person and I worry that I am screwing it up and allowing myself to spiral downwards. I've never had any problems with depression before and it has completely knocked me off balance. I've never experienced such incredible self doubt and self loathing.

I feel extremely guilty for dragging her through this. She has gotten to a point where she seriously doubts whether my commitment was ever there, and believes that I have been coasting along hoping for the best the whole time. She feels betrayed by my tendency to switch off when talking about the future. The truth is I find it all far too overwhelming. Our situation has so many different variables, stresses and pressures that it is incredibly difficult to know what to do, and it overwhelms me to the point of breakdown. The future feels hopeless, full of more stresses and strains than I know how to deal with. Ultimately, I worry that I am unable at the moment to deal with the pressures of maintaining a healthy relationship and planning for the future along with my own deepening depression. I feel like I need to be alone while I work through this, but I fear this is my mind playing tricks on me. My girlfriend has very astutely observed that I tend to sabotage my own happiness, almost as if I WANT to fail. The problem is, it feels like I already have.

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