Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been together for almost two years. He moved into my house a few months ago. He pays $600 a month to help with our expenses, but I would like for him to pay half (about $900). He makes twice as much money as I do and I think it's unfair that I pay double what he pays. After all, he is not a tenant or roommate. I told him our arrangement was not fair, and he responded that he would pay half of our expenses if he owned half my house. That was where the conversation ended. I am absolutely not willing to add him to the house deed unless we are married. I love him very much, but I worry that this could impact my feelings about marriage. I know that if we ever get married, he would own half of my house and half of the equity that I began establishing years before I met him. If he is serious about me and our relationship, is it unreasonable to expect him to pay half of the mortgage and utilities now? And if he is not paying for half, should I be expected to give him half of what I've established by myself? I want to be a team player, but I also want a mate who will be my equal if he is financially able. I feel like the little red hen. No one wants to help me make bread, but everyone wants a piece of it when it's already made. Please help!
Little Red Hen
DEAR HEN: Your boyfriend should pay the market amount for rent (check local comparables). As it is, you derive the benefits of ownership; he believes if he contributes equally, he should also benefit equally.
Don't cave to his pressure. Adding his name to the deed would have major legal and financial consequences. For instance, you could not refinance, sell or make changes without him signing off on it. If he wants to be a co-owner, he should offer to purchase (not be given) half the house at its current market value. Why doesn't he make this offer? But this isn't only about the money. Your property has become a symbol of all you would give up if you got married. Perhaps you've learned that you shouldn't cohabit outside of marriage.
You two would benefit from going through the process of getting a prenup, whether or not you decide to get married. You will emerge with transparency and insight together -- or you will break under the weight of the negotiation.
DEAR AMY: Last year my adult son and his girlfriend lived with us for several months. This girl and I became fast friends. When they broke up, it broke both our hearts. We have stayed friends but don't really communicate much. Since then, my son has met a wonderful girl and they have their own place. She is smart, sweet and kind, and I love her, but whenever I think of her and my son, I always think "son and ex-girlfriend's name." I have to focus before I speak to her, or about her, and I'm terribly afraid the other girl's name is going to spill out of my mouth. Do you have any suggestions how I can get this other girl's name out of my head?
Tripping Over My Tongue
DEAR TRIPPING: Practice. Look at a photo of your son and his girlfriend. Set their names to a familiar tune (like "Happy Birthday"). Sing, "Happy 'Charlie' and 'Susan', etc., until you are sick of both of their names. This should cement them together in your mind.
DEAR AMY: I'm replying to "Mom Who Cares" about her possibly depressed teen daughter. I went through this, and my daughters didn't talk to me either, which is hard on a loving mom. This mom should check her daughter's iron levels, since lack of iron can cause fatigue. She should keep a close eye on her, but back off a bit, because it's annoying to be asked "what's wrong" all the time.
DEAR BEEN THERE: Definitely check those iron levels! Thank you.