Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have been with my partner for five years; he rents his own place and I live with my parents. My parents are old-fashioned and believe I can only live with him when we are married (I used to share this view, but now I don’t). I have finished college and have moved back home to pay off my debt and save for a house (or wedding!). My partner’s home is five minutes away from my workplace and my folks’ house is one hour away (in good traffic), so I do frequent “sleepovers” at his place. This is causing tension in both households. I pay rent to my parents and I help out my partner by cleaning up after myself and buying bread, milk and eggs regularly. But he says that I’m using him, and that I’m just doing the minimum. He says I should be preparing dinners for both of us when I am there, doing washing, or helping by paying rent or at least one utility bill. Now I’m broke, tired and grumpy. I’m at his house cooking and cleaning and then when I’m at my parents I’m doing exactly the same thing to appease them because I’ve slept over my partner’s house. I’ve gone cold turkey and have slept only at one home, but then money is wasted on gas driving back and forth. I can’t afford to move out and I don’t want to get married just so we can live together — HELP!!! — Betwixt
DEAR BETWIXT: I don’t particularly like this guy’s style (at least the way you describe it) or the way he is framing his concerns, but I reluctantly agree with him. If you are staying at his house over half the week, then you should kick in for more of the living expenses. “Cleaning up after yourself” is not contributing to the household.
You see this as a huge burden, but he may see this as you having a primary residence and a secondary residence; maintaining a two-home lifestyle, which you obviously cannot afford.
If you can afford to pay rent to your parents, then you should be able to afford to rent a room nearer to your boyfriend and your place of work. I don’t suggest you move in with him — not because of your parents object to it, but because you need to figure out what it feels like to be in charge of your own life instead of bouncing around to serve others’ agendas.
DEAR AMY: I’m almost 18. I have slightly overprotective parents. They check all my social media, including reading through all my Facebook messages and texts. They also refuse to let me have Snapchat for fear that they won’t be able to monitor it. When I (rarely) go out with friends, they track me through my phone. Lately this has become annoying. I know that they mean well, but it’s become hard for me to grow up and accept responsibility when I’m not allowed any freedom. I get good grades and have never gotten into any trouble. Is their behavior justified at my age? — Wondering
DEAR WONDERING: No — your folks’ behavior is not justified. The level of surveillance they are imposing surely surpasses any they experienced at your age, unless, of course, their parents listened in on their conversations and followed them around. You do have a right to privacy and the people who assume they are communicating privately with you should be notified that your folks read everything.
It is good that you think they mean well, but if they really do mean well — then what are they meaning to do well? Their behavior only proves how well they control you, and — really, what kind of an asset is that, as you head toward adulthood?
I assume your parents have used the phrase, “My house; my rules.” As long as you live with them and they pay for your housing, phone, etc., they can impose these strictures.
Start the countdown clock to college. Because of their behavior, your journey toward independence will be harder for both of you.
DEAR AMY: “Hooked on a Feeling” was torn between the wonderful guy she was engaged to and an ex. I loved your advice that she needs to decide which romantic comedy she is in. She seemed to define her whole life based on these two men. Sad. — Hooked on Independence
DEAR HOOKED: Many readers responded as you and I did. Thank you.