Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I started dating "Pete" a couple of years ago. Not long after we started dating, he was transferred to Texas. We kept in touch but ended things romantically. While he was gone, we kept in touch frequently and I definitely missed him and wondered what might have been. The tone was always flirtatious. I dated some other guys while he was gone but nothing was ever serious.
A few months ago, I was stunned and excited to get a text from Pete telling me his company was moving him back to Alaska for a Slope job. He asked if he could stay with me when he returned until he got settled. Honestly I didn't even think twice. I just said yes. Right off the bat, it was great to see him. The old sparks immediately flew. The first few days were a haze – long talks, late nights, and plenty of chemistry and romance.
But now there are issues. Pete has started his two-week rotation on the Slope, and has shown no signs of looking for a place to live. At first he said he wanted to get used to his job. Now he has unpacked his things at my place like he's settling in. A couple times, I suggested I could help him look for a place, and he got very upset. It didn't help in both cases that I didn't bring it up until we were both drinking, so emotions were high. He said he is falling for me and has waited for this chance to be back with me in Alaska and give us a go. He said it doesn't really make sense for him to get a place when he's only in town half-time and wants to spend every moment with me that he can while he's in Anchorage.
There's some sense to what he's saying and I worry maybe I'm not thinking clear and just have cold feet. I'm falling for him too! And I'm 30 and have never lived with anyone. I know I am really guarded about my space. Maybe it's time? Then I worry we are rushing into something, and we don't really know each other that well. But I don't know how to convince him to get his own place without him reading that as I don't want to keep seeing him. I do! I just think I want to slow things down. Help?
Cohabitation is serious business with its own loads of pressures and stresses. Couple have to navigate boring adult stuff, like who pays what bills, drags the trash curbside during yucky snowstorms and how you'll divvy up mundane chores like toilet scrubbing and mopping. Unromantic indeed.
Yet living together has some wonderful upsides. There's nothing like the security of waking up to the one you love, of spending slow weekend mornings sipping coffee, of truly building your own special and private space together. How does that sound? Exciting? Scary? Both?
Only you know if you're ready, and when you do take the leap, it should be because both of you are ecstatic about elevating your relationship to the next level – not because Pete is stoked to skip house-hunting for a ready-made love nest. Moving in too soon could in effect crush an otherwise flourishing fledgling relationship. I'm guessing neither of you want that. On the other hand, acknowledging your space and commitment issues, you might never naturally leap at living together, and you may need to push yourself to leave your comfort zone. Relationships do often demand compromise.
I'll concede, it sounds illogical that Pete pay his own rent at some other property when he's only in town half-time and wants to spend that time with his sweetheart; but tough luck Pete, that's the bane of a Sloper's existence. Bottom line, if this becomes his reality, this is an inconvenience, not a hardship. He's making bank OT up there – he can cover it. In this case, his schedule provides a clever excuse for him to stay close to you. Rather than let his work schedule dictate your major life choices, sit Pete down for a sober heart-to-heart about the best path forward for you both, knowing your shared goal is to see this relationship last.
For Pete's sake, this is what you wanted, wasn't it? Your crush returns to AK. A second chance to make it work. Quality time to make up for lost time. Your wish came true.
Oh, but you want to protect your space? He's gone two weeks at a time and I'm guessing you're working when he is back in town — how much space do you need?
You rushed into things and, yeah, suddenly your toes are nippy. Hey, happens to the best of us. Now pull out some metaphorical wool socks, warm those puppies back up and remember how you felt when Pete was out of the picture.
Asking him to move out of your place is perfectly appropriate if you truly don't feel ready, if it was part of the agreement or if you think he's freeloading. And it wouldn't kill him or break his bank if he got a cheap studio to dump his stuff, even if he probably won't stay there often — he'll be on the Slope or at your place. That should give you back your sense of space, even when he is around.
But you're also knee-deep in this now and Pete sounds like he's settled and stubborn. Giving him the boot, albeit a very nice one, could end up giving you space while also creating distance between you two. How would you feel if he was back in town but wasn't hanging out with you all the time? Or if he moved to the Valley or Girdwood and the logistics meant significantly less time together?
Next time he's out of town, calm your mind and emotions and think about what you're really feeling. Do you really want him out? Or are you just scared of a gigantic change? Hopefully you'll find clarity and make the decision that's best for you.
Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.