He's Broke and Ready to Shack Up, but I'm Not
Ask Demetria: Pass on playing house until you're sure the relationship -- and you -- can handle it.
(The Root) --
My boyfriend of two years lost his job six months ago and is now losing his apartment. He's asked to stay with me because he doesn't want to move back home with his mother. I feel bad for him, but I don't really want to live with him. What do I do? --F.J.
He's jobless and broke. And since so many men tend to define their worth by their ability to provide and he's got no finances to contribute, he's likely broken, too. Moving in might be a come-up for him, but it's likely to be living hell for you. He doesn't have enough money to maintain a home of his own, which means he'll be living off you. Bills, groceries, rent or mortgage? All you, you, you and you.
If you two were living together as an unmarried couple -- more or less playing husband and wife -- there'd be no question that you should cover him. You want to play wife, then you do wifely duty, which would be to pick up his slack and make the best of it. But you haven't moved in together for a reason, and deciding to do so hastily and for his financial reasons would be a bad move.
He won't be destitute and living on the streets if you don't say yes. He'll be at home with Mom. Tell him you're not up for this challenge and don't think it's in the best interest of your relationship. Suggest other ways you can help without reaching into your pocketbook to fund this transition. Does he need help job-searching, restructuring his résumé, practicing his interview skills? That's your girlfriend duty to pitch in. Financially covering or supporting his basic needs while he's unemployed is not.
Even under the best of circumstances, living with someone is a huge undertaking. It sounds fun in theory, and it is in the early stages (all access!) -- and it certainly can be convenient (cheaper rent!) -- but there's a lot more to cohabitation than that. You're literally sharing your life and intermingling your finances. That is a major commitment, like a marriage but without its benefits.
People often ask me what I think about cohabitating before marriage, and my answer is often, "Well, it depends." There's no definitive stance the way there is for what to do if your spouse assaults you (leave, no question) or if you catch him or her in the physical act of cheating (leave, no question). For a while my answer was: "Don't do it! Reconsider! Read some literature!"