Dear Wendy: “I’m Living With My Boyfriend, But I Think I’m A Lesbian”

I’m a 21 year-old girl, who got kicked out of her parents’ house (in Texas) earlier this year. I’m now living in Cali with my current boyfriend who is 27. I love him, but I don’t think I’m in love with him. I’ve known him for about 5-6 years now, but we’ve only been dating for about eight months (I’ve been living with him for about six of them.) I’ve been struggling with my sexuality for a long time now (I identify as bisexual) and I think I might just be a lesbian. If I leave him, I have nowhere else to go. Due to the bad economy I don’t have a job (and I’ve been looking for one since I got here). I don’t know what to do. Please Help!? — Cunfuzzled

Continuing a fake relationship with your boyfriend for the sole purpose of having a free place to stay cannot end well. Sooner or later, he’s going to wise up, figure out your feelings have changed and that you’re using him for the free rent, and quite possibly kick you out like your parents did. If you’re determined to stay in California, where the price of living is notoriously high, you have to figure out a way to support yourself and find a place of your own. I find it hard to believe that even in this economy, you can’t find a job waiting tables, working retail, watching children, or walking dogs, among other temporary positions. In most parts of the country, any of those gigs could provide enough money to rent a room in an apartment or home with a number of roommates/family members (check Craigslist for tons of housing opportunities). If that’s not the case where you live, perhaps it’s time to think about moving home.

It’s hard to know exactly what to advise without knowing the details of your relationship with your parents and why they kicked you out, but your best bet might be to talk to them and ask if you can move back in until you get your feet on the ground. If not them, do you have other family or friends who would be willing to house you for a couple weeks while you search for work and your own place to live? Once you find a short-term solution to your problem, you need to formulate a plan for your future. You’re 21 and I’m guessing you don’t have a college degree or career training. Without those things, how do you plan to support yourself in a real way? What do you want to do with your life, anyway? What kind of work are you looking for? What steps do you need to take now to fulfill your long-term dreams?

If it seems like I’m trying to address more than you’ve specifically asked, it’s because it’s all inter-related. If you begin a cycle of “roaming” as I call it, or crashing couches while you sometimes work odd jobs and blame the economy for your lack of real work and perhaps even your lack of life direction, you’re always going to be in a state of confusion and crisis. You’re an adult and it’s time for you to take responsibility for yourself and your future. In the meantime, priority number one is finding a new place to live, whether that means moving back in with your parents, staying with friends while you find a job, or getting temporary work lined up and then finding lodging you can afford. I wouldn’t tell your boyfriend anything until you have a job and a new place to stay. At that point you can tell him that while you love him, you’re exploring your sexuality and feel like you no longer identify as bi-sexual, but consider yourself a lesbian now. That should get the message across loud and clear.

I have been with my boyfriend for a little over a year and a half and we’re both juniors in college. As this semester is coming to an end, I keep thinking about the future and the things that I want to accomplish. Most important are my plans to go into the Peace Corps after I graduate. I have been thinking a lot about our relationship and how we want different things. I asked him his goal in life and he said, “To be rich or famous … or both,” where I want to help people and do something to make a difference in someone’s life. I’m 20 years old. I’m allowed to be selfish to accomplish my dreams right? Things certainly have changed between us and as I start to think about where I’m going to be in two years he’s not there. The thing is I really do love him with all of my heart. I think I know what you’re going to suggest I do, but I can’t bear to do that. Please help me. — Love or Dreams?

You know what I’m going to suggest because you already know what the right answer is. Oftentimes, the right answer isn’t easy and it doesn’t make us feel good — not right away, anyway — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right. The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 60; you always have a right to follow your dreams, and if you feel like you’re with someone who’s keeping you from pursuing them 100 percent, you need to search your soul and really ask yourself if the compromise is worth it. If you’re already separating your dreams from your relationship (as your sign-off name suggests), saying you don’t see your boyfriend in your life two years from now, and admitting that things have changed between you, the right choice here seems obvious. You’ll have many more chances at love, but you’ll never get to be 20 again with your whole future ahead of you. Do the right thing. But do it for you.

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at [email protected]