Dear Wendy: “If I Buy A Home, I’ll Lose My Boyfriend”

I currently live with my boyfriend in a rental apartment. I really hate renting and want to buy property and though I can afford to buy something on my own, my boyfriend can’t and is putting a lot of restrictions of what kind of housing he’d be willing to move into. For example, he knows I can only afford a condo or co-op, but has said he’ll only live in a private house, and basically, if I buy an apartment, our relationship is over. Everything in the place we’re currently living in is broken and we have a lot of problems with our landlord, so even if I don’t find something to buy, I would still like to move when the lease is up, but my boyfriend even has a lot of requirements for that. He has to have parking and outdoor space for a grill, but we live in New York, and finding a rental we could afford that has both those amenities is very hard. We’ve lived together for four years and I cannot picture my life without him, but I feel that his laundry list of requirements and preferences for housing are keeping me from moving out of a place I really hate living in, and holding me back from doing something that would really benefit me. How can I make him understand how important it is to me to move, and hopefully into something I own and not just rent? How can I make him understand that we are wasting money on rent? At the very least I would like to move into a cheaper rental so I could save money to purchase a home. He would also be able to save money too, but all he sees is that parking spot! — Wants To Move

All I’m reading in your letter is what you what vs. what your boyfriend wants. What about what the two of you want as a couple? You’ve lived together for four years; don’t you ever discuss your future? Not every couple has to get married, of course, but after four years of living together I would think by now you would have had some discussions about long-term commitment and what that looks like for you. Those plans should most certainly include housing, finances, and perhaps even children and eventually retirement. If you want a future together, you both have to compromise and quit thinking about what you want as individuals and start looking at what’s going to be most beneficial to you as a couple and will help you reach the goals you’ve set together (you have set goals together, haven’t you?).

It seems to me your boyfriend is probably feeling a bit left out of the whole property-buying plan. If he doesn’t have the money to afford contributing to a down payment, it could very well feel like this is something you’re doing for yourself without considering how he factors into the equation. I felt something similar when my now-husband first started talking about buying a place. We lived together at the time, but we weren’t even engaged yet and when he started looking at properties, it made me wonder what his plans were for us. Where did I factor in? What were his plans for our future and how did buying a place reflect those ideas? I finally said something to him like, “So, does it matter to you what I want or are you just thinking of yourself? I mean, what are your intentions here?” He was totally taken aback and hadn’t realized that I was feeling left out. “Well, of course I’m feeling left out!” I said. “I can’t afford to buy a place, so basically I’d be moving into your place. And I don’t want that. I want it to be our home.”

This conversation led to long and multiple discussions about our future — about getting married eventually, merging our finances, and finding a home we both loved where we could raise a family. It seems like conversations likes this between you and your boyfriend are long overdue. If you are the one buying a place, what’s going to make your boyfriend feel like he can call the home his as well? Right now all he has to hang his hat on are these requirements and restrictions he’s placing on you. But if you gave him some ownership in the decision — and the property — you might find that he’ll ease up on the restrictions. I assume your boyfriend would be paying you rent that you would put towards the mortgage, so I would suggest creating some kind of agreement that his monthly payments would “buy” him ownership in the property and that, in the event that you broke up, he’d get a percentage of his payment back or would get a percentage of the equity.

If, after these discussions, you’re finding your boyfriend is still resistant to the idea of moving, it’s probably time to talk about whether the two of you should remain together. This whole question about moving is a real metaphor for your relationship and if your boyfriend is unwilling to move forward in terms of housing, he’s probably unwilling to move forward in terms of your relationship, too. How long are you willing to stay in limbo? How much more of your future are you going to let your boyfriend keep you from pursuing? It’s time to for some serious conversations and deep soul-searching.

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