Dear Wendy: “Is It Too Soon To Live With My Boyfriend?”

Every summer, my family takes a vacation to our mountain house in upstate New York. We have a dog though who doesn’t come along so one or two of us kids stays behind to take care of him for the month that everyone’s gone. Last year, I joined my brother for the month, but he recently moved to Florida, leaving me as the only person staying behind. I’m 20, and hoping to finally move out by June (depending on my job though), plus I hate staying at our big home in the middle of nowhere all alone. Our dog is big and used to being able to run around in fields, so it seems cruel to move him into a small apartment with me. My mom suggested having someone stay with me this summer and wait till my family gets home to move out. I’m strongly considering asking my 22-year-old boyfriend of seven months to join me, but there are a few concerns. As of now, we’re only seven months into our relationship and I’m not sure I feel comfortable enough to spend a month living with him just yet, especially since we also work together. Also, things are a bit rocky in our relationship, though I’m confident by the summertime things will be much better. Do you think that it’s too soon for us to live together, even though it’s only for a couple months, or would it be good for us? If I do ask, how should I bring it up to him without making him think that I’m more serious about our relationship than I’m ready to be? — Dog Sitter

Living with a significant other before both of you are ready to shack up is a recipe for disaster. Convenience should never ever be the reason to move in together, ESPECIALLY when the convenience isn’t even for your own sake, but for your freakin’ mother’s sake. What the what? Seriously, your mom is way out of line asking you to postpone your life so you can dog sit the family pet for a month while everyone else is gallivanting around in the mountains upstate. You’re 20. You’re neither responsible for the family dog, nor obligated to put your life on hold for your parents’ summer plans. If they can’t take the dog with them to their mountain house — and seriously, why can’t they take the dog with them?? — they should either stay home this year, board the dog with other family or friends or a professional dog sitter, or hire someone to house and dog-sit for them while they’re away.

I repeat: your question is not about the relationship between you and your boyfriend and your readiness to live together; it’s about the relationship between you and your parents and your readiness to step up and tell them it’s time for you to live your own life. If you all decide it’s mutually beneficial for you to postpone moving out on your own and to stay in the big, scary house for the summer, another family member should stay along with you or your parents should pay someone else — not your boyfriend, but a family friend or someone else you’re comfortable living with — to help with the household and dog responsibilities. It’s simply not fair to ask you to sacrifice your plans or your relationship to take care of what is rightfully your parents’ responsibilities.

I’m a 25-year-old woman and I’ve been very happily married for two years. My husband is amazing: intelligent, considerate, attractive and hard-working. I love him very much. Also, I just began the process of earning my PhD, and my husband couldn’t be more supportive of my educational and professional goals. My problem has to do with one of the men in my PhD program. I’ll call him Greg. I just met Greg in August when the semester started. I immediately felt attracted to Greg both sexually and intellectually. Like my husband, Greg is intelligent, kind and physically attractive. I told myself that passing attractions like mine for Greg are normal and that it would fade. But it hasn’t. Just last night, five months after I told myself that my little crush would fade away on its own, I had a dream in which I threw myself at Greg and seduced him! I should probably mention that Greg is also happily married with a daughter.

I wish I could just avoid Greg, but it’s not that simple. In addition to seeing each other frequently in classes with only six or seven students, we also work together as teaching assistants for the same undergraduate course, which means we have to spend time organizing the materials for the class in addition to teaching the course together. Every time I see Greg or spend time with him, I feel very attracted to him and have even caught myself fantasizing about him during our meetings!

I love my husband dearly and would never want to do anything to hurt him. I have no intentions of acting on my attraction to Greg, but I feel awful about all of the fantasies and dreams I’ve had during the past five months. Somehow my passing attraction has turned into an obsession and I don’t know what to do about it. I haven’t told a soul, but I’m starting to wonder if I should try to talk about it with my husband. He’s normally super understanding about everything, but I don’t know how he’d take this. I don’t think Greg has any idea about my feelings, which I think is for the best. I’ve tried not to show any signs of my attraction to him, and he certainly hasn’t sent any signals indicating that he might be attracted to me.

Wendy, what do I do? Should I talk to my husband about this? Should I just keep waiting for my attraction to Greg to disappear on its own? Why am I so obsessively attracted to Greg when I’m happily married to a truly wonderful man? Please help. — Doctoral Disaster

My guess is your PhD program is stressful and your obsession with Greg helps to alleviate some of that stress and spice up what may be tedious classes and mundane activities, like organizing course materials (yawn!). And, honestly, if you have no intention of acting on your fantasy and it isn’t affecting your school work or your relationship, what’s the big deal? I think your obsession has gotten bigger than you’re comfortable with simply because, to you, it’s taboo to have fantasies about someone other than your husband. But it’s not. It’s perfectly normal … especially when the fantasies are about someone you spend so much time with, like Greg.

You don’t think your husband has a work crush of his own? Unless he works alone or in an office full of dudes and grannies in orthopedic shoes, he’s probably got the hots for a colleague or two. And while that idea may make you feel a bit less guilty about your own work/school crush, it probably isn’t the most pleasant of thoughts, is it? Well, that’s why your husband isn’t telling you about it! Just think how awful you’d feel if your husband confessed to some silly harmless crush, telling you about his hot dreams and fantasies involving her? Unless that kind of thing turns you on, which is totally cool if it does, it probably makes you a little sick to think about. So, why put your husband through that? Keep your crush to yourself. Enjoy the deviation from the tedium of PhD work. Use the hot fantasies to fuel your sex life with your husband. And unless you start feeling like you want to act on your attraction to Greg, relax and give yourself permission to have a crush. But if your obsession really does start to cross the line, pay attention to the advice I gave “Afraid of Slipping Up” as well as her update, and do whatever you can to limit your exposure to Greg (including taking a semester off from school so you aren’t in the same cohort anymore). Your marriage — and his! — would be worth the sacrifice.

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