If you’ve never been in a long-term-live-in relationship that’s broken up, then this article isn’t for you. However, don’t stop reading! It’s always a good idea to anticipate a situation you might experience some time in the future.
If you’ve never been in a long-term-live-in relationship that’s broken up, then this article isn’t for you. However, don’t stop reading! It’s always a good idea to anticipate a situation you might experience some time in the future. But if you have been in either a marriage that broke up or a relationship that ended painfully, you’ll relate to what I’m saying.
So here’s a scenario to wrap your head around. You’ve been together for 9 years (you didn’t have any kids—I don’t want to complicate this scenario more than necessary). Most of these years were idyllic. But somewhere around year 6, it started to turn sour. It began with little things like the fact that he would leave his socks on the floor under his desk, and after a few days, the office smelled like a locker room. Guess that’s more than a little thing, huh? I won’t even begin to tell you how he leaves dishes in the sink, never closes or puts away the peanut butter jar, and has never cleaned out the coffee pot. We also can’t forget the fact that he really has always been self-absorbed and obnoxiously pushing himself into the limelight. You used to think that was cute, but now you see it for what it really is. And sadly, eventually, you begin to even hate the way he chews. Need I say more?
Okay, it’s been close to a year since he moved out and you’re starting to date. You just met a really nice guy who your friends and family like a lot better than your ex. The new guy is more reserved than the other one. He’s generous and always willing to reach for the check when you go out, and his apartment is neat and clean. Things are moving along quickly with this guy, and he gives you a key to his apartment. So now it’s your turn, but here’s the BIG question. Do you want him to have access to your space? Hmmm?
You’re starting to love living alone. You’re taking ownership of your life without looking for anyone else’s approval. You organized your apartment to your liking. You threw out all of the stuff the old BF left behind and you bought new throw pillows for the couch—just the right color to your taste, and a new coffee table that you’ve adorned with your favorite Georgia O’Keefe art book. And as you look around your apartment, your eyes stop at the thermostat. It stays where you put it. You no longer have to dress in layers because he’s too hot or sleep with the windows open because he likes the street noises. And the refrigerator! No more designer beers—he was so pretentious! No more science projects in the fridge that he neglected to throw out. And best of all—no one whining that he needs attention when you’re involved in a marathon work project.
So you have a dilemma, don’t you? You can either tell the newbie that it’s too soon to exchange keys. Or you can start drawing some limits that you can both live with. If you give him a key, you can tell him to call before he comes over. You’ll be keeping a boundary, and at the same time, you’re opening your space to share a bit with him. The point is for you to let your feelings be your barometer. It’s important not to lose your awareness of the situation and not to give in to somebody else’s needs at the expense of your own. Remember the lesson you just learned—you’re the one in charge of your own life.
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