The Real Complications Of Living With Your Boyfriend And Your Parents
The Debrief: How are you meant to have an argument – or sex when your mum is likely to walk in at any moment?
My Mum walks in on my boyfriend and I naked most weeks. And that there is the reality of living with your boyfriend and your parents. She might only be looking for our dirty laundry but it doesn't make it any less cringeworthy.
Weirdly, my boyfriend moved in with my parents while I was still living away at Uni, which means that when I graduated, I went from living 370 miles away from my boyfriend, to being stuck in a box room at my parent’s house with him. His parents had decided to downsize, leaving him with no choice but to find somewhere else. With a minimum-wage job and rising costs of rent, he was struggling to find so much as a shed to stay in. He has always had a close relationship with my parents and so they took him in with cheap rent and the condition that he saved up so we could afford somewhere when I graduated. Eight months later, we’re still broke and no closer to getting a place of our own.
When my parents had hit my age (21) they were happily married with a mortgage and a child. But things have changed and now living with your partner’s parents is just how it is for plenty of young couples trying to start a life. I know at least ten other couples my age shacking up with one set of parents, and we all have one thing in common: financially, we have absolutely no other option.
According to Shelter, a quarter of all young people aged between 18-34, still live with their parents, and an unsurprising 45% of us say the only reason we live with them is because we have no other option. It has never been so tough to fly the nest, with low pay, and a lack of graduate jobs. The only thing on the rise is ways to rack up debt – 5.2million workers in the UK are earning less that £7.70 per hour and a quarter of minimum-wage workers have been on that same wage for the past five years, so it looks like we’ll be living here a whole lot longer.
Lauren Johnson, 21, also ended up in this situation. Just as she graduated, her long-term boyfriend lost his job. Lauren has been volunteering and taking on unpaid work experience while looking for a paid job, but it looks like the dream of getting their own place is moving further and further away.
So how are you supposed to have any sort of sex life when you’re living with your parents, or potential in-laws? Lauren sums it up perfectly – you don’t. ‘You just can’t do those things in someone’s parents’ house. You simply cannot fornicate with their child, even if he is a bearded man. Plus the bed squeaks if you so much as inhale deeply, so it is a no no here.’ And even if you’ve invested in some WD-40 for the bed springs, you’re acutely aware of the fact they’re just next door and it sort of eradicates the magic of any wild nights together, when you’re constantly telling one another to just be quiet.
Arguments are pretty tough, too, unless you’re good at expressing your anger through a whisper. The slightest sign of trouble in paradise often ends with a paranoid mother interfering and trying to calm everyone down… which usually results in another argument about how your mum always gets involved. And I don’t imagine my boyfriend would ever want to shout at me in front of my dad, so when you’ve got an issue, it can be really hard to resolve.
For me, the hardest part of living in this situation is the total lack of space and privacy. I’ve been to university and lived away from home, so I’m used to doing exactly what I want. Rachel Brown, 24, a teaching assistant from Kent, who lives with her boyfriend’s parents while they save for a mortgage explains, ’There is no room for me time, I either sit in our room watching him play computer games or in the living room watching what his parents want to watch. If I want a girls’ night in or a pre-drinking session I can’t, as it isn’t my house to invite people to – I don’t want to take the piss!'
And you might have become used to living like an adult, but that's just not an option anymore, as Lauren explains, ‘I don’t feel comfortable cooking in their kitchen, even thought I bought the food, and I am so used to showering with the door open when it was just the two of us, I obviously can’t do that here.’ And none of us are likely to be having a romantic candlelit meal on the dining table with your dad coming and sitting down with a ready meal.
But although it’s not ideal living with so many people, and having the constant guilt that you’re getting under your parents’ feet, it can be pretty awesome, too. knowing that my mum and dad like the boyf enough to let him live here, eat their food and even do our washing (thanks mum) is a great feeling, and one worry less. One thing anyone I have ever spoken to always make clear, is how grateful he or she is for being allowed to stay in people’s family homes. And let’s face it if we didn’t live here we’d be on the street, styling a newspaper as shoes. Finding a place to have sex or argue would get even more complicated
If I didn’t live with my boyfriend right now our relationship would have suffered. It has meant that after being in a long-distance relationship we now have a proper sense of togetherness. We wanted that sense of a serious relationship where we could wake up together every day and eat Dominos every Tuesday – without having to go home later. And although he has had to get used to my family’s weird ways, I know he is also glad to have this time to get his shit together.
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Picture: Eugenia Loli
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating