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My Boyfriend Spends More Time With His Parents Than Me 

Dear Athena,

My boyfriend and I live together. I love him, but he's always spending time at his parents' house. At first it was about not being able to practice his drums in our apartment because of neighbors. I found other cheap spaces to practice — I'm also a musician — but he hasn't budged.

He's not just "working" at his parents'; he's having coffee, chatting, helping his dad with his computer, going grocery shopping with his mom, etc. He spends less and less time at our home. I have to call him now and ask if he will be eating my dinner or his mom's. I also bear the cost of the practice space.

He is more than 40 years old, and I feel like I'm living with a man-child. When I told him how I felt, he said I was jealous and that there was nothing wrong with him being close to his parents. But I can't imagine planning a future (marriage, children, etc.) with someone who is still so dependent on his parents. No one else I know spends so much time at "home" at this age.


Future Mrs. Man-Child

Dear Mrs. Man-Child,

The good news is that you know what you want — a partner who is available and grown up. But it's going to take some serious work to find out if the partner you already have can measure up.

Let's look on the bright side first. Many people would be pleased as punch to have a partner who is so close with his parents. It's a lot more complicated when someone is on the outs with their family. If you do decide to marry and have children, it will be really nice for you to have his family around to support you. And it'll be good for the kids to know their grandparents in an intimate way.

What is it about their closeness that really bothers you? Is it possible that you do feel a little jealous, or left out? Perhaps if you get to know his folks a little better, you'll see what all the fuss is about. Your boyfriend is who he is in great part because of how they raised him. And you chose him for some of those reasons. They have to be pretty great, no?

Perhaps your approach needs tweaking. It's not fair to make him choose between you and his parents. Tell him that you miss him and want to share more of your life together, rather than asking him to spend less time with them.

As far as the practice space goes, he may be more interested if you tell him that playing there is an experience you want to share with him. Or maybe it's time to give up the space. If you practice at home and he practices at his parents', that's not such a bad thing. It's healthy for couples to have some alone time — and it gives you something to talk about when you're together.

If this doesn't resonate, perhaps it's time for you to step back — spend a weekend away with friends or your own family — and see if this relationship is worth the work. Time and distance might provide the answers you need.



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