Q: I'm the "girlfriend." I've been dating a man seriously for three years. He's been divorced for seven years and has three grown college-educated children. The youngest, age 26, has moved back into Dad's house.
She has a good job and he doesn't charge her rent. We don't live together; however, this has been a bone of contention between us. We're on the verge of breaking up. What is the correct way to handle this?
A: You will not like our answer. We think you're overstepping your bounds. Technically, of course, an adult who has a good job should pay rent, but you certainly can't dictate that just because you're dating someone.
If you were married or lived together, your funds were combined, this were regarded as your house and her not paying anything meant that you contributed to her support — then asking for rent and trying to establish policy would be the correct course of action.
You aren't in that position, however, and the daughter may see you as an interloper trying to mess up her deal, which is not conducive to getting along with her, or Dad, because he's probably hearing from the daughter about how you are butting into their business.
So, what we see as bad ex-etiquette is not what you are saying, but that you are saying anything at all.
Ex-Etiquette Rule No. 9, respect each other's turf, usually applies to exes, but in this case, it applies to you. This is your boyfriend's turf and your boyfriend's decision. Try to dictate policy from afar and we see this relationship coming to an end.
Now you may wonder, "It's been three years: Don't I have a say in anything?" Sure, when it comes to your relationship, but your boyfriend's household policies aren't your business.
If he's doing something that goes against your moral grain, then you have the option to end the relationship based on those grounds, but putting pressure on him to live a certain way under his roof when you don't live there is crossing the line.
On a different note: Many of you have told us that you enjoy taking in the weekly polls we offer on the Bonus Families Web site.
The more who participate, the more accurate the findings. Let us know how you feel!