feature image via Shutterstock/ Yakobchuk Viacheslav
Most queer folks are friendly with our exes and former hook-ups because we have no other choice. How can you avoid each other when you share custody of a rescue Schnauzer and attend the same roller derby bouts? Moving in with a former sweetie might sound cute, queer and emotionally mature, but you better have a very good reason to take on the challenge.
A year and a half ago I moved to a new city. I met up with a great person (let’s call them P), and we went on a small handful of dates and had sex a couple of times. It was super casual. Shortly after that, I started dating my girlfriend (we’ll call her E) monogamously, and P and I have remained very good friends.
Finding good, affordable housing in the city is pretty hard, and I have both a dog and a cat, which adds another layer of difficulty. Another friend of mine agreed to try and find a house with me and one other person. Lo and behold, P messages me saying their roommates are breaking their lease and would me and my friend like to move in. In my mind I’m like, “Oh shit! This is so ideal! A pet friendly house in the area of town I want to live in that’s below my budget! And I’ll be with two of my friends! Jackpot!” So I call E, very excited, and explain what’s up. She didn’t really take it well. The fight revealed that not only is she insecure about me wanting to live with P — she doesn’t like that we’re friends at all, or that I’m still good friends with a lot of my former hook-ups/ exes.
I obviously don’t want to hurt E, but how can I say no to a great housing situation that just fell into my lap? E is making it sound like if I go through with this, she’ll break up with me. To me, housing is something that I should put myself first in, but I also don’t want to lose her.
I also live in a city where it’s hard to find pet-friendly, affordable housing, and I’ve had to make a lot of compromises when it comes to price, location and roommates. I know how in-fucking-credible it feels to find a living situation that doesn’t involve having a sheet for a bedroom door, but before you let yourself get excited, be real with yourself — is there any part of you that still has sexual or romantic feelings for P? If the answer is yes, run! Run like the gay wind! Getting frisky with a roommate is a recipe for broken hearts and unreturned security deposits. However, if you can honestly tell yourself that you’re not into P, if you fully trust yourself to respect the boundaries of your monogamous relationship and if this is really, truly your best housing option (I’m trusting you on this!), then read on.
Most queer folks are pals with our exes and former hook-ups A) because we’re better than everyone else and B) because we’re part of the same dating pool and attend the same events. We’re going to see our old flames whether we choose to or not, so we might as well relax and be open to lasting friendships. If your girlfriend wants you to excommunicate all your former sexual partners, those expectations are unrealistic. Keeping your exes in your life is a sign of maturity and communication skills that your current sweetie shouldn’t take for granted.
That said, E’s concerns about you moving in with a recent hookup are valid. Moving in together isn’t the same as occasionally grabbing coffee or bumping into each other at the only queer-ish bar in the neighborhood. Moving in together means seeing each other every day and finger blasting your respective sweeties under the same roof. Your girlfriend feels reasonably weird about that, and it’s on you to reassure her.
Tell her explicitly that you do not have feelings for P. Give her your enthusiastic permission to ask for reassurance when she needs it. Ask her if there are boundaries you can set together that would help her feel safe and respected. Commit to only having sleepovers at her place, at least for a while. Remind her how completely unsexy cohabitation can be (nothing kills romance faster than negotiating dish duty and finding an unflushed turd). Most importantly, give her time to get comfortable with this undeniably uncomfortable circumstance, because she’s being a Relationship Hero if she’s going through with this.
You can give your girlfriend all the reassurance in the world, and she still might decide that this is (understandably) a dealbreaker for her. The choice is still yours, and your girlfriend cannot control where you live. You might get to a place where you’re choosing between your girlfriend and your ideal apartment. I don’t know enough details about your location or budget to question you on this, so, again, I’m trusting you here — if this living situation is undoubtedly your best option and your girlfriend cannot see past your brief romantic history with your roomie, then it might be time to ask yourself how this relationship is serving you and how it could be getting in your way. If you’d rather prioritize this specific living situation over your relationship, you can do that, as long as you’re willing to suffer the consequences.
If you’ve read through this and realize that you haven’t looked that hard for another housing option, then for the love of all things gay and holy, look for another apartment! I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt, but there’s no reason to put yourself and your relationship through the Emotional Maturity Olympics unless you absolutely have to (and you probably don’t have to).
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.