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Carolyn Hax: Boyfriend’s visits leave single mom with no time for herself

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)
3 min

Dear Carolyn: I am a woman of 50 in a relationship with a man of 70. We love spending time together, and the relationship is very fulfilling. He is retired and has quite a bit of time. I still have kids at home and work full time. My life is pretty busy. For the past year and a half, he has spent about five nights a week at my house.

That time together is wonderful. I still have time with my kids before he comes over. He also helps me out with things on occasion.

Before we got together, I would spend those evenings doing my housework and my hobbies. Now, I don’t feel as if I have that time. This is stressing me out.

I don’t want to give up my time with him; it’s valuable and beautiful. But I would like to live together. It would allow us to share responsibilities and allow me to have time with him and still have a clean house and hobbies. Right now, my only hobby is him, and I need a bit more than that. The two nights a week he isn’t here, I pack in some quick cleaning and relaxation.

He isn’t interested in living together. He likes his house and his life and just wants things to continue the way they are. He gets to spend the days when I am working cleaning and doing his hobbies, so it works well for him.

I’m looking for an option other than spending less time with him, and I’m just not seeing it, so I’m hoping someone outside the situation sees something I’m missing.

— Too Little Time

Too Little Time: Someone who stays with you five nights a week for a year and a half is a nonpaying tenant.

Yet he is acting like a guest, and you apparently are treating him like one.

Heck, yeah, I’d keep my own house on those terms.

Actually, I wouldn’t, because when I take advantage of someone’s hospitality like that, I feel bad and either visit less often or contribute (a whole ****-ton) more. Especially when that someone is a single parent with a full-time job. (This is how keyboard-face injuries happen.)

So why is he so comfortable accepting so much of your hospitality while giving back “on occasion” (gah) at such a cost to you?

Why are you so comfortable with his taking so much and giving back so little at such a high cost to you? Your accepting it tells him you are.

That’s what I think you’re missing — that your arrangement stresses you out and you’re not immediately thinking, “Wow, this deal is great for him and exhausting for me and neither one of us is looking out for me here.” That’s an alarm system you want hard-wired inside you, and at a volume you can’t possibly miss.

I hope you’re able to hear it now, and to act on it. A short list of recommendations: Share the workload proportionately to the time he spends in your home; never drop all your hobbies for anyone; and find out how your kids feel about your not having time for them after he comes over. He took marriage off the table, but make sure you keep it off — unless and until you feel as rested from being with him as he does from being with you.