One of the best parts of living on your own is the freedom to make your own choices. You can come home whenever you want, you’re responsible for buying your own food and cooking your own meals, and you can have a date over without having to discuss it with your parents first. On the other hand, if you are in a relationship or actively dating while living at home with your parents, you might face some challenges. I’m not sure which is more intense: having to set boundaries with your parents about your dating life, or having to set boundaries with your dates about your home life. As long as you’re communicating with everyone involved, however; you, your date or partner, and your parents can all coexist.
It might not sound easy, but trust me, it’s doable. Or, trust these women and men who clearly do have a handle on the situation. They each live at home and are either actively dating or in a serious relationship. Based on their personal experiences, they’re sharing their best tips for dating while also living under your parents‘ roof. It can be a delicate situation, and things can feel awkward at times. Here’s what four people have to say about how to successfully navigate dating while living at home.
1Keep your dating life and your home life separate (at least at first).GiphyAs much as I love my parents, I don’t want them meeting every single person I go on a date with — especially if they’re a dud. Plus, it adds some stress when a relationship is relatively new. I don’t need my parents being judgmental or knowing too much. I think it’s affected how I look at dating as well. It’s nice to be asked to go do an activity outside or try a new restaurant, rather than inviting someone over for dinner in your home. I also find myself looking to date people who have their own place now — I find it more attractive. If I do invite a date to my house, it’s because I trust them more — after all, I’m letting them meet my parents — but I still would prefer to have more time to get to know someone beforehand. My best advice is [to] take a fresh glance at how you view dating. You shouldn’t always just invite people you barely know into your home. It’s refreshing to be in a courting situation again, and also makes it easier to not fall so quickly. It can be helpful to separate your home and your dates.
— Claire, 21
2Spend most of the day outside of the house.GiphyMy girlfriend lives in New York and I live in Massachusetts. When she comes to visit me, we like to go out at night to dinner and then watch a movie at home in private. During the day, we usually like to go out and do something. Whether it’s going for a hike or going to the mall, we like to get out of the house for a little bit. My family is pretty good with privacy, so when we want to be alone, there’s usually no inconveniences. My family isn’t that invested in trying to know every detail about our relationship, which is really nice. It’s more of giving them a heads up about when she is arriving. My parents know we want to enjoy each other’s company and they respect that. If my mom or dad ever need anything while we are in my room, they will either text me or knock on the door, but that doesn’t really happen often.My tip for people in a similar situation is to balance out when you go to visit your significant other. Me and my girlfriend like to go back and forth every other week to each other’s places, which gives us a change of scenery and things to do. She lives in her own apartment, which is nice when I go and visit, but it’s also nice to have her interact with my family when she comes up.
— Andrew, 22
3If you’re in a relationship, make an effort to get to know each other’s families.GiphyI’ve been with my boyfriend since high school, so my parents met him very early on … For date night, going out is definitely important. Even if it’s just going to grab a quick drink somewhere, having some alone time becomes critical for the relationship. That being said, we’re both very family-oriented so it’s just as important that the significant other feels comfortable and fits in with the family. A weekday dinner or hang out becomes normal to spend with your family or his/hers … There’s something really special about building bonds with your S.O.’s family. It makes you feel closer to them and understand their context and upbringing in a totally different way. Boundaries are hard. Like, I want to spend time with his little brother but sometimes I want to spend time with [my boyfriend] alone. It’s a compromise. Also, I find my family giving me advice or their opinion when unasked because they see something unfold in front of them. Sometimes I have to clarify that it’s my relationship and my way of doing things. Some tips: Don’t underestimate cars. They’re quiet, small havens. Stay considerate of those around you. Your family might not always want you and your S.O. cuddling on the couch while they’re watching a movie. Ask if it’s OK if they come over. And give warnings when they do! Your boyfriend does not have to see your sister braless and in pajamas with a face mask on.
— Allison, 23
4Communicate with your parents about what you want from them.GiphyMy boyfriend and I stay in a lot of the time. We usually go to his place or stay at [my house]. I live with my mom and she isn’t there a bunch. But she loves my boyfriend and we hang out together or she will leave us alone. If we are hanging out at home we will just be watching TV and relaxing. My mom is pretty relaxed when it comes to us, so there isn’t any weird tension. Usually we don’t have any problems. I think my mom respects a lot of unspoken boundaries. She considers us adults and just wants us to be happy. I think the best advice I can give is to communicate with your parents. Just make it really clear what you want from them when your S.O. is around.
— Isabelle, 21
Dating while living at home might sound like the worst thing in the world, but it can actually be a nice opportunity for your family and your partner to get to know each other. As long as you act maturely, your parents should treat you like the adult that you are. Plus, living at home means that your pantry is always stocked with popcorn for movie dates.
Name has been changed.
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