It’s graduation season – a time when former students are dropping their books and exchanging them for job searches, hope that a paycheck will start coming sooner rather than later, and the beginning of a new chapter in their life. For some, this involves a significant other. And for many in that category, having met at college, that may mean a long-distance relationship until something more permanent comes to fruition for the couple.
I did this with my fiance. He was from one side of the state and I was from the other. So when we both graduated from college in December, we decided it would be best money-wise to each move in with our own parents until one of us found a job and we would visit each other every couple of weeks.
This lasted about three months. Long-distance relationships are hard, as many people know, and, especially when an income isn’t coming in, airplane tickets and gas money adds up pretty quickly. Eventually, we decided to both stay at his parents’ house. It didn’t make sense for us to be in different places doing the same thing (and having Skype on all day anyway). Fortunately, they agreed.
If this situation rings a bell for you, or it may be in the cards for you and your significant other, try to be on your best behavior and consider the following:
- Help out. During the day, while his parents are both at work, we make a point to do the dishes and clean up as much as we can so the house is in good shape. No one likes a messy housemate, and when they’re living there rent-free, it’s the least you can do to at least pay some sort of dues. We also cook a few nights a week; it helps balance the burden of having another mouth to feed.
- Respect their rules. They’re going to be less and less inclined to keep you around if you’re going around doing something that they told you not to do. Remember, you are in their house and they have every right to kick you out. You are not their kid; you’re just hanging out.
- Prove that you’re trying. Are you living here with the expectation that one of you will eventually find a job and move out? Show them that you’re making an effort to ensure that. Tell them what jobs you applied to that day, if you had any leads, and what you’re planning to apply to the next day. Showing them that you’re doing what was originally agreed and that you’re not just a slug whose mooching off of them.
- Be pleasant. While this may depend on the family dynamics and may be easier in some cases than in others, make sure you’re taking time to hang out and participate. Ask them how their day was, contribute to any conversations that are being held, and offer to help with anything that needs to be done (this goes along with point one). If they enjoy your company, they won’t be as eager to see you go (and future invitation will be more likely to be offered. Holing yourself up in your room, while you’re out of the way, isn’t very productive to getting to know your significant other’s parents. They may turn into your in-laws and this will be a test of how well you’ll get along in the future. That and hiding from people can get to you really fast.
- Respect their schedules. Much like having roommates, there are certain time schedules that people live by. Do they have to be up early in the morning? Keep the noise from your room to a minimum, be it your TV or music you have on to fall asleep to or any getting-it-on you and your partner may be getting involved in (save it for when they’re at work, trust me).
- Be grateful. Again, they don’t have to let you stay there. You’re only still there out of the goodness of their heart. Make an effort to thank them regularly or show in some way how much appreciate their hospitality.
Overall, just be respectful and be as little of a burden as you can be. I know it can be an awkward situation sometimes and feel like you’re back in high school, but there are ways to make it easier on both you and your partner and their parents.
Just keep on keepin’ on and I promise this will all be temporary. This is a weird phase in your life and the best way to keep it pleasant is to be kind to all involved. You’ll have your own place soon, I promise.