I (f25) am feeling the urge to move out, try living on my own and/or with my best friend. Currently I live with my bf (m35) of 7 years, we have lived together for ~4.5 years. I went straight from living with my mom and siblings to living with him, and although there are some minor problems in the relationship, living together and our relationship has been going generally well. It just feels stale for me. And I’m really aching for my own space. I’ve always been a pretty introverted person, and I’m up until about 2 years ago I didn’t have more than 1 friend, so most of our time would be spent together. Over the past year I have really branched out, made new friends and reconnected with my former best friend, and started spending time with them and doing my own thing. He has been getting more jealous and insecure, probably because he got used to me being kind of a loner. But I don’t want to waste my 20’s living under a rock, and regret later in life that I didn’t live for me and do things that are fun with friends. He really loves me, and I’ve mentioned the thought of me moving out once before and he didn’t really like the idea. he said it would be hard on our relationship. But I truly believe staying living together will be hard on our relationship. He talks about the future, where we are going to live down the line, but whenever he brings the future up I get really anxious, because I feel like I’m unsure if I can see myself committing to a life together at this point. I feel like there is a lot of growing I need to do independently. I need to struggle a little and find out who I am and what I really want. He had most of his 20’s before he met me to do what he wanted, live with friends, live on his own, date different people, stay out as late as he wants with no one concerned or jealous that he is out, and now he is ready to settle down. I love him, and we are compatible in a lot of ways… but I don’t know if I can continue and just skip over that part of my life. I am now halfway through my 20’s and have never lived alone or with a roomie. I want to experience that… part of me wants to experience being single in my 20’s – how do I know if I want to spend the rest of my life with someone without seeing what being with another person is like? I just want the freedom to say yes to everything anyone invites me to, without having to consider someone else. I just want to have a clean space without someone adding mess. I just want to be able to go out without someone at home feeling jealous/insecure. I don’t want to break his heart, but I know this will. Am I a terrible person? Could he possibly understand? I feel really bad for feeling this way, but I feel like I just really need to move out and focus on myself.
Edit: age gap aside, what is your perspective? How would you go about this?
- It’s hard to put the age gap aside when a majority of your issues are directly related to the fact that you started dating a grown man when you were only 18. You’re feeling like you missed out on enjoying your youth, because you are. You don’t feel ready to settle down and plan a future, because you never got the opportunity to figure out who you are as an individual – something he had 10 years to do before he met you. This relationship feels wrong to you because it’s wrong. You say you want to live alone/be single so you don’t have someone waiting around for you, being jealous, or having to answer to them before making a decision. I started dating my husband when we were both 23 and I never felt like I needed to check with him before saying yes to an invite with friends. He never made me feel guilty for doing things without him. We both love spending time together but are also people outside of this relationship. That’s what a normal relationship is supposed to be like. You keep defending this guy and his choice to date you when you were so young, I get that you love him and don’t want to see him in such a bad light. Maybe he didn’t force you to date him and you feel like you made these decisions for yourself, but the bottom line is he should have known better and stayed away from you the second he realized your age. A better guy would have let you enjoy your youth and find yourself in life, a better guy would have realized that issues like this would eventually arise down the line. Instead, he probably saw this as an opportunity to be with someone who didn’t have much going on for themselves, meaning he could be the #1 priority in your life – which sounds like is exactly what he did. Stop wasting your time, this isn’t going anywhere positive. Break up and live your life. You’ll look back on this in a few years and realize how wrong it was for him to have stayed with you. I’m sure you’ll find a guy in no time and it’ll be easier with him.
- I hate to second this, but I have to. Speaking from experience, it only gets harder as you move forward. You might get married, buy a house, have kids, all the while you’re getting older too and what you perceive as missed opportunities will mount up and build a lot of resentment. I met my husband when I was 22 and he was 42. We moved pretty fast, mostly because he didn’t want to be in retirement age when his kids graduate high school (and I agreed). I jumped at the opportunity of having stability, someone who was very upfront and direct about his intentions and who idolized me. I convinced myself that age was just a number. I was too young to see how much I was giving up. The career of my dreams is just not going to happen anymore, which is a bitter pill to swallow while I watch my husband build his career. I watch my peers pass me by, building careers AND having kids in equal partnerships without such a vast imbalance of power. Ten years and three kids later I feel like I aged abruptly, my physical and mental health aren’t the same and I’m starting to realize I won’t be getting it back, or the years that have passed. I can’t remember the last time I felt light and free. It’s not like I didn’t get anything in return, but I simply didn’t realize the price. I’m not saying at all that it would take a similar course with OP, but since she already feels like she’s missing out. It might work wonderfully for someone whose dream it is to live a domestic life, one day become a SAHM and have a provider who’s already established himself. But that wasn’t me, and it doesn’t sound like it’s OP either.
- Entering a relationship with anyone means making yourself vulnerable to pain — both parties are essentially agreeing to the possibility of being hurt by the other. In this situation, you may very well be the one to break his heart, and that’s hard — it’ll be hard for him and it’ll be hard for you. On the other hand, he could be the one to break up with you, and cause you that pain. Most people enter relationships with the best intentions, but you can’t predict how life will go. That said, no, you’re not a terrible person. You were in a relationship with a man and you cared for him but it turns out it might not be the enduring relationship you thought it would be. This is normal, especially for someone so young. 25 might not feel young, but considering you started dating him when you were 18, a part of you in this relationship is a young person. You’ve probably changed a lot since you first started dating and have seemingly outgrown this relationship — totally fine, totally normal. The most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. You already know what you want to do: you want to move out, you want to experience a different life. Trust yourself. Don’t try to talk yourself out of what you know you want. Breaking up with this man will be hard, but staying with him seems like it might be even harder, in the long term.
- I get you’re asking for the HOW. I think that’s a good approach. Your feelings are valid and it’s your life to live as you choose. Relationships don’t tend to go backwards. That’s okay. Tell him it’s not working for you the way things are. You’re making this choice because it’s best for you and don’t give him reasons to argue or debate. That will just derail you from your end goal of disentangling. It will be hard and painful. Be prepared for the conversation to be hard and be prepared, just in case, for him to react poorly. Tell your friends when and where you’re having the convo so if they don’t hear from you they can check on you. Hopefully you won’t need any of that but you never know.
- I met a man who was going to turn 37 in a month on my 20th birthday. I stayed with him until I was 28.5. I grew as a person (as most people do in their 20s), he did not. Our finances were so intermingled, I didn’t drive, I was engaged, I was deeply rooted into his family. You know what finally snapped me and made me be serious about leaving? Buying a house. The world shrunk in on me, and I realized I needed to be myself. I just turned 33. These last 4.5 years were a time of healing for me. I’m making my 30s even better than my 20s could have been. Move out. Break things off. You’ll be happier before you know it. 💜💜💜. All the best to you.
- This is a normal part of growing up, to want different things at different stages of your life. It is also normal that over several years, you and your partner would not want the same things in the relationship (or in life) anymore. Maybe he was a good fit for you a few years ago but now there’s a mismatch. It is possible that your relationship could survive your moving out…but it doesn’t seem likely. Be grateful for the good things about the last several years and move on to building your best life. Thank you, next!
- If someone came up to you ON FIREand you ran to get a bucket, how are you going to react if they go “oh, being on fire aside, do I look ok?” Girl. You’re burning. He’s a creep manipulator at minimum and if you knew each other before 18 then he’s a pedo. The main issue is the controlling nature that comes along with older people that target <21 year olds. Only creeps do it if they’re more than 5 years older. After 21 you have more life experience if you got to experience life (which you really didn’t because he squirreled you away) so age gaps are more acceptable. But you…. you are a textbook victim of power dynamic.
- Age gap aside…. Imagine you’re having this conversation with your best friend who you’ve just reconnected with. Think about the other things you have put in your post. He’s jealous when you are out with friends. Unless you’re out 3+ nights a week and neglecting your relationship or putting financial stain on your household, then he really doesn’t get to make you feel bad for going out and enjoying a social life. He doesn’t like that your social circle is expanding. Could that be because he’s worried you’ll realise that are better options out there? Or that you’re not ready to settle down and live the life he wants you to have. He’s planning your future when you want to enjoy and experience the here and now. It really does sound like you are at different stages in life, which can happen in any relationship with any age gap. If you settle now you will come to regret it and resentment will build. I think you need to take a step back and really think about what it is you want. You might love each other a lot, but that doesn’t mean you are right for each other.
- As someone who let my ex live with me for almost 3 years after asking her to leave (she moved in 2 months into the relationship out of “desperation”) because of guilt, I feel SO MUCH BETTER now that she’s out of my house. She screamed. She argued for hours. She hit me. She threw up everywhere. She had panic attacks. Migraines that kept us up all night for almost 2 weeks straight. I’d still suffer through all of it again. Just be prepared he will fight you on it. You’re in a better position than I was since you will be the one moving, opposed to kicking him out. But prepare to see a side of him you never saw before when you tell him this is the way, and most importantly DONT MAKE IT A CONVERSATION. make it informative and walk away. My biggest mistake was trying to explain myself for hours and argue against her for HOURSSSS. Also. Keep your phone on you. If he starts getting wild start recording and hold your phone up to your chest to protect yourself legally.
- Just do what you’re feeling. Tell your partner you want to try living on your own for a while. Trial separation, whatever. You’ve never done that but that’s what your gut is telling you. He should understand and if it’s 100% true love, y’all can go back to your current situation after your experiment.
- OK, ask your friends if you can crash for a little while. See if you can find a couch, or a spare bedroom or see if somebody is looking for a roommate. The idea is try to find a place right now, so if you feel like you need to leave now do you have your chat with him, you can. Next, sit down with him as an adult, tell him you care for him, but say the exact same things you said here. You never had an opportunity to live on your own, you may be want to make a decision without having to consult somebody else, or maybe go out with a friend, without worrying about him being home waiting for you. Also tell him that you’re not ready for to progress the relationship into something more serious. You want it to be something less serious right now so if you can just be a 20-something year old.
- You’re not a bad person for wanting to have some life experiences independent of your boyfriend. I hear you that you don’t want us to focus on the age gap, but from the outside this really does seem to be the issue. It’s not that your relationship or your love is invalid because of the age gap – they are valid. But the issue you are describing is a common symptom of this much of a gap at your ages. And you’re explaining it too I’m your own words – you’re each at different stages in your life, one of you ready to settle down, the other still needing to experience the world and get to know herself. So if you both want to stay together despite your age gap, then you have to find ways to deal with the symptoms of the age gap. Right? And your partner needs to be willing to work together with you on addressing them, not just expect you to force yourself to try to jump forward in life to catch up to where he is. If this dude wants to date a girl 10 years younger than him, he needs to understand that he doesn’t own you or your development and that your love for him doesn’t obligate you to suppress your needs and desires. Explain that you love him and you are committed to a partnership but that right now you are not ready to settle down for good and that you need some time on your own. Most importantly, make sure you (and your subconscious) fully understand that you are not seeking your partner’s permission for anything ever. A partner does not have authority over you. You can discuss how it will feel for him when you move out or what sorts of agreements would help keep the relationship strong for both of you. But if he tries to make you feel like you’re not free to make this decision, just do it anyway. Take a break from the relationship while you transition if that’s what it takes. You can always get back together once you’ve individuated, if it’s what you both really want.
- Break up. You were way too young to get into that relationship. Now you’ve realized there’s more out there to experience. To him, and to most anyone else, moving out is a step back in the relationship. It’s a warning you are not as sure about him. This will “ruin” your relationship. If I ignore your age gap when you first started dating, either of you are not bad or wrong. Just not right for each other at your points in life.
- You will absolutely break up if you move out and that’s okay, I just don’t think you should expect him to be okay with that. You are clearly in different places in life and he is 36, all the stuff you want to put off, he’s probably more than ready for. Moving out puts this thing he wants to be closer to even farther away. You’re going in different directions. Even if you do stay together at first, your desire to be single or at least live like your single will end the relationship. You can’t expect anyone to stand back and wait for you like that. Just break up with him and move on so he can to.
- I know you’re trying to ask us to set the age gap aside but I think a lot of these issues are a direct result of the age gap and where you’re at in your life in comparison to him. I’m gonna share my story with you. When I was 22 I started dating a 27-year-old. I was focused on getting back in school and getting my life back on track after leaving an abusive relationship with a man I’d lived with since i was 19. He was 27 with a full time job, a degree, and was looking towards the next stage in his life. Within the first year there were problems. I’d made it very clear from the beginning i had no intention of living with him anytime soon, CERTAINLY not signing a lease with him. I’d done the “move in too soon” story and I wasn’t about to replay that nightmare again anytime soon. Regardless, 6 months in he was telling me he “expected” us to be living together within the following 6 months. I told him he could pound sand so he eventually moved into a space on his own that he paid rent on and I shared the utilities/groceries when I moved in later. We also had a lot of issues with things related to me going back to school. He wanted to go to Japan before he turned 30 and wanted me to save thousands of dollars up to go with him. Which if I was in the same stage of life as him would have been reasonable and easy, but I was a full time college student with a part time job and bills of my own to pay. I’d also made it VERY clear I didn’t want to see an engagement ring until I was out of school, which he rankled at and later flat out ignored when he asked my dad’s permission to propose knowing I was more than a year out from the end of school. He also expected to know where I was at any time. If I was leaving work and missed a call because I was chatting with a friend for a half hour, he’d call another 6 times and text asking where I was. Sure, he had anxiety, but I was 25. Too old to have someone keeping tabs on me and too young to have someone that level of worried about where I was and when I’d be home. At 26 I broke up with him and started dating someone who was 24. You’d be amazed at the difference it makes being in the same stage in life as your partner. I went to England for 2 weeks with my best friend without him. I could go out without having to check in. I got to behave like a mid-20s person for the first time and it was so freeing. And this relationship has grown with us. I’m now 30 and we live together with a cat. We do more adult couple things but we still have our own lives. We sat together on the couch the other night discussing what a proposal might look like and how we want our marriage to be structured when we get there. Neither one of us feels like we’re being rushed into that stage of our lives because we had the space to grow together into the next stage. It definitely feels like this relationship isn’t serving you in the way you need now. And that’s ok. One of the parts of growing up is learning a relationship doesn’t need to be “bad” for it not to serve you, and that that’s a completely reasonable justification for ending it. Several of my friends found dating SO much easier after reaching that realization and many of us found that the next partner we dated following that was the one we expect to be with for the long haul. You’re 25. You’re too young to feel stuck like this already and I applaud you for wanting to find the kindest way to get to the freedom you need.
- You say several times in multiple ways you want to be single. You don’t need permission to break up with him. My ex-husband is 12 years older than me. Before I married him a professor told me not to let him steal my youth. I knew it was a bad idea, but I did it anyway. Listen to your gut. You are not happy. I know because you say it.
- I understand, but keep in mind if you move out, that’s the end of the relationship. I highly doubt he would be fine just hanging around waiting while you party. Curious on the gender of the bff you want to live with. If it’s a guy double done on this relationship. So I guess you have to decide if being wild and free for a bit is worth ending something that you say is good but stale. You may really regret it when you find out the party and free lifestyle is super sad and empty in the end and see his wedding photos to someone else.
- I think you should 100% move out. The age gap is somewhat relevant as he has been able to experience things that you haven’t, whereas you haven’t had the experience of living in your own space. It’s highly likely that if you don’t, the desire to do it will fester and you’ll end up doing it anyway, but you’ll be that bit older. I’m speaking from direct experience here. I met my ex-husband when I was just 20, and he was 16 years older than me. Yeah, probably a huge mistake, and wrong on so many levels of course. I ended up leaving him, only we had a son together by that stage (we broke up after 12 years together). My son is my world and I don’t regret having him for a second (he’s now 15yo and a beautiful young man). But in reality it was a mistake to even move in with him. I’m the first to admit to having had daddy issues when I was younger. Move out, experience life and you won’t regret it. Trust me.
- So you basically just turned 18 and moved in with a grown adult man who was 30? You didn’t get to live your life. You missed out on crucial formative years, and that feeling caught up to you. Break up with him and start your actual life. This isn’t living.
- I started dating my now-husband when I was 19 and he was 22 (so, not such a crazy age gap.) When I was 22 and he was 25 I felt the need to spend some time being single since I hadn’t really experienced it. He was amazing. Despite being obviously upset, he moved out (and even paid his share of the rent for the next month.) We would meet once a month but other than that didn’t really speak. I didn’t know if we would ever get back together but after 8 months decided to give it another go. The time apart made me more comfortable committing to him because I knew I could do it on my own, I just preferred my life with him in it.
- So you’re just a few years away from the age your boyfriend was when you started dating. How does the thought of dating an 18-year-old seem to you? Also, the amount of maturing that happens between 18 to 25 can be exponential. For me, I’m a completely different person and I know a lot of people would say the same. I want to add, as someone in their 40s, don’t let yourself have only regrets to look back on. Your 20s are for having fun.
- I didn’t have what you are thinking about doing. I am older now and regret not being tied down to someone when I was in my 20’s. That is the time to be free. If it’s meant to be, you will find each other again, but honestly, probably not. Follow your instincts here. Be brave.
- It’s not the age GAP that’s the problem per se. My parents have a similar age gap, and I think it’s been mostly fine, but they didn’t start dating when my mom was a teenager. Your boyfriend started dating someone barely legal when he was in his late 20s and more than 50% older than you. Even if he isn’t predatory and controlling (and honestly he does sound controlling, what with preferring when you had less of a social life and the worrying/jealously now that you go out more) that isn’t necessarily helpful for your development as an adult. Many people have some time when they’re living in a college dorm, with roommates, etc. while they date before they move in together, or at least they’re at a similar stage in life to their partner so they’re figuring things out together rather than being advised by someone with a DECADE more of life experience while they are still learning how to be adults. Obviously if I had a live-in partner I’d be very concerned if they wanted to move out, so I don’t exactly blame him for that. But you shouldn’t feel guilty for dumping him and he doesn’t *need* to understand. He doesn’t have veto power over whether or not you stay in the relationship and you can’t sacrifice your life to his feelings.
Moving out after living with him for 4.5 years will come across to everyone as breaking up with him. This would include him. This urge to move out is probably your subconscious telling you to get out while you still can, either because you’re less happy than you think you are or because you are afraid to commit to the next step when you feel inexperienced compared to him. This is maybe one of the biggest reasons why large age gaps can be detrimental to a relationship. You are still trying to find yourself and want to build more relationships with your friends and support system. He wants to get married and start having kids because he’s in his mid-thirties and that’s a big part of what people do at that age. Honestly if you aren’t at the same place in life and ready to settle down then moving out might be the best thing for both of you but I don’t think the relationship will survive it. Better now than when you have kids.