The news that your boyfriend still lives with his mother is likely to set off some alarm bells for you if you’re an older, stable adult living on her own. But then again, times have changed. Americans are getting more used to intergenerational living due to the worldwide recession. Your boyfriend may also be taking care of his mother, or have cultural reasons for living with his parents. Before you dump him for being a mama’s boy, consider the reasons why he might have his mother as a roommate. Then, figure out how you can still date like adults. Chances are that if he’s the right guy for you, it won’t be that hard.
The current worldwide economic recession has forced people into different living situations than they might have chosen in better economic times. Young adults, especially, had higher rates of moving back in with their parents during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, according to research from Ohio State University’s Zhenchao Qian. Qian found that while 17 percent of adults aged 20 to 34 lived with their parents in 1980, the number jumped to 24 percent during the recession. Even one in 10 adults aged 30 to 34 lived with their parents. Men are more likely to live with their parents than women, and the rates are much higher among Latinos, Asian-Americans and African-Americans than among European-Americans because of cultural traditions surrounding intergenerational living. If your man is still living with his mom, there could be very real economic reasons for his choice. In fact, in these times, living with a parent could be evidence of his long-term practicality and responsibility, rather than a sign of immaturity.
Anna Breslaw of “Glamour Magazine” cautions women against making snap judgments about men just because they share a living space with their parents. If his mother is older, he may very well be concerned about her health and taking care of her -- consider how sweet that is. You get a chance to see him interact with his mother, so watch to see if he’s patient and kind to her. If he acts like a pouty, entitled teenager, Breslaw warns, that’s an indication you should break it off. But if he has a job and he’s contributing to the household, or living at home to save up for his own house eventually, and he acts as a man of the house, his choices are mature.
Meeting the Parents
If you’re a grown woman, there’s no reason you should be concerned about meeting your boyfriend’s parents or spending time with them. Chances are he’ll wait a while before introducing you, so you can go out to movies and restaurants and get to know each other without the pressures of family. If he does invite you home, be polite and nonjudgmental, and make nice with his mom. You get to witness how their relationship functions, and whether or not he’s treated as an adult in the household. This can tell you a lot about the maturity of his relationships. If you are still not sure if this situation is a deal breaker, listen for clues about his future plans and their expectations for him. It’s likely to come up while you’re talking about him, and you can find out whether this living style is temporary or indefinite.
Dating Outside of Home
If you have a house or apartment to yourself, you two can still have alone time. Go out on dates, take walks, visit the beach. Do things that other couples do, and don’t get concerned that you can’t spend the night at his apartment if you have another place to go. Treat the relationship as you would treat a relationship where both adults lived independently. If you remain open to getting to know him, the relationship could blossom, and you two can discuss different living arrangements down the road.
Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.