real life

Most parents can't wait for their grown-up kids to move out. Her parents will do anything to get her to stay.

Is 24 old enough to live with your boyfriend?






“I’ll never talk to you again.”

I remember dad’s words settling in the pit of my stomach. This happened two years ago, when the topic of moving out with my new boyfriend *John first came up.

At the time, I was only asking if I could sleep over at John’s apartment for one night on our anniversary. We’d been together for six months.

Just recently, I negotiated with them to let me stay with him two nights a week – something that I’d been wanting and thinking about asking every single day since we first started getting serious.

Let me give you a bit of background. Both parents were born to Italian grandparents, who migrated here in the 60s searching for a better life.

My mother was not allowed to her school dances, playdates or sleepovers. When she first met my dad at 21, every date included a chaperone (i.e. a cousin or younger sister) and she had to be back home by 10.30pm.

They got engaged at 24, married at 25, and the rest of their lives played out nicely: they started a business, bought a house, bought a car, bought a dog, had kids, and took yearly holidays.

Now I’m not saying I led the sheltered life of an Italian growing up in the 60s and 70s. I introduced many boyfriends to my parents while growing up, went to all of my school dances, started clubbing at 18…I even lived solo in Italy for six months on exchange at uni, and in China on a work placement.

All things considered, my parents seem to be pretty liberal. But when it comes to sleeping over at a boy’s house and/or moving out with him before marriage – that’s where things become unstuck.

So what are they so afraid of?

1: The idea that their unwedded daughter is sleeping with someone.

2: The embarrassment of telling my grandparents that their unwedded daughter is sleeping with someone.

Rent free, hot meals… what more could you ask for?

3: The fear that their unwedded daughter will move out without an engagement ring.

And that brings me to my current dilemma – the same one that came up all those months ago: I want to live with my boyfriend John.

Whenever I imagine the impending dinner conversation I get that same nervous tension in my stomach. My mother yelling: “I knew you’d take this too far!” “John has pressured you into this!” “What will I tell the grandparents?!” My dad giving me the guilt trip: “That’s it. Do what you want but don’t expect me to talk to or be there for you ever again.” “Nothing you’ve ever done has disappointed me more.” Me crying and trying to explain my point of view. Not a pretty picture.

My friends and colleagues often ask why I want to move out so badly in the first place: I live in a beautiful home rent-free, pay no bills, get my clothes washed, my dinners cooked for me, a lift to the station every morning…

But my reason is simple: I am a working adult and this is something I really want to do for me. I want to start my life with my partner as an independent, responsible person. I think that living away from home is a big way of establishing this, and I don’t believe that marriage shouldn’t be the precursor for it. I’m not denying that marriage is a beautiful commitment and I do want that someday, but right now I’m not ready – and I’m not going to wait until that day before I leave the nest.

My boyfriend and I have had many heated discussions about this. John is a 26-year-old Kiwi who moved out when he was 18 and hasn’t lived at home since. Naturally, his opinions are very different to my parents. He doesn’t see why I can’t be upfront and just sit down like the adult that I am, bite the bullet and tell my parents how it is going to be. I definitely agree. But deep down, it hurts my heart to know how disappointed they’ll be for not doing things their way.

*named changed

What would you do if you were in my situation?

The author of this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous.