How Far is Too Far When You Want Your Own Space?

Q. I will be graduating college this May. I plan to move to the Chicago suburbs and start living my life. This has been my plan for many years and I’m sticking to it. It just so happens that my boyfriend of 3 years also lives in the Chicago suburbs. I’m insisting on having my own place all to myself. I feel that money or comfort are bad reasons to move in with each other. So, there it stands, we’re not moving in together until we are at least engaged. That being said, it’s very tempting to move into an apartment that’s near him. I’m wondering if that’s a smart thing to do, or, if it’s not, how far away I should live from him?

A. Try to think about where you would live in Chicago if you weren’t with your boyfriend. That way, whether things work out with your boyfriend or not, you won’t feel like you missed out.  If you get your own place and feel happy about that independently, you will carry that peace over to your relationship.

I was faced with a similar situation when I was dating someone in San Francisco. I had the opportunity to move to an interesting neighborhood and live in a charming place with my friend and save on rent.  Instead I chose to stay in my previous apartment, which was expensive but nice and near my boyfriend.  The relationship didn’t work out and in retrospect it might have made sense to move further away.”  – 40-something, PR exec, married, mom, New York, NY


A. I say within 30 minute commute you may be too easily inclined to just pop over and end up staying over, thereby defeating the purpose of separate abodes.  It’s so easy to just fall into staying over and suddenly you are there 5 or 6 nights a week, which is virtually living together without being engaged. One suggestion is to organize a schedule and select which nights you will definitely stay at your apt on your own.  Then stick to your plan (regardless of how far away you stay). – 40-something, marketing, in a relationship…apart but together, New York, NY


A.  I think it’s great that you have the maturity to realize that having your own place is a good idea.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to spend a year of your life living alone.  I got this advice from my mother!  Living alone helps you to fine tune who you are —  what you like to do, how you spend your time, what and when you eat, etc.  I think it is important as you take this big step in your life to make sure you spend quality time with yourself as well as your boyfriend.  It is not the proximity that will matter it is the use of time.  Try and keep a few nights to yourself or for going out with new friends.  It will be great to have a familiar person in your life, but it should not prevent you from doing what you came there to do, grow. – 40-something, fashion designer, entrepreneur, married, mom, Brooklyn, NY


A. Give yourself some space to grow together and apart as they say. When I went away to college I went to a school just under 2 hours away. It was far enough away that I couldn’t go home to do laundry but close enough to get there if I was in trouble or needed my family. So what is the equivalent for you? Far enough away that you can’t just default to popping in at any time of day?That you don’t have to worry about running in to him at the Laundromat?  That it’s too far away to pop over for a meal when you don’t have anything in the fridge…or for a bootie call, but close enough to make a spontaneous dinner a do?

The point of living apart as you say is to have your own space. So I would try a different area of town but something that is close enough that it’s not a constant debate whether you go to his place or he to yours. If he is in the suburbs, why not live in the city so you can get the best of both worlds. Maybe choose an area where you both have a point of interest (e.g. it’s close to the museum or the park or the baseball stadium (something you both enjoy) so you have something to share in the area. – 40-something, married, advertising, New York, NY


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