Is It a Bad Idea to Move In with Someone You Have a Crush On?
My friend is building a yurt and asked me to live with him, but I’ve always thought there might be something more between us
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Welcome to Tough Love. We’re answering your questions about dating, breakups, and everything in between. Our advice giver is Blair Braverman, dogsled racer and author of Small Game and Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube. Have a question of your own? Write to us at email@example.com.
I think I know what you’re going to say, but how bad of an idea is it to move in with someone you have a crush on? My friend is building a yurt and invited me to live there with him. We’ve been close for a few years and sometimes I’ve thought there might be more between us, but I know that may not be possible and I’m OK with just being friends too, as long as we’re always part of each others’ lives. I also need to move anyway and have been considering my options, so the timing is natural. But I worry that in close proximity, it might make things even more complicated between us.
The great thing about knowing what I’m going to say is that it’s not actually me you’re hearing; it’s that little voice in your heart telling you what you already know best. And you know this situation far better and more intimately than I do. So actually, before you read any more, stop and write down what you think I’m going to say. It’s time to give that voice a chance to really be heard.
Now, I think you should follow your own advice here. But in case you want to compare notes, here’s what I think: I think you should tell your friend how you feel. And that even if you didn’t have feelings for him, you should be pretty wary about jumping into a tiny shared living space together.
Living with others in a small space is intense. (I don’t know how big this yurt is, but I’m assuming it’s one room; if it’s bigger, please temper the following accordingly.) I’ve spent a couple years in shared one-room situations—tents and tiny cabins and the like—and even in the very best of circumstances, with a stable romantic partner or an incredibly close friend, you are simply in each other’s business all the time. You can’t turn on a light or pace or listen to music or make a phone call without being in the other person’s space. And unless you’re both minimalists, or at least very organized, you’ll likely have belongings that don’t quite fit, and you’ll be in each other’s mess half the time, too. If one person spreads out on the table, then they’re monopolizing literally every flat surface you have. If one of you gets sick, then you’ll both get sick, and you’ll be sharing that gross sick air together. You will smell every single thing that the other person eats. What if he likes tuna and you don’t? What if you like tuna and he doesn’t want to say anything but is secretly disgusted every time you eat it? How will you handle overnight visitors—particularly romantic ones? The situation is fraught to say the least. Not impossible, of course, but it’s complicated from the start. If either of you is an introvert, that makes things even harder.
In fact, I’d venture to say—and yes, there are exceptions to every rule—that you should try to avoid moving into a one-room space with anyone other than a committed partner or a very long-term close friend unless it is for a limited and predetermined period of time. (To be clear, I’m not talking about dorm rooms or shared bedrooms; those are great. I’m talking about living situations where multiple people are doing everything in a single room and have nowhere else to go or get away from each other.) That is to say, if your friend invites you to live in their van or tiny house or tent for a three-week or even six-month stint—go for it, have a blast! But that end point is key. It’s possible you’ll have such a great time and be so compatible that you’ll end up both wanting to live together longer or even indefinitely, which would be fantastic. But if tensions rise, having a set end date allows you to dissolve the living situation without having to “break up,” so to speak, and threaten the relationship itself.
Anyway, all this would be relevant even if you didn’t have feelings for the guy. But you do! And that’s exciting and beautiful and complicated and makes things even more delicate.
The terrifying thing about telling a friend that you’re crushing on them is that you risk disrupting the friendship itself—and it is the very preciousness of that friendship that makes you want something more. If you don’t express your feelings, chances are very slim that things will become romantic. But it may comfort you to hear that I know many, many people whose marriages or long-term relationships started out as friendships in which one party confessed feelings. And I also know of many friendships where one person developed and expressed a crush, and even though the other person didn’t reciprocate, the friendship continued on. If you really believe that you and this guy care about each other, and belong in each other’s lives, then it sounds like your bond is strong enough to weather that risk.
Best case scenario, he confesses his feelings back, and odds are that you spend a lot of time in his yurt anyway, until it ends up feeling like a second home. But regardless of whether you end up dating, it’s wise for you to have your own personal space, too—at least for now.